Tip: Know your cost per mile. Cost (or expense) divided by miles run equals cost per mile. Or, CPM=cost/miles run.
Source: Partners in Business
If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to save money over the next 12 months, you don’t have to give it up as impractical by February. It can be done. Here are 100 tips that really work to help you on your way to your goal.
First, decide what you want the extra money for. A vacation? College fund for your children? Chrome? Whatever it is, price it and use that as your motivator. When you have something to strive for, it’s much easier to begin because you are going to reward yourself with something you really want.
The key to successful saving is to change your spending habits beginning with small conveniences that you may be able to do without. All prices are based on research, complicated mathematical formulas, estimates and some serious guesstimates. (More information on these calculations is available on www.eTrucker.com.)
Some tips will help you more than others, depending on what sort of trucking life you lead. OK, some ideas may seem a little off-the-wall to you. But when you live on a budget that doesn’t have much to spare, little savings can accumulate until they become maybe the biggest single way you can significantly increase your take-home pay. So take note of some ideas that hit you as practical additions to your budgeting strategy.
1. Buy retreads at $80-$100 versus new drive tires at $300-$380. If you have to replace four drive tires out of eight one year, you could save more than $800.
2. Decrease your speedy cruising miles per hour by 5 miles. Save $2,300 per year.
3. Keep tires inflated to save on fuel. A tire that is 20 percent over- or under-inflated gets 2 percent less fuel efficiency. Save $500 per year.
4. Extend oil drains. Owner-operators change oil every 12,000 miles on average for multigrade oil. Most multigrade oils can handle an interval of at least 15,000 miles. Save $200 per year.
5. Cut your idle time in half. Save $1,000 per year.
6. Comparison shop for Group 31 batteries. Save $90 per year.
7. Wash your truck yourself one time per year. Save $50 per year.
8. Schedule routine maintenance checks to avoid engine breakdown. Save $15,000 per year. This cost includes repair, road service and lost revenue on current and future loads.
SUBTOTAL PER YEAR: $19,940
Invest in a small microwave and refrigerator to prepare your own meals for significant cost savings. Shop in bulk, cook ahead and load up before leaving for a long trip.
9. Use an old (clean) sock for coffee filters (repeat: a clean sock) Save $5 per month.
10. Make your own hot cocoa. Save $.25 per day.
11. Switch to off-brand soda. Save $1 per day.
12. Buy bulk paper products such as towels and tissues. Save $12 per year.
13. Reuse plastic sandwich bags (a few times). Save $6 per year.
14. Eat one meal per day in the cab. Save $12 per day.
15. Reuse tea bags, not just once but twice (unless you like really, really strong tea). Save $.50 per day.
16. Buy economy-size tomato sauce for making a spaghetti meal. Save $10 per year.
17. Eat two meatless meals per week. Save $4 per week.
18. Buy block cheese instead of shredded. Save $4.87 per month.
19. Make powdered lemonade instead of buying bottled. Save $0.75 per week.
20. Buy ground beef in bulk and freeze. Save $1.99 per week.
21. Use light bulbs with less wattage. Save $3 per month.
22. Use coupons. If you’ve ever waited in line behind avid coupon clippers and wondered if it was really worth it, it is. Save $60 per year.
23. Use rebates. Same as coupons, they really do pay off if you take the trouble to send them in. Save $40 per year.
24. Buy powdered milk instead of fresh. Save $25 per year.
25. Make your own instant oatmeal (you really shouldn’t pay to have someone make this stuff for you). Save $3 per week.
26. Grow and freeze herbs (they add great zest to meals but are expensive fresh or dried). Save $22 per year.
27. Buy candy at half-price sales after holidays (so you’ll be eating chocolate Easter bunnies on July 4th). Save $65 per year.
28. Buy flour in bulk. Save $22 per year.
29. Buy canned vegetables instead of fresh ones. The nutritional value is actually better with canned vegetables in many cases. Save $34 per year.
