How to Save Money When on the Road
It’s no secret that being a trucker is one of the toughest jobs out there. The challenges of the last few years have continued to make the job harder and also even more important than ever. Many truckers are facing the increased consumer demand, supply chain disruptions, and now inflation as challenging aspects of the job. Aside from the concerns around inflation, it never hurts to save a penny wherever you can; a dollar saved is a dollar earned! Trucking can be a very lucrative career, and incorporating some money-savvy techniques can bolster your overall profit on the road.
Americans have been facing increasing inflation in 2022. According to the Associated Press, prices rose 1% in June, which is the largest one-month increase seen since 2005. While gas prices have shown a slight decline from a national average of $5.00 to $4.26, prices still remain higher than last year. Truckers spend most of their work hours away from home, and have to spend on things like food, lodging, and gas out of necessity. Saving money on the road has never been more crucial to the income of truckers. Luckily, there are a lot of simple yet impactful ways to lower your expenses on the job.
Pack your own supplies before each trip. Buying food at restaurants and rest stops can cut into your profits, especially on cross-country routes. The average cost of a meal at a fast food restaurant can be between $5.00-$7.00. While this may not seem expensive at first, consider paying this twice a day for several weeks at a time over one year. That really adds up! The average American spends $1,200 on fast food per year; for truckers, that average can more than double. However, the cost per serving of a home-cooked meal can save you thousands in the long run. For example, a burrito from the common fast food stop Chipotle will cost upwards of $6.00 depending on the location. A simple recipe for chicken fajitas can cost about $3.48 per serving! Additionally, snacks will be cheaper when bought in bulk online or from a local store in comparison to rest stops, which often increase prices for travelers. Pack up the ingredients for some affordable recipes, meal prep, and pack your own drinks and snacks to cut down on your food expenses.
In addition to food, consider other supplies you run through on your trips. Make a list of supplies you’ve had to purchase or use on previous trips to see what you can pack ahead of time. Consider cleaning supplies, paper towels, toiletries, and even medicines like Advil. Anything and everything you need should be stocked up ahead of time to eliminate these expenses at rest stops, where prices might be higher than those of your local stores.
As mentioned above, cooking your own meals can significantly reduce your expenses. Meal prep is a smart option for saving money on food. Make several servings of your favorite meals ahead of time, pack in individual serving containers, and your trip’s food is covered! To store prepared meals, or fresh ingredients, consider investing in a mini fridge for your cab. You can also find electric stoves, microwaves, or pressure cookers for easy ways to make meals in your truck and avoid the fast food spending. If you’re an avid coffee drinker, you can even save money on coffee stops by bringing your own coffee maker. Although it is an upfront cost, these appliances are an investment that can save you lots of money in the long run. Be sure to get a power inverter for your cab to allow you to safely use these appliances. Speak with your company before getting these appliances yourself to double-check if they offer these perks to their drivers- many do!
Use Reward Programs
While many rest stops have increased prices for travelers, many offer rewards and perks for the hard-working truckers that frequent them. Rewards can vary from fuel cards, free drinks, or discounts on food. For a list of some of the best driver rewards programs, check here. Rest stops offer many free resources such as free wifi, showers, and free water. Some places even have fitness centers and laundromats!
Be Proactive with Maintenance
The key to avoiding expensive breakdowns or repairs is proactive maintenance. Take advantage of maintenance services your company offers before every haul to ensure nothing will go awry on your trip. If you hear any concerning noises, or feel something is off, don’t hesitate to stop and inspect the vehicle. If you’re unsure if something is wrong, other truckers can also be a fantastic resource for some extra advice. Not only is this important for your safety, but you just might catch a small problem early before it becomes a larger and more expensive one. If you are an owner operator, a lot of extra expenses can fall on your shoulders. However, maintenance checks and small repairs will be a much smaller dent to your wallet than something more complicated.
Keep to a Budget
Creating a budget is going to be your best tool for saving on your trucking expenses. Take some time to review your past spending to estimate what you spend daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly. Are there areas where you can improve? Reviewing your spending history allows you to see your past expenses and bring attention to unnecessary spending you may not have noticed before. Once you have an idea of your spending and how to improve, make a new plan for your budget. This can be tracked in a budgeting app or a physical expenses book. Stay on top of your purchases and enter them into your budget each time to stay on track.
Every penny counts when it comes to your profits as a truck driver. The nature of the job calls for spending money on things like fuel, food, and repairs. With proper planning and budgeting, you can cut down on your expenses even amidst inflation to get the most out of your money in a trucking career!