In today’s episode, I interview Jeff Kosola from deliverawaydebt.com. I love Jeff’s story. I think you will too. Especially if you are struggling with a lot of debt to pay off. Have you ever wondered how much pizza delivery drivers make? Apparently, it’s enough!
Jeff took on the classic part-time job of delivering pizzas on the weekends so he and his wife could get out from over $100,000 in debt. Since he started working his part-time job, he’s been able to pay down over $45,000 of the debt from his earnings. Jeff also took to the personal finance blog-o-sphere with this story. Look for his new online video venture: Minute Money Tips
Listen to the Podcast
Here are a few of the questions I ask Jeff:
Motivation for Part-Time Money
What led you want to make part-time money?
What lead you into that much debt?
What was the catalyst to finally wanting to get rid of debt?
About Pizza Delivery
What was it about delivering pizzas that worked out for you?
What was the appeal of the job?
What was the job application process like? What skills did you need?
How many hours a week did you work?
Family and Dealing with Debt
How did you wife feel about this?
What allowed you and your wife to come together under that common goal?
Why did you need a financial coach?
What did the financial coach teach you?
How long did it take to pay down your debts?
Did you do anything extra to pay off your debt?
What is it about your debts that allows you to press pause and focus on the down payment?
Making Money in Pizza Delivery
What kind of money were you making an hour at delivering pizza?
How did you stick with it?
How do you make the most of your efforts at a pizza delivery job?
What mistakes did you make early on?
Are you sick of pizza yet?
Blogging About Debt Reduction
Why did you start deliverawaydebt.com?
Do you make money from your blog to help you more with debt reduction?
What’s next for you?
To see the full transcript, click [spoiler]
Welcome to the Part-Time Money Podcast, Episode 11: Making Extra Money as a Pizza Delivery Driver to Pay Off $45,000 in Debt. I am your host Philip Taylor, creator of PT Money Personal Finance.
Alright, today I am here with Jeff Kosola from DeliverAwayDebt.com. Jeff and his family have paid off more than $45,000 in debt due to his part-time efforts as a pizza delivery guy. So, we are going to learn about his story today and learn how to make the most of your efforts as a pizza delivery guy and how to use that toward getting yourself out of debt.
Philip Taylor: So welcome, Jeff.
Jeff Kosola: Thanks, Phil.
Philip Taylor: So, what made you want to start making some part-time money?
Jeff Kosola: Let’s see, it happened to be my enormous amount of debt. At the time I was $101,000 in debt!
Philip Taylor: Wow!
Jeff Kosola: I had just returned from working in China, and my wife did not have a job. I was the sole provider at the time, and we had a little boy, so she was taking care of him. It was cheaper to do that than to go pay for daycare. So, when I was listening to Dave Ramsey 1 day, he said, “Hey, go deliver pizza to get out of debt.” So, I pulled right in the pizza place that had just opened up down the street from me. I was hired on the spot, and I started 2 days later.
Philip Taylor: Wow! Interesting. So, I know what you are talking about, the reference of Dave Ramsey there. He always mentions I guess it is gazelle intensity and really doing what it takes to get that extra money to get out of debt. I have heard him mention the pizza delivery guy as sort of the typical reference there. It is interesting that you actually took the literal advice and went after it like that. What was it about delivering pizzas or that type of role that made sense to you or that I guess worked out for you?
Jeff Kosola: It worked out because at the time I was working my 9-5 job which was really like a 5-3:30 job. Pizza provided me a way in the evening to do it.
Philip Taylor: Okay.
Jeff Kosola: It worked out well to be Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays because it was all evening, and I did not have to sacrifice my first job which was really important. The side job was just to make the extra money to pay off the debt. So, time wise it fit in the best.
Philip Taylor: I see. So, what was your first job again?
Jeff Kosola: I work at GM. I am in engineering.
Philip Taylor: If you do not mind getting into it, what led you into that much debt?
Jeff Kosola: Oh, a bunch of different things. I never really watched my finances when I was growing up. I started making really good money. By the time I was 25, I was out-earning my father which was a pretty good accomplishment. I wanted to live the life they led. My parents led a good life. I come from a middle class family. Both my parents worked making good incomes, and I wanted everything right away.
Philip Taylor: Right.
Jeff Kosola: I lived that lifestyle when I should not have, so I used credit cards and other things. Once you get into debt, it just starts to spiral from there because you start to play the balance transfer game and everything else. Then in ’06 you could play the home equity loan game, which I did. So every debt rule you are not supposed to do I have broken, and I paid for it by delivering pizzas.
