Top 9 Expenses Living in a Van


top expenses living in a van

Written by Alli, scroll to bottom for video


We are going to share with you our average top expenses living in a van.

So if you want to live in a van or just learn how we reduce your expenses, read our top expenses in a van below!

Reducing our expenses was the single most important thing that we did to live this freedom based lifestyle.

1. Matt’s Student Loan Payment - $500

On average our number one expense is Matt’s student loan payment which is $500 per month. I know you’re thinking, “WHAT?!” we still have student loan debt and we’re out traveling? So let us explain. Matt was fortunate enough that his parents were able to help him pay for some of his education.  We still owe his mom about thirty thousand dollars. Thankfully, it's at 0% interest and we’re paying her $500 per month. There's really no rush to pay it back. Matt’s mom likes the 500 bucks in her checking account every month. We decided no hurry to pay that off, we would rather put that money to work either earning interest or paying off our mortgage.

2. Groceries - $400

Our second top expense is groceries. We spend on average about $400 a month, which we know is a lot. We try to eat really healthy, specifically we follow the keto diet when we're cooking at home. That is a lot of high-quality meat, high-quality organic vegetables, not a lot of refined carbohydrates. Our grocery bill is quite expensive but it is something that is really important to us to fuel our bodies and take care of ourselves.

While we were traveling in the van we did notice a small uptick and that was mainly because we couldn't buy anything in bulk. We had a really small fridge, a pretty small pantry, so we could only buy small packages of stuff. When you buy small portions of stuff, the same food just costs a little bit more. When you have to shop every couple days instead of being able to buy for a week or two, it adds to the expense.

3. Gas- $400

Our third expense on average is gas. We've been traveling around the country in our van and we've been covering a lot of distance. We spent on average around $400 a month, which is about five tanks of gas. That number will be trending down because we're playing to spend this winter in Colorado. We'll be much more stationary this winter and going out for weekend trips.

4. Clifford - $200

Our number four expense is our van Clifford. On average, we spend about $200 a month on maintenance items for him. He is a 2006 Mercedes Dodge Sprinter. This we'll be trending down as well because we are actually selling Clifford in the next few weeks.

5. Mobile Phones - $170

Our fifth expense on average was our mobile phones - $170. While we were traveling for the last six months, we were working from the road, so we bought a Verizon unlimited plan.

We would work from our phones off of the LTE wherever we were, which was convenient. This expense will be trending down, so I think as we're stationary we're gonna transition back to a cheaper plan. We’re either thinking Republic Wireless or Google FI. I think both of us could get by or around like $40 a month.

6. Restaurants - $150

Number six on average is restaurants. We try to limit our restaurant eating out to about one time per week, but sometimes, especially when we were traveling and visiting friends and family, we went out with them. We wanted to enjoy that time and not be so uptight and stressed about it. On average we spent about $150 a month on restaurants. That will likely be trending down this winter as well because we're not going to be traveling as much and we're going to be pretty stationary. It'll be easier to just cook at home and we won't be seeing as many friends and family.

7. Expense - $112

Number seven on average is car insurance. Right now we spend about 112 dollars a month to insure Clifford. We paid it all at once for the whole year. This will be trending down because right
now we have comprehensive coverage on Clifford since he's our home. We insured him fully in case anything happens we would get the full value of him back. This winter we will be getting one car which is a lot less expensive. We'll only have liability coverage so our insurance will only be 500 bucks a year, maybe even less.

8. Health insurance - $110

Our number 8 top expense is health insurance. We use Medi-share, which is a health sharing ministry. It is not actually health insurance but it is a health bill sharing community. We got the highest deductible plan so we pay out-of-pocket up to ten thousand dollars a year. Then after the bills go above ten thousand dollars then they go up for sharing within the community and other people help pay for those bills.

It was the best cheapest plan that we could do given that we worked until April of this year. We were pushed out of the marketplace plans that would be affordable. When we priced out the marketplace plans, it would’ve been seven to eight hundred a month on the marketplace.

9. Travel - $100

Our ninth expense was travel and that averaged out to about a hundred dollars a month. It really fluctuated a lot. When we went to Isle Royale we ended up spending $450 that month, but then for several months before that, we didn't spend any more than 30 bucks for a campsite.

This travel budget pays for occasional train tickets or subway passes to explore a city. It's hard to say whether this will go up or down. We have some trips planned for winter, usually we take one with Matt’s family around Christmas. We also want to go to Europe next year so I think travel will definitely be a larger component of our budget going forward. It's always hard to give an estimate for the monthly average because it just varies so much. Some months it's really high and other months it’s zero.

