The Appalachian Trail, What We Love about Van Life – VLOG ep.06

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The Appalachian Trail, What we Love about Van Life - VLOG EP.06

The Appalachian Trail Vlog

Written by Matt

In Episode 6 we stop by one of the most photographed places on the Appalachian Trail as we continue our way north through the blue ridge parkway and Skyline Drive

McCaffes Knob was an amazing overlook. I really wish I had hiked the Drone in with us! None the less we took some amazing pictures and got to meet some very cool people who were taking their shot at completing the AT or sections of it.

It got me and Allison thinking if we would do a long through hike. We are both into it but still a little intimidated by the prospect of a several thousand mile hike. It would be a cool challenge and one I'd be interested in tackling. They say only about 15-20% of people that start the AT actually finish!

We talk about van life in this episode and some of the things we love about it. we are about 4 weeks in at this point and feel like we are starting to get the hang of it. We love the freedom and easy going lifestyle but it's definitely not without its challenges. (like finding wifi so I can post this article!)

Have a watch and let us know what you think. We'd love your comments either here or on the YouTube Channel!

©2017. All Rights Reserved. Please note we are not financial professionals and this is only our personal experience.

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June Expense Report – First Month in the Van!

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June Expenses - First Month of Full-Time Van Living

Written by Matt

June Expense Report - $15,335 of $40,000 challenge (36%)

We took off in the van on May 30th so this Expense report marks the first month of us living in the van full time! I wasn't sure exactly what our expenses would look like but so far they look pretty good! I think they will drop even more next month as we get more comfortable in the van, how we manage groceries, and get a little farther away from all the people we know (quit inviting us out to eat already...)

So far we are 6mo in and we have only spent 36% of our $40k budget which is awesome!

June Expenses

Our June Experience!

June was the first full month of Van Life. We left California on May 30th and booked it across the country to get to South Carolina by June 9th for my family reunion. It was a pretty serious pace which was less than our favorite way to travel. But that's just how the cookie crumbled.

This month was a nice ease into van life. We spent a lot of time visiting with friends and family. We only camped out 4 of the 10 days it took us to drive from CA to SC. The other times we stayed (in the van) at friends and families houses.

We stayed in the van the entirety of the family reunion which was actually pretty nice to just have our own little space. After leaving Myrtle Beach we headed down to Savannah GA to pick up my sister's dog who we will be taking with us on the trip. Things worked out that she needed a long-term dog sitter and we were supremely qualified.

From GA we started our trek north hoping that we would find some cooler weather and some fun adventures. We found one of those things as the weather has been relentlessly hot. We have stayed in the comfort of AC quite a few times in the last 2 weeks as we head north. We have visited with 1 travel buddy, 2 aunts and uncles, 3 cousins, and my grandma on our way up the east coast and have a couple more friends to meet before we reach Maine and turn West again.

Our New Van Puppy
Our New Van Puppy

June Expenses

Mortgage: $1,790.74 - We finally stopped paying that principle only payment. It will help with our monthly cash flow a bit going forward until we start bringing in some more income from the businesses.

Roommate Income: $2,380 – This should be pretty typical of a month going forward as long as we keep the house fully rented

June Housing

Net housing Costs Income: $456.97 (plus we built some equity in there!)

This represents a pretty stable idea of what we should be getting out of the house going forward. I realized that I had been counting the excess income we got from our house in the last two months against our expenses (which made sense when it was a cost) but now that it should be an income going forward we'll take it out of the total so we can look at how much we actually spent during the month

 

Other Bills:

Gasoline: $599.40 This was a big hitter this month! makes sense because we drove all the way across the country and then down to GA and up to Virginia all in one month. I think we covered ~4,000 miles this month which is pretty insane. I think we'll be quite a bit slower in July. I thought something might have been wrong here but a quick back of the envelope of 4,000 miles at 20mpg with gas around $3/gal for diesel works out to $600. So I'd say we are pretty close.

Student Loan Payment: $500 – Only 5 more years to go!

Groceries: $437.16 – slightly higher than last month but we did cook in quite a bit. We also took our turn cooking at the family reunion for 21 people... I think that dinner was $120 by itself. But we got fed the rest of the time at no charge to us. The community food for breakfast and lunch will get split up between everyone but we haven't seen how much that will be. It was a good week with a lot of food and drink.

Eating Out: $215.31 – One of the hardest parts about visiting with friends and family is that it always seems like a "vacation" to them. "You're in town for a couple days? Let's go eat at our favorite restaurant or get some drinks at our favorite brewery"... its easy to do and hard to say no to because its always fun and the food and drink is always amazing. However for us... it isn't a vacation it's our everyday life. So it can really start to pile up. Honestly, I thought this number would be higher as I reflect back on June. We have a ton of family on this side of the country so I expect once we get our on our own a bit more when we get north we will be back to eating out just a few times per month.

