March 2018 Expenses- How Much Does a Sprinter Van Cost?

March 2018 Expenditures

Copy of saved more than earned (1)

Written by Alli

March 2018 Expenditures- buying a van, PRK (Lasik) eye surgery, and other really expensive things.

This month Alli is coming at you with our March expenditures! And let’s just say…we had a REALLY expensive month. We bought Clifford the big red van, I (Alli) had PRK (Lasik) eye surgery, and we bought Matt a laptop! Clifford is a business expense, due to the fact that we will be blogging and sharing financial wisdom from the road. PRK (Lasik) is a healthcare expense and the laptop is also a business expense. For these reasons, we are not including them in our $40k per year challenge. You might think we are changing the rules because we spent a lot this month and that’s cool if you think we’re weaksauce! Feel free to read more hardcore blogs elsewhere. To us, the $40k per year challenge is about reducing personal expenses, so that’s why we are sticking to the personal categories. So let’s dive into the details.

Housing- $618.49: this is the net expense out of our pocket after we collect rental income from our tenants who rent out 3 rooms in our house. This is fairly normal, the cleaning is a tad high (it’s only $200 per month) but I’m guessing that’s because they didn’t cash a check. Our gardener is notoriously forgetful and only asks us for checks every couple months, so that’s why it’s zero this month.


Groceries- $535.32: This is high for us this month for a couple reasons. We had some friends in town (a family of 5) for a week and instead of going out to eat, we opted for cooking lots of meals at home for them. We also had my mom and aunt come to town one weekend to help us with curtains for Clifford, and we cooked them a meal in the Instant pot (carnitas tacos..yumm).

Student Loans- $500: Matt pays this every month to his mom. It’s 0% interest so we don’t see the point of paying it off.

Gasoline- $192.18: Matt drives a 2006 Prius and Alli drives a 2009 Accord, which are both for sale right now. Email us if you’re interested! Lol.

Travel- $150: I spent this reserving a campsite in September for my 8 college roommates and myself to visit Arches National Park in Utah! $134 of this will be reimbursed by the girls when that time comes. We don’t record reimbursements until they come in, so for that reason, this will hit our expenses this month.

Insurance- $145.50: For both of the cars. We also have an umbrella policy through Liberty Mutual. We keep liability only insurance on both of our cars because they aren’t worth more than $7k each.

Pharmacy/Doctor- $135.39: I had to get a prescription eye drops for my eye surgery and Matt got some blood work done. Typical routine work. We tried to get a bunch of routine work done in March since we will be changing insurance and hitting the road soon. We will have a whole video posted on which insurance we went with now that we are self-employed.

Supplements- $134.39: Various supplements including CBD oil! If you’re interested in hearing what supplements we take and why, leave us a comment below!

Eating out- $122.87: Took my mom out to dinner one night, everything else was fairly small meals eaten out!

Cars Registration- $55: ya know, gotta stay legal. This was for my Honda Accord.

Entertainment- $63.99: One of our roommates was in a local volunteer theatre program and we went to support her. All the proceeds went to charity! It was a fun night and Dinah is a star! We also went to CALM, a local museum that celebrates California’s native plant and animal species.

One of the little friend's we made at CALM
One of the little friend's we made at CALM


Late Fee- $25: Matt’s credit card number changed and it turned off AutoPay. Sad day. We got this fixed though so we won’t miss a payment again! We use credit cards for all of our purchases because travel points!

Shopping- $13.93: Some skincare things from Amazon because I turned 28 and ya know, I need an eye cream now.

Trade Commissions- $13.77: Wealthfront and 401k Fees

Itunes- $11.97: We pay for Dropbox through Itunes. $10 per month. We also pay $.99 per month for ICloud, but we are in the process of moving all that over to DB.

Gym- $5: We pay for an online yoga membership, which we will be cancelling this month because now I am a registered Yoga Teacher! Woot woot!

Total: $2,722.8

So here’s how we’re doing on our $40k challenge for 2018…We’re 25% of the way through the year, and we’ve only spent 19% of our budget…so I’d say that’s pretty damn good!


Now onto some of the “other stuff” i.e., income and business expenses:


401K Contributions- $11,026.20: All of my (Alli) paycheck went to my 401k because we were trying to minimize our tax burden for the year. Matt’s company wouldn’t let him put his whole paycheck, but he did they max they would allow.

