Life on the road for professional truck drivers can be rewarding. Life on the road can also get expensive fast. Budgets bust without proper planning for impulse purchases, unforeseen expenses, and overpaying for convenient supplies. Seasoned truckers know how to manage money on and off the road. Here are 7 Money-Saving Tips for Professional Truck Drivers.
Make a Budget
The best move for any professional truck driver is to make a budget and stick to it. A simple what to drill down to how much money is available to spend daily, weekly, or monthly, is to total your paychecks and then subtract your expenses (rent, mortgage, car loan payment, the power bill, etc.). From there, decide how much money you want to put into saving. The remainder is your budget while on the road.
Even if your carrier provides a per diem or daily allowance for food or other items, you should know how much of your money you must spend daily, weekly, or monthly. Furthermore, you should consult your accountant on which expenses and how much of those expenses are tax write-offs. You want to avoid thinking you can go over your per diem and only pay the difference between the total amount and what you can write off. For example, if your per diem is $50 per day and you spend $60 per day. You may be on the hook for more than $10 if you can only write off 85% of your per diem total.
Landing on a budget and sticking to it is the way to ensure your expenses on the road are not eating into your saving or more essential items.
Limit Spending on Fast Food
The biggest budget buster on the road is food. Unfortunately, every truck driver’s lifestyle brings them into the world of fast food or convenience store grub. Grabbing food on the go up to three times a day or more eats through a driver’s budget faster than heating a four-dollar burrito in a truck stop microwave oven.
Most truck drivers have plug-in coolers or refrigerators on board. Stocking a food cooler or small fridge is smart unless you’re filling it with sugary soft drinks, caffeine-infused energy drinks, or oversized candy bars. Keeping healthier snacks like fruit, veggies, and low-sugar meal bars is a much better option. On average, fruits and veggie snacks cost much less and go much further than other processed options. And they’re healthier too.
Professional truck drivers who maintain a budget, plan out meals and cook their food. Portable stoves, Crock Pots, electric skillets, and blenders are affordable and easily stored for when it’s mealtime. Prepping meals should be a high priority for a healthier and less expensive trucker lifestyle. Simple and delicious meal recipes are easily accessible with a quick Google search.
Avoid Buying Supplies on The Road
The next biggest budget buster is buying over-priced supplies on the road. From toiletries to tire pressure gauges, everything is more expensive on the road. A quick supply check before a trip and routine equipment once-overs will help you avoid overspending at truck stop convenience stores or equipment supply chain stores.
Many truckers buy in bulk for frequently used supplies. Generally, the cost per item or price per use is lower when purchasing in bulk than purchasing each time separately. If you add up the cost of supplies per trip and multiply that by the total amount of trips per year, you may be surprised at how expensive small items can be.
Take Advantage of Reward/Points Programs
One of the benefits of being a professional truck driver is the available rewards programs. Truckstop outlets like AMBEST, Love’s, Pilot, WilcoHess, Petro, and TA (TravelCenters of America) offer cards and points programs. Generally, the purchase of fuel, food, drinks, and merchandise adds to discounts and offers like free showers or other amenities. Use caution when using rewards programs as purchases add up quickly and can ruin your established budget.
Search for CDL Discounts
Truckstop locations are not the only places to find discounts. Some hotels, restaurants, insurance companies, phone companies, car rental companies, airlines, and truck repair and truck parts store off CDL discounts. Most CDL discounts are available because truckers, due to carrier requirements, have perfect or near-perfect driving records. Some truck drivers work for transportation companies that offer these types of discounts.
Avoid Getting Tickets
A clean driving record is a golden ticket for professional truckers. Speeding tickets and accidents can lead to fewer driving opportunities or cause a carrier to dismiss drivers. Either way, driving less or fighting to get back on a trucking company’s roster costs money. Experienced truck drivers know safety comes first because everything else about the job depends on it.
Use Wi-Fi Whenever Possible
If you’re not on an unlimited data plan, your minutes can get used up quickly on the road. The good thing is most truck stops, restaurants, hotels, and stores like Walmart have Wi-Fi available. Tapping into local Wi-Fi can save big bucks on your phone bills. The only watch out is Wi-Fi isn’t always safe from scammers looking to steal your information. Use secure Wi-Fi for things like logging into your bank account or other sensitive sites.
Today’s trucker has an incredible array of opportunities to spend money on the road. Smartphones make purchasing convenient items quick and painless. Unfortunately, today’s access to bank accounts also means it’s easy to go through more money than you wanted. Use our 7 money-saving tips for professional truck drivers, and you’ll be on your way to enjoying life on the road without breaking the bank.
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