Long Term Finances of Vanlife


Hello, our names are Gen and Zac. We are currently nearing the end of our high school careers and are planning our life on the road. It is definitely hard to continue this lifestyle for a long time, and we want to make this a long lasting experience. Through the research we’ve done so far, we have seen a lot of people sustaining themselves through self made businesses they do online. By going for that option we believe college would be the best way to learn how to create a long lasting business of our own. We would love to expirence college while learning the basics of business. However, that does create the problem of student loans, that would be hard to pay off while on the road. We have started an instagram account (@g_and_z), and are doing our best to gain a following so that maybe when we start our business we could already have interested customers. Any tips on growing your platform, paying off student loans and making enough money while on the road would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


Hey there! Best of luck to you guys for your life’s journey ahead of you – just a few tips we want to let you know about.

If you are truly interested in creating an online business successfully, we suggest looking into Niche Pursuits and Authority Hacker. Sometimes they offer courses that are pricey, but in our opinion worth the investment if you utilize what they offer you to the best of your abilities. They really break down all of the ins and outs to creating an online career. They have blogs, podcasts, all kinds of ways to receive helpful information.

Also - a VERY common problem we have noticed left and right, are people relying on a large social media following to result in them making a lot of money. We know a lot of people that have over 100k followers that are barely making things work financially, whereas we only have about 20k followers and are making DOUBLE than we made in our former 9-5 corporate jobs. So if you really want to make the online game work, for sure put some focus on your social media, but do not RELY on your social media. Understanding the world wide web and all the ins and outs how that works and how its’ consumers work are far more important to make it last long term.

Hope you find this helpful! And just be sure to explore all options of education before jumping into just one decision. With the internet - there’s so much valuable information at our fingertips, we just need to understand how to find it.

And we are not anti-college. We think college is a phenomenal tool - but like most tools you need to really know how it works and what you need it for before fully committing to it. Technology is changing so quickly and rapidly that there are a lot of classes on websites and technology that are outdated as soon as you complete the class. Just to keep in mind.

Research is always your best friend! Best of luck!


As a travel blogger who is failing miserably, gaining a following and making money from this is a low single digit percentage reality for most. Millions of people are trying to be internet famous. Sorry to say.

Most of the travel bloggers I know that are “full time” are either teaching other bloggers, or serving as “virtual assistants” or teaching English to make ends meet.


I say, if there is something that you guys are really passionate about, go for it! But, if you’re just kinda trying to make a living off the internet somehow, it probably wont cut it.
For making money online you have to have a very clear plan of action, knowledge, and typically lots of passion for what you’re doing. Definitely look into multiple revenues, for most people on the road make money in multiple ways. That way if you’re lacking in one area for a bit, you know you have more money coming in somewhere else.

As for college, do what you feel is right.
I agree that

This quote is very true. Technology is constantly changing, and you don’t really need to go to college, when you can learn pretty much everything online.
But if you WANT to go to college, and know that you want to do there, definitely go for it!



If I were you, I would start making some money following the typical high school job route in order to buy a van and start your journey. Ask family, friends and teachers for job opportunities. Prove your value and build your resume. Then while you have a steady income look for opportunities to make cash on the side via flipping local resale items and creating value added products. Having a good buffer of cash will allow you the freedom to explore opportunities and learn about online income generators. Doing it backwards will only slow you down.

I would be skeptical of “all the people” that say they are 100% living off online revenue. Many have had a cash supply by other means or are backed by others. On the other hand, working remotely for a large company can work out very well for van life. Although, most will require a college degree or to start in the office to prove your value.

I believe you can start a business without a college business degree. The actual meaningful content of a degree will mostly come from practical experience in your senior projects and social networking. I would avoid taking a loan at all costs as free content is abundant. You also don’t really need a business to make money.

Also, before you dive into van life. Take a few weeks to try it out and adjust. Act as though you were living on the road, showering at the gym, cooking on a camp stove, cleaning up in a small sink, etc. It may turn out you’d rather have a steady job back home for a few months to save, then take off without financial worry for the next few.