Paychecks- $7593.03: Little lower than normal because of me putting all of my money into my 401k

Selling stuff- $1955.29: Hell yah! I’ve been working my buns off selling all our furniture and things on Craigslist and OfferUp. I imagine April’s will be much larger.

HSA Contribution- $376.92: Matt’s company automatically puts this into an HSA account, which is awesome. We strategically didn’t use the HSA funds for my eye surgery right now though because there’s this rule that you can pull out the money anytime as long as you have the receipt. So we kept the eye surgery receipt and should we need it at a later date we can pull it out then.

Dividends- $721.73: We invest most of our money in VSTAX.

Total income: $21,673.17

Business + Health Expenses:

Clifford- $8800: What a STEAL! You might be thinking. Well, Clifford has 440,000 miles on him BUT thankfully he just had a new engine put in him, and the new engine has about 60k miles. He does have a few issues and is actually in the shop right now down in LA getting a full check up before we take off. The issues seem to be small, but Matt can update further on what’s going on.

Clifford’s conversion- $1538.38: We have budgeted around $10k to get him totally functional, and it looks like we are going to come under our budget. You’ll see lots of charges for this in April's expenses.

Insulation foam from Home Depot!
Insulation foam from Home Depot!

Lasik (PRK) eye surgery- $4000: I had horrible eyes! So thankfully now I can see. This will be especially useful for van life! This will be a one time cost and will eliminate my need for glasses and contacts. It doesn't exactly pay-out economically, but contacts have never been comfortable to me, so for the convenience of not having glasses...I will pay!

Business Items- $852.87: Matt bought a laptop because we can’t have a desktop in Clifford. This also has our recurring subscriptions like ActiveCampaign and Libsyn.

Primal Noms- $60.04: We had some business meetings up in SF so this is just gas and food for our day trip.

Total business expenses: $15,251.29

April is also shaping up to be an expensive month, but we will be selling the rest of our belongings and both of our cars, so we will be making money from those. We also only worked half of April, but we both got paid out a bit of vacation, so our April income shouldn't be too shot. May on the other hand, lol!

Thanks for reading, was this insightful to you? Please let us know in the comments if you have any questions or would like further explanations!

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February Expense Report – The $40k Challenge

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February Expense Report - $40K Challenge Update

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Written by Matt

February Budget - $4,865 of $40,000 challenge

Starting off 2018 we decided to take a challenge to spend $40,000 this year. We are two months into the challenge and we are on track! I honestly expected some overages with the beginning of the year travel but Feb is always a good month. Its shorter than all the other months by half a week and I get my company bonus!

Spending wheel

Our February Experience!

We kept it pretty calm and collected this February. We had on trip down to San Diego to visit with one of Allison’s friends from college, Liz, and to record a podcast with Rachel Maddox. Check out Alli’s two podcast episodes here: LINK TO PODCAST

We stayed at Liz’s house so we didn’t have any hotel but we did spend a little bit more than normal on eating out and we went out the bar which always racks up some bills and an Uber home. It was a great little trip and I got to take some cool beach photos while Allison was in her podcast which is always a good time.

I could get use to that San Diego life! Weather is a wonderful 70F in Feb.
I could get use to that San Diego life! Weather is a wonderful 70F in Feb.

February Expenses

Mortgage: $2,090.74 – Same as last month. Should be the same for the rest of the year. We will likely stop paying our extra $300 toward the principle in May or June. We are planning to leave the state in the second week of May and will be having another couple move into our master bedroom and act as onsite property managers. I’m sure we will have a post on that and maybe on how we selected this property in general as a real estate investment.

Roommate Income: $1,950 – We will have one roommate that is leaving in April. Hopefully, we can fill it rather quickly and avoid any vacancy. I think we may have another one moving out in May so we will have a bit of turnover at the house! Looks like that might coincide with when we take off on our trip so we’ll do our best to get it lined up and filled ahead of time.

Vacancy is really one of the worst things for rental property income. Just one month missed rent with one empty room is $600 extra that month. If both our rooms were empty for a month that would be $1,200 or almost half of our whole month's spending!


Net housing cots: $719.67 (plus we built some equity in there!)

Bills were pretty normal other than the Gardener! We hadn’t paid him since we left on vacation in December so we had 3 months of regular bills ($60/mo plus we had trees trimmed and we reseeded the front yard). We had one bill for the maids (they come every 2 weeks so next month we might have 3) internet is always the same and unfortunately, it’s the lowest we could find for the area, water is usually pretty cheap and usually 30-40 a month. We spent a little less on gas since it’s a bit warmer than last month. That should drop of even more in March as we have solar, so the electricity side of things is practically free.