Health Insurance: $202.24 - We signed up with a Christian health Sharing ministry for our insurance when we left work. We waited until May to sign up because we could have gone back on COBRA for 30days after we ended employment if something had happened that required significant medical care. This charge was for set up fees as well so from here on out I believe its only ~$100 for both of us which is super affordable. Granted we have a $10,000 deductible but we have that if something catastrophic happened like a car accident and otherwise we are generally pretty healthy and got full check-ups before we left work.

Phone: $121.70 –  We maxed out on our Project FI account this month because we used it a lot as we traveled across the country as a hot spot. We ended up switching to Verizon in June though because of the hacking incident. There are some more details on that in our VLOG videos

Travel: $106– We got an annual pass to the national parks ($80) and an entrance to sliding rock in Pisgah National Forest ($3) each. The other $20 was a sticker for the van (gotta keep a record) and some other random items.

Doctor: $91.78 – Had some remaining balances somehow from our doctor visits back in March and April... Not sure how it takes 3 months to bill someone but it was a legitimate charge but that should definitely be the last of it.

Fees and Charges: $76.60 – Last month we talked about our hacking situation. This was some more bank and account fallout because of that. we got quite a bit of stuff reversed but not everyone is willing to work with you on it.

Gift: $25.63 – For a friends wedding we will be going to in Oct.

Gym: $5 – I know I said this one would be gone but it Snuck in there! it billed super early in June but next month for sure!

June Expense

June Income

Selling Stuff: $0

Dividends: $143.95

Interest Income: $26.38

Credit Card Bonus: $588.16  - We had opened a couple discover cards last year to put a loan to a friend on. They let us carry the money at 0% for 18mo or something. We paid them all off last month and got the sign-up bonus and cash back this month.

June Income

Business Expenses

Owen Your Future: $604.83 – We bought a Drone (DJI Spark) used off of craigslist for our youtube channel ($400). I'm still learning to fly it around but its a pretty good time and relevant to the videography we are learning.

We spent about $180 on things for Clifford, I bought a fuel filter and a spare, some tire fill extenders for the dual tires, a wifi adapter with antennas that will hopefully help us catch better wifi. a couple air filters (Number 1 maintenance item to be on top of) and a new circuit breaker for the electrical as one failed limiting our microwave or appliance usage.

Business Support: $133.48 -  We had an issue with referrer spam on our website causing the site to go down due to too much bandwidth usage. It took me a while to find a solution but if you are having issues banning people with a free Cloudflare account has worked great so far for us. We had to boost up our hosting subscription to get through the month. I'm thinking we can bring it back down after we get the spam under control.

Primal Noms: $16.35 -  We have our first product out and ready to go! You can check out the mug cakes at PrimalNoms.com I bought a package of them to test the order form and payment processing. Hopefully, we will have some business revenue coming in for next month!

Align with Alli: $22 -  additional credits for the program she uses to level her audio before publishing her podcast.

June is in the bag and we are already well into July. Let us know what you think about our first month's expenses in the van. I'd love to hear other peoples thoughts on your own monthly expenses in the comments or send us an email!

Thanks for Reading!

Business June

©2017. All Rights Reserved. Please note we are not financial professionals and this is only our personal experience.

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How We Shower, The Blue Ridge Parkway, A Drone – VLOG Ep05

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How We Shower, The Blue Ridge Parkway, a New Drone,  - VLOG EP.05

How We Shower in a Van

Written by Matt

In this Episode, we leave Charlotte and head North on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's incredibly beautiful and an amazing part of the county. We pick up a drone to get some cool aerial footage, camp out in some national forest, take a mountain bike ride, slide down a waterfall, and visit with more friends and family in Boone NC.

We leave Charlotte SC and head to Brevard where our aunt and uncle told us we could find some great wateralls and a campsite. Before leaving town we picked up a used DJI Spark off craigslist. It was $400 but i think it will be fun and a cool addition to our videography. Let us know what you think!

We camp out at a free campsite in the national forest next to a stable and wake up the next morning to some horses calling. Alli gives them a little snack while I test out the drone. We head off for a mountain bike ride and ember just runs along with the bikes for a good 6 miles. She is going to be a great van dog and has a serious reserve of energy.

After riding we shower in the creek. We always get two questions from people "where do you shower?", and "how does the bathroom situation work?" Well here is the answer to one of those. we had access to a nice cool creek so we took our Dr. Bronners bio-degradable soap and a washcloth and cleaned up a bit after a long hard ride.

