How to Reduce Financial Stress: Advice for One Trucker in Debt

Mike recalls talking with Steve about how to reduce financial stress.

Reduce financial stress.Newly hired at Mike’s trucking company (back in the days before the Hours of Service regulations changed to provide a 34-hour restart), Steve claimed that he “had” to get 3,000 paid miles every week in order make enough money to pay for all of his financial obligations.

He had a big house, a new pick-up truck, and on and on the list went.

It was very obvious that there were two forces working in tension in Steve’s life:

  • the desire to have material possessions no matter how high the cost and
  • the “need” to have a job to earn the money to pay for them.

Reduce Financial Stress and Relieve the Tension — How?

When one is in a situation like this, there are only three ways to relieve the tension yourself:

  • earn more,
  • pay out less, or
  • do a combination of the two.

A Realistic Appraisal

Face the factsLook realistically at the first option from the perspective of a professional truck driver.

It may be possible in other industries to earn more, but in trucking, one is limited by a lot of things, such as:

  • the Hours of Service regulation;
  • how well one’s trucking company utilizes you as a driver;
  • how one is paid (by the mile or by the hour);
  • the routes one drives (for example, interstate roads versus congested city roads);
  • the speed at which one’s truck is governed;
  • the weather;
  • accidents;
  • wait time; etc.

So, Trucker Income is Capped?

Need this much, can earn this much.Mike leveled with Steve that he wasn’t going to
– come into the company as a new driver,
– get all the “gravy loads” and
– expect to get 3,000 miles a week every week.

Not only that, but even if Steve started getting 3,000 paid miles a week consistently, the Safety Director was going to ask him how he could log 3,000 miles a week — week in and week out — do it legally and not run out of hours.

(Reminder: this was before the HOS provided a 34-hour restart.)

We’ve put this in image form here, the maximum number of miles that an average driver can earn each week versus how many Steve “had” to have.

You can see right away that this was an impossibility and there was no way on “the income side” of things for Steve to reduce financial stress in his life. (Unless, of course, Steve had a second income, which wasn’t on the horizon for him.)

So, earning more money (increasing your income) as a professional truck driver — strictly by driving — is generally not an option to reduce financial stress.

What About Outgo?

Turn back or reduce financial obligations.That leaves cutting back on outgo — or turning back or reducing financial obligations.

“Who told you that you had to have a brand new truck?” was one of the questions that Mike lobbed Steve’s direction.

He inquired about Steve getting a good used truck, one that he could either pay for outright or at least lower his payments significantly.

The same logic applied to other expenses he was paying for.

Mike asked him, “Who told you that you had to have all that stuff?”

He needed to reduce debt in his life, but all Steve offered was excuses why he needed “all that stuff.”

What Happened?

Symbolic of being overloaded with financial obligations.As it turned out, Mike never saw Steve again.

Perhaps Steve realized that he wasn’t going to be able to do what he wanted to do at that company and went elsewhere.

But the fact remained that Steve overloaded himself with financial obligations.

We describe in the Budgeting section of our site the need to list all of your income and expenses.

We encourage you to regularly review your priorities, shop around regarding insurance policies to see if you can get better coverage for a lower price, get rid of non-essential products and services, and reduce your debt as far as possible.

These days, many people are cutting back in ways they never would have dreamed of years ago — sometimes out of necessity.

For some people, drastic cuts will be needed to reduce financial stress.

It is preferable to cut back because you want to, not because you’re forced to.

truck drivers money saving tip iconMoney saving tip: We describe on our open enrollment page how a health insurance policy we had been able to get through a health insurance broker landed us better
coverage at a lower price than Mike’s trucking company was able to offer.

If you can’t do the shopping around yourself, perhaps you can get a broker who can write policies for a number of respected insurance providers to look for you.

Do you really need ABC service?

What about XYZ product?

Are you fully using what you have or can you sell it (perhaps through a yard sale or online)?

Each driver’s priorities may be slightly different.

Usually there is at least a little bit of “fat” in everyone’s budget that can be cut.

If you’re struggling with trying to reduce financial stress in your life, consider your alternatives.

For some folks, giving up entertainment like cable or satellite movies, or reducing or quitting smoking are viable options to save money.

Can you begin to cook food — or cook more often — in your truck to save the cost of restaurant meals?

Again, consider your alternatives.

Return from How to Reduce Financial Stress: Advice for One Trucker in Debt to our Budgeting page or our Truck Drivers Money Saving Tips home page.