Keep track of your spending to avoid surprises. For example, you might be surprised by how much you’re spending on fast food because you’re too lazy to pack your own lunch.
Know your gross pay vs net pay: Gross pay is how much you earn before deductions. Net pay is what you take home after deductions. Understand the difference to know how much you’re really making, or in other words, how much you have left to spend on truck stop souvenirs.
Set financial goals: Whether it’s saving money, paying off debt, or planning for retirement, setting specific goals can help you stay on track. Just make sure your goal isn’t “buy a truck with more chrome than the Golden Gate Bridge.”
Manage your taxes: As an independent contractor, you’re responsible for paying your own taxes. Make sure you understand your tax obligations and don’t forget to find a qualified tax professional who knows all the tax breaks available to truckers. Trust us, you don’t want the IRS to come after you with a truck-sized auditing stick.
Save for retirement: Even if you don’t have a traditional employer-sponsored plan, you can still save for the future. Consider opening an IRA or setting aside money in a high-yield savings account. That way, when you’re too old to climb into your rig, you’ll have a little something to fall back on.
Get insurance: Make sure you are properly insured with commercial insurance, and also find a health care insurance option. Many professional drivers do not have health insurance, but that doesn’t mean you should skimp on coverage. After all, you never know when you might get hit by a flying cow.
Budget for unexpected expenses: Large repair costs and new tires can sneak up on you. Make sure you have some extra cash set aside for the unexpected, like that time your truck caught fire because you forgot to turn off your cigarette.
Make sure you’re getting the best rates possible. Don’t drive for less than market rates, but also be willing to drop your rates if necessary to avoid losing time waiting for a load. Sometimes, losing a few dollars on one load can mean missing out on making thousands at the end of the week. Unless, of course, you get lost and end up in Canada.
Monitor your credit score: Your credit score can affect your ability to borrow money and get good loan terms. Check it regularly and take steps to improve it if needed. Otherwise, you might end up with a truck payment that’s bigger than your entire paycheck.
Seek financial advice: If you’re not sure how to manage your finances as an independent contractor, seek the advice of a financial professional. They can help you create a budget, set goals, and make smart financial decisions. Just don’t listen to that guy at the truck stop who says he can double your money if you just wire it to him.