August Van Life Expense Report

Tame Your Wild Money Habits in 10 Minutes a Week!

August Van Life Expenses - Canada, Backpacking Isle Royal

August Van Life Expenses

Written by Matt

August Expense Report - $21,115 of $40,000 challenge

This post is almost a month late! Seems to be a recurring theme with these posts but here is our August van life expenses. A little higher than previous months but we are still well on track to finish the year under our $40,000 target for the year! Read on to see what we did, and how much it cost to live in the van in August.

Year To Date Monthly Expenses
Year To Date Monthly Expenses

Our August Van Life Experience!

August was an awesome month! We Started the month in Maine and made our way up into New Brunswick for 5 days. We had plans to make our way over to Novia Scotia and make our way to Prince Edward Island but found that it was really difficult to  work from Canada just because we could no longer use our Verizon unlimited plans for internet (you only get 0.5GB in Mexico and Canda) and the free wifi was either slow or hard to find.

So, We made our way back into Maine and traveled across New Hampshire and Vermont. Stopping in Gorham to visit our favorite Bus peeps over at Wild Drive Life. We made our way into Upstate New York and had an amazing time in the Adirondacks and Finger Lakes hiking and camping.

We visited with some friends in Rochester NY and then made our way into Canada again, via Nigra Falls, for a van life meetup outside of Ontario. It was amazing to get together with 10 other people who were doing van life on their own terms. So great to see all the other builds and talk about everyone's life and reasons for living this way.

After leaving Ontario after 4 wonderful days at the beach, we headed into Detroit to visit with a friend and learned a lot about the city and housing since she works to help people stay in their homes. The city was so different than others we've been too.

After Detroit, we headed north stopping by sleeping bear dunes on Lake Michigan and then up into the Upper Peninsula. We took a 5-day backpacking trip on Isle Royal which is the least visited national park in the UnitedStatess and did our photoshoot for this Kiplinger Article in the Porcupine Mountains.

An action-packed month! Hopefully, you check us out on Youtube and Instagram and you followed along with us on last months journey!

Getting some water before hitting the trail
Getting some water before hitting the trail

August Expenses

Mortgage: $1,745.92 - Same as always!

Roommate Income: $2,634 – We had one roommate change over. We got a security deopost and will return one next month so we will have a little lower income next month

April Housing

Net housing cots: $769.43 (plus we built some equity in there!)

Bills were reasonable this month and as I mentioned above we had an extra deposit for someone moving in September. We will give the deposit back to the tenant leaving next month so its income will be a little lower.


Other Bills:

Groceries: $658.81 - Holy cow we spent a lot on groceries this month! At least it was offset a bit by us barely eating out at all. We went Keto again for a period of time this month which always tends to increase our costs a bit. We also fed a family of 4, and two other couples as we were passing through town and pitched in to the potluck for the 20 people at the van meet up! We also had no idea what we were doing in Canada and went to Sobey's, which I think is like the Whole Foods of Canada...

Clifford: $590.14 - Clifford had been hard shifting and having some serious belt squeal from the serpentine belt. I ordered parts to replace the whole serpentine belt system, a new alternator (because a failed alternator clutch causes the failure of the belt tensioner) and everything I needed to service the transmission.

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!)

Gasoline: $497.04 - We covered a lot of ground in August and we also got gas in Canada which is more expensive even when you take into account the exchange rate. Pro Tip: just get enough gas to get you across the border... exactly what I forgot to do and paid $90 for a tank instead of $70

Travel: $453.57 - We went BackPacking in Isle Royal for 4 days. Permits and the ferry cost $220, we spent another $100 on backpacking food (I split this out because it was specific to this trip and a bit more expensive than we would normally eat) and we had to board the dog with Rover for $125.

Phones: $174.42 – Verizon Unlimited plan for both of us.

Insurance: $112.21 – We pay $12 for our umbrella insurance which takes care of anything with our business or renters that would be above and beyond our normal insurance. We also pay or Auto insurance Yearly but I added $100/mo in here because its just under $1,200 per year.

Health Insurance: $101.00 – We use Medi-Share for our health insurance and have a $10,000 deductible. Basically, its there if we get cancer or hit by a bus. Luckily, we are young and healthy and this covers both of us for a really reasonable price.

