Budgeting for Truck Drivers
As a truck driver, you have numerous opportunities to interact with different merchants as you travel from state to state. The interaction comes with hundreds if not thousands of chances to purchase any item that catches your eye. You may consider it a minimal shopping spree, but it’s far from it. The frequent money splurges gradually accumulate, resulting in an enormous expenses list that digs significantly into your finances.
If that scenario is common in your life as a truck driver, here is a chance to make it right. Budgeting plays a critical role in your financial journey. Let’s start by taking a look at why you should do it.
Why Budgeting for Truck Drivers is Essential
Budgeting as a truck driver is a great financial tool that will help you make significant strides in managing your finances by identifying and eliminating unnecessary expenses.
However, setting up a budget and sticking to it are two different tasks. While making a budget may seem like a simple activity, it will take patience and diligence to actualize your budget plan. Budgeting gives you ultimate control over your finances. It will help you maintain your focus and achieve your financial goals by understanding all the loopholes where your money is going.
How to Budget for Truck Drivers
When you are budgeting, start by visualizing your daily routine from when you get up in the morning until you turn in for the night. Considering you’re on the move, downloading a budgeting app will make the process a lot easier. Budgeting apps help you create a specific budget plan that is custom to your needs.
Most budgeting applications show when money pops in or out of your account in real-time and can categorize your expenses. They also will help pay your bills, so you avoid accruing penalties and additional fees with late payments. If you have trouble deciding if you should spend money on an item or not, the app will show you how much you still have budgeted for that type of spending to help you decide.
Tracking expenditures gives you the upper hand in rectifying where you could be going wrong. When making a budget, ensure it is practical and realistic. Doing so will allow you to maintain your lifestyle without making you feel uneasy.
All trucking companies have truck driver jobs that offer salary and a per diem addition. How you spend the latter is instrumental in managing your budget and finances. Most times, the allocation is enough to cover your expenses and leave a couple of bucks extra if you are keen on saving.
Truck Driver Budget Template
When you have a budget template, you can easily subdivide your expenses. Ideally, the template will have fixed and variable aspects, which will help you evaluate what you need to cut down on to increase your savings amount.
How many times have you found yourself forgetting where a certain amount of money went? A template will help you eliminate such occurrences.
For instance, a template including your fixed costs can include housing expenses-another example of fixed costs are permit fees that are needed to maintain your commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Variable costs, on the other hand, include food and clothing. Usually, these costs are not a specific amount every month. In most instances, some months may even have minimal to no expenses on the variable costs.
When you are using a budget template, you can create a custom budget that works for you, depending on your income and expenses. For instance, you can customize a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly budget to adhere to at all times. Whatever floats your boat!
Here’s the catch. A template will help you track every possible expense you might have when on the road. More often than not, if you skip documenting the little expenses, they will be included as miscellaneous, which adds up.
How to Live Inexpensively as a Truck Driver
Living inexpensively as a truck driver doesn’t mean you have to forego the necessary amenities. Instead, it means you will find affordable alternatives for your daily routine. For instance, it will help if you remain on the lookout for Free Wi-Fi services to save on cellular data costs.
Additionally, you can sign-up for reward programs where you frequently shop to get coupons, cash discounts, or free products.
Another scenario that frequently comes up in your budget allocation when you are on the road is laundry. Even when you are away from home, remaining clean and hygienic is a top priority for yourself, your health, and your transportation company. Remember, when out on the road, you are a representative of your company. How well do you portray it?
A way to save on laundry costs on the road is to pack enough clean clothes to last your entire trip. Doing this will allow you to do your laundry when you are at home so you can skip any costly laundry trips while out on the road.
How to Save Money on Food as a Truck Driver
You can’t survive without having a meal; nobody can. Food can quickly become your biggest expense when on the road. For most professionals with truck driver jobs, fast food provides the best go-to choice in terms of convenience to satisfy hunger.
However, eating fast food, in the long run, will significantly create a dent in your finances. It may seem like an insignificant amount at $10 a meal. Still, the accumulation of such amounts annually could give you a run for your money.
There is an incredible way to cut down on your food expenses when on the road. You guessed it, making the meals yourself. You can make the meals at home, freeze them, and use a microwave to heat them. Or, if you have the option of having a mini-fridge and a way of cooking in your truck, you can also pack groceries and make fresh meals in your cab.
Soda consumption on the road can also quickly add up. Packing a cooler with your favorite beverages will save you from paying the marked-up soda costs at convenience stores. Alternately, eliminating sodas, and only drinking water helps with cost savings. You can use a refillable bottle and fill it up for free when you make a stop.
Both fast foods and drinks like sodas may seem like a convenient alternative but are costly and unhealthy in the long run.
Self-Control is Key
The most crucial aspect of making your budget plan successful is to stick to it. What does this mean for you?
It would be best if you practiced patience and self-control against spending money on unnecessary items. Resisting the urge to spend money each time you stop will give you the upper hand in managing your resources effectively. For instance, the money you spend on a cup of coffee every time you swing into a convenience store may seem trivial but can quickly add up to a considerable amount. Before making any purchases, ask yourself if what you are about to buy is necessary. Can you do without it? If the answer to your question is yes, don’t make the purchase. Ideally, when you stick to buying what you need before embarking on the road, it will help you eliminate any unnecessary expenses.
Before buying anything, remember there is a distinct line between needs and wants. For instance, you decide not to purchase anything while out on the road, you get a headache and need to buy medicine. You should buy the medication because it is a genuine need. Only needs should supersede your rules when making a budget.
Another trick to effectively stick to your budget is not to reallocate the money you saved. For instance, you could have budgeted $10 for food and another $10 for entertainment. If you spend $5 on entertainment, you may feel the urge to transfer the unused $5 to making extra food purchases. Doing this will quickly deplete your savings, which is why it is so important to follow the parameters you set for yourself in your initial budget plan.
Maximize on Gas Station Stops
Every truck driver will have frequent stops at gas stations. When at a gas station, take advantage of the amenities they offer. For instance, you can request a shower, fill up your reusable water bottle, and even take a moment to enjoy their free Wi-Fi.
Remember Your Receipts
Sometimes, you may find yourself paying for expenses that the company should have paid. If not careful, such bills can slowly dig into your finances. Always ensure you keep a record of your receipts, which you can submit to the company for reimbursement.
Ultimately, your financial journey starts with you. What you do right now goes a long way in dictating your future. With slow and steady strategies, you can achieve incredible financial discipline.