“For some reason, we see long-term travel to faraway lands as a recurring dream or an exotic temptation, but not something that applies to the here and now. Instead — out of our insane duty to fear, fashion, and monthly payments on things we don’t really need — we quarantine our travels to short, frenzied bursts.” ~Rolf Potts, Vagabonding
I was just informed that a dissatisfied customer no longer wishes to use my company’s service. Why? Because we charged an unfair price? Because of a substandard quality of work? Because the work was not done in a timely manner? Nope! But because he is friends with me on Facebook. He sees how I live and found out I was the owner of the company he used to do repairs on one of his rental properties. He claims he doesn’t want to “subsidize my lifestyle.”
I have a feeling this person thinks I am out here living the high life with my company’s profits and, to be honest, so what if I was. But, I’m not. The truth is I am doing this on probably less than you make. How do I do it? It’s easy but it wasn’t easy. Meaning, I had to go through a lot to get to this point in my life. Let me break it down for you.
I got out of it. This happened in July of 2013. I cut up my credit card, got on a strict budget, and sold everything that wasn’t glued down. Including things I thought I would never sell, like my camera and guitar. I also got, what Dave Ramsey calls, Gazelle Intense and put every penny towards my debts till they were gone. I hustled too. I made the most I ever made of my short real estate career in those five months. It was intense but in December of 2013 I walked out of Carmax debt free.
Not having a car, credit card or anything else financed, I don’t have to be sure to make enough money every month to cover my payments. If I have a good month I can buy myself something or even better put it in savings or invest it. If I have a bad month, it’s not a big deal. I don’t have any payments.
To be fair, I still have some debt. In the form mortgages for rental properties, which are all at the time of this writing, currently rented. These properties take care of themselves but my goal is to sell them all and no longer carry that monkey on my back.
My main income comes from my contracting business, the one I mentioned above. I’ll just put it out there, I pay myself a salary of $29,000. For the first five years, I actually took home less than most of my full-time employees. But thanks to the advice of my new accountant, I changed how I file taxes as a company. Now, I only get taxed once instead of twice and get to bring home a little more.
Other sources of income are coaching clients and book sales, which are far and few between right now but I am working on my Fifty Shades of Grey right now, so basically a movie deal is on the way. I’m pretty sure I pay more in facebook ads every month than I make in income from sales. But this is temporary, I’m sure of it!
My rental properties make money but I don’t touch it. I have my property manager hold on to everything for in the event of a vacancy or a maintenance issue my company can’t pull a permit for.
I actually make three times less than I did in 2013 when I got out of debt. If I still had that debt now, I would be in trouble.
Gas and food! That’s pretty much it.
Want to know the secret to being a full-time traveler? Tim Ferris mentioned it in his book, The Four Hour Work Week. I actually started doing it long before ever reading his book but I never heard it put into words. You ready? Traveling cost less than what you pay in rent (or mortgage). Tim originally said that traveling abroad cost less than rent. This is true but I have found that since moving out of my apartment in January, I can easily travel right here in the US if I do it right.
Since I’m traveling in a van, my lodging costs are very low. Tonight I will spend, $0 as I am staying on a National Forest, which is free to camp in most locations. Last night I spent $9. The reason I went to a pay site was because I had gone four days without a shower (or paying a dime) and decided that a shower alone was worth the fee.
I don’t party. At the most I’ll buy a Modelo Chelada and have one by the campfire. Nights on the town are out of the question. I’m not on “vacation” where all rules go out the window and you can get drunk and sleep with someone you probably shouldn’t every night. When you look at beers as pounds of meat you could buy instead, you tend to stay in and read.
I cook 99% of my meals. About once a week, I find a place with gluten free something and enjoy that. On occasion, if I don’t feel like cooking because I want to pack up to head out early the next morning, I’ll go out for wings or something.
Let’s look at how much I spent the past two days. My total expenses for today was $33.50. $3.50 on a bottomless cup of coffee so I could use the internet and work, $5 for a parking fee for the hike I went on and $25 on food. Enough food to last me two days. Yesterday I spent $4 on glue to repair my review mirror, $3.50 for coffee, and $15 on food. If we take these numbers and average them it comes out to $840 a month, not including gas.
My biggest expense is obviously food as I am the Primitive Guy and primitive food isn’t cheap. (Though, it’s so satisfying I only eat once a day.) I really thought gas would be my biggest expense but as long as I stay put in any town, I’m not driving very much and thus, I use very little gas. I budget $400 a month in gas but have yet to spend that much.
If I want to buy a book, or go out for a gluten free pizza, I can because it’s in my budget based on my income for the month.
This isn’t the Ritz
As I write this, I am sitting in my van at a dry camp site after a six-mile hike earlier today. I am covered in a layer of dust and salt, as the sweat I was covered in earlier has dried. If I have to poop, I have to take a walk and a shovel with me. And to tell you the truth, I couldn’t be happier. I saw some of the most amazing sights today. I have the pictures to prove it. I’ll be sure to post them for my haters.
I am not a rich man, far from it. But if you look at the pictures I post on Facebook or Instagram, you might think I am. I am doing things people think you have to be rich to do. Truth is, you don’t. You just have to change your priorities. Change them to what you want not what others want for you. The average mortgage payment is the US is about $1,000. I am under the impression that my hater would approve if this is what I was spending my money on. Well, tough shit, hater. I’ve ditched the house, taken my $1000, and hit the road.