Truck driving is a unique field of work. Truck drivers aren’t stuck staring at a cubicle wall; they’re out in the real world. But, this opens up the opportunity to spend more money on the clock than people in other professions. Truckers are at a disadvantage because temptation to spend is around every corner, literally. If you haven’t yet taught yourself smart methods to save money while on the road, you need to start working on your habits like yesterday. Now is the time to build healthy money habits because, after all, if you’re burning through cash the way you burn through fuel…isn’t that a little counterproductive?
Make Meal Plans
Not only is fast food eating a leading contributor to common obesity in truck drivers, but it can really add up cost-wise. Let’s say $7 on average per meal; breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Then multiply that by days on the road… not putting into account times where yo sit down in a restaurant and you need tip, too. YIKES. Eating out isn’t cheap after all. Even though fast food can be afforable in moderation; after a while it silently becomes costlier than eating your own prepared food. Truck drivers are lucky nowadays though, because numerous companies specialize in making equipment for the sole purpose of transporting and cooking fresh food from the comfort of a cab. And, there’s never a Wal-mart, grocer, or even dollar store (yeah that carry food, too) that is too far.
The appeal of purchasing food from restaurants while on the road is clear. It obviously saves time and energy, right? But, is that little bit of time it takes picking up food from the store and preparing it outweighing the actual dollar cost of restaurant dining for all meals? One easy option is using Pinterest or other online sources to find recipes you can make in a crock pot in your own truck. All and all, that can actually save you time, energy, AND money! All you have to do is throw the food into a pot, turn it on, and wait. After a few hours, several scrumptious meals are prepared without barely any work. Or, simply buying a loaf of bread, a lb of turkey, a jar of mayo, and some cheese slices for about $15 and that can produce 11 sandwiches. With a hot plate, you can make your own panini or grilled cheese sandwiches, too! Economically eating on the road is easy if you’re creative.
Sometimes you’ve got to just get out a pen and paper and write things down. Budgeting, at least for me, is definitely one of those times. If you tell yourself a set maximum for spending for every week, then it is a lot easier to save money. Visualizing your plan is shown to help you remember things and think about spending as more of a reality than a vague idea. Piggybacking off that, one piece of advice I can offer is that truckers should start each week of budgeting by taking out the cash amount of it when it starts. Then, during the week only buying things with the cash will allow you actually tangibly take into account how much money you are spending. When you run out of cash, you reach the end of the budget. Sometimes when we use our cards to purchase everything, we forget how all the little things start to add up and it is super easy to accidentally overspend.
These days, almost everyone has online banking features. If you haven’t already gotten into the habit of monitoring your finances on your mobile device, there’s no better time than the present. It’s a much more convenient alternative than stopping at an ATM to check your balance. Also, most banks offer mobile apps where you can access your account information easier than ever. This is an excellent way to keep tabs on your spending while away from home. Side-note: If you’re away from home a lot, mobile banking is an easy way to pay bills without dealing with forwarding paper mail.
Stray Away from Cash Advances
Times are tough. But, cash advances should only be the absolute last resort for when you are strapped for cash. Most of the time, when employers take that money out of your paycheck ahead of time they tack on an additional fee. Sure, it may take away the current money-stress but it only snowballs the probability of it happening when payday comes around next time. After accepting a cash advance and paying the fee, it makes your next paycheck a lot smaller than you might imagine. It’s a dangerous habit to get into. If you do need to take a cash advance, reset a lower budget for the next pay-period to anticipate your smaller paycheck.
Take Advantage of Sweet Driver Deals
Nearly every company offers those “reward” cards and will offer them frequently. Honestly, I usually turn those down. But hey, for places like truck stops that I frequent often anyway, they can end up saving money here and there for the stuff I would of bought there anyway! It’s a total win! Some of these stops will give you something free when you buy all that diesel like a shower or drink. It might not be much, but you might as well take full advantage of the rewards on things you would be needing to pick up anyway!
Use Free WiFi
When you’re on the road, the internet is a MUST. Unfortunately though, you’ve got to be careful with some phone plans. Going over on data can creep up on you and then…BAM! Overage charges out the woo-ha! Be cautious of your phone plan and take full advantage on the places that offer free WiFi. Some places that offer WiFi you can use include McDonalds and Starbucks.