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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