Born and raised in Indiana, packed up and moved to a Chicago art school, and now that I have graduated, I built out a Sprinter van for a year on the road! I'm currently exploring North America with my boyfriend and would love for you to join. This is where I write all about our travels, my Yoga practice, and our van life together.
It’s easy to see so many people doing van life and think to yourself that you’ll never be able to do it for one reason or another. The truth is.. you can absolutely do it regardless of your financial situation. I have massive student loans which I’m thankfully paying off WHILE traveling in my van. I don’t come from a wealthy family and I pay my own bills. Yet I’m still making it work. That’s why I know you can too. You don’t need to start with a huge background in one particular field either. I had no idea how to blog before hitting the road. Let me share all the advice I’ve been given and tips that I’ve learned along the way on how you can save your money while seeing the world.
READ MORE: LEARN HOW I MAKE A REMOTE INCOME
SAVING ON YOUR CONVERSION
You may see beautiful photos of fancy conversions on social media but they don’t always have to be that way. You can easily put together a functional build for a couple thousand dollars. My best advice is always to save as much on wood, kitchen appliances, etc. and spend a good portion of your budget on electrical. Electrical systems are what really give you freedom from constantly having to hook up and make your van a functioning home. Other than that, here are some of my other major tips for saving on your conversion.
Use materials you already have or find some free/super cheap stuff on Craigslist.
You at least will likely already have kitchen utensils, a bed comforter/pillows, etc. Use it all!
I didn't want to spend the money on an expensive roof rack. I opted to just drill the holes in my roof and mount my solar panels directly onto the van. Saved so much money by doing this!
If you're having someone else do your build, you can still do what you can to save on labor. Absolutely anyone can install flooring. Do it before you hand it over and save the money!
I do have real tile in my van kitchen but the peel and stick kind works perfectly fine. It's a lot less money and installs super easy. This is another thing you can do on your own if you're working with builders. Save on that labor!
In my first van, we used an old door as my counter top. The door was free on Craigslist.
This isn't really a tip but just a fact. Your van is an asset which you can sell eventually. You can likely make the same money you put into it or even more. When you pay rent for years in an apartment, you walk away with nothing. So consider your van an investment.
MONEY SAVING TIPS ON THE ROAD
Living on the road doesn’t have to be super expensive. There are tons of ways to decrease costs while still traveling. When you first leave, it’s easy to want to always be moving, and buying all your meals. I highly recommend going in with a budget set just so you don’t blow your money at the beginning. If you want help getting your finances in order, my friends are experts and they have a killer course that will keep on track. You can check it out here for more info. But these are the rest of my tips for saving while on the road:
Find various Glacier water fill ups which are usually inside or outside of grocery stores. It's way cheaper than buying individual gallons. Use friends' houses when you can which is free! We like free.
Grocery shop instead of going out all the time! The secret to this making sure you always have food in the van. When you get low, you'll be more inclined to just go out. So anytime I'm passing by Walmart or grocery store, I make sure I have everything I need before leaving.
Unless you have a specific place to be, travel slow. When you find some amazing BLM land, stay for a few days! It's easy to get caught up on the hustle of moving constantly, but you'll enjoy the place you go more if you hangout a bit. You'll also save a ton on gas.
Sign up for rewards programs at all your favorite gas stations. I haven't paid for coffee in forever because I get points for getting gas and then buy coffee with those points all the time.
A gym membership is worth the money. It gets you a place to workout, shower, and hang out if need wifi for just a place to park for a few hours. Planet Fitness is $10/ month and worth every penny.
My birthday? I only ask for gas cards. Christmas? Hello, more gas cards please (maybe a book or two, but mostly gas cards). If your family is going to be getting you anything for any reason, make it useful!
WANT TO LIVE YOUR OWN VAN LIFE, BUT DON’T THINK YOU HAVE THE MONEY?My Money For My Life is an amazing course specifically designed for anyone needing help to get their finances in order. It comes with worksheets, great advice from experts, and walks you through how to reach your goals financially.
