If you are a Canadian truck driver you are probably making somewhere between $40,000 and $65,000 per year depending on your experience in the industry and the pay scale of the company you work for. If you’re an Owner Operator you’re probably taking home double this amount. So what happens to all your hard earned cash?
Whether you’re new to trucking or have been driving for years, a company driver or an owner operator; it’s easy to get caught up in spending all you’re hard earned cash on over the road expenses. Paying for meals, showers, impulse buying when you go in to pay for your fuel, even doing laundry on the road all adds up.
The Biggest Drain on your Finances is Purchasing Food from Truck Stops and Restaurants
If you are a long haul truck driver you’re probably on the road for around 250 days of the year. That’s 750 meals if you’re eating three meals a day. Even working on the cheap and purchasing all of your meals at fast food chains for $5.00 a pop you’re looking at a yearly total of $3750. Realistically, and hopefully, you’re not doing this, so your food expenses are probably a lot closer to $24.00 a day for a total of $6000 a year. That’s a lot of hard earned money going right out the window and let’s face it, eating out every day is not the healthiest option.
Cutting these expenses is not all that difficult to do; it just takes a little planning. The average Canadian spends $200 a month on groceries which averages out to $2.22 per meal; that’s only $1665 on meals for the truck. Even if you’re living on the cheap it adds up to a yearly savings of over $2000. Just think of what you could do with that extra cash; not to mention how much better you will feel by eating healthier.
By investing in some kitchen appliances for the truck you’ll be able to warm up precooked meals that you bring from home or even cook your meals on the road. A microwave, a fridge an electric grill and or an electric fry pan or even a lunch box stove will be very well worth the investment and help you save money in the long run.
Impulse Buying Adds up Quicker than You Think
You fuel, go in to pay and come walking out with a coffee and snack. It happens to all of us, daily. What’s the harm in spending a couple of bucks? Well ask yourself; is it really only a couple of bucks? Be honest. If you’re buying items on impulse just once a day, let’s say at $4.00 it adds up to $1000 a year. In talking with drivers, and getting their confessions on impulse buying, I’ve noticed that impulse buying is done more than once a day and drivers are spending closer to $12.00 even $18.00 a day. Add those figures up and you’re spending between $3000 and $4500 a year.
We tend not to notice where this money is going because we aren’t paying attention to a couple dollars here and a couple more there, but eventually it all adds up. Where is this money going? Well, mostly into coffee purchases, chips, chocolate bars, cookies, bottles of pop and juice; the list goes on, but you get the point. The great thing about starting to do grocery shopping before your runs is you get to include snack items. First, you will pay less second you’ll be able to make healthier choices and third, you’ll save yourself tons of money. Of course you’ll still be tempted to buy the odd coffee, or chocolate bar, you may even run out of juice and have to purchase more so it’s best so set a budget for yourself which will allow you to enjoy impulse buying without going broke. Set your amount, be it $10 a week or even $20, and have this as cash on hand. You’ll be able to see how much you’ve spent and you’ll know when you’ve used up your budgeted amount.
Last, but not least, Don’t Pay for Showers and Laundry on the Road
If you’ve been driving for years you already know how to save money here, but this is for new truck drivers. Don’t pay for showers on the road because you can get them for free. All you need to do is sign up for a points reward program with any of the major truck stop chains. When you purchase fuel, which will be almost daily, you get a free shower added to your card. It’s really that simple and when considering that the going rate for a shower is in and around $10, you’ll be saving over $2000 a year.
Laundry is another expense, but if you plan ahead you can avoid having to do laundry over the road and get it done while you’re at home. Most places are charging $4.00 for a wash and dry, although most truckers have to go through two dry cycles so realistically it’s $6.00 per load. I know it doesn’t add up to much at $200 a year, but given the time it takes and how little time truck drivers have to spare when they are on the road, it’s better to just get laundry done at home.
Being a truck driver can get really expensive pretty quickly if you let it. The trick is to pay attention to where you’re hard earned cash is really going and to make plans to reduce the amount of money you spend on over the road expenses.