First Steps, Could Use Some Thoughts

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Ithel's Comment
member avatar

Briefly, for 9 years I have owned a small tax preparation business in a small town. I enjoy helping people meet their tax obligations, but for about five years, the business has been stuck at a given number of clients (about 300), which is also about as many as I can reasonably handle on my own. I net just over 20k a year and am the sole-provider for my family of three.

A few things have happened this year to give me reason to find a better way of providing.

1. My father died of cancer in a VA hospital in July. A year ago this time, he didn't even know he was sick. I was able to spend months at his bedside, travelling about 10,000 miles back and forth to Buffalo. Sad in itself, it has made me realize time is short. He retired from a factory job only a few years ago and had nothing but social security to live on. At 46 myself, I am seeing my present course isn't likely to allow me to EVER retire, as I make barely enough to feed and shelter my family. Not a good situation.

2. My daughter is approaching the end of her high-school career and hopes to get at least a shot at higher education. I have zero saved for this.

3. My small business was itself a second career, after a long waltz through a college degree and Masters finally stumbled near the middle of a PhD program. I taught college writing and lit six years. I acquired a nice package of student loan debt, nearly half of which remains, about $35,000. With my income, my payments barely cover the interest. The principle hasn't moved much in years.

4. Since my father's passing, I have found myself avoiding people more and more. I still have a few close friends. My family is my thing. While before I have always kept on top of everything with my business, I now dread phone calls. I thought it would pass, but in two month, tax season will begin, and I dread it like never before.

5. Trump was elected. I won't get political here, but from a practical standpoint, as a self-employed business owner with a wife who has juvenile diabetes, the Affordable Care Act was a blessing. Without it, we spent almost $10,000 a year out of pocket on her insulin needs. With a business profit of about $20-$23k, you can see how much of a burden that was for us. Mr. Trump has promised to do away with that, and I am taking him at his word. Regrettably, it makes it even more difficult to imagine a scenario where I continue to make my small-business work. So I'm looking for either enough income to pay her costs out of pocket again or to find a company that offers coverage.

----------------------------------------------------------

Going back and finishing a PhD is really out of the question. My education debt is too high to justify more. The field is glutted. When I taught the best I could get was an adjunct position, which, though full-time, barely broke 14k a year. We actually qualified for food stamps, though we did not apply for them. Shocking. I don't see that as realistic.

My business is not likely to grow further, given the demographics and community size where I live. It is the sort of business that doesn't relocate easily, and my wife's family are all here. My wife says I am too nice for it, and about a tenth of my clients each year "forget" to pay me.

I hold a CDL class C with passenger endorsement, and for five years have been a volunteer driver of my church's 31 passenger bus. I drive multiple time a week, for any function the church requires (teen outings, camps, longer multi-state-line competitions). I enjoy driving. I enjoy solitude. I enjoy listening to books while driving. During all that driving to and from upstate NY to see my dad, this was reinforced for me.

My first job out of college, while waiting for my wife to graduate, I worked on a road crew delivering and setting up AV equipment for business conferences, etc. It was a stressful place, and within 6 months, I had seniority on the 8-person road-crew. I often put in 80+ hours a week, which made for a pretty rough start to our marriage. (But here we are, 23 years later, still able to put a smile on each other's face.) I began doing much longer solo-runs for them, in an Izusu box truck, including runs to NYC and Washington DC. The driving part and the solitude were what I enjoyed the most. Docking a rig is another animal, of course.

-----------------------------------------------------

Anyway, for a few months, I've been feeling strongly I need to make a change. I'm 46. I probably have time for one more go to turn things around. My goals are (1) pay off student debt, (2) have income sufficient to help my daughter take a good hard swing at her career dreams, (3) set money aside so I won't be doing tax returns into my 70's and 80's, should I live that long, (4) health care for my wife, (5) some hope of seeing my family regularly.

I was excited a few days ago to see a UPS position open near me, which seemed to fit these needs, but as you all know I have the wrong class CDL and no experience with a tractor-trailer (though, interestingly, my maternal grandfather drove swinging beef when I was a kid, and I rode from N.M up to Kansas and back with him at age 12).

So I'm very seriously considering a major change. I am tired of telling my family, "sorry, it's going to be a tight Christmas this year." My daughter doesn't even bat an eye. "It's okay, dad." She says it like she wouldn't expect anything else, poor kid.