Eating Out: $68.76– We hardly ate out at all. A couple of fast food stops while driving. One restaurant and one box of wine!

Gym: $61.06 – We use Planet Fitness for our Gym membership so that we can shower and work out. Its typically $22 per month but they charged an annual fee that I had no idea about that was $40. So if you get the black card just be aware that exists.

Laundry: $9.75 – Did two loads of wash at a laundromat in NY. Pretty good prices compared to some we have been to in the past!

Parking: $7.66– We had to pay for parking at a meter in Detroit for a couple of hours

August van life expenses

August Income

Rental Income: $769.43 – We had a big month because of an extra deposit that came in. It will be a little lower next month.

Business Income: $223.72 -  We got some good sales with our Primal Noms business! If you are interested in Keto check out our Keto Baked Goods - Primal Noms

Interest Income: $26.38- Thanks Savings accounts!

Dividends: $5.10– I don't think this is 100% accurate. Since we had our hack we locked down all of our accounts and I don't think we are pulling in the dividends from our wealth front account and my 401k

August Van Life Income

Business Expenses

Primal Noms: $210.89 – We paid for all of the shipping on the products that were ordered, and we paid for $70 Instagram marketing service that we canceled after this month.

Business Support: $125.01 -   Active Campaign, Our Website builder Beaver Builder, DropBox, and an SEO book Make Traffic Happen

Owen Your Future: $37.17 – We paid for our Adobe Premier subscription and business cards for FinCon conference we were going to in August from Vista Print

Align With Alli: $20 – We paid for her LibSyn subscription for her podcast

August Business

Sorry again for the tardiness of this post! Follow us on Youtube and Instagram for more up to date info on where we are and what we are doing. Stay tuned for September van life expenses which will be out soon!

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!

How Much it Cost to Build a Custom Camper Van

Tame Your Wild Money Habits in 10 Minutes a Week!


how much does a custom camper van conversion cost_

Written by Matt

So you decided you want to give this van-life thing a shot and hit the road but now you’re a little worried about what this lifestyle and specifically what a camper van cost. These big ol’ vans aren’t cheap but just know that people build out there vans in thousands of ways. Some cost more than others. This is our build and our experience and we think it turned out awesome and is a good balance between cost, functionality, and quality.

If you want details on how much it costs to live in a van check out this video by clicking here

if you want to know what we would change about our build check out this video by clicking here

Let's start at the beginning. Before you can convert a van, you need a van. This is Clifford! (our van- see below) We bought him off of Craigslist in LA for $8,800 from a guy who was using him in his business to haul autoparts. He was the second van we went to look at and we fell in love with him. I would caution you not to rush into buying a van, we dove in with both feet because we had already put in our notices with work (expecting to buy an RV) until we found van life. It put us in a bit of a time crunch which led to us rushing this purchase a little bit.

We didn’t get Clifford fully checked out because we saw him on a Friday afternoon. I was able to talk to his mechanic on the phone who said he had gotten a new engine and turbo recently and more or less vouched for him as being a solid van. Fast forward a month later and we were required to put in ~$4,500 worth of mechanical work into him to get him operable (he had a warped head gasket). Learn from our mistake and don’t rush. Get your van checked out by a mechanic if you are buying used and take your time to find a good deal. This will be the most expensive part of your build so take your time with this one!

*UPDATE* We ended up having to replace the transmission,  belt, tensioner, pulleys, and alternator in September of 2018, which cost us around $5,000 also.

The first day we bought Clifford!
The first day we bought Clifford!



First step was cleaning him out, repairing rust, fixing lots of little things we didn’t pay the shop to fix. We installed a little bit of Noico sound deadening mat, Focusing on the front of the van where we wouldn’t be insulating to quiet it down a bit during driving.

Sliding Door Hardware:

Sliding Door Lock:

Noico Sound Deadener:


We then moved to Insulation. A heavily debated topic in the van community. We used PolyIso boards with spray foam to glue them down. We used the foam board on the walls and ceiling and used gym mat rubber for the floor. We also used a little bit of mineral wool insulation on one section of the van that our wood burning stove’s flue pipe would pass through. It took a LONG time and was a lot of work. If we were to do it again I think we might go with commercial spray foam.