What do you think?

Leave us a comment below and let us know what your top expenses are and if you think we can reduce any of ours! We are always interested in optimizing our expenses even further we're kind of nerdy about that.

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What is FIRE? Financial Independence, Retire Early


What is FIRE_ Financial independence, retire early

Written by Alli, scroll to bottom for video

If you've seen November's Kiplinger issue you may recognize Clifford in there! We wanted to talk a little bit about the article and what FIRE means to us.

FIRE is financial independence, retire early!  If you're curious as to what that means, how to go about achieving financial independence, and how we achieved financial freedom at age 28, keep reading!

So, what is FIRE?

FIRE stands for financially independence, retire early, obviously. But let’s split it into two and talk first about what financial independence is and what it means to us.

Financial Independence

Financial independence means to us that you have enough money that you could support yourself without ever working or generating any more money for the rest of your life

Retire Early

Retire early means basically what it says-- that you retired before the stereotypical sixty-five. In order to retire early you must either be financially independent or have a plan to bring in some income while you are retired.

Early retirement is really redefining how people look at retirement. A lot of people think of retirement as hanging out on the couch, watching TV, playing some golf, or traveling. But when you retire so early with 40-50 years left of your life, you can't spend that just playing golf and sitting on the couch.

So what does FIRE mean to us?

About four years ago we discovered this FIRE movement and started saving a huge percentage of our income. We started at about 40%, then ended up ramping up to about 70% toward right before we quit. Initially, we were planning on working for ten years at that savings rate but we ended up leaving early.  

We quit after four years of working and we did that because we had the confidence in ourselves to make money while we were in retirement. We knew that we didn’t want to quit working completely at 32, so we thought we could just start those businesses now, start that fulfilling life now that brings us joy. We knew we could make up the extra money in the interim.

In the article they discussed the four flavors of fire, which we break down below!


Lean FIRE: They defined it as living on less than $40,000 a year.
If you guys have been reading our blog you know that we are doing a $40,000 a year challenge. So we thought that it was really funny that we fall right into that category.

Barista FIRE: This is where people are close to being financially independent but still need some part-time work or something to provide for their living expenses. I also almost put us in that category too. We left our jobs before hitting our FI number but we've picked up other activities. For instance, trying to start Primal Noms, which is going to bring an income and should get us to that point well before 65. We're working on projects that we'd love to do and would be working on if we had fully retired.

Full FIRE:  This is where you've fully funded your early retirement. Within the FIRE community, there's a rule of thumb, called the 4% rule.  Basically, if your annual expenses are 4 percent of your total net worth that you have in investments, you should be able to spend that amount for the rest of your life without ever running out of money.

Fat FIRE: People who are pursuing FIRE but planning to live on $100K per year or more in retirement. We know of a couple people that are doing this and they're either doctors or in the financial industry. They had really high paying jobs and were able to accumulate several million dollars in their net worth. With that 4% rule, this gives them a pretty solid annual income
in retirement.

Tenants of FIRE:


One of the main tenants of FIRE is frugality. So being frugal with how much you spend, obviously. If you're only spending $40,000 a year then you're not excessively spending on things. This kind of comes with a wave of an anti-consumerism movement, so we kind of look down on people who buy new cars and people who are constantly buying new things. We do this because we realize that we have this earth that's beautiful, but we only have a certain amount of precious resources. We basically want to optimize and enjoy our life to the maximum amount here. We don't believe that buying more things contributes to the greater good of Earth or contributes to our happiness.

It basically boils down to you having a choice. The choice to buy your freedom so you can do whatever you want with your time or you can buy things. The things can be a ball and chain that keep you in the job you don't like or in a location you don't like. By giving up some of those things, you purchase your freedom to be able to live an unconventional life doing what you want.


Another tenant of FIRE is investing. In the FIRE community, it is generally advised to invest in a total stock market index fund. It is recommended to keep it super simple by investing in the whole market. Basically, leave it in there for the long haul and don't touch it. There are other segments of people who are more involved in investing like doing real estate investing or trading but for most people, the best bet is to put it into index funds and in 10-15 maybe 20 years you can retire.

FIRE on a low income?