Later we got another dip in some water at sliding rock. Its a fun little spot run by the forest service in the Pisgah national forest. We paid $3 each for admission and got to slide down a natural rock waterslide. The place was packed with kids and they were having a blast. It was pretty fun though and after taking a couple slides into the refreshing water we cooked up some lunch in the parking lot.

We always attract a few people wherever we park that want to check out the van and met a nice girl who's parents wanted to help her get a van. She LOVED Clifford and it was awesome to chat with her for a bit.

After lunch we hit the blue ridge parkway again. We stop at the top at a place called Craggy Gardens and take a short hike up to an overlook that feels like we were on top of the world. The clouds are just flying past and you feel like your inside of them. It was a cool place and a cool experience.

We camped that night in Ashville and then hit more of the blue ridge parkway to make it to Boone NC the next day. My grandmom lives there with another aunt and uncle and we spend a few days at her place. We hike with my Aunt and stay in town for my Cousins Birthday.

I was a good section of the trip! I hope you enjoyed and if so consider subscribing to our channel, give it a like and leave us a comment either here or on YouTube. We'd love to hear from you!

©2017. All Rights Reserved. Please note we are not financial professionals and this is only our personal experience.

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We Get a DOG! Electrical Issues, Georgia and Charlotte – VLOG Ep 04

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We Get a DOG! Electrical Issues and Travel in Georgia and Charlotte  - VLOG EP.04

Van Life with a Dog

Written by Matt

The 4th Episode of our Van Life video series is up! We picked up a dog! Had some electrical issues, and saw some awesome parts of Georgia and spent some wonderful time in Charlotte with friends and family.

Sooo... the Dog situation. The dog's name is Ember and she is a cutie... she is a 2-year-old Minature Golden Aussie Doodle. Its a mouthful for sure but she has a great personality and a really great temperament for the van. She is super calm and loves to cuddle and sleep but she also has an INSANE amount of energy. She can hike longer than we can and is down for basically anything. She will be a great addition to team Clifford.

So how did we end up with her? Well, she is my sister's dog. My sister works as a project manager and she is going to be working on-site at a contractor facility for the next several months. So basically 4-5 days a week she will be out of town. Not a great situation as a dog owner so she was looking at options to board her but we were chatting at the family reunion and it just felt right that we could drive down to GA and pick her up. its been about 3 weeks now and I am pretty sure we will have a hard time giving her back...

We went down to Georgia to pick her up which was about halfway between Florida and Myrtle Beach where we were. It worked out as a good meeting place and we got to check out Savannah. We took a nice rainy bike ride after getting some of our deferred bike maintenance out of the way.

After leaving Georgia we went to Central SC where we met up with Doktor A from the Sprinter Community. He is the go-to guy for questions about sprinter mechanics. He teaches a quick sprinter class that runs through all the major things you have to look out for and make sure you stay on top of as well as good tips and advice as far as what spares to carry and what potential road fixes we might need to make.

He worked on anything I had questions about and was supremely helpful. Highly recommended for anyone that is getting a van. Best is to have him do a pre-inspection if you have the opportunity.

From Central, we drove through Greenville which has this awesome park right in the middle of town. We took a little break on our way up to Charlotte to stretch our legs and explore the town a bit.

In Charlotte, we spent a few nights in downtown with a friend of Allion's. It was fun to get into the city and check out all of the amazing restaurants and breweries. we rode the scooters all over town and had a blast with that. It was our first encounter with a "scooter-share". We also appreciated just being able to get some work done on some reliable wifi in the comfort of their home.

My Aunt and Uncle also live in the suburbs of Charlotte so we spent a night there. They have an amazingly cute Newfoundland and it was great to hang out with them and tell stories and learn more about their entrepreneurship experiences  (they have owned their own companies for quite a while!)

They are amazing and have an amazing family. I'm so glad we got to spend some time with them and I think that's my favorite part of van life so far is just communing with all of our friends and family that we don't get to see often!

©2017. All Rights Reserved. Please note we are not financial professionals and this is only our personal experience.

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Hacked Again, Van is Leaking, Trip to SC – VLOG Ep03

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Hacked Again?! A Leaking  Van and our trip to SC - VLOG EP.03

Van Life Episode 3

Written by Matt

On to our 3rd VLOG! We got hacked again on our way from Colorado to OKC to visit Allison's family. I was locked out of my Gmail account for 3 weeks! We discover a few leaks in Clifford after a torrential downpour leaving Oklahoma, and we finally make it to South Carolina to visit with my family and relax on the beach

We Left Colorado and drove over independence pass to make our way towards Oklahoma City. we were one day out of Colorado and just hitting the road again after spending the night at a campground in Dalhart Texas when I start getting notifications that I've been logged out of all my Google accounts. Alli has the same.

