Last month, I made $2,510 by charging scooters. It was our best month ever! The side hustle income can almost cover our entire living expenses in May ($2,769). I shared this in our monthly report and received few requests for more details. So today, I’ll share how the whole scooter charging side hustle works. I started doing this side gig two years ago. You can read more about that here – Millionaire Charges Lime Scooters for Beer Money. Many things have changed since then.
First of all, I don’t recommend this side hustle. You’re just trading your time for money. If you’re young and have a good career, it’s better to focus on your main job. That’s a better way to build your foundation. Also, there are better gigs than this even if you really want to side hustle. Here is my post on the subject – What Makes A Good Side Hustle.
However, charging scooters is the perfect side hustle for me for the following reasons.
- Time: I’m retired and don’t have a fixed schedule. I can do this whenever I have a few minutes. Also, it’s good for me to take a break and go outside throughout the day. Otherwise, I’d be sitting around at home all day long.
- Personality: This is an introvert’s dream job. I don’t have to interact with anyone, just the scooters.
- Health: The great side-benefit of this gig is physical activity. I get a lot of exercise from walking around my neighborhood and the scooters are kind of heavy.
- Neighborhood watch: We live in a walkable neighborhood. It’s a nice urban area and there are many scooters within walking distance. This side gig is also a good way for me to keep an eye on the neighborhood. Occasionally, there are crazed half-naked people raving in the street. I can warn my family and neighbors when I see those issues.
- Kid: RB40Jr helps me with this gig when he’s not busy. I put 50% of the income in his UTMA account. We chat about money, games, and many other topics while we walk around. It’s a good way to spend time with my son. I invest the money for him and he loves to see it grow. He is learning about investing at a young age. That’s a huge advantage in life. Also, he is learning that physical labor is not the way to get rich. This side hustle is teaching many valuable lessons to RB40Jr.
Check out his UTMA account balance.
This is not a long-term side gig, but it’s great for me right now.
Scooter charging income
I started this side gig in 2019, but we didn’t make much money back then. When I started, I only had 2 chargers. Back then, the max I could charge was 6 scooters per day. Now, I have a better setup and can charge many more scooters per day.
Here is the chart of my scooter charging income. You can see it shot up this year.
This is due to several factors.
- Juicer = the person who collect scooters to charge
- Charger = the charger used to charge the battery.
- Fewer competitors. In 2019, the scooters were small and relatively light. Anyone could stuff them in a car or SUV and bring them home to charge. The scooters got better and heavier in 2020. Now they weigh 45 pounds and they are unwieldy. It is very awkward to fit them into a small vehicle. I tried to put one in my minivan once and almost threw out my back. Now, I just walk or scoot to pick them up. Also, I think you can make more money with food delivery. Tips make a big difference. Lastly, scooter companies suspended operations for a few months in 2020. I think many juicers found new gigs and never came back.
- Better pay rate. Now that there are fewer juicers, the company had to pay a bit more. Currently, they pay $4-5 each on the weekdays and $5-6 each on the weekend. In 2020, they paid $3 to $4 per charge and many juicers quit. I was discouraged, but still charged a few scooters per day. I just collected the ones that were really close to our house.
- Better set up. We have more battery chargers now and I can charge up to 9 scooters simultaneously. There are fewer juicers so I can collect a bunch more scooters this year. My record was 15 scooters in one morning. The turnaround time is important too. I have 9 fast chargers and I can return the scooters after about 3 hours. The new scooters have bigger batteries and it took 5-6 hours to charge with the old chargers. Most juicers had a bunch of old chargers and never upgraded. The old (slower) battery chargers cost around $20. The newer and faster chargers are hard to find and cost around $40 each. (We got most of our chargers for free from several giveaway events.)
*Lime just increased the rate to $5+ for summer.
So that’s how I was able to make so increase the scooter charging income this year. However, I spend way more time on this side hustle than in previous years.
Scooter charging logistics
Here is how scooter charging works for me.
