Tips for Managing Your Finances on the Road
When you’re focused on your day-to-day life as a driver, it can be easy to fall behind on important tasks outside of your job, like managing personal finances. But thanks to a number of online services and mobile apps it’s relatively easy to keep tabs on your finances while you’re away from home. In this blog, we’ll uncover some of the apps and services out there that can help you manage a budget and investments, plus general best practices when it comes to spending habits, paying bills, and more.
Having a clear picture of how much money you’re bringing in and spending each month is key to planning and progressing to any financial goal you may be working towards. We all want some money stored away for our golden years.
Think of a budget like a quarterback reading the defensive and making plays based on what he sees. If you know exactly what you’re spending money on, you’re in a better position to adjust your spending habits that are conducive to your goals. What traditionally has deterred people from managing a budget is the idea that it takes a lot of time and effort to manually input expenses and make calculations to track if you’re staying on target with your goals. But, there’s really no need to create your own ‘system’ for managing your budget – there are mobile apps for that.
Some of the top budgeting apps, according to NerdWallet, include:
- YNAB (You Need a Budget)
- Personal Capital
In NerdWallet’s blog that covers top budgeting apps, they break down each of these apps – what features they offer and users they’re intended for. As NerdWallet points out, each app
varies in the features they offer, but the gist is, you can link your financial accounts like credit cards, bank, and investment accounts – to the app. By doing this, the app(s) can automatically input and organize your expenses. It makes budgeting a whole lot easier than trying to do it all yourself.
Think about all the ‘small’ purchases you make in a week. Meals, snacks, beverages, and other goods at truck stops, convenience stores and restaurants all add up. Any guesses what the average mark up on a $2 bottle of water is? 4000%. It’s worth investing in a good reusable water bottle and drinking tap. Plus, it’s good for the environment.
If you have the means to store and/or make food on the road, meal prepping can help you save significantly on food expenses. The more goods you’re able to purchase at wholesale stores like Walmart, the more you save. Items at truck stops and convenience stores are always marked up more than what you can find elsewhere, so plan for what you will need before you leave for a trip. With just a few cooking gadgets and stowaway cooking equipment, it’s simple to make some delicious home-cooked meals on the road. We offer up some suggestions on what cooking devices are worth bringing onboard with you, plus easy to make recipes in our blog that covers cooking on the road.
As an owner-operator, you’re on the hook for covering your truck’s maintenance expenses. And to help prevent unexpected maintenance costs from happening, it’s important to stay on top of your servicing schedule. Be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to maintaining your truck. Preventative maintenance can help keep your truck running at peak performance, reduce unexpected servicing and downtime costs. For more on this topic, check out our blog on how to keep your truck in top operating condition.
Another way to help cut costs is to acquire a fuel card to save some money when you fill up. A few cents off each gallon adds up quick in this business. There are several fuel cards out there, each offering a variety of rewards. It’s important to match where you typically drive with the locations the card you are interested in is accepted to maximize savings.
If you’re a company driver looking to make the leap to owning or leasing your own truck, it might be a good idea to browse through trucker forums to see what other drivers are doing when it comes to starting your own business, financing a truck, taxes and more. The Truckers Report has a good forum that covers these topics worth checking out.
For other tips on how to reduce expenses for company drivers and owner-operators, check out EZ Freight Factoring’s 14 tips on how to save money as a truck driver.
It’s much easier to manage your bills by setting up online payments, especially if you’re out on the road for weeks at a time. Almost all bills these days can be paid online or over the phone, so take advantage. Mark in your calendar when recurring bills are due and set a reminder to pay them before they’re due. Credit card company’s all have mobile apps that you can download so that you can view your statements and pay off your bill.
Be sure to download the bank accounts your credit cards and other online payment services are linked to. That way, you can be sure you always have sufficient funds in your account before making a payment.
Before we get into investing, remember it’s always a good idea to discuss your financial goals and receive advice from a financial advisor. The advent of new financial software and technology over the years has changed the traditional way of wealth management as we know it. Today, there are many new online financial service providers that allow individuals to take a more ‘hands on’ approach when it comes to investing. Companies like Robinhood, Webull, E-Trade, and others let anyone trade stocks, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies. Robo-advisors, an alternative to traditional portfolio management services, use computer algorithms and software to build and manage an investment portfolio.
There are a lot of new online investment services on the market, but as mentioned before, when it comes to managing investments, it’s best to consult a financial advisor. There’s a lot to think about when it comes to investing. So, it’s important to create a plan. This article by NerdWallet offers up advice from financial experts about what to consider when it comes to creating an investment plan.
Everyone has their own personal financial goals they’re trying to reach. Taking advantage of the financial resources available makes it easy to manage your money wherever you may be.