I want to touch briefly on being on a low income and trying to achieve financial freedom. So when you are on a low income it is really impossible to ramp up your savings rate. You are just trying to make ends meet and we totally understand that. This movement is not for everyone BUT for those who are on a low income and who are interested in achieving financial independence and retire early, you have to increase your income somehow.

Thankfully we live in the age of the internet and the age of acquiring skills super easily and super cheaply. It is easy to be able to leverage those skills for money using the gig economy or entrepreneurship. It’s easy to pick up a part-time job.

Being on a low-income and pursuing FIRE is imperative to work hard and not make excuses. So that being said, I know some people are in really crappy situations financially and they just can't seem to get their head above the water and I get that, but I also you have options too!

So, take a breath, think of your options, and go after one of them to raise your income! Whether that means getting a better higher-paying job, taking a side gig to earn some extra money, or signing up on the gig economy choose one go for it! Even bringing in an extra one hundred or two hundred bucks a month makes a huge difference in the long run.  

If you need a resource to help manage your money check out our 10 minute checklist linked below. That free checklist will give you the same framework that we use to really get on top of our finances and get to that 70% savings rate.  In 10 minutes a week you'll be on your way to financial freedom!

Also, make sure to click here to check us out in this month's (November 2018) Kiplinger magazine!

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Life Starter Pack

Everything you need in one PDF. 14 pages of our biggest lessons, mistakes, and tips on helping you reach the sweet life sooner. It even includes action steps so when you're done with the document, you'll know exactly what you need to do next. Goodbye confusion, hello clarity.

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Retire in Your 20s? 7 Steps to a Mini Retirement



Written by Alli, scroll to bottom for video

A few weeks ago at Fincon 2018 in Orlando, Florida, we gave a breakout table session on how to financially prepare for a mini retirement. If you are interested in leaving your job and traveling for a set period of time and aren't sure how to financially prepare, this blog post will lay it all out for you.

There's a lot of reasons that you might want to leave a job but the most common is that you're not happy with your current job or you dislike your location. Maybe you want to spend more time with your family. The main thing that holds people back (maybe this is you) is that they lack confidence around money.  Do I have enough money to make it through? When I return back will I be able to find work easily? All your questions will be answered here.

We SO know the feeling of going to your 9:00 to 5:00 every day feeling dissatisfied, disillusioned, stuck. We were those people just six months ago before we left our jobs. Going through the steps that we are going to show you really prepared us and gave us the confidence to quit our jobs.  We educated ourselves and eventually ended up saving 70% of our incomes right up until the point we quit. We made a plan to travel the world and experience new things. We also created a framework with backup plans so that we knew we had the confidence that if something didn't work out the way we expected we'd still be secure in our future.

So, what is a mini retirement?

We defined a mini retirement as taking a specified period of time off from your current employer. You could be either looking for a new job, looking to find a new passion, building a business, travelling, or spending time with family.


1. Get really clear on why do you want to take a mini retirement.

Your WHY will lead you through the hard times and the sacrifices that you have to make to financially prepare for this. Maybe your why is that you dislike your job or maybe your why is that you want to travel before you settle down and have kids. Maybe your why is you want to start a business and venture out on your own in an entrepreneurial fashion.

What is your why? 

2.  Decide what you want to do during your mini retirement.

A lot of people want to take some time off of work, maybe they want to transition to a different job, take some time figure out what they would like to do when they come back to work. Some people want to spend time with their family, but to go back to the same work that they were doing. Some people plan to start a business and never return to 9-5 work like us. All of these things are important to figure out so you know what your activities are going to be like when you're on your mini retirement.

What is your what? 

3. Reverse engineer how much your expenses will be.

If you're planning to travel the world during a one year sabbatical your expenses might be kind of high. You will have to pay for a lot of airfare, a lot of travel and everything else while you're gallivanting around the world. If you're planning to stay right where you're are but really buckle down and work on some businesses you might be able to drive your expenses pretty low. It's important to have this number in your mind so when you reach mini-retirement, you’ll be confident and ready.

How much will your expenses be? 

4. Decide the duration of the travel or the mini retirement.

If you want to travel for a year then you can calculate how much you will need exactly for that year. For example, if you're looking at staying home and buckling down on your businesses, you know from the past few steps that you only need $24,000 to live where you are currently living. We recommend saving 10% more to give you some cushion so you feel SUPERCHARGED confident. Obviously just multiply the amount of your expenses by how many years or how many months you plan to be “retired."

How long will your mini retirement be? 

