Personal Finance

5 Budgeting Tips for Truck Drivers

March 14, 2022

5 Budgeting Tips for Truck Drivers

Life on the road as an OTR trucker can get expensive fast. If you’re not careful, you might end up spending more than you make on a route. We’ve put together some tips for stretching your hard-earned money and helping you meet your financial goals.

How can a truck driver live cheap?

Living cheap on the road isn’t easy. But it can be done with a little planning and discipline. Small changes can add up quickly and make a big difference. We have compiled some money saving tips for truckers to help you get the most out of your paychecks.

Step one is to make a list of all the expenses you incur while on the road. This will include things like meals, diesel, shower/laundry fees, snacks, etc. that you incur while truck driving.

Step two is to think about how to reduce some of those expenses and plan accordingly. If you know, for example, that a certain gas station has the best price for diesel for 50 miles, plan your route so that you can stop there for fuel instead of paying more at a different station. 

1. Make a Budget

Okay. This sounds obvious, but a lot of people do not have a budget. Or they have one that they don’t really use. Make a budget by figuring out your monthly expenses and income. Be sure to add lines for savings as well as things like entertainment or non-essential shopping. You won’t be able to stick to a budget if you don’t allow yourself some “fun money.” As a truck driver, your income may change from month to month. So keep an eye on your budget, and make adjustments as you go so you can stick to it and always know how much money you have available. 

2. Pack Meals and Snacks

We talked before about bringing your own food and meal prepping instead of eating out to stay healthy as a truck driver. This is also a really good way to save a substantial amount of money. If you’re a long haul trucker, and you eat at a diner or fast food restaurant for three meals a day, you could be spending upwards of $30 per day just on food! Reduce food expenses by grocery shopping and cooking your own meals or packing meals instead of relying on expensive and unhealthy truck stop options. If you buy some fruit and protein bars for snacks or peanut butter and bread for sandwiches, you can reduce your meal spending significantly. Even if you account for having to purchase a small refrigerator or even a portable crockpot for your food, you’ll still save a lot of money over eating out all the time. 

Instead of buying sodas or bottles of water, use refillable water bottles, and fill them up for free whenever possible. You’d be surprised by how these small changes add up over time. 

3. Ask for Discounts

If you’re a new driver you may not know that there are many discounts available to CDL drivers. All you have to do is ask! When you’re planning your route, look online to see if any nearby businesses offer CDL discounts. You may end up saving a lot. Even insurance companies sometimes offer discounts on your personal vehicle insurance if you’re a commercial driver. And if you’re a member of AAA, AARP, or any other membership program, think about asking for those discounts as well. 

Look for signs offering free wifi or rewards programs for frequent customers. You’d be surprised how much you can save with these.

4. Auto-Pay Your Bills

When you’re driving OTR, it’s easy to forget about paying your bills on time. Avoid those late payment fees and possible dings to your credit by putting as many of your bills on auto-pay as you can. Cell phone bills, home electric, mortgage or rent, subscription services, and credit cards can almost all be automatically paid.

5. Plan Your Stops

The best thing you can do to stick to a budget is to plan your stops. Research the rest stops and truck stops you’ll be passing on your route. It’s easy to spend wildly when you pull up somewhere with no plan for food, laundry, rest, wifi, and entertainment. When you’re working out where you’re driving and when, make sure to plan out things like where you’re going to shower and do laundry, where you’re going to eat or buy groceries, and what kinds of entertainment are available and within your budget. Some places offer free showers for truckers, so doing a little research can have a positive on your bank account.

One important thing to remember is that budgeting and saving are not all-or-nothing ideas. If you forget to pack a lunch one day or make an occasional large purchase, that’s okay. Try not to trash the rest of the budgeting and planning you did for that day, week, or month. One slip-up doesn’t have to derail your financial goals. 

How can I make more money as a truck driver?

As you make your budget, you may find yourself trying to figure out ways to make more money with your truck driving job. With the national shortage of truck drivers, opportunities for better paying gigs are everywhere. TransForce can help you find the best trucking companies and a job that fits your lifestyle and financial goals. 

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