Other Bills:

Student Loan Payment: $500 – I was fortunate enough that my parents could help me pay for college. I’m paying my mom back for ~$60k in student loans. We set up a $500 payment each month for 10 years which I’m about 5 years into. (0% interest!)

Travel: Zero travel expenses. I could have put some of our San Diego expenses in under travel but they were already categorized in our regular spending and it was relatively short and inexpensive trip.

Groceries: $386.16 – Few stops at Vons and Trader Joes. I keep hearing how great Aldi is on the choose FI forums so we might check that out. We just let our Costco membership expire as we won’t be needing Costco sized things when we are living in a Van/RV

Electronics: $370 – We bought Allison a Google Pixel. When we leave our jobs, we are going to have to get on our own plan and bring our own phones. We will be going to Project FI through google and decided we’d rather buy an older version phone instead of doing a brand new one or financing it. Project FI uses 3 different wireless providers and only costs $130/mo for an unlimited plan. If you use less data you pay less so the base price is ~$50 a month for the two of us and caps at $130. The data also works internationally which is an amazing feature for when we go international next year!

Gasoline: $187.65 – I worked from town a few extra days this month so a little less driving out the field but we also drove down to SD although we took my Prius so it wasn’t a huge hit on the gas bill.

Insurance: $145.50 - $60 for Alli, $72 for me, and $13 for an umbrella policy since we have renters in our house and because we are working on our businesses. As those become more mature we will likely have separate insurance and LLCs for each of those.

Eating out: $131.23 – Breakfast, lunch and dinner for two days basically while in San Diego. This also includes our bar tab when we were out on the town. All in all, it was pretty cheap. Nothing over $20. Thanks “California Burrito” for feeding me twice and being soooo delicious.

Pharmacy: $68.75 – Our health is super important to us. We didn’t buy any supplements this time around but we did have to hit the pharmacy to get a few things. Allison got her nose pierced and we needed some stuff to take care of that. I do think we still bought some vitamins though. Can’t get out of rite aid without some vitamins.

Registration: $55 – registration for Alli’s car was due. Thankfully we drive old beaters so its pretty cheap!

Shopping: $24.02 – While we were in SD we went to the mall. We used mostly Gift Cards we had from Christmas but had to make up a little bit of the difference. New swimsuits and some makeup.

Gym: $5 – we have a web subscription to “yoga works” which is awesome. There are a ton of great classes on there we can do from the house and its really cheap. I could save the $5 and just look some up on YouTube I’m sure but having a good range to pick from with good quality video is worth the price for us.

Feb Expenses

February Income

Bonus!!!: $19,837.99 - My company pays an annual bonus which is a big portion of my compensation. The company performed well this year and due to that, we got a pretty nice chunk of change. We had definitely planned for this and it will make up a good chunk of the money that will go into the honeypot to fund our travels for the next year or more.

401k Contributions: $10,284.59 -  Since we were planning to leave our jobs we elected to kick up our Pre-tax 401k contributions as much as we could. My company allowed me to put in 25% of my income but Alli could do 100%! So, we elected to do that as we can live off my income for the next two months and still get all of the money into our 401Ks for the year. I won’t be able to top mine off but Alli will have hit the $18,000 limit by the end of this month.

Paychecks: $5,430.55 – This dropped due to the change in Alli’s paycheck going 100% into our 401k. We will save a little bit less cash prior to quitting but we will avoid a bit more California Taxes which I think will be worth it.

HSA Contribution: $376.92 – This will keep it up for the next two months. I had not contacted Fidelity to front load the HSA the same way we are doing in the 401K but I easily could. Maybe something I’ll look into this week.

Dividends: $224.91 – I have one dividend stock in my 401k that pumps out consistent dividends. Its also acting as the bond allocation for my diversification.

Net Worth

Starting net worth was $574,459 and our ending net worth was $590.675 for a total increase of $17,216. We had a little stock market correction. The worst it got was -6.3% for our portfolio but we are back up to -3.2% at the end of the month. The stock market is pretty heated up so I’m hoping we see it carry on up after this correction, but I think everyone expects a turn sometime soon. We aren’t trying to pick when that will be, We will just hold and ride it out.

Net Worth

Overall it was a good month. Even with the market dip we survived and increased the net worth. No doubt due to that company bonus. Wish those came all the time!

