Van Life | How to Pay Your Bills in the Beginning
The question I get asked the most by far is how we are able to make money and stay on the road. At the beginning, we had no path or real ideas of how we could permanently stay on the road. But we trusted that we would find our way and figure it out. I believe anyone can do this if you have a decent savings to start from. This is how we organized our finances at the beginning and how we made/make money to the pay bills sometimes! I'll be the first to say that none of these are great for permanent plans but they will keep you on the road until you get a long term plan going.
Spending / per month
So first and foremost, we have made many sacrifices to live and stay on the road. We don't spend nearly the amount of money that we used to on random things because we no longer have the luxury to. So we put together a budget based on our current bills to find out how much we could spend.
The following are basically the exact bills that we have to pay and things that will be required for living on the road.
Cell Phone: $58
Student Loan: $168
Van Payment: $270
Van Insurance: $63
Gym Membership: $20
Total Cost: $1,279/ per month
(Only $44/ per day)
That total cost is the absolute sum total of pretty much everything we spend each month. I know it may seem high to some people but that's basically what my rent alone was while living Downtown Chicago. So overall, it's significantly less spending each month for a lifestyle that also makes us much happier. The first major part of being able to live and travel without a standard job is saving.. And I mean saving as much as you possibly can before leaving.
We knew that our end goal was to have $10,000 in our bank the day that we left on the road. It seems insanely high to some and uncomfortably low to others. To those that find it high, it's much more possible than you'd imagine.
First of all, there are two of us. Which means we each only had to save half. Now $5,000 seems much more obtainable. I also had tons of furniture in my apartment that I sold over the course of about 2 months along with loads of clothes to Plato's Closet. This alone made me close to $1,500. So after all of this, I ultimately needed to save $3,500 and I had around 6 months to do it. Not everyone may be able to save this much in that amount of time which is obviously fine. Come up with your own end goal in your own time frame.
We chose to go with $10,000 because this was be comfortable amount for us to leave with. It gave us 8 months on the road to enjoy and have fun before really needing another steady income (we will be earning throughout that time though).
There truly are dozens of ways to earn money while traveling once you spend a little time researching it. First of all, there are tons of apps these days that you can work for and make plenty of money for this type of lifestyle. On average, we will need a maximum of $44 a day to cover all of our expenses which isn't very hard to earn if you're willing to do odd jobs or anything utilizing a prior skill. Here are just some of the apps and sites I have come across in researching about it.
Job Service Apps
If you love animals, you can try Wag or Rover... These are both sites that pay you to go to pet owners' homes and let out or walk their dog. They typically pay between $15- $30 an hour for this which is a good way to spend a couple hours in whatever city you are staying in that day.
Also, you do have a car and that means you can deliver stuff. Most people have heard of Postmates, and Instacart. These are both apps that have the driver pick up whatever the customer wants and earn tips for delivering. There is also Taskrabbit and Handy where you can do random tasks for someone in your current area.
Babysitting in the location your at that day is always an option as well. There are apps such as Chime and UrbanSitter where you can build a profile with reviews, and parents post whenever they are looking for a sitter. If you find parents looking for a date night or one time sitter, you can earn quite a bit of money in one evening.
Event Staffing Agencies
One more way that we have made money is by working for national event staffing agencies. These are basically agencies that staff huge conventions and events all over the country and pay you to work them. This usually means standing at the front door of a convention and greeting or passing out small gifts, etc.
We are able to keep traveling around the country while signing up to work conventions in areas we will be in at the same time. These typically pay between $200-$300 per day for a full day. If you are interested in this, please message me and I will provide more information.
Many websites provide students with tutors any time of day and pay the tutors about $15-$30 dollars an hour. Chegg and Varsity Tutors are two of several options if you have a subject that you think you'd be able to tutor in. There are application processes for these but once you get approved, you can earn money whenever you have time teaching a subject of your choosing.
Everything I have mentioned are great ways to earn some money while living on the road and allow for changing locations. These are just a few tools that we will be using to make money along with what we saved before leaving. Quitting your job and living so freely is really intimidating to most people because we are so accustomed to needing a constant stream of income. Living this type of lifestyle isn't for everyone, but it is certainly possible for those of us who have always dreamed of it. Don't be scared to make the jump.
8/25/17 | Updated: 2/19/18