One of the biggest challenges for inexperienced drivers working their first truck driving job is saving money. Let's face it, everyone wants to save money and truck drivers are no different.
So, how do you make it happen while working a trucking job that has you out on the road for weeks at a time?
Luckily, Driver Solutions was able to connect with Mike and Vicki Simons via Twitter and they agreed to do a blog post to help out inexperienced drivers. Check it out below!
Money Saving Tips for Inexperienced Truck Drivers
By: Vicki Simons
My husband Mike and I graduated from truck driver training school and started work in the trucking industry in the early 1990's. Those were in the days before Internet access, cell phones and many of the technological wonders that many truckers now rely upon were readily available. I will share with you in this article some money saving tips for new trucking school graduates and inexperienced truck drivers, especially those who will be driving a commercial motor vehicle regionally or long haul.
There were two items that we took with us from our very first trip as a husband and wife professional truck driving team:
- a portable toilet and
- a device in which to keep food cold.
If we were starting out today, not only would we have these items with us, but we would also add an inverter and at least one appliance in which to cook food.
Let's look at these choices in greater detail.
A Portable Toilet
We have used our units over the years to hold not only bodily waste but also waste water from brushing our teeth and cleaning dishes after meals. Unfortunately, not all trucking companies allow portable toilets in their trucks. So before you invest in one, check to make sure that your company of choice allows them.
Food is Expensive on the Road
One of the biggest expenses that new-out-of-school company drivers will have is food. Sure, you can eat out a lot, but it is expensive. Some truck stops not only have their own restaurants but also fast food offerings, either from onsite fast food restaurants or refrigerated cases of premade foods. It is much healthier for your body and your wallet if you prepare your own food and recipes from healthy, nutritious ingredients.
In order to have a well-rounded diet and save money, we chose to take perishable foods with us. Among them are a variety of meats, dairy products, fruits, vegetables and breads. Some of these foodstuffs require being kept cold. The three main types of food cooling devices used by truckers are:
We have tried them all. Each has its pros and cons.
You can cook many, many meals in just one or two appliances. When it comes to meal preparation, we describe on our site the different types of appliances we have used to cook food in our trucks over the years. We prefer to use a hot pot for cooking and rewarming many foods. A crock pot comes in handy for cooking food while you travel down the road. You just need to make sure that you brace the appliance so that it won't tip over when you go around curves or brake suddenly.
For a while when he was by himself in the truck, Mike used a microwave oven for warming small items. Larger meal preparations of saucy type foods can sometimes be done in an electric skillet. With the right equipment, you can cook just about anything -- including Thanksgiving dinner -- in your truck.
But to run most household cooking appliances, you need power…
Powering Your Equipment with an Inverter
Unless one is fortunate enough to hire on with a company whose trucks are equipped with auxiliary power units (APUs), many company-issued commercial motor vehicles have only DC-powered 12-volt cigarette lighter outlets as a means by which drivers can get power. As you may know, most household appliances run off AC (alternating current) not DC (direct current) electricity. The solution for inverting power from DC to AC is an inverter.
The two types of inverters most often used by truckers are:
- the cigarette lighter plug in type (which, depending on the model, can deliver up to about 175 watts of power) and
- the battery-connected kind (which, depending on the truck's configuration and model of unit, can deliver between 200 and 3000 watts of power).
Your trucking company may place a cap on the maximum amount of power that a battery-connected inverter can draw from its trucks' batteries. One of the trucking companies Mike drove for allowed nothing more than a cigarette lighter style inverter while a different company placed a 1500-watt cap on a battery-connected unit.
You can run many household appliances with 1500 watts of power or less. Some drivers require an inverter to power laptop computers, recharge cell phones and run their CPAP machines while they sleep.
Bear in mind that you can run simultaneously only those appliances that will not draw more power than the inverter can deliver. In our case, sometimes we had to run just one cooking appliance at a time so as not to overload the inverter. It was a small price to pay in time to save big money.
Consider the math: if you had to pay an average of $8 plus tax and tip for lunch and an average of $10 plus tax and tip for dinner at a truck stop -- five days a week -- you would be shelling out some serious cash. How much less expensive it could be to eat in your truck with options greatly expanded when you can cook your meals by inverter power.
The charge in your truck's batteries will determine the length of time that you can draw power through a battery-connected inverter. If you use your inverter while the engine is not running, the power will draw down faster than if it is running. Given the price of diesel these days, your company may require you to limit your idling time. Again, check with your prospective company before buying an inverter.
Watch Out for Traps
One of the reasons why we started our website, Truck-Drivers-Money-Saving-Tips.com, was to warn other drivers about traps, particularly certain inferior products that are marketed and sold to truck drivers. Many of these are what we call "cheaply made but expensive to buy." One red flag that we have learned to watch out for is a very short warranty period (like a 90-day limited warranty). If a product is worth its salt, it will have a one-year warranty of some kind.
When you buy items from a truck stop, be aware of its return policy. Some chains may allow returns for up to 30 days or may only allow an exchange for other merchandise (as in "no returns for cash"). This can be a trap. Assume that you bought a product from a truck stop that had a 30-day return policy and it broke on the 31st day. You're flat out of luck. So be on your guard.
What to Pack in Your Truck
When you train with a trainer, you may be asked to take a minimum of things with you. You may be given a list of what to bring and what not to bring. When you get out on your own, your options may expand greatly. We provide some guidance about what we have taken out with us on the road in the form of three different packing lists -- job-related, food and equipment, and personal -- all of which are available as free downloads from our site.
That's Just the Beginning
There is so much more that we'd like to be able to tell you. Drop by our site and get lots of money saving tips for professional truck drivers. After a while, we hope you'll share some of your own. We're especially looking for product reviews, service reviews and reviews on truck stops and truck parts.
We wish you great success in your new career, safe travels and lots of money saving opportunities on the road.
Through Truck-Drivers-Money-Saving-Tips.com, Vicki Simons and her husband Mike provide real world tips that help professional truck drivers save hard-earned money and personal reporting about products and services for use on the road. They have developed their unique website as a place to share the tips they have learned through the years and where other professional drivers can do the same. For more information, visit http://www.truck-drivers-money-saving-tips.com/.
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