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Cost Conscious

Launching off on your own entails expenses you never encountered as a company driver


You pay a price to be an owner-operator, not only in your commitment to finding freight and keeping your truck running but in the expenses required to get your business on the road. You’re faced with decisions about your equipment, your business partners and your region and other operational choices, such as whether to lease out or drive independently. All these decisions will have an impact on how much it will cost you to be your own boss.

Leasing or not, first is the truck expense. If you can make a sizable down payment – several thousand dollars – you’re better off buying. At tax time, you’ll get three years of depreciation. You’ll face a smaller down payment if you lease, and you’ll be able to write off all the payments as they happen, plus take depreciation on the value of the truck if you buy it at the end of the lease, says David Wolff, sales manager at ATBS Leasco.

Russell Fullingim of Truckers Financial Services suggests setting aside money to cover at least one month and preferably three months of expenses when you start. Don’t count on credit cards to get you through, because it will be hard to catch up on that high-interest debt.

Your insurance costs will vary depending on your truck’s value. For an ’05 with 500,000 miles, physical damage insurance will run $150 a month, Wolff estimates, while a new truck might cost you $300 to $400 monthly. Bobtail insurance might run another $30 to $50 – slightly more for a new rig – depending on where you’re running and what you’re hauling.

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