We pulled over in a Tractor Supply parking lot in BFE Texas and start panicking. Somehow the hacker still had gotten access to our new Google passwords after changing them the first time. Clearly, my laptop was not safe even after I had wiped it and re-installed windows.

We spent several hours on the phones with our various banks and online accounts trying to make sure everything was locked down. For whatever reason, I was completely unable to recover my google account. Which also was the primary account for our new project Fi Phones.

We tried desperately to get google to recover my account for me but they were unable to do anything. They could only offer to help me fill out their online recovery form. We were very concerned that after this repeated breach, that this hacker might try to use my google account to port our phones over to his own device. by doing so he could access the 2-factor authentication texts that we had just made sure were on every account.

We ultimately decided to switch phone carriers because of this potential issue, and swapped over to a Verizon plan after about a week of back and forth with Google representatives and us essentially giving up hope that we would ever get control of my google account again.

 

As we were leaving OKC we drove through an INTENSE rainstorm. Tornado worthy type downpour. which was an excellent test of Cliffords water-tightness. Unfortunately, he failed in a few areas and we show a few of the reasons why. You can definitely check out our upcoming build videos to see how we fixed it and why we might have had some issues in the first place so you don't have the same. Stay tuned for those

 

Lastly, we made it to South Carolina and had a wonderful time connecting with my family on Myrtle Beach. We had a lot of rain (further testing Cliffys seals) but overall we got some great time on the beach and a lot of amazing conversations. I had never connected with my family like I did this trip. I'm not sure if it was the new stage of life that I had just entered or if it was because I had grown and matured a little more since the last time we got everyone together but it was a truly enjoyable experience.

The best part is that they are scattered around the east coast so We have had the opportunity to catch up with a lot of them as we head north!

Hope you like this weeks episode and as always, definitely leave us a comment here on the blog or on youtube!

©2017. All Rights Reserved. Please note we are not financial professionals and this is only our personal experience.

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May Expenses – Leaving Bakersfield Behind and Finishing the Van

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May Expenses - Leaving Bakersfield Behind and Finishing the Van

May Expense Report

Written by Matt

May Expense Report - $13,046 of $40,000 challenge

As you read in our April post we are a little late publishing our blog content because we spent just about 6 weeks straight building our van working on it full time. we spent the next few weeks traveling and we are just hitting 4 weeks of being on the road. We are starting to get caught up but to be honest sometimes I'd rather enjoy the travel and experiences than be to focused on keeping our content schedule

So better late than never but here are our May expenses.

May expense

Our May Experience!

If our April Experience was crazy, I'm not quite sure how to describe May. We started out the month with 5 days to finish the van and get fully moved out before our new tenants moved in to take over our room and start acting as house managers... We 100% missed that target. We ended up behind schedule on Clifford's build and we ended up spending an additional week sleeping on our van mattress in the living room of the house.

We needed to stay for a bit longer to finish up the framing and cabinets inside. We had some larger saws and things we didn't intend to take with us when we left that held us up.

Following that week we packed up all the things we were going to keep (some tools, sentimental stuff, winter clothes, everything that belonged in the van) and moved it to Allison's Mom's house just outside of LA where we resumed living on a different living room floor for an additional 2 weeks while we finished everything else on the van!

Seriously this period of our life was a tornado of activity.

Alli Knocking out some Van Construction
Alli Knocking out some Van Construction

May Expenses

Mortgage: $2,090.74 - We made the election change to take off our principle only payment and they kindly let us know it woudl take several weeks to go into effect... oh well. Maybe next month this will go down.

Roommate Income: $2,900 – We had new roommates move into our master bedroom. Another couple our age that was trying to save some extra money by getting out of their apartment. Since they are helping to manage the house where we still rent the other 3 rooms individually, we gave them a break on the rent. This month we had some deposits which raised the total a little bit. we are expecting to have around $2,400 coming in for the house each month going forward.

We also let them take over paying the maids and gardener so those are bills we are no longer responsible for

may housing

Net housing costs Income: $668.63 (plus we built some equity in there!)

As I explained above we had a bit more generous rental income than usual and since we have gotten rid of the responsibility for the maids and the gardener the numbers look pretty awesome this month. It will all even out down the road when deposits go back to renters but even so we should be in the black on the house rental with the current arrangement.