LEARN MORE & FINALLY START REACHING YOUR GOALS
EARNING WHILE ON THE ROAD
There are so many ways to earn a remote income these days (thank you internet). It can be stressful when you’re still figuring it out but it will work out in the end. I’m a big believer that when you follow your dreams and you work really hard, it will always come together. So hitting the road is your first big step. The next step is working super hard to stay on the road and start bringing in income. Anyone can do van life and earn a remote income. There’s no reason it can’t be you! This is my best advice and favorite tips:
The key to this: hustle. If you already have a full- time remote income, that's amazing. But for anyone still figuring it out, hustle and hustle some more. When I left in my first van, I walked dogs for an app called Wag because I could do it anywhere. This is while I was building my website and just needed extra money to get by. Do whatever it takes!
Get involved in the community. If you aren't sure how you want to make money long term, I really recommend getting involved. There are so many start up projects and companies within the van world that opportunities will arise. You just have to make your skill set known and someone will be willing to bring you on board.
Don't be afraid to sit still in one city for a few months. If you have to work full- time at a restaurant the first 3 months of the year and let that pay the bills for the rest of the year, so be it. Choose somewhere that you love and stay put until you can travel. You don't always have to be on the move.
National parks are always hiring and Cool Works is a great place to check out current openings. They are almost always seasonal positions so you'd only work for a few months, you'd be in a beautiful park, and they usually give you a campsite to park in while you're working there.
THE BEST VAN LIFE & CONVERSION RESOURCES
The post How YOU Can Afford Van Life Too appeared first on Divine On The road.
It can be really difficult to gauge a monthly budget for a lifestyle that you haven’t experienced yet. I know it was super hard for me before actually living on the road to figure out how much I would need to make each month. Obviously there’s not one correct answer and yours will be different. But I figured it would be beneficial to at least show you mine to help with your own monthly breakdown. I travel at least a little almost every day and have my fair share of bills. So this is what monthly van life expenses look like with a little advice on how to save before you ever hit the road.
READ MORE: HOW I MAKE MONEY ON THE ROAD
MY MONTHLY EXPENSES
I broke this down in two categories. Fixed costs are the things I cannot change. Bills that have to be paid every month no matter my financial situation. Variable costs are the things that can fluctuate depending on how much I’m traveling, eating out, etc.
Van Payment $250
Van Insurance $100
Student Loan $300
Subscriptions (i.e. netflix, etc) $30
Dog Misc. (i.e. food, etc.) $120
MONTHLY TOTAL: $1,600
Need help getting your finances in order to start living your dream?
This “My Money For My Life” course was designed to get your finances more organized and put you on track to start tackling your dream. I highly recommend it for anyone ready for a lot more financial freedom. There are several accountability worksheets and tons of advice to get you where you want to be.
LEARN MORE & FINALLY START REACHING YOUR GOALS
SAVING UP FOR VAN LIFE
I had no clue what I was going to do to make money on the road but I was determined to figure it out. In the meantime though, I needed to save as much money as possible to pay for the build and last me until I got a permanent income figured out. These are all the things that I did to leave with a pretty hefty savings account when I got on the road. Sticking to these and holding yourself accountable is the difference between living your dream or staying where you’re at.
Selling all your furniture. You don't need it anymore. If there's anything you can use for your build, keep it and lower the cost for your van conversion. But sell absolutely everything else. I went 2 weeks with almost no furniture in my apartment because I was selling anything I could!
Stop spending extra money. No more Starbucks on your way to work. Spending money on random things is always the one that takes the most discipline. If you have to, keep your cards at home and only carry $20 in case of emergency. Impulse buys will can make a huge difference when added up.
Sell any extra clothes. I put clothes on Poshmark, Facebook marketplace, took them to Plato's closet. Cut your closet in half. And then cut in half again.
Start hustling. I babysat on the weekends, worked my full- time job during the week, and built this website when I got home. Start doing anything you can to make extra money.
READ MORE: MY ULTIMATE VAN BUILD GUIDE
The post Van Life Monthly Spending Breakdown appeared first on Divine On The road.