5. Execute your budget and savings plan to achieve your goals!

Once you have that really clear picture of what you need you just have to get to work!

Something to note: how much money you save in cash and investments. If you are saving for a mini retirement, you would want to keep more of that money liquid savings account and in a vehicle that's not potentially going to lose value right before you leave the job. Even though that money won’t make you money right now, we recommend keeping it in a safer investment whether that's bonds or just in cash.

Where will you save your money? 

6. Maximize your work benefits

If you have an annual bonus that gets paid out every year make sure that you qualify for that annual bonus and leave right after you get that. Also save up your vacation time so if you are planning on going to travel for a year maybe the year before that don't go on vacation then you'll get an extra paycheck or two when you quit.

Are you maximizing your work benefits? 

7. Plan for health insurance

Almost everyone's health insurance is provided by their employer. So if you have anything you need to get checked up on or any health conditions that are outstanding, we recommend trying to take full advantage of the medical care you have right now to get those taken care of. That way, when you leave your work health insurance and transition to a marketplace health plan or a health sharing ministry (like us) you won't need to eat up a bunch of your deductible taking care of things you could have done while you were previously on your employer's health care.

What will you do for health insurance? 

401K Considerations

What about your retirement accounts?In the US we have an eighteen thousand five hundred limit on our 401ks, so we made sure to max that out before we left our jobs in April of this year.

Backup Plans

In case the businesses don't take off, we have backup plans. One of those is that we can get lower paying jobs. We’ve already saved a significant amount in our 401ks. After running some numbers on that we found that by the time we're able to get access to those at sixty five, that money would be able to sustain us for the rest of our lives. So we've almost already assured our retirement just by heavily saving for last four to five years. The other plan is that we have a specific set of skills. We are both engineers so we have degrees that we can fall back on.

Employment Gaps

The biggest concern with employment gaps would be if you work in an industry where those skills atrophy or where things change super super quickly. In a position like IT, you need a lot of training on the job to stay on top of recent changes whether its regulatory or just technology. In that case, it might be a little bit more difficult to overcome this employment gap. But overwhelmingly, from the research I did, most employers are not too concerned about an employment gap as long as you have a good reason for taking it. So, they're definitely going to ask you if you have a gap of employment but if you're trying to start businesses or something like that, you can always put what you were up to and the activities and projects that you completed on your resume.

Remember that by keeping your expenses really low you can work whatever job you want!

You don't have to go back to that corporate career making six figures or whatever you were at prior. You can work a job that really satisfies your soul and makes you happy. Also remember that your backup plan is everyone else's regular life 😉

You will never have today again or tomorrow or your youth so if you have a desire to go out explore the world, build a business, take your mini-retirement! There's really no better time other than now. But you do need a plan to execute to make sure you're not sacrificing your future for the present. But as long as you do it smart, take some of the advice that we’ve given, we think you can absolutely afford a mini-retirement.

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Life Starter Pack

Everything you need in one PDF. 14 pages of our biggest lessons, mistakes, and tips on helping you reach the sweet life sooner. It even includes action steps so when you're done with the document, you'll know exactly what you need to do next. Goodbye confusion, hello clarity.

September Van Life Expenses

September Van Life Expenses - New Transmission, Michigan-Florida-Colorado

September van life expenses

Written by Matt

September Expense Report - $27,195 of $40,000 challenge

September Van Life expenses are ready to share! It was a hard month for us because Clifford needed some major repairs. We had to put a new transmission in him in Milwaukee which set us back ~$4,000. Hopefully, it increased his resale value a bit but we're going to count it against our expenses here anyway. Even so, we still have 32% of our $40,000 left to finish out the last 4 months. Since we'll likely be a little more stationary we will hopefully keep the costs down pretty low!

September Van Life Expenses

Our September Van Life Experience!

After leaving the UP of Michigan we headed South West and went through Minneapolis MN to visit with some friends. We met with one of our Financial coaching clients and got to spend some time with some other Finance nerds (Financial Panther, Fiery Millennials and All She Saves) before heading south towards Florida for FinCon, a Financial Blogging Conference.

As we made our way south we headed to Milwaukee Wisconsin to meet another of Alli's longtime friends and just as we were pulling into town tragedy struck... Clifford stopped moving in the middle of the freeway and there was an ominous grinding sound coming from under my feet.

We luckily were able to get ourselves off to the side of the road and had to wait for AAA to take us to the shop. Turns out he needed a new transmission...

