Do you have a money problem? Many truck drivers struggle with their finances, relying on payday advances and loans to pay the bills. If you’re sick of living paycheck to paycheck or want to finally build up some emergency savings, this guide will give you some actionable tips for saving money on the road.
If you’re already in the hole with too much credit card debt or in the habit of payday loans, making financial changes isn’t going to be easy. Stick with it, even when it is difficult. A better financial future is possible, but you are going to need to put in some work to get there.
Stop Eating Out
What does your typical dinner look like? If you subsist on burger, fries, milkshakes, and truck stop fare, you’re not doing your body or your budget any favors. If you spend just $10 a meal, three meals a day you’re spending just over $200 a week on food, just on yourself. Save yourself a ton of money and stop eating out.
Without a stove, microwave, and sometimes without even a fridge, eating on the road can seem impossible, but it is doable. Salads and sandwiches are easy to throw together on the fly. Make a quick trip to the grocery store and pick up a few essentials (packaged lunch meat, cheese, bagged salad mix, salad dressing, peanut butter, bread, snacks, etc.) to stock in your truck. If you don’t have a fridge, stow your food in a cooler and replace the ice as needed.
By skipping the restaurants and eating on your own you can easily cut your food budget in half, or more, and you’ll eat better too.
Make a Budget… and Stick to It
If you want to spend less and save more a budget is essential. A budget does more than tell you what to spend; if done correctly it can help you notice spending problems and curb expensive habits.
When you’re on the road you’ll need two budgets: one for your family back at home and another for your expenses in the truck. Base your budgets on the amount you earn during a low mileage week. On weeks when you earn more, put the extra in the bank or use it to pay down debt. This is an excellent way to build up your savings.
Make sure you’re tracking your spending. Write down each purchase and keep a log of what you’ve spent. Go back to analyze your purchases and see how you stacked up. Find problems and make changes as needed.
Don’t Get Cash Advances or Payday Loans
When you’re in a cash crunch a payday loan is incredibly tempting, but these loans don’t actually fix your cash problems; they just delay them. Borrowing $150 from your next check means that you’ll start that month $150 short. Next month you’ll need to borrow more, just to stay afloat.
Live within your means, even if that means scaling back. Find a way to spend less so you can stop relying on payday loans to get through the month. If you’re currently living in the payday loan cycle, get out by creating a new budget (using your low mile income) and spending the extra to pay down the debt.
Other Ideas for Saving Money on the Road
These three tips are biggies for getting your spending and budget under control, but they aren’t the only ways to save. Try some of these bonus ideas too.
- Automatic Bill Pay– Automatic bill pay is a lifesaver when you’re on the road. Skip the late fees and know that your bills will always be paid on time.
- CDL Discounts– Many hotels and restaurants offer CDL discounts. If you’re going to eat out or stay in a hotel, it doesn’t hurt to ask if there’s a discount.
- In-Network ATMs– If you need to get cash, use an in-network ATM so you don’t have to pay expensive fees. If you can’t easily find access an in-network ATM, use your card as debit when buying groceries and get cash back to skip the fees.
- Truck Stop Rewards– Truck stop reward programs offer some great perks, including shower credits and free drinks, and many don’t charge for signing up
What are your secret tips for saving money on the road?