Featured Article: Renewed hope
“Truckers need to track their expenses and have a file system they put in the seat next to them,” Shedrow says. Keeping consistent weekly records of spending by category, such as diesel and food, helps show where expenses can be trimmed, she explains. She also recommends reviewing credit card statements and credit reports for accuracy.
“You’ve got to stop using credit cards,” Shedrow says. “Now it’s going to take longer than before to get out of debt.”
The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act of 2009, which went into effect Feb. 22, introduced several consumer protection measures, but at the same time gave lenders leeway to charge higher fees or rates, especially for small business owners. “Even if you weren’t late [paying], they could raise rates. And even if you pay in full, there’s talk that they may charge an annual fee,” Shedrow says.
Even with such cautionary advice, the outlook for owner-operators is beginning to brighten. “The owner-operator who has survived now is going to survive going ahead,” says Chris Brady, president of Commercial Motor Vehicle Consulting of Manhasset, N.Y. “I think we’ve seen the worst.”
Burbidge agrees that prospects are picking up for owner-operators. “But if they come out here,” he says, “they’d better have a good company with enough freight to make it.” n
Checking your credit report
To stay familiar with your credit record and correct errors that will reported to lenders, check your credit report periodically.
Every 12 months, you can print a free copy of your credit file from all three credit reporting agencies by calling (877) 322-8228 or going to www.annualcreditreport.com. Or you can reach each agency directly:
• Equifax (800)-685-1111, www.equifax.com;
• Experian (888) 397-3742; www.experian.com;
• TransUnion (800)-888-4213, www.transunion.com.
Where your report has a negative incident that needs an explanation, such as circumstances beyond your control, contact that credit bureau about adding that information. Negative history is less harmful the longer it has been in a report, and is dropped after seven years.
Likewise, positive information, such as accounts paid on time, should be added to your report if it would help develop trust with a potential lender.