Anyway...am I hunting in the wrong forest here? Thanks for your time.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
member avatar

I suggest you read Brett's free book. It gives a realistic picture of trucking. You will be away from the family and alone MOST of the time,...like 20hours a day alone,...away from the family for three plus weeks at a time. At laeast for the first year. I made.the change last year at 42 and don't regret it but I'm single and no kids.

Paid CDL Training Programs

Becoming A Truck Driver: The Raw Truth About Truck Driving

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Ithel's Comment
member avatar

Rainy, thank you for suffering through my overly-long "brief" background, heh. I've finished Brett's book and appreciate the recommendation very much. I found it as helpful as you said. He did have a section that seemed to imply there are options that don't involve three-week stretches on the road. A few days ago I read several threads here about a company that has 7/7 and 14/7 driving/home time options. I think something like that could be doable. But if such situations are rare or difficult for a beginner to come by, then I am not so sure.

Anyway, thank you again for taking the trouble to write back. I wish you safety out there.

Truckin Along With Kearse's Comment
member avatar

Most companies want one full year over the road , and it SHOULD be with the same company. It shows stability, as well as being able to make decisions, be reliable, and have good trip planning.

There are companies like my company that offer regional routes even to beginners...which would get you home every other weekend...but its still four days a month. I couldn't so that cause it would feel like I get home, do laundry, shop for supplies, sleep and get on the road again. Not enough time. I believe our regional also requires a lightweight truck which is much smaller living space.

Local gigs pay less...and are hard to get. IF you could do over the road or regional for a year and pay some debts and save money then maybe you could find something better for you.

I have heard Roehl offers better home time and they do have the company sponsored training. We have a few Roehl drivers in here so maybe they can help you. My only experience is at Prime which is earn one day each week out, but can only take four days at a time. So stay out three to four weeks, take three to four days off. And to me even they go by quickly.

Our insurance is pretty good compared to some other companies I saw though.

What about driving a bus, limo, or airport shuttle locally?

I considered driving a tour bus so I could travel get free rooms and food lol think outside the box.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

Over The Road:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Company Sponsored Training:

A Company-Sponsored Training Program is a school that is owned and operated by a trucking company.

The schooling often requires little or no money up front. Instead of paying up-front tuition you will sign an agreement to work for the company for a specified amount of time after graduation, usually around a year, at a slightly lower rate of pay in order to pay for the training.

If you choose to quit working for the company before your year is up, they will normally require you to pay back a prorated amount of money for the schooling. The amount you pay back will be comparable to what you would have paid if you went to an independently owned school.

Company-sponsored training can be an excellent way to get your career underway if you can't afford the tuition up front for private schooling.

LDRSHIP's Comment
member avatar

My company offers a regional where you are home every weekend. They are excellent about working with you on home time. You kinda set your own schedule. They are not the best paying "starter" company, but I enjoy the smaller "family" atmosphere. You definitely would be in their hiring area.

I looked at your profile and it states you live in Lexington, KY. Do you live actual Lexington or outside it? Just curious is all. My late wife was from Winchester.

I am 40 and just started trucking. I spent 17 1/2 yrs in the military than was a barber for a little over 2 years before I decided to give truck driving a shot.

Drive Safe and God Speed

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

Auggie69's Comment
member avatar

Briefly, for 9 years I have owned a small tax preparation business in a small town. I enjoy helping people meet their tax obligations, but for about five years, the business has been stuck at a given number of clients (about 300), which is also about as many as I can reasonably handle on my own. I net just over 20k a year and am the sole-provider for my family of three.

A few things have happened this year to give me reason to find a better way of providing.

1. My father died of cancer in a VA hospital in July. A year ago this time, he didn't even know he was sick. I was able to spend months at his bedside, travelling about 10,000 miles back and forth to Buffalo. Sad in itself, it has made me realize time is short. He retired from a factory job only a few years ago and had nothing but social security to live on. At 46 myself, I am seeing my present course isn't likely to allow me to EVER retire, as I make barely enough to feed and shelter my family. Not a good situation.

2. My daughter is approaching the end of her high-school career and hopes to get at least a shot at higher education. I have zero saved for this.

3. My small business was itself a second career, after a long waltz through a college degree and Masters finally stumbled near the middle of a PhD program. I taught college writing and lit six years. I acquired a nice package of student loan debt, nearly half of which remains, about $35,000. With my income, my payments barely cover the interest. The principle hasn't moved much in years.