For those that don't know we will be traveling this summer in a Rv or conversion van. I'm starting to do some research into converting our own! If anyone has some good resources let me know!

Leave us some comments below and let us know how you are doing on your financial goals for this year and if we can support you on your journey in any way! Thanks for reading!

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January Expense Report and The $40k Challenge!

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January Expenses and The $40k Challenge

January Expense Report

Written by Matt

Starting off 2018 we decided to take a challenge to spend $40,000 this year. We talked about it a lot last year and it will mark a pretty significant reduction in our total spending (we spent about $65k last year).

We have a lot in store for 2018 (which we will be sharing soon!) so it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out. We decided we would post here for all of you to help keep us honest and accountable! It's really amazing what diving deep into your finances can do for your spending. Especially when the idea of buying that thing is rolling around in your head but you know you'll have to post about it later for all to see... It's some serious spending inoculation.

Our January Experience!

We haven’t put up our travel post quite yet, but we spent our Christmas and New Year in Iceland! We travel with my mother and sister during the holiday season and we alternate going to a warm and cold place (this was our cold year!) We traipsed around a frosted Iceland admiring many glaciers, ice caves, waterfalls, and some northern lights to boot! It was an awesome trip with some amazing scenery and it really let me flex my photography muscle with was pretty fun. Hopefully, you follow me on Instagram so you can see the glorious pixels.


The Fireworks in Reykjavik are unlike anything I've ever seen!!
The Fireworks in Reykjavik are unlike anything I've ever seen!!

After New Years we parted ways with my mom and sis. Allison and I took off on the second leg of our journey to Berlin and Prague. We spent another 9 days between the two and we’ll have a more detailed travel post to show you where we went and what we did.

The short and sweet of it is we checked out all of the World War II history and lots of relics and information about the Berlin Wall. It was fascinating to get a deeper look into what it was like to have lived in that area during that time. Hard to comprehend but good to remember and honor those who were involved in that struggle.

We hopped a train to Prague and truly adored this city. It has so much character and it's soooo Old. Everything is so beautiful and there is so much history about each and every building. We mainly took free walking tours around the city which were a great way to see everything and learn about the history at the same time. Everything in Prague was really cheap too so it was a great place to balance out Iceland (Expensive!!), Berlin (Average), and Prague (Cheap!!). Also, Czechs love their beer! I had one at every meal I think and they never cost more than ~$2!

We got back on the 10th so about half the month we had travel costs lumped into our budget which made it a little tougher to hit our target but we still ended up way under!

Those Flying Buttresses are Insane!!
Those Flying Buttresses are Insane!!

January Expenses!

Mortgage: $2,090.74 – This is up $190 from December! Our property re-assessment finally hit from when we bought the house (18 months later?) but our taxes jumped by over $2,000 per year. Insane right? Luckily, we house hack our current home so while this number Is big, we really offset the majority this with incoming rents most months. We also pay an extra $300 per month towards the principle so we could bring this down a little bit if we wanted too.

Roommate Income: $1,958 – We rent 3 of our rooms out in the house. We purposefully bought this house so that we could live almost or nearly for free. It was working a little better before the jump in taxes… Even so it definitely cuts down a big chunk of our housing expenses!

Housing Expense

Net housing cots: $429.09 (plus we built some equity in there!)

Travel: $1,156.13 in Jan, $1,479.22 in Dec. we got a check back from my mom and sister to settle up and that worked out to $1,377. Total spent on our trip was $1,258.35 over two months. (this doesn’t include flights or some hotels that we booked ahead of time!) $629.17 per month! Not bad since Iceland is crazy expensive. We will post a breakdown of all the costs of that trip in our travel post!

Groceries: $300 – This was literally one Costco Trip after we got back from vacation.

Gasoline: $115.41 – Very good month since we were out of the country for half of it.

Supplements: $69.95 – Our health is super important to us. We got this one supplement based on a recommendation on a podcast. Restore. It's supposed to help maintain your gut lining and be a defense against gluten and other irritants that can cause leaky gut. It helps you absorb nutrients more efficiently and overall assist your microbiome to thrive.

Auto Insurance: $60.33 - Just mine. I pay monthly, Alli pays every 6mo. I drive about 100miles a day right now so my insurance is crazy. I also have coverage up to 300k so our net worth is protected if someone sued us!

January Income!