Spray Foam (you’ll need a lot of this): - $60 worth or so

Gym Mat rubber: - $70

PolyIso - Get this locally at your hardware store. -$300


We installed our 2 maxx air fans and used Butyl Tape and Lap Sealant to make them water tight. We replaced our rear weatherstipping and side door weather stripping to help make Cliffy water tight as well.

Rear Door Weather Stripping: - $50

Slider Door Weather Stripping: - $50

Lap Sealant: - $12

Butyl Tape: - $13

Maxx air fans: - $290ea

DSC01682 (1)


After he was repaired and insulated we moved onto framing in the bed. We used plus nuts and other hardware to secure the bed to the body of the van. We bought a 6” memory foam mattress off Amazon and cut it up with an electric turkey carver (it seriously works great) and then upholstered them ourselves with fabric from Joann's

Memory Foam Mattress: - $200

Electric turkey carver: - $12

Table Stand: - $150

Plus Nuts: - $65

Joanns Fabric - $120

Lumber was all lumped together for the project so it's really hard to allocate to each piece. You’ll see our Lowe’s and Home Depot totals at the bottom!

IMG_20180709_165847 (1)


From the bed, We moved to framing in the kitchen and upper cabinets. Cabinets were made from 1x2 and 1x3 lumber with ¼” plywood faces. We used some ½” plywood for the upper cabinet doors. Major components of the kitchen were: Fridge, Stovetop, Sink, microwave, RO water system, water pump, accumulator tank, jerry cans, vinyl tile stickers, cabinet pulls, propane tank, propane bulkhead, gas line, trash cans,  and a small Insta-pot.

Norcold Fridge: - $750

Suburban Cook Top: - $110

Sink (don’t get this one- it’s too small): - $70

Microwave: - $60

RO Filtration System: - $200

Vinyl Tile Stickers: - $75

12v Water pump: - $65

Accumulator Tank: - $30

Cabinet Pulls: - $19

Towel Hanger: - $8

Fire Extinguisher: - $13

Fruit Hammock: - $13

Propane Bulkhead: - $13

Propane tank: Get this at Walmart or Hardware store

Propane Grill Adapter: - $12

Insta Pot: - $60

Trash Cans: - $75

Jerry Cans: - $40



We got a small wood burning stove from Cubic Mini Wood Stoves, We built the stand for it from scratch and had to put a few other pieces together which got a bit tricky. The hardest thing to find was the flue cap which we ended up with an adjustable cap as we could not locate one that fit properly. Most of this material was sourced locally from local metal suppliers.

Grizzly Wood Stove:  - $500

Flue Pipe : $100

Dektite fitting: - $30

Rain Cap: - $35

Flue Cap: - $9

Stand Materials: $60


Electrical is pricy and a good chunk of your money will go towards this part of your build. It also depends on how much electrical equipment you put in your build. We have the fridge, water pump and our computers are the big users. We also sized it so we can run the microwave and Insta-Pot but don’t use them all the time.

420Ah of Batteries: - $175ea (batteries are heavy and expensive to ship. We found ours at a forklift service center for cheap)

Solar Panels: Purchased off Craigslist- $300

AIMS 2000w Inverter: - $300

Solar Charge Controller: - $200

Inverter Remote: - $25

Battery Monitor: - $35

Charging Relay: - $15

Negative Bus Bar: - $15

Propane and CO alarm: - $70

Circuit Breakers: - $10 ea

12v Socket: - $7

Romex 12/2 wire: - $50 (don’t use this, get stranded wire!)

LED Lights: - $30

LED String Light: - $20

Charging Timer - $10

VHB Tape: - $30

Solar MC4 Connectors: - $25

Cable Glands: - $10


Stuff you need in the van but wasn’t really part of the build

12v Vacuum: - $25

“Life they loved” pillow: - $10

Thermometer: - $18

Camp Chairs: - $50

WIFI Booster: - $40

Safe: - $25

Map Decal: - $25

Toilet: - $90

We bought a carsoft OBD2 scanner to make sure we could identify any codes that came up while we were traveling. We also bought our trailer hitch and some seat covers.

