As an owner-operator, you’re probably always hearing about ways to save money on fuel, truck maintenance, taxes, and business expenses. But what about everything else? If you’re trying to get out of debt, set money aside, or simply improve your financial situation, there are plenty of other ways to cut back your spending.
With any kind of change, little steps are what lead to big results. Cutting back your spending on the little things will create good habits, and end in bigger savings down the road.
Here are the best ways for truckers to cut spending:
1) Utilize your local library for entertainment.
The best thing about the library is that everything you rent is FREE, and you can take it on the road with you! Not only are there thousands of book selections that you can download online as eBooks, but many libraries now use an audio book site that you can download as an app to listen right from your phone or mobile device. Check your local library’s website for what they have available.
2) Refill your water (instead of buying bottles or jugs).
Not only are plastic bottles and water jugs bad for the environment, but if you’re constantly buying them, you’re constantly throwing away money! Most bottled water is just regular old tap water anyway, your best bet is to just get a jug to refill on the road. You can find re-useable jugs at Wal-Mart, or any sporting goods store.
3) Make good choices at the grocery store.
Packaged food may seem less expensive, but getting fresh ingredients and making your own meals is actually cheaper and better for your health. Try to make at least five meals a week vegetarian, as meat is much more expensive than vegetables. Making healthier choices such as buying bulk oatmeal instead of packaged cereal will save you money as well. Here are some additional ways to save money at the grocery store:
- Make a grocery list. You’ll shop faster, and save time. If you forget something, you’ll have to go back – and probably end up putting a few extra things in your basket on the way out!
- Don’t shop on an empty stomach. You’ll shop with your nose and grumbling tummy, rather than with your head!
- Use a basket, not a cart. You will be less tempted to load up with more things than you need if you have to carry a basket.
- Don’t buy disguised water. Chicken or vegetable stock and bottled tea are actually just packaged water! One bottle of iced tea can cost between $1-2, whereas 20 bags (20 servings) of tea costs about $3. One quart of chicken or vegetable stock can cost $2-4, whereas a jar of chicken base costs $3-6 and makes 10 quarts of stock. Even better, if you save chicken bones and unused vegetable ends you can make your own stock for free just by putting in a slow cooker with water for a few hours!
- Buy seasonally. Purchasing produce that is in season will be much cheaper. You can even download an app to figure out what’s in season, and plan your meals accordingly.
- Calculate the actual cost. Sometimes it’s cheaper to buy a larger bottle of something by looking at the price per ounce, rather than the price on the tag.
- Look up, look down. Most retailers put the most expensive products at eye-level, hoping you’ll go for the easy grab. Look at the top and bottom shelves for better prices.
- Change your mind. If you look in your basket and realize you don’t actually need that bag of chips you threw in on an impulse, don’t hesitate to tell the cashier that you’ve changed your mind on that purchase. They don’t mind putting it back for you!
- Bring a reusable shopping bag. Many stores give a 5-10 cent discount for bringing your own reusable bag. Every little bit helps!
- Always check your receipt. Get into the habit of checking your receipt before you leave the store, to make sure everything was rung up correctly. Discounts change frequently, so there can be discrepancies. Speak up if you notice that the price on the shelf differs from what you paid.
4) Figure out creative ways for updating your wardrobe.
Remember, you are the face of your business – so it’s important to dress professionally. However, don’t underestimate the quality of clothing available at thrift or consignment stores. Take worn-out shoes to a cobbler to be repaired instead of tossing them – it will probably cost between $15-30, which is much cheaper than buying a new pair. Along those same lines, mend your clothing instead of buying new. Some dry cleaners also will make minor repairs to shirts or pants.
5) Find free forms of entertainment when home.
Take your significant other for a long walk in the park and a picnic instead of dinner and a movie. Check your local newspaper for free events – most cities will put on concerts and movies in public parks at no cost. Save money by waiting until movies come out on DVD, and having a movie night / potluck with some friends. You won’t have to pay for theater tickets, and you’ll get dinner and quality time with the people you care about.
6) Make healthy choices.
Sometimes the best way to save money is to make healthy changes in your life. Giving up smoking or alcohol will not only directly impact the amount of money in your wallet, but also the cost of medical bills down the road. Practicing healthy habits like exercising and increasing your fruit and vegetable intake will keep you out of the doctor’s office, and off prescriptions. If you do need to get a prescription, remember to ask your doctor to prescribe generic medicine. They usually offer the name brand version first, so be sure to speak up since generic is much cheaper.
7) Really think about your purchases.
Before throwing down your credit card, ask yourself if you really need what you’re about to purchase. If the answer is anything other than “definitely, yes!” then put it back. Even if you think you might use it, hold off and think about it while you finish up shopping. Chances are, you will forget about the item all together.
8) Buy things off-season.
In contrast to produce at the grocery, making off-season purchases for other items can pay off big. If you need new outdoor winter gear, try purchasing it at the end of the season (in Spring) when everything is on sale. If you like to buy holiday-themed items, buy them in January and save them for next year. Just be sure to keep early spending in check, as it could cause you to actually purchase more in the long run. Even planning to start holiday shopping early (such as October), will not only help you find less-expensive gifts, but you’ll be more likely to find things that your friends and family actually want rather than scrambling at the last minute.
Can you think of any ways to save money I’ve missed? Leave your ideas in the comments!
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