Budget to Quit Your Job for Extended Travel
As someone who loves Excel and making spreadsheets, budgeting to quit your job for extended vanlife travel is right up my ally. As soon as Frankie and I talked about quitting our jobs to travel I started building a spreadsheet to start our budget. Because Frankie and I had only been together for a few months, it made sense for him to buy the vehicle outright so that he would have ownership of it just in case our relationship didn’t work out. After that first major expense, we’ve split every other cost 50/50.
Step 1: Define Your Dream
Will you be chilling out in a beachy bun town for months or will you be traveling quickly from one major city to the next? Having a clear picture of how you want to live while your vanlife will help you get clear about how much money you need to save to be able to do it. I see people on some forums saying, what’s the big deal, just pack a bag and hit the road. My type-A mind does not do well with thank kind of uncertainty. Plus, if you don’t at least have meager savings your going to have to work on the road (not a bad thing by any means although it might tie you to one place longer than you’d like) to maintain this lifestyle. Also, if you have a major event whether that’s your engine breaking down or a health crisis, having money in the bank will allow you to feel certain you can cover your expenses and get back out on the road. Once you have a clear picture of how you want to live vanlife, you can put a budget together that supports your lifestyle choices.
Step 2: Write a Budget and Plan Towards it
Now that you have a clear picture of the next 6 months, a year, 5 years, of vanlife you want to live, create an estimated budget and work backward to save for it. In my budget which you can download here, I listed out all the possible expenses we would have every month times 12 because we were aiming to travel for 1 year, aka 12 months. We estimated outline items based on information from other van life travelers as well as our own monthly expenses to get a rough estimate of what it would cost to live on the road. We then rounded up all those figures so that we would have a very well padded budget. Then, knowing we had 12 months until we wanted to quit our jobs and hit the roads, we divided the total cost of everything by 12 so we knew how much we had to save each month. 12 months of savings for 12 months of travel, seems like a good plan to me!
Step 3: Actually Save the Money
If you’re like us, you’ll need to cut your expenses to be able to save your desired amount of money. First to go was new clothing purchases, fancy coffees, eating out and other random buys (I’m looking at you late-night Facebook ads and Amazon!). Once you start thinking about every dollar you spent you’ll see there are a lot of choices you’re making that you don’t really need. Of course, you have fixed expenses you can’t get rid of but maybe you can get a discount? Call your cell phone company and see if you can change your plan, cancel cable, share a Netflix or Amazon account with something else. Every dollar helps.
Step 4: Make Some Cash
We did a few key moves to make extra cash while we were saving. Of course, if you have an option for overtime or extra work that can be great before you get into the completely time-consuming job of building your van. We used a service called Fetch to scan receipts, we saved over $50 on Amazon from just scanning receipts! (Sign up for Fetch here with this code Q3WJF and we’ll both get some free cash (not sponsored but I do love free money). Credit cards can help too, we paid for all of our many Amazon purchases with an Amazon credit card. I also got a Mariott rewards card so if we ever need a night in a hotel we’re covered We got tons of cash back on those purchases which helped buy everything we needed for our build.
We also sold so much stuff. Because we knew we were going to be moving into a van and didn’t want to pay for a storage locker, we had to get rid of anything big and bulky. We sold gaming systems, sports gear, clothing, anything that wasn’t tied down and wouldn’t fit into our new life on the road was turned into as much cash as I could squeeze out of it. Of course, lots of stuff didn’t sell and I ended up donating a bunch of items to the Salvation Army. But it was totally worth it to start this process very early on because it does require a bit of work on your end that you might not have as much time for when you’re building. We made over $2,000 from selling things on Facebook Market and you can too.
We also sold books and video games back to a website that just sent us cash for them. I made over $100 doing this. When I started looking into it I was amazed how many ways there were to make money from junk laying around my home.