Carsoft Scanner: - $150

Curt Trailer Hitch: - $160

Seat Covers: Found on Ebay

It feels like we went to Lowes or Home Depot 50-60 times throughout the build. We needed all kinds of stuff and it all got lumped into these totals. It was hard to separate out and honestly would have taken me way too much time and bandwidth to sort while I was really focused on finishing the van.

Lowes: $955 - Hardware (stainless bolts, washers, nuts) Flooring (~$120), Paint for cabinets and the whole interior, Lumber (way better lumber than Home Depot in my area) Electrical wiring (~$100 for some big wire for batteries)

Home Depot: $840 - Lumber, Insulation, Drawer slides, Tools (pocket hole jig, drill bits, saw blades, sand paper ect.) Stain, Glue, Plumbing connections, Reflectix

Walmart: $370 - I don’t even remember what we bought at Walmart…


TOTAL COSTS: $8,145.72 plus the van $8,800 plus mechanical work $9,500 equals $26,445.72


It's not the most expensive and it's definitely not the cheapest way you can live in a van but it was our way to live in a van. If you have questions about any of the products we used or our experiences with anything leave us a comment below. Hopefully this post was helpful to see how much our build out cost so you can draw some conclusions about your own build!

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how much does it cost to live in a van?

July Expense Report

Tame Your Wild Money Habits in 10 Minutes a Week!

How Much Does it Cost to Live in a Van? - Second Month of Van Life

how much does it cost to live in a van?

Written by Matt

July Expense Report - $17,800 of $40,000 challenge

I am finally getting around to writing this just as our Aug expenses are about to come out! But better late then never... so here we go

Living a frugal van life
Year to date Exenses

Our July Experience!

July was our second month of full-time van life. We are starting to get the hang of this I think! We continued our travels up the east coast visiting with friends on the way. Had a wonderful time visiting friends and family around Maryland for the 4th of July and even got to do some sailing (this may be in our future ;))

It was blisteringly hot around Baltimore and DC so we high tailed it north into the mountains as quickly as we could. We couldn't even stay in the van in DC and had to couch surf for the AC. We spent some time in Vermont and New Hampshire enjoying the outdoors and getting lots of hiking and backpacking in. Went on to Maine and enjoyed some local lobster and Acadia national park. Took a quick jump into Canada and realized it is super hard to work online without a data connection and that for some reason, Wifi in Canada is non-existent or horrendously slow. We ended July passing back through New Hampshire and visiting with some awesome Bus friends that made on our first trip through! Check out Meag and Ben's custom bus conversion and their financial journey here: Wild Drive Life

Check out Meag and Ben's Bus and Journey at Wild Drive Life
Check out Meag and Ben's Bus and Journey at Wild Drive Life

July Expenses

Mortgage: $1,745.92 - Steady as always

Roommate Income: $2,000 – We are having one roommate shift this month. So far the arrangement with the couple that is managing the house has been going great!

july housing expenses

Net housing Costs Income: $121.48 (plus we built some equity in there!)

A little less this month because we had a partial month vacancy when someone moved out. Plus we have deposits going in and out of the account which gets a little trickier to allocate in the budget spreadsheet. All in All still a positive month so I can't complain!

Other Bills:

Eating Out: $509.77– Wholy COW this one got away from us this month! It was a combination of who we were visiting and where we were. We ate a nice 4th of July dinner in Maryland. Went out to Crabs because hey... you don't pass up on one of a kind culinary experiences. Similar thing in Maine with some lobster, and contributed some food for a July 4th party we attended. We definitely struggle to find the balance between enjoying our time with friends and family (who often want to go out while you're in town) and taking it easy on the pocketbook. This month we fell a little on the lavish side of our expenses but I'm sure we will balance it out with a cheaper month down the road.

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!)

Groceries: $451.86 – We have noticed we spend a bit more on groceries in the van than we did at home. I think this is primarily because we buy smaller packages of stuff. We have a small fridge and a small pantry so you can't buy the 3lb block of cheese and use it through the month. We have to buy smaller stuff and go more often. I think it will be interesting to see how we optimize it as we practice and get more experience working with our limited resources in the van.

Clifford: $388.74 –  We replaced the brake pads ($150!!!) and did a fuel and air filter change. we also bought a few things for the inside like some new lightweight camp chairs and a new hatchet.

