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

March 2018 Expenditures

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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!

Handling Fear when Following an Unconventional Life

Handling Fear when Following an Unconventional Life

Handling Fear when Living

Written by Matt

I felt compelled to write this to just vocalize the current state of the feelings around the Owen household. As we near in to the last day of regular employment, we have had a ton of varying emotional experiences. We oscillate between excitement and fear. These emotions have shown up in a lot of different ways in our communication with each other and our interactions with the rest of the world. It hasn’t all been pretty, but it has been our experience and I’d like to share it.

We worked hard, made a plan, and are executing on that plan… what could be wrong? Well the FUD always has a way of creeping in (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) did we make the right decision? Will the van survive our travels? Will something I install murder us in a crash? All things that have floated through my mind in the last few weeks. Some more morbid than others.

Is this What Freedom Feels Like?
Is this What Freedom Feels Like?

I think both myself and Allison underestimated the emotions that would come up when we decided to make this choice. To leave work, leave our house, leave our friends, and strike out on our own. A decision that we both ultimately know is right for us but none the less is generating a whole range of emotional responses. We are so excited for all of the places we will see. The new people we will meet and create friendships with, the opportunity before us with our businesses and the people we can help and support. Seems all gravy, after all we had a plan right?

While we are excited by these things we still have Fear. Are we doing something crazy? Will we enjoy this new life? Will we have enough money? Will the businesses work? I can find myself catastrophizing and ultimately finding my way down the rabbit hole until it ends up with death. Basically, you follow any negative internal thought far enough and I end up at death. After all, our minds are programmed for survival, and fear is just False Evidence Appearing Real – We think we are going to die…. But we aren’t.


Really it comes down to how we manage and embrace the fear of change and uncertainty. Tony Robbins talks about 6 core needs of all human beings and ironically both Certainty and Uncertainty are on that list. Why both? Because we all need certain things that are fixed and stable in our life but we don’t want too much certainty or things get stale and boring. We are extraordinarily complex and this duality between certainty and uncertainty is different for everyone. We are seeing some effects of pushing this balance pretty far to the uncertainty side, however, prior to our choice to pull the trigger we definitely saw some effects of being reasonably far into the certainty side.

Notice I just said Effects, both good and bad are present at both ends. Right now we are generating a lot of stress which has been a real eye-opening experience to learn more about mine and Allison’s relationship and how we communicate, what we need from each other, and how to relate to myself and my inner critic.  It has shown some cracks that during our previous meandering lives of 9-5 routine went unnoticed and unrepaired. So, I am doing my best to practice mindfulness and stay present during this experience and use it as an opportunity to grow personally and as a couple. There are opportunities and silver linings in every life experience.

Guide to Surviving Fear

  1. Stay Grateful

    Gratitude keeps you grounded. However you like to practice it, through a gratitude meditation, or taking a moment before small things like meals, or hot showers, to reflect on the fact that every single person’s problems are relative. That there are many who live a wonderful and fulfilled lives on far less than us. Less financial resources, less community, less health, and that no matter how your new situation turns out… your brain is wrong, and it’s highly unlikely that it’s going to end in death.


  1. Stay Present

    This goes hand and hand with gratitude above. When we are so wrapped up in change and thinking about what we need to do or what we wish we should have done to prepare, we are living in the past or the future. Too much Past can make you depressed. Your inner critic takes over and really hounds you about the chances and choices you had, that you made incorrectly. They really are the worst Monday morning quarterbacks and remind you that you should have had 20/20 foresight like they have 20/20 hindsight.

    Too much Future can create overwhelm. We spend so much time projecting and planning this perfect (or not so perfect) path from A to B even though if we step back, we know that we can’t tell the future. We are planning and worrying, investing mental energy, and if we think about previous times we’ve done this. It never went down just like we imagined it would. So why spend the energy creating this false trajectory just to have to adjust course and make adjustments in the Present anyway…

    Presence is not easy but I’ve been practicing taking miniature moments of meditation. I’ll be working on the van and step out to see a beautiful sunset forming… I take a moment to appreciate the small things and try to just enjoy being. To enjoy the work I’m actively engaged in as opposed to constantly thinking of the future.


  1. Have Faith

    You need to bank on yourself! You’ve made it this far. Look at your life in the past and likely you’ve come up against tougher odds and come out the other side. Sometimes we pick up some scrapes and scars which turn to lessons and bad ass stories for later. But in general… we look back on it years later and realize that wasn’t so bad. We are capable of more than we give ourselves credit for and in times of stress and turmoil just remember that things have a way of working themselves out. They have in the past, and they will in the future.

Do you have any other tips and words of wisdom for us? Any things that helped you through your own stressful transition?

We'd love to hear them! Drop us a line in the comments below and