Sorry that there is no easy way. Just remember have fun, be kind, and opportunities will find you!


The collage business education system can’t keep up with the speed technology and modern businesses are advancing at. You’re going to be paying thousands to learn about business from someone whos never owned a business before.

As someone who owns his own business I definitely believe collage is NOT the right place to go to learn about it. Especially online businesses.

Instead you can easily google “how do I run facebook ads” and spend 7-18 hrs and a couple hundred dollars and start seeing results. Everything you need to know about running an online business is available online. Just spend lots and lots of time doing research. This is exactly how I grow my business and how ProjectVanlife grows their community.

Even if you don’t see results, it’s better then spending thousands of dollars on collage and putting your self in debt. I believe if that money and time you are going to spend in collage, is invested on your business, it will give you a better ROI.

Also keep in mind that there are a million things you can do online and start a business off. So do you have any ideas or have you looked into anything yet?
Try starting a business based on something you are passionate about, don’t go after the money. If you truly provide value and are passionate, consistent, and hard working things will work out financially.

Start watching GaryVee on YouTube, that’s where I get all my business motivation and mindset.


You said you wish to ‘gain a following’.

However, you must first know where you are Leading people. Develop a passion and build a business around that. This is the only way to have happiness and a thriving business.


I agree with Henry. Learn adwords, Facebook ads, SEO, set up an ecom business. We have a successful dropshipping business and it allows us to travel any where whilst making great returns. It’s hard work to begin with, but what isn’t…try Udemy for courses.


It’s funny because so many people started saying dropshipping is dead because the one promotion they advertised didn’t do well. And then I see people like you all the time running successful e com/dropshipping businesses. I guess what I am trying to say is that, nothing is accomplished without hard work, and failure is all apart of the process. You just need to learn to stick with something and never give up :100:

Another suggestion for courses would be Lynda.com - if you have a library card i’m pretty sure it’s free to access all the courses. At least that’s how I get in.

Aside from paid courses, you can just even go on YouTube, spend a couple hours and come out with more knowledge you went in with.

In general, just become a learning machine because nothing will take you by the hand step by step.



Looking back through time, my crystal ball is much clearer than trying to predict the future. My advice today, is that the most important lesson you can learn in life is how to make money, anytime and anywhere, both online and off. Contrary to what some people claim, I think money is the most important ingredient in living a good and enjoyable life. That doesn’t mean you need to be rich, but having enough money to live comfortably just makes everything else in life just so much easier.

I worked construction for about 30 years, it was a good paying job, and there were jobs everywhere, so I could travel and always find work. But construction is for younger people, by about my 50’s I was starting to get burned out, and the job was becoming harder, but it was also all I knew. I was living comfortably, I had money, but the pains in my body were increasing. I attended seminars, and searched and studied online and off, looking for a new and less painful way to make a living. I spent a small fortune on trying to learn something new, but 99.9% of them turned out to be scams.

I had over 30 years to figure out what I now needed within a short period of time, but I didn’t know I would ever need it, so I never worried about it, and that was a huge mistake. I should have had multiple alternate plans waiting in the wings for those just in case times, if they were ever needed. With alternative plans, transitioning would have been much easier.

I enjoy the flexability of working online, but I specifically chose something that could be done offline and in person too. Today, I spend a lot of my free time exploring new ways of making money, both online and off, so if the time ever comes again, I will have a plan B, C, D, E, F etc. It’s never too soon to learn how to make money in as many ways as possible. Having skills is a great thing, having a good job can be a great thing, but being prepared for the “what if’s” is priceless.



Thanks to everyone that replied! So sorry for such a late response, all your input means so much and we really appreciate everyone’s advice. We’ll definitely check out some of the resources you all provided and do a little more digging online to find the right path for us. We already have a passion for the lifestyle we are trying to pursue and plan to keep our minds open to all opportunities to learn and grow! Thanks for all the help, we are excited and looking forward to the future!


