If you are an unemployed trucker who holds a current CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) in good standing, the good news is that you may not be unemployed for long. The bad news is that unless you’ve planned for a rainy day, your resources may be dwindling away, which could put you in the proverbial poor house long before you’d expect it to happen.
The cost of living isn’t going down and one key indicator is the rising cost of fuel. As a trucker, you watch these things and so you know that in California alone the cost per gallon is now averaging over $4 and that’s set to climb even higher. So with that triggering your fight or flight instinct, it’s time to get some good old-fashioned common sense advice if you hope to weather the coming storm as an unemployed trucker.
Can You File for Unemployment?
This is one of the tricky bits of advice you might be given. If you were a self-employed truck driver, filing for your state’s unemployment benefits may not be an option if you didn’t pay into local, state and federal taxes. It still may not be possible depending on how you filed your company and how you, personally, took a salary. Did you take it in dividends or did you take a salary for the hours worked? If you can file for unemployment, this would be your very first bit of advice to follow. Keep that money coming in, even if only a fraction of what you made behind the wheel on the open road.
Check Out Government Benefits in Your State
If you don’t have dependent children it might (and probably is!) going to be impossible to get ‘welfare’ payments. TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) is a federally sponsored program that provides temporary cash benefits to families with dependent minor children. In fact, you may not even qualify for food stamps if there are no children or disabled adults in the household, so government benefits might be limited to such things as Worker’s Comp or the state’s share of unemployment benefits.
Take a Temporary Personal Loan
At this point, you may be willing to try anything short of selling your soul. You have heard that some truckers are getting approved for loans for unemployed people, but realistically, this may not be as easy to do as you think. First of all, most lenders will run a credit check and unless you have exemplary credit, those conventional lenders won’t even give your application a second glance. Next, they will want to look at your income vs. your average monthly bills.
Unless you have some form of income, you know where this is going to lead. However, having said that, there are some subprime lenders who will underwrite a short term personal loan under certain conditions. Sometimes, if you have enough collateral, they will give you a loan. However, don’t get your hopes up there either unless you are willing to pay much higher interest rates than you would on a loan you procured showing income.
Alternate Ways to Earn an Income
Just because you are temporarily unemployed because you’ve been laid off or let go from your most recent job as a trucker, it doesn’t mean that you will need to stay ‘unemployed’ for very long. Did you know there is an extreme national shortage of truckers who hold a CDL? Whether or not you have your own rig doesn’t mean you can’t get back to work almost immediately, depending on your circumstances that is! Perhaps it depends on the reasons why you are currently unemployed! Were you involved in an at-fault, or partially at-fault accident in recent times?
Points against your license may be grounds for dismissal because that company’s insurance rates are inextricably tied to the state of their drivers’ driving records. Getting back to the point here, if you hold a valid CDL in good standing and have your own rig, why not start outsourcing your services? In fact, some truckers like being their own boss so much that they form their own company and start driving for themselves! What started out as alternate income became their future lifeblood!
Make a Strict Budget and Stick to It
Another thing many unemployed people have trouble doing is to live on a limited, or nonexistent, budget. They run up their credit cards to the max and drain their bank accounts unnecessarily. So what if you are used to going out with the guys on a Saturday night to do a bit of carousing, is this something you can really afford right now? Even if you’ve put a few dollars for entertainment in your unemployment budget, it won’t be nearly enough for that kind of partying, now, will it? It’s imperative to make a strict budget and stick to it.
Cash in Accounts Only as Necessary
So, you’ve bought some bearer bonds over the years or hold stocks you’d been buying toward your eventual retirement one day in the future. Yes, you do have those to fall back on but is it really necessary to cash them all in? Aren’t there some higher yielding investments you can hold onto for retirement or will cashing in some of them really make much of a difference a couple of decades down the road? The point is that you may be unemployed at the moment but with the economy in a good place and a critical shortage of truckers, you shouldn’t be unemployed for long!
You have heard it said as a general piece of advice for any walk of life, “All things in moderation.” This is especially true during times of unemployment. This is a time when you can sit back and take stock of your life as it stands now. Separate the needs from the wants and then go about making a temporary budget to tide you over until you are back behind the wheel. Remember, you can control your finances, so don’t despair just yet. Work is just around the corner.