Philip Taylor: What really turned the tide for you? Was it listening to Dave Ramsey’s message?
Jeff Kosola: That was it, and then the other part was we just could not live like that anymore, so my wife and I started to have some money issues together. Neither of us wanted to be in debt. There were things we wanted to do, and we just could not do it because everything was going toward the minimum payments, so there was nothing left over.
Philip Taylor: I see.
Jeff Kosola: I needed some way to make extra money to get out of it because at the time there was no hope.
Philip Taylor: I see.
Jeff Kosola: So, delivering the pizza and taking on another job, that is what really turned it around for us.
Philip Taylor: So, talk about that decision to choose delivering pizzas. You said you are an engineer by trade. You mentioned delivering sort of fit into your schedule, but what else appealed to you about that job?
Jeff Kosola: It appealed that I did not want to be flipping burgers, not that there is anything wrong with it, but I did not feel like it, and I did not want be working at Taco Bell. I did apply to Home Depot and Lowe’s and never received any word back from them. I thought about going to some other places, but it just was not in the cards. Like I said, I walked right into the pizza place, and I was hired on the spot.
Philip Taylor: Alright. What did you need to be hired on the spot? What were they looking for?
Jeff Kosola: Willingness. Do you have a car? Do you have insurance? Do you know the area? If not, we can train you. Can you start in 2 days? It was the easiest job interview I have ever had.
Philip Taylor: Awesome! So, let’s see here, backing up a little bit, what year was that that you first got the pizza delivery job?
Jeff Kosola: I started delivering in May 2008.
Philip Taylor: Okay. How many hours a week was that?
Jeff Kosola: I was working 22 hours a week, so Fridays and Saturdays I worked from 5 o’clock until 1 o’clock in the morning, and then Sundays I would work from 5 till 11 at night.
Philip Taylor: Okay. So, how did your wife feel about this?
Jeff Kosola: She was okay with it because she understood we had to do it and we had to sacrifice. I have always been a worker in my life, so adding more work was not that big a deal. It was just difficult at first to balance a home life with the second job, but we got through it, and it just became second nature to us. She would go to the family events without me, and I would be delivering pizza.
Philip Taylor: What helped you and your wife to really come together under that common goal?
Jeff Kosola: At first when I was delivering pizza, we were just using that money to basically finance our current lifestyle, so I delivered for I believe it was 11 months and really did not pay down a single penny of my debt.
Philip Taylor: Really?
Jeff Kosola: Yeah. So, my first year delivering pizza was just to basically maintain our lifestyle, and then we both looked at each other 1 day and said, “Oh crap! We’ve got to get some help!” So, we sought out the advice of a local financial coach.
Philip Taylor: Okay.
Jeff Kosola: Basically after the first couple hour’ meeting with our guy, we were hooked on it and sold, and he pointed us in the right direction. We had 3 total meetings with him, and within a month we were paying down debt, and the rest was history. It took us to go seek outside help because we could not do it ourselves.
Philip Taylor: I see. So, you had the initial passion from the Dave Ramsey, but it sounds like you maybe did not have the outside accountability to help you really put it in practice.
Jeff Kosola: Yeah, I had some systems in place, but really my entire life not managing money, I needed someone else to put the last piece of the puzzle together for us, which our financial coach did. Once he did that, it clicked.
Philip Taylor: What were some of the things he did?
Jeff Kosola: The biggest thing we did was figured how I can live off my normal income from GM and bank 100% of my pizza money, so he got us on a better budget than I was. He showed us some really good tricks, which is the system I use right now. I use ING, and I have a ton of different subaccounts that all my money funnels into on payday. I just take 5 minutes and transfer all kinds of money, and that is all automatically taken out and everything. Just having the system in place where I do not have to focus on the money and worry about it so much is what the key for us was.
Philip Taylor: That is great. I like it. I use ING as well and have a couple of accounts with them like that. That definitely helps. Well this is interesting. So, that was back in, you said, ’08. You said the first 10 months or so you were sort of just treading water there. It sounds like maybe in the beginning part of ’09 you really started making some progress. Is that right?
Jeff Kosola: It was April ’09 that we started making our first real debt payment, and then May is when I really started snowballing everything.
