If you’re like me, the first thing you think about when you plan a big life change is MONEY. I can’t tell you how many van life budgets and blogs I read before setting out.
I am a budget queen through and through. I love my spreadsheets and financial planing tools. In all the sales jobs I’ve ever worked you’re encouraged to use verbiage like “inexpensive” but I call myself “cheap” with pride - haha.
However, sometimes I think I get too wrapped up in money managing and forget to enjoy myself.
Through the years I’ve found two things really help me to strike the right balance:
Having a monthly budget in the back of my mind, a wide fence to keep me in check and aware of my financial decisions - while giving me the freedom to make varied financial decisions on a day-to-day basis.
Manifesting Money! Choosing to feel good when I do spend and know the goods or experiences I’m spending on are worthwhile and bring me joy. All the while, reminding myself the money I put out will come back to me. Honestly, a positive relationship with money is essential to thriving in my opinion.
With this said, having a monthly budget on the road is a little different than having one at home. Granted, my cost of living on the road and at home has ended up being about the same, which is just fine with me. If I could cut either one down, I always would. But, I have to remind myself that having fun or splurging on the comfort I need occasionally is okay, and honestly really important.
October has been a big test month. My first full month on the road and I stuck to my $1200 monthly budget - in fact I came in under budget…not including a credit card bill I had to pay off (we’ll leave that expense out for now, because it’s non-reoccurring, it just happened to be present this month due to some spending for travel gear in September).
So, since I loved looking at other blogger and traveler’s budgets so much I wanted to share mine with you:
As you can see I underspent in some areas, like gas, laundry and showers and overspent in others like food and parking/camping. But all in all, everything balanced itself out.
I want to dive into this a little. I save money in places that are right for me.
I am always on the lookout for inexpensive gas, I fill up my tank where I can find good deals.
I limit my short trips into town to as few as possible.
And try to choose routes that place my destinations in a line, rather than a big back and forth zig-zag.
**Sure, it takes planning and staying alert, but it’s a huge money saver and totally worth it!
Laundry - to me, being clean it fairly important, but having clean clothes, not so much.
Shorts and undies definitely need to be clean, but shirts, skirts and dresses, if they are a little worn I’m cool with that.
I did laundry twice this month, once for free at a friends and once at a Laundromat. It’s nearing that time again but I’ll likely make it another week or so (I’ve still got clean undies, so that’s my barometer lol).
Showers - as I said, staying clean is fairly important. Lol.
I like having my pits and bits clean, but otherwise I’m pretty chill about my hair, feet and even face.
I often tend toward water bottle showers, rinsing off in rivers, or snagging a free or cheap shower at a campsite.
Otherwise, if I happen to stay in a hotel or AirBNB for the night I take a few baths and showers there, all included in the price of the room.
On the flip side, I spend money in ways that make me feel good:
Comfort - I don’t usually spend on comfort. But this week I used the money I won in Vegas to purchase a hotel room - not just because I wanted it. But because I needed it. I was totally depleted, really down on myself and in need of space and luxury (by luxury I mean a Day’s Inn on the side of a highway lol). But let me tell you, it was the right choice and totally worth the splurge.
Food - this is a tricky one for me. I’m a food lover. But I choose not to eat out as much as possible. I buy my food at grocery stores and choose affordable options. I aim to spend less next month by buying in smaller quantities so I don’t loose food to melting cooler ice haha.
Nonetheless there are a few products I use to feel my food cool, stored and cooked and maintain a fairly low food budget:
Treats and Fun - This month I made two splurge purchases a bit out of character, a Ukulele (I am not musical) and a new sweatshirt and pair of Teva’s I do not yet “need”. But all three were purchases that made my heart sing. The Ukulele is my musical companion when I’m lonely… even if I don’t really know how to play it yet. And the Teva’s and sweatshirt are worn daily. Plus ya’ll, it was my birthday month and we all know I’m a little Birthday Obsessed.
Additionally, I also MAKE MONEY on the road - crazy I know right? How do I do it? Well I’m happy to share:
One way I make money is with something you can actually see in this post, affiliate links - it’s a great way to promote products I actually use on a daily basis.
Another way I generate income is through Patreon a platform that allows me to create exclusive content not found on Empowered Wanderer.
Additionally, I work as a freelance writer and editor. You can do this through a lot of different platforms. I know many folks who have found great success through Fiverr and may try it myself soon. But in large part I have one main client who I do business with and that’s enough for me while maintaining Empowered Wanderer and constantly popping in and out of Wifi.
I also have a good friend who does transcribing work through Rev and it’s likely something I will pursue in the future myself.
In any case ya’ll, money is important and if we can manage it in a way that leads us to happiness and prosperity without stressing over it too much, I think that’s a serious win!
I hope this guide helps you to keep your expenses low and your hearts full!