Paychecks: $8,792 – This is pretty self-explanatory. We worked or used paid vacation for our travels in Dec/Jan so we still got paid! If you're new to the blog both me and Allison work for oil and gas companies in Bakersfield CA as engineers. I’m a mechanical engineer and I maintain and do project management for my companies treatment facilities and Alli is a petroleum engineer who manages subsurface equipment and production. The jobs pay great but it's not all sunshine and roses.

HSA Contribution: $2,376.92 - My work puts $2,000 into an HSA each year for me. It helps to cover our deductible since we carry a high deductible plan which saves the company money due to Obama Care. So it’s a way they incentivized us to move off of the “Cadillac” health plan we had previous to 2015. I also contribute the maximum I can so a total of $6,350 this year or $376 per month.

401k Contributions: $1,572.43 - I think this missed the second deposit because of the timing of my paychecks. So Feb. will likely be higher. Both Allison and I max our 401k contributions each year and then our employers have a 4% and 6% match which goes in on top of our $18,000.

Dividends: $206 - Most This may have bled over from December as that’s when the vast majority of our dividends are distributed. All of them are reinvested but it still helps to build the account!


Net Worth!

Starting net worth was $542,209 Ending net worth was $574,997 for a total increase of $32,788. Had some good investment performance and a gain of 4.2% for the month which has really been excellent!

Net Worth

Thanks for reading! This is the first post we've put up bearing all of our financials. I know I've always enjoyed reading about other peoples financial experiences so Leave us a comment and let's continue the conversation!

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Wedding Money Breakdown

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Wedding Money Breakdown

Real wedding

Written by Alli

In May of this year (2017), we got married. It was simultaneously the best time of my life as well as the most vulnerable and scariest time of my life. I felt pressure from friends, Pinterest, and myself to create the “perfect” wedding event. Meanwhile, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was never the girl who dreamed of purple peonies and a poofy dress on her big day.

We received about $24,000 from family members for the day. According to, The National Average Cost of a Wedding is $35,329 in 2016.

We wanted to be able to have an awesome time on a limited budget, so we opted for hosting the wedding on my dad’s four acre property in Oklahoma. We invited everyone to a welcome BBQ dinner on Friday complete with a photobooth. Because of rain (and a minor tornado scare...eek!), this event had to be tented (an extra $3000, ugh.) On Saturday, the weather and the wedding was absolutely beautiful. We had a homemade floral arch for the ceremony, a cocktail hour full of unique margaritas and a jazz band, a photobooth, a DJ, and (my favorite) a donut truck. We flew our photographer out from California (because I am annoyingly bougie about photographers) and rented farm tables and benches. Excluding the price of the ring and dress, we spent about $28,000 for both events.

The donut truck!
The donut truck!

This felt like a lot of money to both of us (Matt would’ve been happy just walking down to the courthouse), but I didn’t want to miss out on the wedding day experience. Am I happy we did it? Absolutely. Had we not received money from family, would I have just walked on down to the courthouse? Absolutely.  The wedding day was magical and full of love and joy, but having a Pinterest perfect wedding doesn’t equate to a happy, successful marriage and life with your partner. In fact, two economics professors at Emory University used data from more than 3000 married couples in the United States and found, according to the WSJ, “After analyzing their data, the authors found that women whose weddings had cost more than $20,000 (in 2014 dollars) ended up getting divorced 60% more often than those whose weddings were cheaper. And men who spent between $2,000 and $4,000 on their engagement ring got divorced 30% more often than those who spent between $500 and $2,000.” The research was published under the title, “‘A Diamond is Forever’ and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship Between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration.”

Based on their findings, the study also suggests:


I knew the wedding budget was important, but I didn’t realize it had a correlation to marriage duration! We definitely went outside the recommended $20K, but we dated 2.5 years (close!) and we didn’t skip the honeymoon (In fact, we travel hacked our honeymoon to 4 days of diving at an all-inclusive in Cozumel , 3 nights in Playa del Carmen, including flights (and a bribe to the Mexican federales)- $1500.)

Havin a lil bit of fun ;)
Havin a lil bit of fun 😉

Overall, I’m glad we spent what we did, but I hated the pressure to create the best day ever. I kept reminding myself, “it’s just one day!” And in all honestly, I hope our wedding day wasn’t the best day of our lives. I hope it’s not only downhill from here. I hope there are many more days (like childbirths, writing my first book, founding a successful business venture, celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary) that bring us just as much joy and love as our wedding day did.

The send-off!
The send-off!
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