While eventually embarking on my van life journey and documenting all I can, I also want to document and share my road to van life. One of the biggest factors to consider in wanting to travel full-time is money. I racked up quite a bit of debt through student loans. So for the foreseeable future, a hefty amount is going to be coming out of my bank account every month. [Tip: Avoid private student loans if you can.]
I’m also aware that, just because I will be traveling in a van, doesn’t mean there won’t be expenses. I’ve given a lot of thought to exactly what kind of budget I’ll need in this next stage of my life. I don’t see myself minding working on the road because I will be able to travel and set up shop to work wherever I would like. If I can find a cute spot with free wifi, GREAT! If not, I plan on having internet access somehow for when I go off-grid.
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Van Expenses: Gas is a HUGE and obvious one. I also will more than likely have a car payment, which I don’t mind. I don’t want to buy an older van and risk having to pay more money fixing the van than traveling. In addition to that will be auto insurance. Since it will be my traveling home, I’ll need more protection. Maintaining the van will require me to budget some money aside as well. Not to mention the costs for the actual van build.
Personal Expenses: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle for myself means groceries and not just eating out for every meal. I plan to have a fully functional kitchen space so that I can make my own meals from wherever I am. I’m pretty simple with my regular food choices but definitely not afraid to try new or weird things. I’ll also need some kind of health insurance since I am quite accident prone. No one ever really plans to use their health insurance, but it does provide peace of mind and is pretty mandatory to have.
I also have to factor in that, even though there is a lot of free stuff to do on the road, at some points there may be something really cool that I really want to do. I want to be able to have that freedom to pick a new activity to experience every now and then. For example, I really want to road trip to Alaska. My dad has said he would go with me, so I would want to make sure I had some money set aside to make that trip special.
Traveling With a Pet: This adds a whole other set of expenses. Albus is a very healthy kitty (vet confirmed today at his annual exam) but that means giving him the best I possibly can. Albus started out his life not so healthy and once I adopted him I knew I would do whatever I could to make sure he stayed as healthy as possible. I pay more for a better quality food and pay more for a better, more protective flea and tick preventative. Just because I’m downsizing my life doesn’t mean I will downsize his. Yes he may be in a smaller space that he’s used to, but he will be cared for just the same. He even has pet insurance.
Having so much in student debt, going through bankruptcy, and taking a huge pay cut means I have very little in savings. I plan on spending the next year saving up as much money as I can. There are two main reasons for my savings; the van build and a cushion to have for emergencies.
I’ve had to seek out multiple outlets for money in order to maximize my savings. My main source of income is my job as a mental health worker. It unfortunately does not pay enough for all that we do or deal with. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my job and working with the kids…not every day is stressful and some days are fun. However the stress that it does cause, in my opinion, is just not worth it for the long-term.
It doesn’t earn me much, but I pick up a few hours here and there hosting at a local restaurant. Basically I’m a fill-in for when people want some time off. This suits me just fine because that leaves room for my more important side job–freelancing. I’ve started putting myself out there now so that I can build a reputation for myself in order to have it be my full-time job on the road. I’ve been able to obtain a part-time position as a social media content developer for a small marketing company that works very well with my schedule. This has literally just started, but I can tell it is going to lead to great things!
It might sound corny, but I really do officially feel like I am on the road to van life! I can daydream and browse Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube all I want. But actually obtaining this freelancing position gets me going in the right direction towards making van life a reality. If anyone has any advice on freelancing whether it be social media content or article/blog writing, I am all ears! Well…eyes. Leave a comment and let me know!
Until next time!