Frugal Trucking

Robert Lake
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How much money does it take to be happy?

That’s a tricky question according to this month’s cover story. A lot of the things we think we need, we really only want. As I looked through the entertainment tips, it made me realize that what my family really needs from me is my time and attention versus what they want, which is everything advertised on TV.

We all get caught up in the gimmes, but as the bills keep coming in from the holiday season, these tips are a good reminder that thriftiness is a virtue that’s as American as apple pie, homemade apple pie that is.

Trucking is a tough business, but successful truckers, who sent in a lot of these tips, say they provide a good life for themselves and their families by keeping track of expenses and cutting back where they can.

Pay per mile and costs like fuel and taxes are pretty much standard throughout the industry. There’s not a lot you can do about insurance increases or fuel price surges. However, the difference between success and failure almost always comes down to managing costs whether you are a company driver or owner-operator. Decreasing spending is the one area where you can increase your wealth. Trucker’s wives who wrote in said they’ve been amazed at how much money they can save by simply comparing phone card costs versus cell phone prices or by banking online.

Cutting back doesn’t have to hurt. Renting a book on tape instead of buying it can save you big bucks with very little inconvenience. Dropping your speed by 5 miles per hour not only saves money but also makes you a safer driver. E-mailing saves stamps while keeping you in closer touch with friends and family. Impulse spending, the biggest risk to a healthy bank account, can be curbed by making it harder to whip out your credit card (see tip by Kevin Rutherford).

In spite of all the great ways to cut costs and stretch your dollars, it still comes down to the old cliché; the best things in life really are free.

Go on a picnic, take the kids ice skating on a pond or simply rent a movie and pop some popcorn. Spending time with your family is a gift that money can’t buy and the one thing that will give dividends in the years to come.