As a trucker, it’s important to keep your finances in order while out on the road. Regardless of if you’re new to the trucking industry, or are a seasoned driver, it’s never the wrong time to get your finances going in the right direction. Check out these simple financial planning tips for truckers:
Set Goals & Be Realistic
- Track spending and income. For at least a month or two, keep track of every penny you spend and every penny you make. Be honest and track every expenditure, even if you would really rather not. Take a good look at it; where is there room to save? Are there any opportunities to increase your earning?
- Assess account balances. What do you have in savings? Checking? Do you have any debt – credit card, student loans, mortgage, or vehicle loans?
- Set short-term goals. Keep these goals realistic and measurable. Do you want to pay off some existing debt? Ask yourself if you can put an extra $100 towards it each month. Do you want to build some savings? Can you put even just $10/week into a savings account?
- Set long-term goals. Are you hoping to buy a new car or make a down payment on a house? Think about how you can start saving for those goals as well. Even small amounts of savings will add up to help you meet your goals.
- Use a budgeting app. The internet has so many free budgeting tools, that allow you to see exactly where you’re spending your money. One of the best is called “Every Dollar”, by Dave Ramsey.
- Take advantage of 401K match options. Consider this – if you make $50k a year, and your employer offers to match 50% your 401k contributions up to 6%, that means that there is up to $1,500 of additional pay available to you.
If you currently don’t have a budget in place or any savings, then it’s a good plan to create a six-month emergency fund. Ideally, this fund will have enough money to tide you over for six months in case something happens to you. It can take a long time to build, of course, but it provides a lot of security and comfort. Keep this fund separate from your other savings and keep it for just emergencies.
So, where are some places to find room in your budget?
- Eating out. Of course, so much of your job is on the road, and eating out is the easiest thing to do. But in addition to being rough on your waistline, eating frequent meals in restaurants is rough on your budget. Pack your own snacks and beverages, make your own coffee, and plan to eat meals in your truck more often than you eat out.
- Bad habits. Smoking or other tobacco usage, speeding tickets, or unnecessary entertainment can all eat into your budget.
- Cell phone and other device plans. Are you constantly going over your minutes or data usage and paying hefty overage charges? Or are you regularly not using your plan to its fullest and overpaying?
- Insurance. Regularly assess your insurance coverage (whether home, truck, or otherwise) to make sure you have enough coverage, but you aren’t overpaying.
- Preventative maintenance. On you or your truck. Take care of your health and get regular medical and dental checkups to save money in the long run. Same goes for your truck – take good care of it now and avoid costly breakdowns later.
- Pay with cash. Save on interest charges on a personal credit card and make sure you stick to your budget by using cash.
These are just a few small changes you can make to get you on your way to financial planning as a trucker.