Gig driving can be challenging, especially when doing a $2-300 shift. Fortunately, high-tech help is available through my smartphone.
Here are 12 of the most strategic apps which I use almost every day (and sometimes several times a day)…
1. QuickBooks Self-Employed
Gig drivers must track expenses & mileage. I rely on my QuickBooks Self-Employed app to do this automatically for me, nicely categorizing all my income & expenses. It’s a complete accounting solution, displaying at a glance my profit to date and my total kilometers (and which percentage is for gig work). It’s really very smart. This is one of my most important gig tools, and it saved me a LOT of money at tax time. Get 50% off or free trial. Highly recommended!
2. Gas Buddy
Fuel is a gig driver’s biggest expense (especially these days!) I’m smart – I shop around for the best prices, often saving 10 cents/liter – which is a LOT of money over the space of a year. For this, the free GasBuddy app is my best friend. It quickly helps me find the cheapest gas and/or the nearest stations. You can learn more at the GasBuddy Website, and then download the app.
3. Android Auto
Most gig drivers have already discovered the magic benefits of Android Auto (or Apple CarPlay for iPhone users). Linking my smartphone via USB cable to my car’s touch screen gives me some extremely helpful features. I can now have 2 maps going at the same time. My phone calls play over the radio speakers while muting the radio. Emails and WhatsApp notifications appear on the touch screen, and I can request the messages to be read out loud (and I can dictate hands-free replies). I can access numerous other useful apps (including my favourite music) on the touch screen. The list goes on. Oh, the wonders of technology!
Because one of my gigs is meal delivery, I seem to end up at McDonald’s at least once a day. And I don’t mind. Because McDonald’s has decent coffee (at a decent price) to fuel my work. And McDonald’s has washrooms. And McDonald’s is everywhere. So when it’s time to pay them a visit, I fire up my McDonald’s app and order my coffee ahead of time. It’s (usually) waiting there on the counter when I arrive. And sometimes I even click “curbside,” so their staff brings it out to my car! The price is unbeatable, the coffee is good, and with the app I get points plus a sticker toward free coffees. It’s a no-brainer!
5. Tim Hortons
Because I do meal delivery in Ontario, Canada, inevitably I often get called to pick up at Tim Hortons. And I don’t mind. They have great coffee and clean washrooms. So when it’s time to pay them a visit, I fire up my Tim Hortons app and order my coffee ahead of time. It’s (usually) waiting there on the counter when I arrive. The price is decent (but not as good as McDonald’s), and I get some points toward free coffees (but not as generous as McDonald’s). Between McDonald’s and Tims, thanks to their excellent apps, I’m able to stay on the road for long hours and earn good money!
Google Maps is the most widely-used map program (and a primary link for most gig driving apps). But another map app – Waze – has extra features which can be extremely useful. (Interestingly, Waze is a Google company, and many of its features have begun appearing in Google Maps.) For me, Waze often provides better traffic information – and sometimes shows quicker routes if I ask it to. Waze alerts me about accidents, construction, speed cameras, radar traps, even railway crossings. And it ding-dongs when I’m about to exceed a safe speed. I run Waze on my car’s touch screen while using the gig app map on my smartphone. This gives me the best of both maps, and helps me safely reach my destination with less surprises & hassles.
7. Keyboard Voice Dictation
Some smartphone keyboards have the option of voice input. I speak, and the words automatically transcribe into my message. VERY useful while driving; and a real time-saver whether driving or not. Myself, I use Microsoft SwiftKey as my keyboard app for my Android phone. It has a setting for “Rich input,” displaying a little microphone above the keyboard. When I need to send a text, WhatsApp my wife, or reply to an email, I click the little microphone. A Google function pops up; I speak; and voilà! The words appear in the message. It’s surprisingly accurate (though not always perfect). Take a minute to check your own setup for this great feature. I actually now use it many times a day.
I usually try to buy my gas wherever the price is lowest – and that is seldom at Esso stations. However, there are times when Esso is the most convenient solution, if I’m running near empty and I don’t want to waste precious time deviating to a cheaper station. That’s when I open my Speedpass app. My phone connects with the gas pump and applies my pre-approved payment preference, loyalty program (PC Optimum) and other details. I just insert the nozzle, fill the tank, and then get right back on the road. No need for fussing with payment or receipt – it’s all handled automatically by the app, communicating directly with the pump. Very smart. Very convenient.
9. Fitbit Smartphone & App
Gig drivers must stay connected – safely. One of ways I do this is with my Fitbit smartwatch, paired with my smartphone, and managed through my Fitbit app. While driving, I know instantly about important incoming messages & notifications, because the watch vibrates and the message displays on the screen. I get info through the built-in Alexa. I monitor my fitness (footsteps, calories, heart rate, etc.) And of course, I also check it to know the time! Amazon has the full range of Fitbit smartwatches at the best prices – including the best-selling Versa 2. An extremely useful tool for the serious gig driver!
10. Audiobooks by Audible
My gig driving (especially with meal delivery) often involves many hours alone in my car. So I make the most of my time by listening to high-quality “audiobooks” using the excellent Audible app. There are hundreds of thousands of books available, including best-sellers in every category. Try Audible for free. Thanks to Audible, my mind gets enriched and I educate myself at the very same time as I’m out on the road making money. I believe that’s a smart thing to do!
11. SiriusXM Satellite Radio
Having great music, all the time, everywhere (commercial-free!) is a major benefit to my gig driving. Satellite radio from SiriusXM is the solution that works best for me, and it’s worth every penny. Good radio has 2 strategic benefits: (1) My passengers really appreciate nice commercial-free background music (an extra motivation to tip!) (2) When I am delivering meals or groceries, I play my favourite music as loud as I want, and this really makes my work more enjoyable. SiriusXM streams hundreds of high-quality channels – every kind of music, as well as lots of news & information. Yes, satellite radio is primarily a car function. But a corresponding SiriusXM smartphone app has even more great channels. Subscribe for only $1 for 3 months. You will be glad you did!
This list of essential gig apps would not be complete without mentioning the resource which is closest to my heart – Gig Drivers of Canada! Technically, GigDrivers.ca is a Website, not an app. However, by setting up a shortcut to GigDrivers.ca on my smartphone’s home screen (very easy to do), it’s just like an app. This gives quick access to the wonderful Gigapedia, with excellent tips about making more money and other useful info. Several other “shortcut apps” lead to our Gig Café Facebook Page & Groups. (FB has a menu item “Add to Home Screen” for my favourite Gig Drivers of Canada FB Groups.) For me, time spent in GigDrivers.ca (Website or Facebook) is time well spent!