Other Bills:

Insurance: $1,249.74 - We finished the Van! Now that Cliffy was complete we decided we needed to get appropriate insurance on him. It was surprisingly hard to find a company to insure a self-built RV. We called around to lots of companies and ended up with AAA because they were one of the only ones that would do it. He had full comprehensive coverage up to $30k

Student Loan Payment: $500 – same as every month

Eating Out: $396.50 – Last month I talked about how we can start to slip up when it comes to eating out when you get busy? Well, that definitely happened to us this month! we were out of our element, we were living in a different house, sleeping on the floor, and working on the van nonstop. We also were staying with someone who didn't cook often so it was so easy to end up in their routine of eating out and grabbing something quick that was convenient... Just to show that we are not perfect haha. I was proud of us last month and a bit disappointed this month...

Groceries: $330.15 – It's amazing how we can spend so much on eating out and STILL spend the same amount we normally do on groceries. This just goes to show that you pay a huge markup on meals out!

Shipping: $294.20 - We really kicked up the eBay selling this month! I debated taking this out but I already built the nice graphics and chart above so it's staying in... all of this was covered by the eBay income and the majority of it was a tool that got mailed to Dubai.

Gasoline: $178.23 –  We sold the Prius in the middle of the month so we are now a one van family! we had to put some gas in the moving truck and ran what felt like a million errands to Lowes or Home Depot...

Moving Truck: $119.03– We moved out of our house in Bakersfield the second week of May. We kept some things we didn't want to sell like all my mechanics tools, some sentimental items, everything coming in the van, and our winter clothes. I was shocked that even after selling what felt like 90% of our belongings we still had no trouble filling an 18' Uhaul... minimal stacking but it was far from sparse in there.

It is truly incredible how much "stuff" you acquire so quickly. Especially living in a big house with lots of room for it to hide. I think the experience of downsizing and selling all of it was a good learning experience for us that we hopefully mind in the future if we ever move back into a house.

Phones: $102.39– We used quite a bit of data this month. With Project Fi you pay for data up to 10GB and then its free. So it maxes out at $120/mo. I managed to upload a ton of videos from our build to Dropbox via data.... Oops, Later $60... In fact, I still haven't figured out how to prevent it from uploading on data and I believe its impossible. At least going forward I know we will be maxed out anyway so it shouldn't matter too much.

Fees and Charges: $94.16 – So there will be more to come on this but I'll spill a bit of the beans. We had our computer hacked and had all of our information stolen. It was AWFUL. We spent all of June just trying to get our lives back in order. It was a truly eye-opening experience to the importance of internet security, something I had really taken for granted up until now. In response to this, we froze all our accounts and changed all our cards, all our online passwords for everything we could think of. because of that, we had some checks bounce as bills that were on auto-pay tried to deduct from a frozen checking account. We got some fees from this and some we could petition to have removed and some we couldn't. There will be some more of these charges in June and I want to do a post on what we learned from the experience with some more details so you can learn from our mistakes.

Trade Commissions: $12.26 – This is our usual wealth front fees

Gym: $5 –Alli Finished her Yoga Teacher Certification. So Proud of her! You won't see this charge from here on out because it's all private lessons for me!

May expenses

MayIncome

Paychecks: $0– The lifeline of 9-5 income has officially ended! We are on our own from here on out. It's exciting and terrifying at the same time!

401k Contributions: $0

Selling Stuff: $9,510 - We Sold my Prius ($7k) and lots of other stuff on Ebay, craigslist, and offer up. We have extracted just about all the value we can out of the stuff we have so from here on out its all up to the businesses.

Dividends: $121.96

HSA Contribution: $0

may income

Business Expenses

Owen Your Future: $3,307.46 – This is the remainder of the stuff we needed to finish out the van. In total we ended up spending ~$21k on the van and all the materials for the conversion. Definitely wasn't cheap but I think we built a pretty kick ass van and when you consider our house cost over 10x that, It's pretty cool that we have a mobile home for the next 6mo on the cheap. Van Life is just like anything else, you can spend whatever your heart desires. There are vans that cost upwards of $100k and there are people who are enjoying life in a $5,000 rig. It all just depends on what you want and need from your van and your own personal strategy to fill your needs.

Business Support: $39.98 -  This is Dropbox, LibSyn, and Active Campaign

Primal Noms: $869 -  We finalized our formulation for the Muffin product for our ketogenic food company. I paid the remainder of the bill to the food scientist to close the contract. We've had some trouble getting everything lined up for manufacturing but we do have a mug cake mix that is ready to go! We are going to launch into the market with that and then hopefully bring the muffins along down the line.

may business

Hope you enjoyed the May Expense report. I'd love to know what you think and as always if you have any tips or tricks to save some money share them bellow in the comments!

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