Many truck drivers eventually face the choice between starting a self-employed business to serve as a contractor or building a career as a payroll employee. While there are plenty of advantages and challenges with either option, the self-employed route can be a little more complicated and comes with more personal responsibility. Planning for and managing costs is an essential good business practice for independent truckers, so they need to be ready for some of the common expenses associated with their work.
Business Taxes and Fees
There are several types of taxes and fees that apply to self-employed truckers, including those related to their vehicle. Depending on the location and nature of their work, drivers may need to acquire several types of licensing from state and national regulatory agencies. These licenses typically require an initial and renewal fee to maintain. Truckers also need to consider union fees, excise taxes on heavy vehicles and their annual tax filing with federal and state governments.
Vehicle Maintenance and Repair
Many independent truckers own their own vehicle and equipment, so they are responsible for maintaining it to keep it in good condition and get as much value out of their investment as possible. Basic maintenance costs for a large truck can range into hundreds or thousands of dollars a year, so truckers need to establish a solid budget for these needs. Independent truck drivers should also connect with professionals who specialize in trailer repairs for part replacements, system diagnostics and other essential services.
Food and Travel Expenses
It’s easy to underestimate travel expenses without a lot of experience on the road. Truckers have limited access to storage and kitchen facilities, so eating cheap is often a difficult task. Equipping the cab with a refrigerator and bringing prepared meals from home can help cut down on fast food consumption. Drivers need to consider all of their needs when planning monthly travel expenses. While some bathroom facilities are available for free, showers and amenities at some facilities do come with a small cost.
There are many obvious and hidden costs to being a self-employed truck driver, as well as many additional responsibilities. However, these challenges are balanced with the potential for greater reward and a larger degree of professional freedom, which is an invaluable asset for many in the profession. With a proper support system from trailer repairs to proper budgeting, you can you can manage your money. No matter the motivation, independent truckers have a lot to gain by properly planning for expenses and managing their assets.