While that was a HUGE and Expensive bummer. we knew he had 400,000 miles on the original transmission so it was always a possibility that we might need to replace it. I count ourselves lucky that we were in the city and able to find a shop that was familiar with sprinters without taking it to the dealership. If we had done that we probably would be looking at a $7,000 bill instead of our $4k.

So we spent about a week outside of Chicago while we were waiting for the new transmission to ship and be installed. Luckily Allison had some extended family outside of Chicago about an hour from Milwaukee who put us up for the majority of the time and had truly amazing hospitality.

We took the train into Chicago and explored the city and tried out some deep dish pizza. Check out the Youtube video HERE

Once Clifford was Fixed we had to book it south to get to Tampa Florida where my sister lives before my flight took off to go to Denver. I was flying out for the weekend to go to a friends bachelor party and we only had a couple days to get from Chicago down to Florida.

We made it in time and after returning from the bachelor party we went straight to Orlando for our conference. We spent an amazing week with all the money nerds in the world and after finishing up the conference caught the Epcot Food and Wine festival with my sister.

We then made the trek back to Colorado where we will be hunkering down this winter. We have some ski passes lined up and are looking forward to a (hopefully) amazing ski season and some time to really hunker down and get to work on our businesses. The end of Sept. saw us just getting into Colorado and concluding our road trip.

Fun meetup in Minneapolis with other money nerds!
Fun meetup in Minneapolis with other money nerds!

September Expenses

Mortgage: $1,745.92 - Same as always!

Roommate Income: $1,745 – We had some extra income last month so we knew this month would be a little short. Unfortunately, it coincided with our big van repair but It will all even out in the end!

September Housing expenses

Net housing costs: $146.54 (at least we built some equity in there!)

For some reason, our internet jumped up $20 this month. We haven't called to figure out what happened there yet. As we mentioned above our rental income was a bit lower than usual so we actually spent $146 on the house this month instead of making money. That's just how it goes. We have been fortunate so far to not have any real vacancies or major repairs although we know there is on on the horizon (20yr old AC unit!)

Other Bills:

Clifford: $4,155.14 - Clifford really wracked up a bill this month. The biggest portion of this was obviously our transmission which was about $3,700. On top of that, I had replaced a serpentine belt along with an alternator to fix a belt issue we were having, and done an oil change at our friends in Minneapolis which cost another $400. Sometimes van ownership is not cheap... And anything Mercedes is automatically about double the cost

Student Loans: $500 - It's nice to see this so close to the top of the list! slowly but surely making my way through these payments but still have 4.5 years to go! As a reminder, this is a 0% interest loan so that's why we won't pay it off 🙂

Gasoline: $297.53 – This is looking pretty good considering how far we drove. From Chicago to Florida and from Florida to Colorado. The helpful thing was we didn't do much driving once we were at our destination and we didn't take many detours so it was basically a straight shot between each city.

Groceries: $260.40 - Groceries looked good this month. We had some help because we got fed some while we were at Allison's family outside Chicago and at our conference. We did end up eating out a bit more though which is our next category!

Eating Out: $237.96 - We did eat out a bit more but that happens when you are displaced from your house! We ate out on our trip into Chicago, I had a few meals out on our bachelor party weekend and we went out with some FinCon peeps in Florida. All and all our total food budget for the month looked pretty good!

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

Housing Expense: $146.54 – This one is a bit unusual but considering we made $700 last month I saw it coming. Next month we'll be back in the green!

Travel: $125.79 – When we didn't have Clifford we were forced to travel via Ubers. We also bought some train tickets into Chicago and back as well as a train from Chicago to Milwaukee when I went to pick up our boy after surgery! We also had one bill from our Isle Royal trip hit in September so that is in here as well

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.

Gift: $35 – We bought a gift for a friend who was having a wedding that we wouldn't be able to attend

Gym: $22.06 – This is the normal price each month for our Planet Fitness membership. See last months for something to watch out for if you do this!

Pharmacy/Doctor: $17.17 – All the travel (and stress?) wore us down a little bit. I picked up some medicine from the pharmacy to help me get back on my feet

Parking: $4– I honestly don't remember where we had to pay for parking but the best news is that we were able to score free parking at the conference we were at which was normally $20/day! We scored free parking by volunteering for a few days beforehand. We slept in the van so we also avoided the $150/night room at the hotel!

