What Is The Typical Food Budget For Truck Drivers On The Road?

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Philip F.'s Comment
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See also: How Can I Eat Healthy As A Truck Driver?

How much does everyone out there budget for food? Reason I ask is that I remember most people make around $800 (give or take) and I'm wondering how much of that gets put back into general expenses while out on the road.

Brett Aquila's Comment
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Great Answer!

Food costs will vary dramatically based on where you get your food from.

If you were to eat meals exclusively at truck stops you'd be spending $30+ per day. Most drivers have plug-in coolers or refrigerators with them and make trips to Walmart or grocery stores to buy food to bring with em. If you'll do that it's easy enough to get your meal costs to $20/day eating reasonably. If you're stone cold broke you can get em down lower than that but you wouldn't be eating all that well.

guyjax(Guy Hodges)'s Comment
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Great Answer!

Philip, I am not driving yet, but I read that when someone has a job that requires that they travel, while they are away from home, 50% of all food expenses can be deducted from Federal Income Tax. It will take some time to recoup it, possibly a full 12 months, but I'm sure it can help to offset some of the high prices truckers pay, while eating on the road.

Sorry but this is very far from the truth Dutch. Drivers are allowed up to $59 dollars per day for Per Diem. This is a standard deduction allowed for living expenses while on the road. You do not have to keep any receipts at all. Now this only includes food and meals and showers but no matter as they still GIVE YOU the $59 a day no matter if you spent nothing at all on food. And one thing to watch out for...you can only claim that day as Per Diem if you were away from home. The days at home can not be counted into the Per Diem equation.

And then there are items you can use for itemized deductions. Stuff you need to do your job but was not reimbursed. Like ATM fees,laundry money, tools(dependent on your companies policy about drivers working on the truck) And there is a lot more but one main thing I wanted to point out is that entertainment OF ANY KIND is not tax deductible as of last year.

Per Diem:

Getting paid per diem means getting a portion of your salary paid to you without taxes taken out. It's technically classified as a meal and expense reimbursement.

Truck drivers and others who travel for a living get large tax deductions for meal expenses. The Government set up per diem pay as a way to reimburse some of the taxes you pay with each paycheck instead of making you wait until tax filing season.

Getting per diem pay means a driver will get a larger paycheck each week but a smaller tax return at tax time.

We have a ton of information on our wiki page on per diem pay

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

Actually David, truckers and other people who travel for a living do get food allowances on the road. There are two ways of doing it:

1) You can keep your food receipts and deduct them from your income

2) The best option is to take the standard deduction the Government offers. For every day you're on the road you can deduct a certain amount from your taxes. It seems to change slightly each year but it comes to somewhere around $40-$50 a day I believe. The reason I say this is the best option is because the standard deduction will almost certainly give you a larger deduction than your actual meal expenses and it prevents you from having to itemize your taxes at the same time. The Government really doesn't want you itemizing your return for food expenses. They pretty much know what it's going to cost. So they offer a standard deduction because it simplifies the tax filing process for them and for you. So instead of getting an itemized tax return and a pile of hundreds of receipts they simply offer you a nice deduction and the whole process is quick and simple.

Dutch's Comment
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Philip, I am not driving yet, but I read that when someone has a job that requires that they travel, while they are away from home, 50% of all food expenses can be deducted from Federal Income Tax. It will take some time to recoup it, possibly a full 12 months, but I'm sure it can help to offset some of the high prices truckers pay, while eating on the road.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

Food costs will vary dramatically based on where you get your food from.

If you were to eat meals exclusively at truck stops you'd be spending $30+ per day. Most drivers have plug-in coolers or refrigerators with them and make trips to Walmart or grocery stores to buy food to bring with em. If you'll do that it's easy enough to get your meal costs to $20/day eating reasonably. If you're stone cold broke you can get em down lower than that but you wouldn't be eating all that well.

guyjax(Guy Hodges)'s Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

Philip, I am not driving yet, but I read that when someone has a job that requires that they travel, while they are away from home, 50% of all food expenses can be deducted from Federal Income Tax. It will take some time to recoup it, possibly a full 12 months, but I'm sure it can help to offset some of the high prices truckers pay, while eating on the road.

Sorry but this is very far from the truth Dutch. Drivers are allowed up to $59 dollars per day for Per Diem. This is a standard deduction allowed for living expenses while on the road. You do not have to keep any receipts at all. Now this only includes food and meals and showers but no matter as they still GIVE YOU the $59 a day no matter if you spent nothing at all on food. And one thing to watch out for...you can only claim that day as Per Diem if you were away from home. The days at home can not be counted into the Per Diem equation.

