how much does it cost to live in a van?

July Expense Report

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
6 ways to make money whilel traveling

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

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.