30. Make your own breadcrumbs with leftover bread or rolls. Save $12 per year.
31. Bring your own coffee flavoring to add to regular coffee and avoid paying gourmet coffee prices. Save $50 per year.
32. Add canned toppings to plain cheese pizza (no more $1 for every item you love). Save $14 per year.
33. Use instant dairy creamer instead of half-and-half. Save $6.90 per year.
34. Make your own cookies instead of buying them. Save $12 per month.
35. Use less sugar in recipes (and maybe lose a few pounds). Save $14 per year.
36. Use dried beans instead of canned ones. Save $1.25 per month.
37. Make your own cheese spread in the blender using a block of cheese and a dollop of cream cheese to soften. Save $32 per year.
38. Dried soup mixes are cheaper than canned ones. Save $12 per year.
SUBTOTAL PER YEAR: $6,359.57
Tip: Put travel soaps and soap slivers in a coffee cup along with an inch of water. Put the cup in a plastic bag, then microwave for two minutes. Dump the soap into a bowl. When cool enough to handle, squeeze into desired shape. Get your friends to save soap for you.
Barrett Smith, Largo
It’s the thought that counts, or at least that’s what they say. But don’t scrimp too much; sometimes it’s best to spend on that perfect gift for your special someone.
39. Send e-mails instead of cards. Save $40 per year.
40. Send e-mails instead of calling. Save $160 per year.
41. Make your own wrapping paper. Recycle old wrapping paper by ironing out the wrinkles or use paper bags and raffia string to wrap. Wallpaper and old trucking calendars make good paper, as do recycled magazines or newspapers. Save $27 per year.
42. Make gift tags from old Christmas cards. Save $12 per year.
43. Bring your own vase to the florist. Save $15 year.
44. Draw names and reduce holiday gift giving by half. Save $250 per year.
45. Buy butcher-block paper for crafts and drawings. Save $60 per year.
46. Buy half-price toys after holidays. Save $200 per year.
47. Buy name brand boots from eBay. Save $50 per year.
48. Cut down your own Christmas tree. Save $25 per year.
49. Buy lingerie at a thrift shop.* Save $50 per year.
50. Give your wife a massage. Spas are expensive and overrated. Save $50 per year.
51. Recycle gifts you didn’t like.(Make sure you keep track of who gave it to you, so you don’t give it back to them.) Save $25 per year.
SUBTOTAL PER YEAR: $964
Health and Hygiene
There are ways to stay healthy that don’t require much more than walking around the truckstop or quitting smoking. The benefits are priceless.
52. Buy reading glasses at the dollar store instead of expensive prescription ones. Save $200 per year.
53. Quit smoking: If you save the price of a pack a day for a whole year you save $1,095.
54. Some doctors allow up to a 5-percent discount on your bill if you pay when services are rendered. Then you file the insurance forms yourself. On a $40 charge you can save up to $2. Save $12 per year.
55. Ask your doctor to prescribe a double dose of your prescription medicine and then cut in half with a pill splitter (but check with the doc first to be sure). Save $50 per year.
56. Melt soap slivers or nearly used-up bars and make your own liquid soap. Save $25 per year.
57. Use cheap disposable razors versus fancy blades. Save $25 per year.
58. Use creme rinse in place of shaving cream. It can double as a moisturizer. Save $12 per year.
59. Wash your hair with off-brand shampoo vs. name-brand. Save $3 per month.
60. Microwave the leftover ends of your deodorant sticks and make new one. Save $8 per year.
61. Go to a beauty school for a haircut and style. Students are supervised by their teachers. You can get massages, facials, pedicures, manicures and color at beauty schools. Save $260 per year.
62. Use half the amount of shampoo. Save $25 per year.
63. Order contact lenses online. Save $45 per year.
SUBTOTAL PER YEAR: $1,793
Keeping your truck clean can consume a lot of expensive cleaning materials that you can make yourself or improvise to save tons of cash.
64. Use a box of baking soda as a cab deodorizer instead of expensive spray air fresheners. Save $7 per month.
65. Use newspapers instead of paper towels to clean your windows. As an added bonus, newspaper doesn’t leave streaks or little bits of fuzz on the glass. Save $63 per year.
66. Reuse vacuum bags. Save $25 per year.
67. Make your own cleaning solution. Many are made mostly of ammonia and food coloring. Save $7 per month.
68. Use baking soda to deodorize the cat box and save on fancy no-smell litter. Save $70 per year.
69. Cut your laundry detergent in half (most people use too much anyway). Save $50 per year.
70. Wash your comforter instead of taking it to the dry cleaners. Fluff dry by adding tennis balls to the dryer. Save $18 per year.