And then there are items you can use for itemized deductions. Stuff you need to do your job but was not reimbursed. Like ATM fees,laundry money, tools(dependent on your companies policy about drivers working on the truck) And there is a lot more but one main thing I wanted to point out is that entertainment OF ANY KIND is not tax deductible as of last year.

Per Diem:

Getting paid per diem means getting a portion of your salary paid to you without taxes taken out. It's technically classified as a meal and expense reimbursement.

Truck drivers and others who travel for a living get large tax deductions for meal expenses. The Government set up per diem pay as a way to reimburse some of the taxes you pay with each paycheck instead of making you wait until tax filing season.

Getting per diem pay means a driver will get a larger paycheck each week but a smaller tax return at tax time.

We have a ton of information on our wiki page on per diem pay

Dutch's Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the feedback Guy. Here is the link where I found that reference. It says that the amount is $59/day overnight ($65 in Alaska or Hawaii). Eighty percent is deductible, compared to 50% for non-DOT travel.

https://ttlc.intuit.com/questions/1186710-i-am-a-truck-driver-drive-46-weeks-a-year-how-much-can-i-deduct-for-food-living-laundry-clothing-etc-this-is-out-of-pocket-expences-i-am-a-company-driver

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Mousemaker's Comment
member avatar

one main thing I wanted to point out is that entertainment OF ANY KIND is not tax deductible as of last year.

oh good,I don't have to worry about deducting my entertainment now. It was difficult getting her to give me receipts for a dollar at a time anywayembarrassed.gif

James925's Comment
member avatar

one main thing I wanted to point out is that entertainment OF ANY KIND is not tax deductible as of last year.

oh good,I don't have to worry about deducting my entertainment now. It was difficult getting her to give me receipts for a dollar at a time anywayembarrassed.gif

rofl-2.gifrofl-3.gif

That is absolutely hilarious!

RedGator's Comment
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Your daily tax deduction depends on where you live. It could be as low as 44 or as high as 85. Irs.gov is where I got my tax info from. I spend about $500 a month eating out and on the things I buy out here

Zach's Comment
member avatar

Food costs will vary dramatically based on where you get your food from.

If you were to eat meals exclusively at truck stops you'd be spending $30+ per day. Most drivers have plug-in coolers or refrigerators with them and make trips to Walmart or grocery stores to buy food to bring with em. If you'll do that it's easy enough to get your meal costs to $20/day eating reasonably. If you're stone cold broke you can get em down lower than that but you wouldn't be eating all that well.

What he ^ said.I managed on appx $25 per day on the road all inclusive of coffee ,tobacco and food .I kept a RV style refri/freezer stocked with perishables purchased before i hit the road each trip .Using a microwave and a portable coleman propane grill ,most meals were prepared by me .Buy food in bulk .A case of campbells soups with poptop lids ,a case or two of bottled water and sodas,buy your smokes by the carton .In addition to saving a ton of cash ,you already have onboard everything you need to satisfy that hunger when you get stuck at a shipper or cosignee for hours at a stretch and they won't let you drop and bobtail somewhere .

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

Scott L.'s Comment
member avatar

So question on Per Diem , first of all I work for a company (non-trucking) that pays my Per Diem to me upon completion of travel. Do most Trucking companies pay their employees the standard Per Diem rate or does the driver need to do this on their taxes?

I can see now why newbies have financial difficulties. If say they grossed 28K but were away from home 300 days of the year and didn't write off employee expenses, per diem ($17,700), etc then they screw themselves out of good chunk non-taxable income.

Since there are prob a lot of drivers that don't want to spend money on hiring a tax accountant, since they charge. What would be a good software a driver could use to keep track of deductions, etc? I currently use Turbo Tax but think it would be more of headache for the avg driver to use this software.

Per Diem:

Getting paid per diem means getting a portion of your salary paid to you without taxes taken out. It's technically classified as a meal and expense reimbursement.

Truck drivers and others who travel for a living get large tax deductions for meal expenses. The Government set up per diem pay as a way to reimburse some of the taxes you pay with each paycheck instead of making you wait until tax filing season.

Getting per diem pay means a driver will get a larger paycheck each week but a smaller tax return at tax time.

We have a ton of information on our wiki page on per diem pay

DAC:

Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

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