Comments By ravenswood_65

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Posted:  4 years, 5 months ago

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Questions about managing housing for single bachelor drivers.

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Just pay the cost to have a pro manage it, or sell it, or only rent to people you KNOW you can trust. Deadbeat tenants can become a monstrous headache. Depending on your state's laws, problem tenants can have many legal rights the average person would not expect. Smart landlords have lawyers overlook all paperwork.

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I ask this question because I expect to be able to own my own house in a couple of years. I an in an elderly woman's will.

I feel I will always need a home of record to land on days off should I become a regional or OTR driver. I am also considering the possibility of a dog or two. The animals also need a place to land on days off. I am living in a 2-br "college student" apartment now where the landlord chooses my roommate for me. I have no pets at this time. I also have a big screen Samsung smart TV, a gaming PC and many other household possessions that cannot travel on the road with me. All my worldly trappings would need a place called home as I travel.

Perhaps, it might be a better idea to rent a large room as a border in the home of a private homeowner who would also accommodate my dogs on my days off provided the rent rate and deposit is right for everybody involved.

I could also keep the dogs in my current apartment provided I have a note from my doctor stating the need for 'emotional support animals' which I already have. I, as a future career driver, could also rent a mobile home (trailer, manufactured home) or a duplex fairly cheap in states like Idaho or Montana just for myself and my hounds. No roommates. No hassles.

Yes, considering truck driving for a living requires much careful thought and consideration that most normal (stationary, homebody) occupations take for granted.

Trucking, after all, is a transportation job. Moving all over the place a lot. Living like a gypsy, always on the go. Anybody in any transportation job (sea ship crew, airline pilot, stewardess, Greyhound driver, railroad train crewman) or other job (eg, traveling salesman, Alaska oil worker, Alaska commercial fisherman ) which entails heavy travel must make major lifestyle plans ahead of time.

Posted:  4 years, 5 months ago

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Questions about managing housing for single bachelor drivers.

Just pay the cost to have a pro manage it, or sell it, or only rent to people you KNOW you can trust. Deadbeat tenants can become a monstrous headache. Depending on your state's laws, problem tenants can have many legal rights the average person would not expect. Smart landlords have lawyers overlook all paperwork.

I ask this question because I expect to be able to own my own house in a couple of years. I an in an elderly woman's will.

I feel I will always need a home of record to land on days off should I become a regional or OTR driver. I am also considering the possibility of a dog or two. The animals also need a place to land on days off. I am living in a 2-br "college student" apartment now where the landlord chooses my roommate for me. I have no pets at this time. I also have a big screen Samsung smart TV, a gaming PC and many other household possessions that cannot travel on the road with me. All my worldly trappings would need a place called home as I travel.

Perhaps, it might be a better idea to rent a large room as a border in the home of a private homeowner who would also accommodate my dogs on my days off provided the rent rate and deposit is right for everybody involved.

I could also keep the dogs in my current apartment provided I have a note from my doctor stating the need for 'emotional support animals' which I already have. I, as a future career driver, could also rent a mobile home (trailer, manufactured home) or a duplex fairly cheap in states like Idaho or Montana just for myself and my hounds. No roommates. No hassles.

Posted:  4 years, 5 months ago

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Do you fear autonomous trucking technology?

This could possibly end the jobs for many a truck driver?

My roommate, a former truck mechanic in the air force and now a Command and Control Battle Management Operations specialist in that service branch, is a high-tech nut. He is fascinated by the prospect of someday soon owning an autonomous car and made the comment to me that drivers are being replaced by technology. I had expressed my interest in driving for a living to him and he warned me that autonomous is coming.

Are any drivers here concerned about that?

Wouldn't unions be fighting it?

Posted:  4 years, 5 months ago

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Questions about managing housing for single bachelor drivers.

Are there any single, bachelor drivers here that:

1. own a rental property, specifically a home? 2. have a roommate?

Can a driver still be able to manage being a landlord since he might be away from home or his property a lot? How can the trucker out on the road manage tenants and maintenance issues that might crop up as broken plumbing, fires, emergencies as well as tenants who are deadbeats on rent etc.?

Sure he could pay a management company but that costs MONEY.

What if the driver also has a roommate and that roommate turns out to be bad while the driver is away from home? The roommate may be flaky on rent and utilities shares or destructive to the home.

Posted:  4 years, 5 months ago

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Here is what I am thinking to do about per diem, income taxes and a CPA as a driver.