4. Since my father's passing, I have found myself avoiding people more and more. I still have a few close friends. My family is my thing. While before I have always kept on top of everything with my business, I now dread phone calls. I thought it would pass, but in two month, tax season will begin, and I dread it like never before.

5. Trump was elected. I won't get political here, but from a practical standpoint, as a self-employed business owner with a wife who has juvenile diabetes, the Affordable Care Act was a blessing. Without it, we spent almost $10,000 a year out of pocket on her insulin needs. With a business profit of about $20-$23k, you can see how much of a burden that was for us. Mr. Trump has promised to do away with that, and I am taking him at his word. Regrettably, it makes it even more difficult to imagine a scenario where I continue to make my small-business work. So I'm looking for either enough income to pay her costs out of pocket again or to find a company that offers coverage.

----------------------------------------------------------

Going back and finishing a PhD is really out of the question. My education debt is too high to justify more. The field is glutted. When I taught the best I could get was an adjunct position, which, though full-time, barely broke 14k a year. We actually qualified for food stamps, though we did not apply for them. Shocking. I don't see that as realistic.

My business is not likely to grow further, given the demographics and community size where I live. It is the sort of business that doesn't relocate easily, and my wife's family are all here. My wife says I am too nice for it, and about a tenth of my clients each year "forget" to pay me.

I hold a CDL class C with passenger endorsement, and for five years have been a volunteer driver of my church's 31 passenger bus. I drive multiple time a week, for any function the church requires (teen outings, camps, longer multi-state-line competitions). I enjoy driving. I enjoy solitude. I enjoy listening to books while driving. During all that driving to and from upstate NY to see my dad, this was reinforced for me.

Move. Pretty silly you won't utilize your degree and moving will help you realize that.

Your wife will probably qualify for Medicaid no matter who is president. You only make 20k. What does she make?

Get out of your comfort zone if you really want to give your family a better life. I'll make about 50K this year. My first year driving a truck and half of what I made before I got laid-off under Obama's economy.

The economy has been stagnant for eight years. Pick a new career now and buckle-up to get ready for real economic growth.

Or stay where you are at and peck away making 20K.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Lyght's Comment
member avatar

There's something else to think about too, your wife can go with you once you get your truck and start to solo-drive. Her insulin needs might be kinda a pain in the butt through but if you can get enough for a few months at a time you I think you'll be okay with that. Your daughter is almost ready to go to college so right now might be a good time for you to start your training. If she's going to a dorm you wouldn't see her as much, and I'm sure you remember your first year of college its busy busy busy so even if she was staying at home for it now still seems like it would be the best time. Like Rainy said most companies want you to have a year long haul driving with them before you can think about a regional or dedicated route. Its good money from what I've seen (newbie here, I leave for training tomorrow) you should more than double your income the first year alone and all the companies I looked at (going to CFI/XPO myself) offer health care at really good prices. Some of them (like CFI for example) even offer free training if you agree to work for them so long after the fact.

Dedicated Route:

A driver or carrier who transports cargo between regular, prescribed routes. Normally it means a driver will be dedicated to working for one particular customer like Walmart or Home Depot and they will only haul freight for that customer. You'll often hear drivers say something like, "I'm on the Walmart dedicated account."

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

Tim F.'s Comment
member avatar

Give Roehl a call. As Rainy said ...they have the hometime fleets. Some of those options depend on where you are located. Here's the thing though. I went through their school to get my CDL...and went right to a dedicated account on the east coast. Weekly hometime for your reset. You just have to talk to the recruiter and tell her what your fleet you would like. If they can do it, they will. They have several in the Midwest. I looked real quick...the whole state of Kentucky is in their hiring school for CDL school. The school recruiter is Kim Calhoun. Good luck with your decision.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Farmerbob1's Comment
member avatar

Sounds like trucking might meet your needs, but the first year will likely be a bit rough on the family, because as others have mentioned, most companies want you to be OTR at first, and the industry wants you in one job for at least six months to a year.

Love to have you join us on the road, but there is one thing I want to make sure that you have considered. You already run a business which makes you enough money to squeak by on. Tax preparation is a seasonal job. You have some college education in a field that a lot of students have problems in. Literature. Have you considered tutoring as a second seasonal job? You could probably use the same office space for tutoring writing as you use for tax preparation.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Parrothead66's Comment
member avatar

My company is also hiring out of Louisville KY within 100 miles. All flatbed, no company school but they do hire new graduates out of CDL schools. Home every weekend and you should more than double your current income in your first year. Good luck

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
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