Newbies - Financial Considerations
Make Sure Your Spouse Understands
When you decided to become a truck driver, you probably didn't consider all the record keeping you would be expected to learn. With logbooks, mileage reports, fuel purchases and all those employment forms, you could keep a secretary employed on a part time basis! Many of these documents have to be completed by you, personally, but how many can you delegate to some one else?
Chances are, you are married and have a family that stays at home. If so, you might be a driver who expects his wife to take care of the family finances while he's on the road. Read on to learn how to work with your wife in keeping your records up to date and organized.
Even before you decide which carrier work for, you need to sit down with your wife and family and discuss how your career move will affect your finances. Once you understand that there will be differences in the amount of money you make each week, you will be able to plan according (see "Saving For Unexpected Expenses"). The more your wife understands your carrier and the way they will be paying you, the better off you both will be.
If your carrier offers direct deposit of your payroll check, you should use this option. You may like cashing that check at the bank, but direct deposit is more reliable and it allows your family to have access to the funds on a consistent basis. If your company does not offer this option, then ask them to allow your wife to pick up your check if needed.
Be sure your payroll department understands that your wife has the authority to discuss your pay with them. Many companies do not allow their employees to reveal any information about your income to your spouse. Even if you live in a marital property state, where the income is legally half hers, they may not want to provide information to her when you are on the road. If this is the case with your company, then obtain a power of attorney form for your wife and you to sign. This will give her the legal authorization to take care of your finances.
Be careful when you sign the power of attorney documents because you are legally giving your spouse complete control over your financial situation. This may be beneficial to you when you are on the road and can't sign your paycheck or take care of your tax return. However, if you are not confident in your wife's ability to manage your assets, then consider another alternative or a different representative.
You will need to keep the lines of communication open with your wife if she is keeping your books. Don't forget to tell her when you take an advance from your next week's check. If you expect her to pay the bills at home, leave enough for her to write those checks out. She can't make a house payment if you've taken three advances this week and left her with half of your usual payroll amount.
The company pays for the fuel, tolls, repairs and things needed to operate the truck, but they are not responsible for your meals, showers, laundry, snacks and other personal expenses. You will need to take enough cash to cover these items. Keep track of what you spend so you can determine what you will need the next time you leave home.
One way to keep track of your personal spending on the road is to write down the amounts you pay for your meals, showers and other incidentals. When you get home and total your expenses for the week, you can take enough cash to cover those costs the next time you leave. For example, if you usually take $150 per week to cover personal expenses and you bring home $130 in receipts, you can reimburse yourself for the amount you actually spent. That way, you will always have enough to start out with and you will have a much better idea of where each dollar goes. This takes some time and effort, but if your wife asks how you went though $130 in one week, you can show her what you paid for your meals and showers and any thing else you needed that week.
Your wife is your partner and your career takes you away from home often. If you depend upon her to help take care of the finances, then be sure to keep her informed and give her the means to pay the bills and the authority to make those decisions. You will be able to work together in spending those hard-earned dollars you earn as an over-the-road truck driver.