Pick up: During the day, a scooter becomes available for collection when the battery drops below 20%. After 10 pm, anything below 40% becomes available. Usually, I walk to the scooter and ride it home. Sometimes, I have to push it home if the charge is really low. Alternatively, I could ride a scooter over, stack another one on top, and ride them home. Oh, I rarely go out after 10 pm. That’s too late for me. I only go if it’s really close, like within 1 block.
Charge: Plug them in and charge. With my current set up, I can charge a scooter to 100% in less than 3 hours.
Return: Once they’re charged, I can return the scooters to a LimeHub. Usually, I’ll look to see if there is another scooter I can collect. That way, I could return one then collect another to bring home.
Side benefit: Once I pick up a scooter with the app, I could ride it around until I return it. So I could charge one up and use it to pick up other scooters. This is why I try to have at least one scooter plugged in at all times.
An example run
Here is an ideal run.
I can drop 3 off at the LimeHub. Then take 2 home to charge. This takes about 15 minutes. It is way easier if there are many scooters clumping together.
The time it takes to do this gig is difficult to gauge. It usually takes me less than 10 minutes to walk to get one scooter when it isn’t busy. When many scooters are waiting to be charged, I could collect more. My best was 6 scooters in 30 minutes. So let’s say 6-10 scooters per hour.
However, I need to drop off too. That takes another 5 to 10 minutes depending on where the app wants them. I could take multiple scooters so that’s another factor. Also, I try to collect one or two on the way back.
All in all, I estimate it takes about 10 minutes of work per scooter. The pay rate would be about $24 to $30 per hour. ($4-$5 per scooter.) That’s not bad, but you’re not making big bucks. Another issue is you need to pay 15.3% self-employment tax on this income. That’s in addition to federal tax, state tax, and whatever local taxes you have. Ouch!
Here is the chart of my scooter charging activities in May.
In May, I charged 460 scooters and made $2,509.50. That’s about $5.45 per scooter. According to my estimate, I worked 4600 minutes. That’s about 76 hours and a half. The pay rate is $32.74 per hour. This rate is higher than my estimate because of the bonuses in May.
Lime had several bonus events in May to create incentives for juicers. For example, if you charge at least 10 scooters in one day, you’ll receive an extra $10. Also, the pay rate increased to $6+ on Memorial Day weekend.
You can see that it was busier on the weekends. My record was 32 scooters in one day. However, that’s way too much work than I’d like. Whenever I charge more than 12 per day, it feels like a job.
Electricity is affordable for us so the charging activity doesn’t add much to our bill.
- May 2021: $85.96, 591kWh
- May 2020: $68.40, 481kWh
So 460 scooters cost less than $20 to charge, about 100kWh.
A better way to charge
Here is a better way to charge. At 10 pm, go get as many scooters as you can and put them in your truck. Go home and charge them while they’re in the bed. Return when they’re fully charged. Simple, right?
These are the older/lighter/smaller scooters, though. The new ones are heavier and bigger. You can’t fit this many new ones into the bed like this.
The future of scooter charging
One last issue with this side hustle is the scooters are evolving. The next version will have a swappable battery. Will they still need juicers then? I think this is another reason why many juicers quit this side hustle. Why spend hundreds of dollars to upgrade your charging setup if you can only use it for a year or two.
Scooter charging is the perfect side hustle for me right now, but I’m not sure if I want to ride triple when I’m 50. It seems kind of silly to risk injury at that age. Luckily, I haven’t had any significant injuries. Occasionally, a scooter would swing into my ankle or calf. But that’s not too bad. Anyway, this side hustle is a fun way to supplement our passive income. See you don’t need to be 100% financial independent to retire early.
All right! So that’s how I made $2,510 with my side hustle in May. I don’t recommend this side hustle if you already have a day job. There are better ways to make money. Do you have a side hustle? Let me know if there is a better one for me in the comment. Any questions?
Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!
Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.