I’ve had an outstanding amount of people reach out to me since we made our announcement regarding our new lifestyle. People I haven’t talked to in years! Their number one question is, “How did you guys do it?”. They each tell me that it is something they’ve been dreaming of doing or wanting to do for a while now but just don’t know how to get started.
They want to know how do we afford to do what we are doing. As I mentioned in the Frequently Asked Questions, we aren’t retired, we didn’t win the lottery and we aren’t trust fund babies. In terms of finances, we both have jobs, of varying sorts, and we spend less than we make. It’s as easy at that, well not really, but it can be. It would hurt a little if I wasn’t working because it would drop our savings rate down significantly so it definitely helps that I am able to work remotely.
When we had finally made up our minds about venturing out on this journey, we had put a hard “no spending money” rule in place. Up until this point, we were coming home each day to new Amazon packages on our doorstep. It was getting out of hand. When this stopped we started to not only save that extra money we were acquiring less things which in return did not need to find a new home when we left our stationary home. It was a win-win.
In the beginning we were not spending more than we did back home, actually, we were spending less. However, when we got to California things got UGLY. I won’t disclose the amount of money we wasted, but thankfully, we are now north of that state and back on track in terms of budget. We have really embraced the dry camping available to us too. It’s amazing how quickly campground fees can really add up. Just think about it, if you are paying $30 a night for a spot you’re technically paying $900 “in rent”. Ouch. Once we started to look at it in that light, it really hit home. Well, I guess it really hit home for me, Mr. TCP has been an advocate for dry camping since day one. However, it’s not always an option but when it is we take full advantage.
This lifestyle can be super duper cheap if find free places to camp (BLM is a good start), can keep your grocery bill down, and don’t drive long distances often. One area that I have never been able to keep under a reasonable amount is our grocery bill. I’d say on average we spend probably $800 a month on groceries, which is RIDICULOUS for two humans. It kills me when I leave the store with a few bags and they have a couple of our Benjamins. Apparently, we eat a lot and eat well. This hasn’t changed since we have moved into the Airstream. I have seen where couples spend around $150 a month at the grocery store so apparently it’s doable. I just don’t know how so don’t look to me for that advice.
Money is what drives a lot of our life decisions for obvious reasons. You need it to survive, but what you don’t need is the new (leased) BMW, a huge house in the suburbs, brand new furniture to outfit that house, and designer whatever is the latest designer thing. Those are the things that are tying you to your 9-5 sometimes, soul sucking, job. Don’t get me wrong, I spend money on some pretty stupid stuff, like my workout gear, so pot calling kettle black here.
You might be saying, “But what about your Airstream? That isn’t cheap.” You are right. The Airstream is not cheap, but when we bought the Airstream we purchased it used knowing we will be able to get back what we’ve put in it. When we do make big purchases, we purchase high quality items and they are always used.
In the last five months, since we have been living “tiny” we haven’t purchased a new item of clothes (minus a long sleeve SPF shirt), housing accessory, purse, or anything that didn’t directly contribute to making the Airstream work. And honestly, I don’t miss it. The last thing we ordered from Amazon, which was over a month ago, was for a rental property. Oh wait, we did buy some new mountain bikes. We bought them used and paid cash, so hopefully that counts for something.
I could show you a break down of our budget but from the research I did prior to hitting the road, it doesn’t really help. Everyone’s situation is different. What does help is having as few monthly payments as you possibly can. There are a few things that we have to pay for monthly that is kind of out of our control, especially owning a few rental properties. Our leases do not hold the tenants accountable for all lawn maintenance. Instead, we pay a neighbor to mow the gigantic yards. That is a monthly payment we didn’t have when we were living in Austin because Mr. TCP was the lawn man.
The way I see it is, the materialistic items we accumulate won’t make the same memories as the miles we accumulate on the road. I wouldn’t trade our experiences for the fanciest house, cars or social status of looking like we make a bunch of money. Because honestly, we couldn’t care less what people think of us and our way of life, which I think makes kicking societies “norms” to the curb a bit easier.
In the end, if you want to make it happen badly enough, start tighten the reigns at home right now. Look hard at what you’re spending money on and cut where you can. A wise man once said, “Any (wo)man can make money. It takes a smart one to keep it.” (For any of our readers who know Don, you can just guess where that quote came from. XOXO Dad!)