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The Necessary Evil

November 11th, 2011

Over on our facebook page, Sean asked “Out of curiosity, where does the money to live come from? Even living inexpensively would seem to cost money, food, gas, repairs, etc..” I started to reply there, but it got way too long.

Hi Sean,

First, I have to ask: Do you work for the IRS?

Well, the money comes from a variety of places. We work camp on occasion. That usually gives us a few grand a year. Work camping, if you don’t know, is were your employer supplies your campsite and utilities in addition to paying you your regular wages. We also have a couple of websites, like FreeCampsites.net, that generate ad revenue. Lastly, there are our savings. In our previous lives, while we had good careers and well paying jobs, we didn’t live lavishly. We were two renter DINKs. That left us with a decent cushion for this adventure.

Johnny Hiking Bryce Canyon, Utah

We save money on hair cuts, too!

Most of all, we live on the cheap! We don’t EVER pay for camping. On average, we have traveled about 12,000 miles a year. This year we have only driven around 6,000 miles. We cook all of our meals even down to making our own bread and yogurt. We try to average about $1000 in expenses a month. That’s everything, including auto and health insurance.

We try to do all of our own repairs. When the bottom of our camper fell off, it could have cost us several thousand to have an RV shop repair it. Instead, Johnny did it for less than $200. When our wheel bearings went out, we replaced them as well as the ball joints. However, we aren’t as brave as our friends over at Raven’s Roads. Unlike them, we didn’t rebuild our transmission while on the road, we bought a new one when ours gave up the ghost. We’re not that cool!

We could easily work camp year round, like our friends The Gypsies Townsend who never touch the blessed nest egg, and have plenty of left over cash, but we aren’t going that route. At the moment, we are enjoying lots of free time and working on web development in hopes of creating a sustainable lifestyle. Which, in all honesty, it isn’t at this moment. It’s getting there, though.

Even though I have a web log, I am a private person when it comes to money, sorry if my answer is a bit vague.

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13 Responses to “The Necessary Evil”

  1. Sean says:

    Hah don’t work for the IRS, just have enough bills that the idea of being without a steady pay check for a month is frightening. Thanks for the answer.

    • jenn says:

      The cool thing is that, this lifestyle, as with any, is what ever you want it to be. One can easily have just as steady of a paycheck on the road as they did in a house without wheels. The folks over at Technomadia are software developers, and they are still making a living at it just as if they were in an office. Some people set up circuits where they always work at one place in the winter and another in the summer. You could even work for a large corporation like Xanterra year round. Soooo many options!

  2. It’s great to see how you guys keep your expenses low – when we lived in a motorhome, it was overnight fees and gas that really hit us hard. On the other hand, we needed electricity to be able to work on our computers, so I guess it balanced out — spend money to make money! =)

    • jenn says:

      One word, Christy: Solar! We picked up a panel during our third year on the road. It was life changing.

      We are strange ones. 😉 We prefer to spend most of our time deep in the forest. When you’re out there, it’s hard to spend money.

      It is a good thing you guys didn’t have a solar panel. It could have been too comfortable and you might have missed out on all of the awesome globe trotting that you two are doing.

  3. Work camping year round is over rated! We’ve worked the least this year during our three years on the road…only 6 months. It all depends on how you live. Folks that had high overhead during their “regular” lives will probably still have it in their “traveling” life.

    Pay checks and bills are all part of the circle of illusion. We’ve ALWAYS had the nest egg. Living without enough to cover just one month of expenses would scare me!

    BTW- Jen’s bread is amazing, and made without the use of an oven. I can’t wait to try her yogurt. It would be nice to eat it again on a regular basis. To expensive in the stores for my blood.

    • jenn says:

      Aww thanks. Homemade yogurt cost the same as milk.. in a sense. However much milk you use is the amount of yogurt that you get. The only other cost associated with it is the heating process. I would love to show you how to do it this winter if you’d like.

      Though, I am not sure that we can be friends anymore. You have been making way too much kick ass jewelry lately. I want to buy it all and that’s not good.

  4. Linda says:

    Ooh, thanks for the shout-out! Did we tell you how we replaced the back of our fridge too? 😉

    Yeah, the transmission is not an experience we’d easily repeat without a long-term home base. DIY is a good way to go if you are practical or can become practical. I take a two-pronged approach, like you: You can either earn more money, or save it — best of all is both. That’s why we invested in solar before going fulltime on the road.
    Linda recently posted..Wet books

    • jenn says:

      Did we tell you how we replaced the back of our fridge too? – Linda

      Hahah you guys are just too awesome. I spent the first two year of our travels being scared of the refrigerator. I couldn’t imagine working on it. though it would be a good way to get to understand it and past my fears…hmmm.

      Solar is absolutely worth it if you are a boondocker! I do not miss filling up our Honda every two days or so.

  5. Michael says:

    Hey guys. I found your website a few months back when I was trekking up the East Coast. I think what you’re doing is awesome and am behind you 1000%. I wonder sometimes if I could do what you do. I have an SUV which sucks gas. And my own business brings in less than 10 grand a year. I’m a vegetarian but can eat fairly cheap. My question, I guess is, do you think it’s possible to live like you do, year round, mostly in warmer climates during the winter? Could I find a campsite to stay weeks at a time, if needed. And could I really find a job working at campsites year round? I’m sure I will find more answers as I read more but meantime, what are your thoughts?

    Thanks for reading,


    • Hitek Homeless says:

      We know a lot of folks living more or less like this. It gets easier every year. We’ve now been in the rig more or less full time for four years and can’t see any real changes other than possibly changing out rigs for something smaller any time soon. Work camping is a pretty viable lifestyle for many folks, but it’s primarily a spring through early fall gig.

      There are plenty of warm places to hole up in the winter and if your time in between moves is in the two week range, many of them are free. Shameless self promotion: check out freecampsites.net.

  6. BTW, I am now following you on FaceBook and have one for my business RadioWaves.us http://www.facebook.com/radiowavesus I’ll give you a shout out one of these days on my radio show. Best to you!

  7. Darrin says:

    Hi there. I am looking to get some freedom in my life after just FIVE years in the IT/office environment. Not sure if at all interested or applicable but you mentioned web development. I do front end and design and thought I might just toss myself out there for that. Maybe we could join forces or throw each other some work as applicable, help each other in SOME way!

    I love your blog. Happy travels!

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