I couldn’t agree more with @Van_Dweller. I too am at the rough end of a working life at 60 but still have another 25 yrsof travel left in me :slight_smile: I left school at 16 as a factory labourer, progressed to become a tradie, then a teacher, seconded as a University Lecturer, dabbled in property development, and finally started a part time contracting business to finish. Incidentally, I never gained a degree UNTIL I was lecturing and was required to do so at the age of 42.

In between I have worked at everything between being a Prison Office to a pizza cook while on the road. Now I fill my days doing odd jobs, blogging for enjoyment (but hopefully the dollars might eventuate) and at yard sales buying and then reselling items online. I have never chased the money and have never wanted, as with a positive attitude and a willingness to try anything the jobs and money come to you.

However I believe making money is merely a state of mind - its the wasteful spending of it that keeps people poor. Do what you enjoy and the money will come. I love traveling and to support this I am also very frugal. I have an old run down house that is comfortable and not lavish but I spend 6 mths of the year overseas on the road. I have several friends I grew up with who have million dollar homes, who only get 4 weeks leave a year and will be working many more years to pay them off. They also cannot understand why someone would want to spend half their life in a van lol

On a more practical level, being at your end of the journey, develop your natural talents. I am a very hands on guy and will always be able to find work when I want. But while on the road the useful talents I wish I had, and have seen those who do make money from them, are the artists - selling drawings and portraits, creating jewelry, bone carving etc; the musos busking, playing piano at a bar, or guitar at the diner for lunch; and barbering - only need your scissors and some talent, and giving shaves :slight_smile:

What ever you choose, never say never for what ever you are offered. You never know where it will take you :slight_smile:


Congratulations! I am so proud of you for stepping outside of the box at such a young age! It’s so much easier to condition yourself to a free life, when you start as soon as you can! I’m so happy for you both, and look forward to hearing about your adventures in the future!



@Van_Dweller said:

I had over 30 years to figure out what I now needed within a short period of time, but I didn’t know I would ever need it, so I never worried about it, and that was a huge mistake. I should have had multiple alternate plans waiting in the wings for those just in case times, if they were ever needed. With alternative plans, transitioning would have been much easier.

I’m in very much the same boat. I’ll be 53 in April and am starting all over again. I need to learn new ways to earn a living for myself in any way that I can. As an old-fashioned traditionalist, that’s easier said than done.

Contrary to what some people claim, I think money is the most important ingredient in living a good and enjoyable life.

Exactly. It’s as though folks are afraid to say that for fear that others will think they just want to be rich for the sake of being rich. Quite frankly, I couldn’t care less about money! I live more simply and minimally than any van dweller I know - and I’m not living in a van yet! But, it takes money to get van, build it out, and live in it. I’m not looking for luxury. I even got rid of my TV in the '90s and don’t miss it. But I am looking to be comfortable and stop scraping by for once in my life. If nothing else, it takes money to do that.



I was extremely lucky, I attended a rally and they had workshops on how to make money online running your own business. I started out selling ebooks, and the money was phenomenal, but I was missing human interactions, so I switched to a combination of on site, and remote computer repairs and tune-ups, which I am still doing. The rally had taught me how to both, within a couple hours each.

In Minnesota now, I’m doing mostly remote repairs because it’s too darn cold for me to want to be out and about any more than necessary. When I was in Miami, I was doing a lot of on site repairs. I do software based tune ups and repairs only, no hardware repairs. So basically I just need to know how to run a handful of software, and be a good keyboard jockey for them. The software is all free, and a simple ad on Craigslist get’s me more business than I need. I’ve been averaging about 25-30 $79 jobs a week, flat rate, satisfaction guaranteed. I do tune ups, virus removal, file installation, removal, & recovery, including photo recoveries which is a large part of my work.