71. Buy a washing machine with four cycles instead of eight. Save $40 per week.
SUBTOTAL PER YEAR: $2,390
Tip: Freeze your credit card in a block of ice. That way, you have to really think about the purchase while the card thaws.
Kevin Rutherford, financial planner for owner-operators
You just wanna have fun, but it costs so darn much. Never fear, there’s entertainment on the cheap. You just have to know where to look. Window-shopping is fun and doesn’t cost a dime. Be creative. The best entertainment is spending time together with your loved ones.
72. Shop for the best cell phone deals and compare them to phone cards. Save $100 per year.
73. Pay to download songs (.99) legally from the Internet. Save $2,000 on a lawyer to defend yourself against music industry lawsuits.
74. Borrow books from the library instead of buying bestsellers. Save $81 per year.
75. Borrow books on tape from truckstops instead of buying them. Save $75 per year.
76. Go to movie matinees (half-price tickets). Save $100 per year.
77. Play video games on your computer instead of at the arcade. Save $50 per year.
78. Go to amusement parks off-season. You’ll pay cheaper ticket prices and beat the crowds. Save $50 per year.
79. Mail photos to be developed instead of taking them to a processing center. Save $10 per year.
80. Cancel your health club membership and take up walking (it has some very powerful health benefits). Save $300 per year.
81. Go on a picnic instead of eating out. Save $25 per week.
82. Chaperone a field trip and get into a museum for free. Save $25 per year.
83. Go to the dress rehearsal of a play. Save $10 per year.
84. Volunteer at a museum opening. Save $10 per year.
85. Read a book to your kid instead of taking him or her to the video arcade. Save $10 per month.
86. Sign up for e-mail notification of discount airline tickets. Save $200 a year.
87. Most resorts are half price off-season or during hurricane season. Save $300 per year.
88. Go ice-skating on a pond instead of an indoor rink (but be real sure of the thickness of the ice). Save $25 per year.
89. Scour trade shows for freebies and cool stuff like drink huggers. Save $20 per year.
90. Look at the dress in the window instead of buying it. Save $100 per year.
SUBTOTAL PER YEAR: $4,876
Doing home repairs or lawn care yourself takes precious time you could be spending with your family, but mowing your own lawn can fund a family trip to the beach.
91. Cancel trash service and do it yourself.* Save $200 per year.
92. Cancel all your magazine subscriptions, and pick up a copy of your free Truckers News. Save $75 per year.
93. Swap babysitting with friends. Save $125 per year.
94. Mow your own lawn. Save $50 per month.
95. Plant flowers from seeds. Save $50 per year.
96. Make your own compost pile and save on fertilizer. Save $45 per year.
SUBTOTAL PER YEAR: $1,095
Keeping up with your bank statements, bills and taxes can be a challenge for anyone. For someone on the road, it’s doubly important to be on top of bills to avoid late charges and finance charges. Get professional help if you are having a hard time.
97. Set the print preview feature on a computer and save on paper when you don’t print all the useless garbage at the bottom of the page. Save $14 per year.
98. Use direct withdrawal to pay bills and save on stamps. Save $40 per year.
99. Buy a rebuilt personal computer instead of a new one. Save $200 per year.
100. If you keep money in a passbook savings and checking account and pay a monthly service charge: STOP! Most banks are paying about 3.25 percent interest for a passbook savings and charging at least $8 per month for checking accounts. Example: with $1,000 in savings for a year you’ll earn $25. But your minimum balance will have to be $500 to $1,000 (check with your bank). Save $121 per year.
SUBTOTAL PER YEAR: $375
GRAND TOTAL: $37,792.57
Thrifty Living Is Chic
Frugal living can sometimes cross the boundaries between good budgeting and cheapskate, but there’s no denying that cutting out expenses can add up to big bucks. Here are some websites devoted to the frugal movement.
(fractured frugal friends)
Send in Your Frugal Trucker Tips
Send your most outlandish frugal tip to ,a href=”mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com. We’ll select one tip per month and print your suggestion in Truckers News and on eTrucker.com.