When I got my first job as a teenager, my dad taught me the importance of not sharing with others how much money you make. It’s something I’ve lived by since.
Yet it’s said to me all the time –
“I wish I could adventure they way you do, but I don’t have the money.”
The same thought passes through my mind each time…
”Do you even know me?!”
If you did, you would know that most often, I can’t even afford to feed myself.
I don’t have Netflix, or Spotify Premium, or an apartment.
Why? Because I can’t afford it.
I rent movies from the library, for free, the old-fashioned way. I also pass my hard drive into the hands of anyone willing to put movies on it.
My method of listening to music is a Microsoft Zune (yeah, remember those? Probably not) that was given to me 10 years ago, and I still can’t really figure out how to use it.
Oh…and I live in a car.
But yes, I adventure. And I will *always* find the money to adventure, even if it means scrubbing toilets in a hotel (which I have done many, many times in the past) for a meager paycheck.
My point is, is that people assume you have to have a lot of money to travel, but it’s just not true. What is true, is that if you want to find and save the money for an adventure, perhaps you should sacrifice your $300/month Comcast bill.
So here it is – what my dad told me to never share:
My monthly expenses, which include my cell phone, my car insurance, and my post office box, total less than $200/month.
Yup. You read that right.
And I make between $300 and $500 per month blogging online and doing social media for small companies.
However, as you know, I do have a “real” job. A couple of them, actually. In the summer, I work as a barista, and in the winter, I do maintenance on boats. And no, I’m not going to tell you my salary for those jobs. Mainly, because I don’t feel like crying right now. I think it’s clear that it ain’t much.
A recent conversation left me speechless…
Him: “I’ve always wanted to go to Alaska”
Me: “Dude, come visit this summer. Round trip from Seattle is only around $300”
Him: “$300?!?! I get cable and internet from Comcast for $300 a month. I can’t imagine spending that much on a plane ticket”
Me: blink, blink, blink. Dripping sarcasm - “I’m sure watching Life Below Zero feels like really being there……” (my friend actually films that show, and he’s good, so I’m sure it really *does* feel like actually being there)
I never intended to become a van lifer. In fact, it took me a long time to decide to get rid of the Jeep and buy a van because I didn’t want to be one of those trendy van lifers. But then I realized that I am so not even close to trendy, so that made buying a van a little bit okay. My buddy Jared used to say that I had legit street cred because I lived in a Jeep. I miss my Jeep.
Everyone I know has suggested since I bought the van that I start making videos about the REAL van life – not the beautifully deceptive #vanlife as seen on Instagram.
So this blog is to let you know that you don’t have to have a bunch of money to live the life you want, but you do have to work your ass off, be strong and self-sufficient, and make sacrifices when they need to be made.
Like I said, my monthly expenses are less that $200/month. During the shoulder season, when I’m traveling between my two job locations and therefore not working, I make between $300-500/month online. And I converted a van for $350. It’s a big change from the hefty paychecks and padded bank account I used to have when I was a corporate photographer, but you know what else is different?
I’m actually happy now.