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Lincoln said a penny saved is a penny earned.

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Yeah, but people with real wealth will tell you that you'll never save your way to prosperity. A penny saved is a penny earned but a dollar earned is 100 times better than a penny saved.

And I don't know if you're working right now or not, but every week you're not driving a truck is costing you about $1,000.

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Not many are clever enough to PRUDENTLY manage the finances of this business well without professional guidance

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You do realize truck drivers make like $50k per year, not $5 million, right? The finances are not complex at all. It's incredibly simple in fact. I mean, you can get as OCD as you'd like to get with it but it's not going to get you anywhere. It's called over-optimization. You're worrying about little details too much.

The hard part about this industry is learning to maximize your revenues. You must learn fantastic time management skills, build solid relationships with important people at your company, stay motivated enough to perform at the highest level consistently, and stay with a company long enough to earn the best miles and work your way into more elite divisions.

Until you learn how to maximize your revenue production in this industry you're going to lose many thousands of dollars every year in pay. No amount of OCD over tax strategies and retirement planning is going to make up for even 10% of your losses.

Yes, sir. Do the best you can do as your body, mind, health and spirit will allow. That's all any man can do. Some folks have more energy than others. 12,000+ miles might be a little trying for a person 50+, but if that person can do it, more power to him.

I think more experience people in this field will cleverly learn how to work smart and not just work hard.

No, I am not working now, FYI. I am currently on VA disability pay. Driving is a possibility for my near future, say about a year away.

My home state's voc/rehab agency may or may not approve of driving for me. They may or may not support it financially as CDL school tuition. I would rather be trained by an independent school than by the hiring company. I am still waiting to hear a response from voc/rehab from a letter I mailed them over a week ago.

Posted:  4 years, 5 months ago

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Here is what I am thinking to do about per diem, income taxes and a CPA as a driver.

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Unless a driver ops OUT of PD if that is even an option.

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You CAN TAKE THE DEDUCTION ON YOUR TAX RETURN - even if you "op out" of PD (if it is not mandatory at the company you work for)

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So, if I were to opt out of PD, I would NOT be able to write off on-the-job restaurant meal costs on my tax returns?

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YES YOU CAN - at the STANDARD RATE.

With the assistance of Taxman - here's what we figured out regarding PD.

As a "Transportation Worker" - the IRS has a "Standard Per Diem Deduction For Transportation Workers".

This deduction can ONLY BE TAKEN if you ITEMIZE. It is $63 per day - but the ACTUAL DEDUCTION is 80% of that $63 per day (or $50.40). You DO NOT KEEP MEAL RECEIPTS - you take the STANDARD TW DEDUCTION.

If you are getting paid PER DIEM - that PD payment is 100% Tax Free. You would calculate the $63 per day X how many days you were out. SUBTRACT the TOTAL AMOUNT OF PD PAYMENTS, then 80% of the REMAINDER (the $63 per day MINUS PD payments) would be your deduction.

The ADVANCE PD PAYMENTS are already taken out of your GROSS W-2 WAGES (deducted). This amount is UNTAXED @ $100%, the $63 per day is untaxed @ 80%.

YOU MUST HAVE A VERIFIABLE HOME to take the PD DEDUCTION on your taxes. You DO NOT NEED A HOME to get PD Pay - only to ITEMIZE and get the rest of the PD deduction that is not ALREADY COVERED in PD payments from your company.

You DO NEED to keep receipts for any other legitimate deductible expenses.

Rick

I will always have some home of record if I were to become a driver. It could be just a room share.

Posted:  4 years, 5 months ago

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Here is what I am thinking to do about per diem, income taxes and a CPA as a driver.

You guys, please stop abbreviating it as "PD" or none of this will ever show up when people search for "per diem" in the search box.

And at this point this subject has been twisted and beaten and confused to death. It's really very simple. You either pay more in taxes each week and get a big return at the end of the year, or you pay less in taxes each week and get less back at the end of the year. That's it. In the end, the difference in net income, if there is any, is negligible.

Everyone is way overanalyzing this simple and relatively unimportant topic. There are far bigger fish to fry.

I would much rather see people analyzing ways to make more money on the road. I couldn't begin to count how many times over the years I was able to make several hundred dollars more per week than many of my peers because I learned all the tricks for maximizing my time management skills, I learned how to make sure I was given the maximum number of miles I could run each week, and I learned how to push my schedule forward with faster loading times and early pickups and deliveries.