Much of the work is hurry up and wait while the software does it’s thing, so I can actually do up to like 10 jobs at the same time, just switching back and forth between them to see which one needs attention at any given time. Jobs can take anywhere from about an hour up to several hours, which local shops charge $100+ an hour for. A flat $79 is therefore quite a good deal for my customers. Many shops charge $200+ for photo recovery alone.

I use PayPal to receive my payments, so people can even make payments if they can’t afford the full price, and PayPal handles everything, no extra book work ffor me yaaay!


"Smiles are contagious, pass them on!" ~ Van_Dweller


Do you remote into their computers? You must have quite the computer set up to run 10 jobs at once. I had an iMac for years and loved it but finally, as a writer, switched to a MacBook Air. I got a job in IT with the Federal Reserve in early-mid 2000’s. I didn’t have any IT skills but they liked me so much they were willing to teach me what I needed to know. I switched to Apple in January of 2008 and don’t remember much about PCs anymore. PayPal is definitely on my list to look into.

You’re a very resourceful and diverse guy! How can I learn about all these different ways to make money online? The eBook thing is right up my alley but I’d be fascinated to see what else is out there!

I can’t thank you enough for all of your kind and helpful responses. This is what I meant when I said earlier that my intention isn’t to mooch or leech off anyone. I can’t help but feel guilty. I want to be on the other end of the rope and helping others, too!



Before I embarked on the vanlife journey I took the (little) money that I had coming in and set it to work for me. Set a budget. Made a savings. Figured out the difference. The benefit that I have is that my girlfriend is a Financial Expert/ educator/ author here in LA. Nicole Sara Sivens

She wrote/ is writing a step-by-step way to get your money right that is available for a free download on Amazon Kindle. She is also available for free one-on-one consultations. (She charges people with money so she doesn’t have to for people without) She is an excellent resource with real life experience. And super cool

Send her an email or download her book. Great resources are out there if you look for them


That’s very thoughtful, @thevan_plan, of both of you. That’s pretty great how she gives and helps in that way. I’m sure folks are blessed by it. Unfortunately, that’s not the kind of financial help I need. I’m debt free already. I don’t use credit cards (personally) and believe in cash-on-the-barrelhead. I only have three bills each month - internet, electricity, and phone. All three together are about $115. My rent is paid as part of my caretaking duties at my apartment building and, even though money is tight, I’m great with budgets! I enjoy living minimally and not owning much. I don’t have monthly subscriptions to anything (like Netflix) so I’ve gotten my expenses as low as possible without canceling my phone or internet! I’m blessed! I’ve had folks in the past ask me to help them achieve this (decluttering, simplifying, budgeting, and getting out of debt) but, unfortunately, it was too much for them. They like their stuff, credit cards, subscriptions, entertainments, etc., too much. That’s fine though. Everyone has their own priorities, as they should. My example, while it looks great on the outside to others, is pretty extreme to put into practice and isn’t for everyone!

The financial help I need is in finding a way to earn money while living on the road. I love writing and the whole process that comes with it (editing, etc.,) If I could find a way to put those skills to work without having to clock in and clock out at traditional jobs, even temporary ones, that’s the dream. Unfortunately, having been a hermit for the last 17 years, I haven’t kept up with technology and the new ways and opportunities that have emerged. That was foolish. So, I’m changing that and trusting that the right opportunities will present themselves in the right timing.



Just an old laptop. I just set up a new window for each job I’m working on, the cycle between them. Sometimes I’ll tile them so I can easily see at a glance which one needs attention. I can get up to 12 on one screen that way, 4 across by 3 high. Normally I’m not doing any more than a few at a time though.


"Be the reason someone smiles today!" ~ Van_Dweller


That’s pretty incredible. In all my months researching van life, I’ve never heard about any of the money making options that you’ve mentioned and tried.

If makes me wonder what other kinds of opportunities are out there to help me diversify into multiple streams of income in case one of them dries up. Like you said earlier, most of them are scams.