September van life expense

September Income

Business Income: $678.44 -  We sold out of our first run of mug cakes! We got an awesome review by Keto Connect on YouTube. If you are interested in Keto check out our Keto Baked Goods - Primal Noms

Dividends: $33.97– I still haven't fixed the link between my 401k and mint so again I think this is a bit low!

Interest Income: $8.82- Thanks Savings accounts!

September van life Income

Business Expenses

Primal Noms: $741.45 – We sold out of all our inventory so we made another run of product to keep on selling!

Business Support: $224.22 -   Active Campaign, Our Website builder Beaver Builder, DropBox, and we tested out Canva for Work this month.

Owen Your Future: $21 – We paid for our Adobe Premier subscription

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

september business

Hope you've enjoyed our monthly download on our September van life expenses. Look for next month as we settle into our home base in Colorado.

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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The ultimate Sweet

Life Starter Pack

Everything you need in one PDF. 14 pages of our biggest lessons, mistakes, and tips on helping you reach the sweet life sooner. It even includes action steps so when you're done with the document, you'll know exactly what you need to do next. Goodbye confusion, hello clarity.

August Van Life Expense Report

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 Niagara 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 United States.  The day after our trip, we 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 deposit and will return one next month so we will have a little lower income next month

April Housing

Net housing costs: $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!

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The ultimate Sweet

Life Starter Pack

Everything you need in one PDF. 14 pages of our biggest lessons, mistakes, and tips on helping you reach the sweet life sooner. It even includes action steps so when you're done with the document, you'll know exactly what you need to do next. Goodbye confusion, hello clarity.

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9 Things we Cut from our Budget (that we don’t miss!)


9 things we cut from our budget that we don't miss (1)

1. Housing

Housing is most people's biggest expense, and it's the one that made the biggest impact on our budget when we decreased it. Out of the 9 things we cut from our budget that we don't miss, this is the most impactful.

What We Did

We purchased a 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom house and rented out 3 of the rooms. We rented them out to coworkers, people we met on Craigslist, and friends. If we didn't know the person, we made sure to run a background and credit check through to ensure a good fit.

Using this strategy, we were essentially able to live in a huge house with awesome people for a couple hundred dollars a month. Now that we're full-time traveling, we rented out our master and make about $400/month (should there be no unexpected expenses). We aren't planning on living off this though, but just saving it for future repair bills on the house.

What You Can Do

We realize this strategy might not work for everyone. Maybe you have kids or you live in a city where buying a house is impossible. In that case, you always have options if you're willing to look for them. For instance, if you have kids, you could buy a duplex, rent out half of the house and live in the other half. If you're a single person living in San Francisco, you can rent a room instead of having a studio to yourself. Or you could even buy a van and live in that fulltime (what we're doing now)!

Our first house!
Our first house!

2. Cars

It's pretty much the norm for people these days to have a car payment. We make excuses that we need that SUV for "safety" or "must buy new cars" so they don't breakdown. Nowadays, cars are built really well. No longer do we need to buy new to ensure a cars reliability. Even buying a used car  from a dealership can be a ripoff.

What We Do

Given Matt is a mechanical engineer, he is pretty good with cars! So when we're looking for a new car, we scour ads on Craigslist. We are all about good gas mileage and reliability. The last car we purchased (before Clifford) was a 2005 Toyota Prius with 30,000 miles on it. We purchased it for about $8000. Matt was driving 100 miles a day to work (ugh), so the gas mileage also saved us hundreds of dollars a month. Most of Matt's coworkers (who had the same commute), drove trucks. Not only did they have a car payment, but they were paying hundreds of dollars more per month in gas! All for a hunk of metal! No thanks!

What You Can Do

Decide what type of car you'd like to buy given your commute, your lifestyle, your budget, and where you live. Scour Craigslist or Facebook marketplace for cars. Take them for a test drive! (Being a woman, I would never do this alone. Always bring someone with you!). Once you find a car you like, take it to your local mechanic for a lookover (it will cost about $80).  Pull the cash out of the bank, exchange title, and make your way over to the DMV to process the registration.

I added the "Cool Prius -no one" sticker.
I added the "Cool Prius -no one" sticker.

3. Restaurants

Our first meal in the van- eggs, kimchi, avocado!
Our first meal in the van- eggs, kimchi, avocado!

4. Alcohol

Having a delicious mojito at a friend's wedding!
Having a delicious mojito at a friend's wedding!