If you're not turning 12,000+ miles per month then you're wasting your time worrying about per diem or 401k or any of that because you're losing far more money being unproductive than you could ever dream of saving going OCD on your taxes and retirement strategies.

Spend your time learning how to maximize your pay. Optimize your time management skills. Nurture better relationships with important people at your company. Squeeze every possible minute of time out of your logbook. Ask your company about better opportunities within special divisions reserved only for experienced, proven drivers. And of course never be late with any appointment times.

A top tier driver will turn about 12,000 miles per month. A really good driver will turn 11,000. At 45 cpm that's a difference of $5,400 dollars per year. I know for a fact I was making $10,000 per year more than many drivers with the same experience level and same pay rate because I simply out-hustled them, I was more savvy in my time management skills, and I had better relationships with important people at my company. Same experience, same pay rate, very different results.

It's nice to be able to out-hustle the competition, but be careful not to burn yourself out in this business. Try to find your comfort zone as a driver. Actually, money is not everything. Do the most work you can actually handle. Don't bite off more than you can chew. The extra pay may not always be worth the extra heartburn and ulcers.

As a confirmed bachelor, I have no wife and children to support. It's just me and a couple of hounds.

Posted:  4 years, 5 months ago

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Here is what I am thinking to do about per diem, income taxes and a CPA as a driver.

No offense..but ...There are tons of questions and issues with trucking. Its a complete lifestyle overhaul that most cannot handle. Only about a quarter of those who go to orientation get into training and of those who get the CDL, only half make it a full year. Think about that. 100 per week are brought into my company. About 25 get the permit and take the test. About 17 pass and get the CDL. Out of those, 13 might make it through training. So 6 will make it a year.

I'm not trying to discourage you, but you seem to be analyzing every trucking aspect except how to drive and what the life is really like. Have you been working the High Road to prepare for the permit exam? Are you watching pre trip videos? People think going to the companies will give you time to learn, but not at mine. I took the permit exam the second day at orientation. It was my job to learn. And knowing pre trip before I got there put me way way ahead. This is a tough gig for some. I love it cause I love not being micromanaged. It just seems that new people who concentrate on aspect other than driving and training are amongst the ones who come back later with stories of "I got fired for a couple accidents cause my head wasn't focused on the driving and learning."

Your enthusiasm is awesome. And I seriously want you to do well. But be sure to do the High Road and prepare for school and the more immediate future...cause next years tax man is far away.

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I am more obsessed with MONEY right now. Lincoln said a penny saved is a penny earned. The strategy I have is to minimize my tax liability. Perhaps, a financial adviser or CPA can best advise me as to whether take per diem or not. Any trained monkey can learn to drive a truck. Not many are clever enough to PRUDENTLY manage the finances of this business well without professional guidance. Successful truckers have to be successful businessmen I feel.

I don't want want Uncle Sam to pick my pockets any more than acts of Congress say he can.

My basic attitude when approaching any career or business prospect is "I" and "me" first.

Posted:  4 years, 5 months ago

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Here is what I am thinking to do about per diem, income taxes and a CPA as a driver.

For lumpers, my company pays for them in full with EFS checks so I personally never had to use my own money, but IMO, as long as you get reimbursed in full and it's not taxed at the end of the pay week, I wouldn't worry about it. As for the per diem, I personally enjoying having the extra money now and don't mind getting less back with the tax refund, but that's just how I see it. As for the CPA, if you were an IC and had a lot more out of pocket business expenses other than buying the tools you need for every day use, I don't see it being worth it. Just keep the receipts you use and, when filing taxes when asked about business expenses (I don't believe food/drink is seen as a business expense, but a living expense), add the amounts up. I don't see a CPA being worth it to a company driver. But what I say with a grain of salt, I'm only 6mo experienced so far.

So, if I were to opt out of PD, I would NOT be able to write off on-the-job restaurant meal costs on my tax returns?

Posted:  4 years, 5 months ago

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Here is what I am thinking to do about per diem, income taxes and a CPA as a driver.

Your food and drink expenses are covered by the allowed per diem when you file your taxes. This year, the amount was $63 per day I believe.

Unless a driver ops OUT of PD if that is even an option.

Posted:  4 years, 5 months ago

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Here is what I am thinking to do about per diem, income taxes and a CPA as a driver.

It seems from what I have been reading on these forums late that the controversial per diem is not that good an option to take if a driver can opt out of it at a company. Simplifying tax prep is not always in one's best economic interest.

I think it would be just worthwhile to opt out of PD and hire a competent CPA at tax times. I am no tax accountant myself.

As a driver I would save every last receipt (for everything I spend out of pocket that is job related or I THINK is job-related) for any possible itemized deductions to hand over to my CPA in a brown paper bag annually. A good CPA should apply whatever is lawful and applicable to the return to minimize my tax liability as much as possible.

-meals/tips at restaurants
-unprepared food on the job
-water
-telephone
-utilities including WiFi
-clothes
-shoes/boots
-showers
-lodging
-tools
-computers
-bedding used on the job
-appliances as food coolers, etc.
-pens/notepads
-transportation as bus fare (if needed)
-security dog/service animal related expenses as food, vet bills, leashes, collars, etc.
-sunglasses
-hats

I understand the fuel and lumpers are always paid for by the company.

Don't I have to pay for lumpers out of pocket to have the firm reimburse me later?

Should I still save any lumper receipts for the CPA?

Posted:  4 years, 5 months ago

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Tax Advice Questions for Company Drivers

What are the things that American truck drivers for companies can write-off for filing their taxes each year?

1. truck stop meal costs? 2. work clothing? 3. shower fees? 4. lodging? 5. laptops, smartphones used on the job? 6. dogs, security animals used on the jobs? 7. other?

For example, if I were to pay $10 for breakfast at a truck stop, would I be able to write off 100% of that cost or just a smaller percentage?

Is it still cheaper in the long run for drivers to prepare their own meals on the road because restaurant write-offs don't "pay off that much" on the IRS returns?

I know you must keep all those receipts for your CPA in a safe place.

Posted:  4 years, 5 months ago

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What is the logic of going from clutches to automatic transmissions?

Isn't it still prudent to go to a CDL school that teaches to shift the old-fashioned way?

Some companies may still have rigs that shift old school.

How will computerized shifting handle steep downgrades so the truck doesn't quickly accelerate out of control and brakes are not overused?

It seems to me the old-fashioned manual gives the driver the best absolute control.

Posted:  4 years, 5 months ago

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What is the logic of going from clutches to automatic transmissions?

I would think double clutching would be a blast and avert some of the long-haul boredom inside the cab.

I never thought of automatics as efficient, fuel-wise, for heavy vehicle use.

I knew one man who was an ex-driver who said a master driver can often shift with no clutch if engine speed is synced correctly. The tach is often useful to observe for the greenhorn to learn this technique.

I only have experience with 5-speed manuals and Allison 5-speed automatics in the army on certain 5-ton trucks. They also had a transfer lever, since they were 6 x 6 vehicles, along with low and high ranges for those transfers. There was a front axle switch on the dash if I recall correctly. Some trucks had a PTO, power-take off as for a winch.

There were no range shifters or gear splitters which I still have yet to learn.

Posted:  4 years, 6 months ago

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Generally speaking, how well are dispatchers paid?

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I take it some company workers put in time as drivers "on the front lines" then get into homebody positions "in the rear".

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Actually this is unusual.

Very few drivers transition into other trucking related jobs. It does happen, but far less than you'd expect. Once a company finds a good driver they do everything they can to keep them in that job.

I'm sure many drivers use driving as a stepping stone into a more desirable career for them, but not necessarily trucking-related. It is something to do to pay the bills or build their bank accounts up meanwhile. They might apply for other jobs in the interim. I knew a man that my mother had for a realtor at age 45. He said he was a truck driver early on in his life. My grandfather said he knew a truck driver in the construction company he worked for. The man studied law books whenever he had time. He was in correspondence school and eventually graduated to becoming a lawyer.

I went to college to get an associates degree in computers but may have trouble getting hired in that field at a dedicated IT firm like HP, Intel or Micron or even govt. civil service. Old-aged and under-qualified with just an associates and no IT certifications. Some trucking companies may have even an IT department for managing their computer systems and networks. My AS may still look good on a resume for that reason. I'm rather a geek for a man interested in the grimy, gnarly world of trucking. My geekiness and the college degree might also give me an edge in these modern techy tractors with aircraft-like ****pits should I decide to go into service tech/mechanic position. I'm a very analytical man. How often does commercial diesel Class 7/8 truck technology change? In the army, vehicles seem to maintain the same level of legacy technology for decades. Railroad locomotives also follow that "long legacy" suit too as they often keep those same diesel-electric engines for 50 years or more. Designs of train equipment rarely change. Many airplanes and helicopters stay the same for decades too in the aviation field. I have known aircraft mechanics/crew chiefs in the service over the years.