Gasoline: $251.28 –  Down from last month as we slowed down a bit. We are still covering lots of distance and will be for the rest of the summer. So this is a good month for us!

Phone: $123.81 –  our second month with Verizon. We've been pretty happy with it and have been able to use the unlimited plan pretty extensively when in the US to get work done, upload youtube videos and just browse. Coverage is good unless we are out in the woods camping and speeds are good too. Often it's faster to use the wifi from my phone instead of connecting to an open wifi somewhere.

Health Insurance: $101 - our Monthly bill for our Cristian Health Sharing plan.

Doctor: $55.07 – We still have doctors bills rolling in from over 2 months ago... I don't even know if I really owe them money but its so difficult to keep track of because stuff comes in so late... I am almost looking forward to the next time we have to use our insurance and I can truly hash out the cash price beforehand. We'll see how that goes and keep you updated. Hopefully, we don't have medical needs anytime soon.

Insurance: $38.49 – This is our Umbrella Insurance and we got stuck with a $25 fee for a returned payment. Changing all of our cards and bank accounts from our hack probably cost us another $200 in fees from various institutions that we either forgot to change, or billed before we got everything settled.

Travel: $31.45 - one campsite because we had just finished a hike and REALLY wanted a shower. There were no planet fitnesses around so you do what you gotta do!

Gift: $22.16 –  Bought my mom some earrings for her birthday from Bar Harbor in Maine.

Gym: $20 –  Planet Fitness has been awesome! They have all been super clean and nice. They are also everywhere and we've usually been able to find one every few days to shower and get in a workout.

Trade Commisions: $1.80

July exp

July Income

Rental Income: $121.48 – Described above but this was our biggest income earner this month!

Business Income: $84.97 -  We launched our Primal Noms Business this month! We didn't quite sell out like we had hoped we would but we'll tweak and test and keep trying! Check out our Keto Mug Cakes at

Interest Income: $26.38 - from our savings account

Dividends: $28.11

july income

Business Expenses

Primal Noms: $799.38 – We bought our first inventory of product which was ~100 cases of Primal Noms mug cakes. Also paid for some fees for shopify, and other marketing costs.

Align with Ali: $134.99– we bought a book on SEO, paid for a few services and tools we use.

Owen Your Future: $35.99– We got Adobe Premier to do our video editing which is $20 a month and also paid for some music for use in our youtube videos.

Hope you've enjoyed getting another snapshot of how finances played out for the month!

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!

July Business

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

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6 ways to make money whilel traveling

6 Ways to Make Money on the Road + Our Plan!

Tame Your Wild Money Habits in 10 Minutes a Week!
6 ways to make money whilel traveling

6 Ways to Make Money Travelling NOW + Our Long-Term Plan for Income

A lot of people teach affiliates through blogging or social media, but you need to have a large audience built up before you can make significant money there. And that takes TIME. Especially nowadays when it feels like everyone and their mom wants to be an “influencer”...Well, we’re just starting...our online businesses have made a little less than $1000 so we are definitely in the baby stages. Because of that, we wanted to share our business plan and our backup plans. First we’ll share our 6 backup plans, then we’ll get to OUR business plans.

6 Side Hustle Income Strategies to Make Money On the Road (With Almost Zero Startup Costs)

(1) Freelance Writing

We attend a conference every year called FinCon, which is a meeting place for digital content creators and personal finance experts. At this conference, there are boundless opportunities to freelance or ghostwrite on personal finance topics. Should we need cash fast? I would reach out to my network and share my expertise in finance and my skill in writing. An easier way to do this if you don’t have a network, would be to sign up on a website like to get freelance clients quickly! Also, using sites like or you can find jobs that pay up to $75 per 1500 word article, which for me, could be done in less than 2 hours. Not bad! Startup cost: ZERO

(2) Building Websites for People

Since we’ve built and run 3 websites for ourselves, we know how to build websites! This is a HUGE skillset in today’s day and age-- and we don’t even know how to code! We learned using Beaver Builder, which is a drag and drop website template...we love how customizable and easy it is to use. It’s $99/year and you can use it on infinite websites--so it will cost the same no matter how many clients you have. My strategy for this would be to reach out to companies who could use some website improvement, pitch them my suggestions, and hope they say YES! An easier way would be to use a site like Upwork too, although you’ll have to pay a certain percentage to the site. Depending on the project scope, we would probably charge $500 for a basic site build, which would take around 10-12 hours. Startup cost: $99