Philip Taylor: Okay. Very cool. And then, how long did it take at that point to pay down a significant portion of the debt or however much you want to share in detail about you paying that down?
Jeff Kosola: In May 2009 I started out with $101,000 and change in debt. Then, by December 2010 I was down to less than $30,000 left. Right now my financial outlook has shifted so much. I am saving money right now because I am starting to build a house. I am not snowballing the debt right now. I am snowballing a down payment. It has shifted a little.
Philip Taylor: Okay. Tell me about that. What is it about the particular debt that you have left that makes it sort of okay to shift your priorities?
Jeff Kosola: Some of it is to my parents. Everything is paid normally. Then, the last one is a credit card my wife had. Everything else is paid off free and clear, so we have just put that on autopilot for right now. The loan to my parents will be all paid off in the next 2 years without paying anything extra, and then the credit card once we get into our house will be re-snowballed and done after another 6 months or so once we get in our house.
Philip Taylor: Well, that is great! Congrats on the prospect of a new house. That is always fun!
Jeff Kosola: Thanks.
Philip Taylor: So, tell me. You said you worked 22 hours a week with the pizza delivery job. What kind of hourly wage were you making there?
Jeff Kosola: When you factor in my hourly rate which was $6, so we got paid $6, and then we would get $1.50 on each delivery and then tips, basically the average for a year and a half was just over $19. That was including taking out money for gas.
Philip Taylor: So you are looking at roughly $400 a week?
Jeff Kosola: Yeah. I mean that is really good money for the amount of time. Any part-time job you can make $19 to $20 an hour, I do not think you can sneeze at it.
Philip Taylor: Okay. Wait! Did you say that was after gas or before gas?
Jeff Kosola: That was after gas.
Philip Taylor: That is really good. So, that $400 back in May ’09, you really started throwing that all at your debt?
Jeff Kosola: Right.
Philip Taylor: That pretty quickly sounds like it was able to get it down. Did you do anything extra to sort of hammer down the debt? Sell anything?
Jeff Kosola: We did not have a whole lot to sell. We had already tried doing that before we started debt snowball and stuff. Any hours I could pick up at my normal job, I picked up as well.
Philip Taylor: I see.
Jeff Kosola: There were plenty of times when I would go to work at 2 in the morning on Friday and depending on my different shifts between the jobs, I would get to bed at 1 o’clock on Sunday. I have done that a few times which is pretty hectic. The money is good, and it is hard to turn that stuff down.
Philip Taylor: So, how did you stick with it? What was it about the process or the job that either you enjoyed enough or your relationship with your wife? It just sort of seems to all have worked together here. Really, what was it that helped you to stay with this part-time job for so long?
Jeff Kosola: The place where I am at right now because we have wanted to get out of our house forever, and now we can. Thanks to paying off the debt we did, it was simple to qualify for a new house and get out of ours right now. That was the biggest thing – to improve our life so we did not have to wait another 3-4 years to do it. That was the focus. In that time I had started out with a son. When I was delivering I had a daughter. Now I have another son on the way. With all those kids coming down the line, I want to get rid of the debt so I do not have to worry about it. Then, having the blog too, that drove my accountability as well.
Philip Taylor: Yeah, I definitely want to talk about your blog, but I have just 1 more question about the pizza delivery. How do you make the most of your efforts there? Can you get tips? How do you increase your earnings at a pizza delivery business?
Jeff Kosola: You drive very fast. Stop signs that have a white border around them are always optional.
Philip Taylor: Is that every stop sign?
Jeff Kosola: Yeah, that is every stop sign. The way you make money delivering pizza is get it there as fast as you can, safely of course. Always smile, and always treat your customers like you would want to be treated. I call them my customers because I see a lot of the same people a lot, and they always order. So, I know most of their names. I try to do whatever I can to make sure their order is exactly what they need. You carry a few extra pops in your car. If you screw something up, you take it out of your pocket and give them a pop. I have dropped someone’s pizza before right at their door. I picked it up, and there was not a whole lot wrong with it, but I said, “Alright, it’s on me, so it comes out of my pocket.” I do not really tell the boss or anything because they are not going to help you.
Philip Taylor: Right.
Jeff Kosola: The customer, you know, they could still eat their pizza, and they got it for free. So, you do little stuff like that, and then people remember that.
Philip Taylor: I see.
Jeff Kosola: You have got to loop people too, so if there is more than 1 driver delivering pizza, the faster you drive if you are both out on a run, if you beat him back, you are next in line.