Posted:  4 years, 6 months ago

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Generally speaking, how well are dispatchers paid?

Sounds like dispatchers have to be able to make plans and calculations. I imagine they have computers and specialized software at their desks to help with this the way booking agents at airlines do. I wonder if even drivers use modern electronics to help manage their own schedules and HOS logs while on the road. Is every food stop, fuel stop, break, shower and vehicle check neatly planned scheduled? I am a man who likes to always be in charge of his situation. Boy, I do hate nasty surprises and unexpected delays too.

Posted:  4 years, 6 months ago

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Generally speaking, how well are dispatchers paid?

My wife is a dispatcher and has been one for 2 years for a small company of 15 trucks consisting of mostly O/O.

She is on a salary of 3,000 per month and works 0600-1200 M-F with weekends off.

Tanx very much, Mr. Daniel B.

I take it some company workers put in time as drivers "on the front lines" then get into homebody positions "in the rear".

Posted:  4 years, 6 months ago

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Generally speaking, how well are dispatchers paid?

As compared with drivers and fleet mechanics/techs, that is.

Do they usually have some driving experience?

Posted:  4 years, 6 months ago

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Has anybody here ever considered a position other than driver with a trucking company?

I got my AS in CIS Network Management, MS Windows concentration back in May, 2014. I did a short internship in late 2014 but yet have to be employed for pay in IT. I am now age 53. IT is not old-age-friendly. I have heard time and time again it may be impossible to get in IT without at least a bachelors. I got an AS at a California JC/CC (community college) because that's all voc/rehab would pay for and support. I have applied in Sacramento, California for state civil service in IT (information systems analyst as well as office asistant) but never even got called in for an interview even with veterans preference putting me at the top of the tier level as well as certain "LEAP" positions for the disabled. One woman job counselor I had even admitted that the state of CA laid off a bunch of older white males. I need a professional job or SKILLED trade that is "old white male veteran American" friendly. Can't go wrong in trucking or even maybe as a mechanic if my back doesn't fail me when I get fit and slim. I moved to Nampa, ID last summer because of a cheaper housing opportunity than in CA and have written a letter to the voc/rehab division in this state. I am still waiting for their reply today. I told them I either wanted an Idaho govt. civil service, a local govt. job, a federal job or to become a truck driver if trying to get into civil service proves fruitless. Hell, working for the US Forestry Service or as a forest ranger might even be great for me since I love outdoor life. I had not mentioned other possible trades to voc/rehab yet I might be also interested in as fleet mechanic (lots of military experience there in that field already) or a new skilled trade as electrician, heavy equipment operator or machinist. I don't want to be out in the heat and the cold with a shovel in hand at my age whatever I do.

Even old ladies with cats now drive trucks OTR these days.

My disabilities, for several years now, are chronic fatigue syndrome and sleep apnea which should greatly improve when I lose 50 or more pounds. I have current health issues related to obesity my doctors have said. I am on a serious diet, exercise and weight loss program which seems to be working for me slowly but surely. I also suffer from arthritis. Bending over under the hood of a car even to fix my own car kills my back.

I am 293 now down from 325 this last December and plan to get down to 185 eventually, weight-wise. I am 5-10 tall. I am clean-living just like a Mormon. No booze, beer, smoking, gambling, dip, snuff, street drugs or ladies of the evening.

Posted:  4 years, 6 months ago

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Has anybody here ever considered a position other than driver with a trucking company?

It also depends on what kind of work you want to do. Lets say you work for a fleet ( I can not speak for all of them but most of them) you will do mostly brakes,pms, lights, things of that Nature most of the in depth stuff is sent to a dealership for warranty purposes. If that's the type of work you want to do a fleet is a good place to be.

pms, preventive maintenance services?

lube, oil, filter, battery, cooling system, clutch adjustments, fan belts, that sort of thing?

AIR brake work was routine in my army MOS as was complete brake jobs with both hydraulic brake systems as well as hybrid air over hydraulic brake systems

I never had the opportunity to tear transmissions and engines apart or even put in new clutches. Unit trucks in the military were sent up to direct support or depot level maintenance for that. Some army mechanics in my unit were 63S series for their MOS, heavy wheeled vehicle mechanics, who would have covered up to the 10-ton models. I think Class 7 and 8 trucks in the private sector fall in that weight-class neighborhood.

What is the difference between a mechanic and a TECH anyway?

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