What Kind of Expenses Do Owner-Operators Have to Deal With?

As an owner operator, you’ll have a number of expenses that you have to keep track of. Because you are your own boss, you will need to manage these costs and find ways to keep them low. Thankfully, we at Real Truckers are here to help. We are experts in assisting owner operators to develop their careers and build their business.

Your Biggest Expenses As An Owner Operator


Fuel for your truck, for the most part, is going to be the largest expense that you deal with as an owner operator. While there are general estimates that can help you determine how much you will spend on fuel in any given year, there is a way that you can calculate more accurately what your fuel costs will be. The best way to do this is to divide your average miles per gallon by the cost of fuel per gallon. Once you have that number, you can multiply it by the number of miles that you will be driving. This formula will give you the average cost per mile of your fuel. With this, you can have a more accurate portrait of the amount of money that you spend on fuel.


Obviously, you can’t spend money on fuel without spending money on your truck first. While you may spend most of your money on fuel, your truck will probably be your second largest expense. These expenses include the payment that you make on your truck as well as your regular maintenance and the amount that you spend on tires. Even if you do not make regular payments on your truck, you will still be spending a significant amount on maintenance and tires.

In order to get a clear picture of how much money you will likely spend on maintenance, it is best to set up a maintenance account specifically for those costs. Overestimate the amount that you will need so that you have a cushion for unexpected expenses. Then, at the end of the year, you can see how much was spent from that account on maintenance and adjust as needed.


Insurance for an owner operator is going to be more costly than it would be for company truck drivers. However, the number can vary widely. Owner operators who are contracted to a specific company could spend a couple thousand dollars on insurance while owner operators who freelance could spend upwards of ten thousand dollars. There are several different types of insurance that are generally required for truck drivers to have and these include occupational accident, physical damage, etc. In addition to this coverage, you will also need to take into account your personal health insurance.

Food & Drinks

While many truck drivers take into account the various costs their trucks can incur, it can be easy to overlook the costs that they themselves incur. Often, truck drivers who are out on the road will rely on quick and easy meals to keep themselves going and these costs can add up over time.

There is a small upside, however. Owner operators can apply a tax deduction on their yearly taxes known as a Per Diem. This deduction accounts for 80% of $66 per day that they are out on the road. This means that drivers can deduct $52.80 of every day that they were out on the road on their taxes every year. That being said, that is still money that you must spend in order to receive the deduction.

Professional Services

Another cost that truckers may want to keep in mind is the cost of having professional services to assist you. For instance, owner operators must take care of their own finances since they are in charge of their own business. However, they can hire accountants or bookkeepers to take care of these things so that they can focus on their job. These services do not come free, so truck drivers that choose to employ these services must keep these regular costs in mind. 

How To Reduce Spending

With all these costs in mind, how can you save money to keep your profit margins high? There are several tips you can use to keep more of your earnings in your own pocket.

Use Discount Fuel Cards

At Real Truckers, we offer fuel cards with significant discounts so that you can save on the expense that hits you the hardest. We know that you are bound to spend the bulk of your money on fuel, but we want to make sure that we help you keep it as low as we can.

Shop Around For Tires & Insurance

There is no way to get around the cost of tires and insurance, but there are ways to keep those costs low. The best way to ensure that you are getting the highest quality tires and insurance is to shop around. Tires can vary widely in cost. You could end up spending anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 depending on where you shop and what tires you end up buying. While going for the cheapest tires may seem like your best bet, remember that quality matters too. Take into account the life expectancy of the tires as well as the cost.

Similarly, with insurance, remember that a lower monthly payment could mean a higher deductible. This is fine if you are healthy and have no accidents, but if something unexpected comes along, you could be left spending thousands on hospital costs. 

Buy Groceries, Not Take-Out

It can be easy to let your stomach dictate what you end up eating on the road, but if you do a little planning, you could save yourself a lot of money on food costs. Instead of stopping at the place closest to you when hunger pangs hit, go to the grocery store and stock up on foods and drinks. You can keep them in your truck, so you never have to wait for your next meal and you can keep your costs down by buying in bulk.

Contact Us Today

Being an owner operator means managing a lot of expenses. It can be a difficult task, but it is a satisfying one for those who are committed to the lifestyle of truck driving. At Real Truckers, we help truck drivers keep these expenses in check and provide them with resources to keep them working and earning. If you are interested in learning more about what we do, contact us today.