Philip Taylor: I see.
Jeff Kosola: The more deliveries you get, the more money you make.
Philip Taylor: Okay. Good advice for future pizza delivery guys out there. mistakes you made along the way in trying to make money with delivering pizza that you could share with others?
Jeff Kosola: I cannot think of really any.
Philip Taylor: Yeah, it is pretty straight forward.
Jeff Kosola: It is not a hard job. It is actually fun. I mean I love delivering pizza honestly.
Philip Taylor: Have you ever been pulled over by the police?
Jeff Kosola: No. I have been waiting. I have my pizza shirt on, delivery bag, and am always willing to offer them free pizza as long as they want it if they let me go.
Philip Taylor: So, you are actually still doing it?
Jeff Kosola: Yeah, I am actually going to stop at the end of March.
Philip Taylor: Okay, okay. I see. I was under the impression you had stopped a while back. That is cool you are still doing it.
Jeff Kosola: I had to take 6 months off last year because I was working way too much at GM.
Philip Taylor: I see. Okay. I see.
Jeff Kosola: So I am back delivering for a little while.
Philip Taylor: Alright. Very cool. So, are you just downright sick of pizza, or do you still like it?
Jeff Kosola: I love pizza.
Philip Taylor: Okay. That is good. So, let’s talk about your blog DeliverAwayDebt.com. Why did you want to start that?
Jeff Kosola: Actually I started on Twitter, and I started tweeting my funny stories (or supposedly funny stories to me) about all the delivery people I run into and all the crazy people. A couple of other bloggers followed me, got in contact with me, and said, “Hey, you should start a blog.” So, that is how it started on October 1, 2009.
Philip Taylor: I think I remember that.
Jeff Kosola: J. Money from BudgetsAreSexy.com and Brian Scheur from MyNextBuck.com.
Philip Taylor: I definitely know J. Money. I think that is where I heard about you initially, and I have definitely seen you around the blogosphere. We have interacted a few times. So, DeliverAwayDebt.com, you have obviously enjoyed doing the blog and sharing your story. Have you been able to get some income off the blog as well?
Jeff Kosola: Yeah, I make a little bit of money off the blog. It is from some advertising. That is really about it.
Philip Taylor: Okay.
Jeff Kosola: Nothing to write home about.
Philip Taylor: Okay, okay. So, you still like pursuing the part-time business versus the blogging business world?
Jeff Kosola: Yeah, I mean you have got to be pretty talented to make some good money quickly blogging.
Philip Taylor: I would agree with that. So, let’s see, I noticed on your blog you have a future endeavor. Maybe you want to share what is in the future for you? You have already mentioned you are going to be stopping the pizza delivery here in the next month. What is sort of next for you online as well as offline with your family?
Jeff Kosola: For me I am going to slow down a little more on DeliverAwayDebt.com just because I am losing a little bit of the writing passion. I am honestly really not a writer. That is not my forte, so I have decided to pursue video. I will be starting a video blog. It will actually launch on April 1, 2011. There is an early list if you want to get in early on my new site which will be MinuteMoneyTips.com. It is really going to be money tips. The videos are going to last probably 1-2 minutes, and they are just quick tips in a different type of format because nobody really does a whole lot of video on the personal finance realm. I figured what the heck I might as well make a go at it. I like video. I like speaking. A lot of it is part of my job too. I am much better at that than I am at writing. It is a lot easier for me to do, so I can do 5 videos a week every week without a single issue where right now I have some trouble writing 3 or 4 posts a month on DeliverAwayDebt.com just because I am not as inspired as I once was.
Philip Taylor: Yep. I know where you are at, and I agree with you on your assessment of the personal finance blogosphere that it definitely needs someone out there doing video well. I think you are right. If you do it right, you will really be able to get some traction with it. Good luck in that. Again, the website for that is MinuteMoneyTips.com?
Jeff Kosola: Yep. That is right.
Philip Taylor: Alright. Very cool.
Jeff Kosola: It will be coming soon.
Philip Taylor: Well, thanks so much for being on with me today. This was an excellent interview and right up the alley of what people who are listening to Part-Time Money Podcast are looking for, so I appreciate you sharing your tips, advice, and your story.
That does it for this week’s episode. Thanks so much for listening. You can find more episodes at ptmoney.com or on iTunes under the Part-Time Money Podcast. See you guys next week. [/spoiler]