Get Beaver Builder HERE

(3) Teaching English Online

if you’re a native English speaker with a university degree, you can do this! Through VIPKID or QKid, you can make $20-22/hour teaching English to Chinese kids! Since I already love teaching, this would be an easy gig to pick up from whereever. There are also other opportunities available online, just a quick Google search away! Startup cost: $250 for a TEFL certification (some don’t require this, but the high paying ones do from my understanding)

(4) Build and Flip Camper Vans

When we were searching for a prebuilt van before we decided to build our own, we couldn’t find one for sale for less than $30k….the market seems strange, and we haven’t actually sold our van, so banking on making cash via a van flip is a bit risky, I know. But, given what vans are going for, and what we bought ours for, we imagine we can make between $5-$10k on the sale. Future vans should only be an improvement as well for Clifford 2.0 and beyond! Startup cost: Would require us selling our van and re-investing into a new van.  

(5) Walk Dogs

Rover/ Wag- By walking other people’s dogs, you can earn up to $24/ hour. Not only do you get physical benefit of walking the neighborhood, but you get the emotional benefit of meeting a new dog friend and you get to see a new city! Win Win Win! Startup costs: ZERO

(6) Deliver Food

Postmates/Uber Eats- With these delivery services, we would use our bikes to make deliveries, so we wouldn’t even put miles on Clifford nor have to pay for gas! We would set our own hours and keep 80 percent of the delivery fee, which starts at $5, along with tips. Postmates says experienced couriers can earn up to $25/hour. Startup costs: ZERO

Our Plan To Make Money on the Road

Our Plan:

Dun Dun Dun…

Monetize through online courses and private coaching for FINANCES!

But this is a LONG term strategy, and doesn’t pay super well at the we’re currently living off our savings. But here’s our plan:

We are currently in beta for a course on how to destroy your debt and take back your life so you can have more freedom (like the ability to travel!). We plan to launch the course in November and sell it for $297. Debt is a HUGE problem in America and after talking with our beta test group, many Americans are feeling lost and confused about how to even go about getting out of debt. Which one do I pay off first? How do I minimize my expenses?

We also have a whole module on money mindset where we teach how to have a positive relationship with money, heal your past money wounds, and get on the same page financially with your partner. Once we launch it LIVE a couple of times, we plan to put it on Evergreen and set up a paid ads funnel system. We don’t plan on using ads or other affiliates until we’ve launched it to our audience and proven the course gets the results - less debt, more money confidence. We’ll keep you updated how that goes!

We also have a premium offer, 1-on-1 financial coaching, that will be priced higher but provide more one on one support. This is for people who are already out of debt but who are looking to maximize their savings and gain the clarity and courage for what the next step is in their life-- whether that’s early retirement, new business ventures, or full-time travel.

Another completely unrelated monetization strategy we have is a ketogenic food product. We already have a low carb mug cake dry mix product that is available for purchase, but we have some plans for another line of products in the future. This one has been a little trickier while we are on the road since we can’t sell from the van, and it’s cost prohibitive to get a manufacturer who will make it with our requested minimums.

So we plan to “base” the van in Colorado for the winter to take advantage of ski season and to try out some new products. This business is a little more unknown to us, but we believe that once we get our sales volumes high enough, we will be able to outsource the creation of the product, and thus get back into full-time travel. Once we have a line of products that are well-liked, then we will just run the Marketing and Business Development side of things from the road.


So this is Plan A. I’m confident we will make our Plan A work (or some variation of it) and won’t have to resort to the 6 strategies listed above, but it’s always good to have a plan B, C, D, E, F, and maybe G.... We have lots of options and opportunities to earn money on our own terms before we would be forced to return to the 9-5 workforce (Plan Z?) But nonetheless, if we fell on hard times, that option is there for us too.  

©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!

Tame Your Wild Money Habits in 10 Minutes a Week!

June Expenses - First Month of Full-Time Van Living

June Expenses

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 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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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


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!

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

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