If you’re bringing in a lot of revenue, yet at the end of each month there is little money left in the bank, you’re simply spending too much. Every expense should be subjected to this simple test: Is this purchase something that’s truly necessary and do I need it? Or is it something I want? Think back to a few years ago when your income was probably a lot less than it is now. If you got by then, you can certainly do it again. The first step is creating a budget and it is important to include your personal expenses. If you aren’t currently tracking your personal expenses, this could be a great New Year’s Resolution for 2014!
At ATBS, we think of a budget as a profit plan, the best tool to keep expenses from exceeding your income. A profit plan should show a full picture of your spending history. Really diving into your personal spending habits could show that little things like eating out everyday is cutting into your total net cash, or big items like vacations, holiday shopping, or a new car is the issue. Personal expenses must be included in your profit plan. When all of your truck expenses are paid you should spend no more than 60% of your net income on these things. For example, look at the chart to the left showing “Joe Trucker’s” Profit Plan.
If your monthly income is $4,200 after you’ve paid your business expenses, then the most you should spend on personal expenses is $2,520. 40% or $1,680 should be divided into a retirement fund, a savings account for taxes, and finally some should be used for fun! ATBS recommends dividing the leftover amount into four amounts ($420). Every month, put $420 into retirement, half ($840) into taxes, and spend $420 at your leisure.
If there’s a big gap between your net income and your lifestyle, consider changing some things in your lifestyle:
Quit smoking. The American Lung Association says that the average cost of a pack of cigarettes in America is $5.51. If you smoke a pack a day, that’s about $2,200 a year wasted on something that is bad for your health and will likely cost you much more in medical bills down the road.
Sell unused vehicles. If your family can get by with one personal vehicle when you are back home from on the road, sell your extra vehicle that sits in the driveway most of the year. Eliminating a $500 a month car payment can save you $6,000 a year, not to mention the insurance costs!
Housing expenses. Many people are switching from an expensive cable or satellite package to watching Netflix or Hulu. Spending $10/month for one of these online services is a lot cheaper than a $100/month Comcast bill.
Find the cheapest insurance . Get competitive bids on home and auto insurance at least once a year. Insurance rates tend to creep higher without being noticed.
Try to diminish credit card debt. Credit cards should be used as cash management tools, not borrowing tools. The average American household owes about $15,000 in credit card debt. The national credit card interest rate is 14.95%. That’s about $2,240 wasted every year in interest. To lower your debt, you can temporarily use some of that retirement fund or leisure money. Every dollar you don’t pay in interest is like a guaranteed risk-free and tax-free return on your money.
There is a wide range in how much people at the same income level can save. It simply comes down to your spending choices. As a client of ATBS, you already have a profit plan created for you! Call your business consultant at (866) 920-2827 if you would like to review your personal expenses and receive advice on how you can cut back on personal expenses. Increasing your total net cash in 2014 is a great New Years Resolution that will help you and your trucking business long term.
Remember, it’s not how much you make, it’s how much you can save that counts!