5. Social Events

We loooveee to be social! Most of our social activities revolved around eating out, drinking out, and playing out (hellooo, Coachella!). While all these activities were really fun (#noregrets), when we got serious about our goals, we had to get creative with ways to be social for less moneys.

What We Do

Invite people over (yes, even into our van!). Cook for friends, have game nights, go on hikes with friends, go to free concerts with friends...the opportunities are endless!

What You Can Do

Brainstorm a few things you LOVE doing with friends that are free (or cost just a lil bit). Realize that you might lose some friends by not going out all the time (that's ok and normal!). Join to find new friends that like doing similar (free) things!

Hiking with our friends from Wild Drive Life!
Hiking with our friends from Wild Drive Life!

6. Clothes (Shopping in General!)

When I was just #babymoneyAlli, I had a monthly subscription to StitchFix. Most of the time, I got a few clothes from there that I liked, but was too lazy to return the ones that were "meh." This resulted in me having a LOT of clothes in my closet that were just "meh."

What We Do

Now that we live in a van, clothes shopping isn't really an option (where am I going to put new sh*t?). Before #vanlife, I challenged myself to a clothes buying ban. Not only does this save money, but it helps you appreciate what you have in your closet. This translates to just a happier life (hellooo #gratitude).

What You Can Do

Go on a clothes buying ban! Go through your closet and sell all the clothes that are just "meh" or give away ones that you can't sell on apps like Poshmark or eBay.

If you follow us on Instagram, you've seen this jacket. I only have one...
If you follow us on Instagram, you've seen this jacket. I only have one...

7. Subscription Services

Subscription services may seem like a small amount. But $10/month over the course of a year is $120/ year! I get it, TV shows are important to many people, but for us, we realized TV didn't really improve our lives much.

What We Do

We canceled all subscription services and stay entertained through free books from the library and YouTube. Are you subscribed to our channel btw ?  Click here hehe (shameless plug)!

What You Can Do

Share an account with a friend! Rent a book from the library! Don't let your brain go to mush!

Pretending to read, but really just admiring Ember.
Pretending to read, but really just admiring Ember.

8. Buying Books

We're big self-development junkies, so books are our best friends!

What We Do

We got library cards to basically everywhere our hometown in Bakersfield, in my mom's county and in my mom's city! This gave us access to Hoopla and Overdrive, which are apps that allow you to rent e-books and stream audiobooks FO'FREE!

What You Can Do

Go to your local library (or your mom's), get a library card, ask them which app they are subscribed that app...get all the books! And get partying!

9. Insourcing

We try to do everything "in house"...that means, if either of us need a haircut, we're getting out the scissors and shavers and it's going down!

What We Do

Not only do we insource hair cutting, but we do all our own car maintenance. That means oil changes, brakes, etc. YouTube is our best friend here for sure.

What You Can Do

It's important to recognize your own skills in this department and what might be reasonable to insource, and start there! Never touched a car before? I wouldn't recommend doing your brakes yourself, then. But doing your own "at home pedicure" might be more realistic. Start small, then you'll gain the confidence to tackle the more technical skills (with YouTube at your back!)

We were pretty much your typical millennials when it came to eating out-- we used to eat out 3-4x per week! Our favorites were sushi, thai, and mexican OF COURSE!

What We Do

Now we only eat out 2-3x per month and because of that, eating out is a TREAT! We also have amped up our skills in the kitchen and really enjoy cooking a meal at home together. By cooking at home we also have the comfort of knowing exactly what ingredients are used and can make it as healthy as possible.

What You Can Do

Start making small changes. Don't try to go from eating out every day to never eating out. Allow yourself some treats but also be realistic about your goals.

We used to also DRINK out alot- I'm talking a $100 bar tab on the weekend was the norm. Ugh- not only is that horrible for our health, but it hurts our wallets.

What We Do

Bota Box boxed wine is our JAM! We also invite friends over for drinks. We find the conversations we can have in our home are much more interesting than the conversations we have at a loud bar.

What You Can Do

Order soda water with lime when you go out. That way, it looks like you're drinking a mixed drink, but it saves your health (and your wallet!)

Sweet life Starter pack image (3)

The ultimate Sweet

Life Starter Pack

Everything you need in one PDF. 14 pages of our biggest lessons, mistakes, and tips on helping you reach the sweet life sooner. It even includes action steps so when you're done with the document, you'll know exactly what you need to do next. Goodbye confusion, hello clarity.

©2020 Owen Family Enterprises LLC. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy