Long Term Finances of Vanlife



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.


I’m gonna do some searching myself and find some way to make money.I’ll put together a write-up with links and whatnot

I’m not sure if its caught on everywhere yet but Rover is a good way to make money, quickly. And you’re only walking dogs or checking on cats for a few minutes. I do this and pay for all of my international flights with the money.

These are just spit ball ideas. I have not researched or done any of these:
House sitting, Personal shopper, secret shopper, doing surveys, bicycle delivery, start a blog

**I am a firm believer that everything happens when its supposed to. Keep working towards your goals and it’ll all fall into place


Question about house sitting or pet sitting. The apps for those jobs appear geared to people in a fixed location vs. nomad/ van dwellers. Can anyone share info about this?



Just put and ad in Craigslist or the like.


"Be the reason someone smiles today!" ~ Van_Dweller


Hi, Gen and Zac! First of all, best of luck.

I’m a quality assurance engineer and software tester. And I’m working towards an IT degree with a view to be a digital nomad.

If you Google “Ways to make money on the road”, there’s a tonne of ideas from various nomads - some more lucrative than others. There’s quite a few good books on the market as well in terms of helping you find a passion that you can turn into a money-making idea, or using your existing skills and experience to offer a new service.


My question is straightforward about what kind of business are you going to start? Usually, people think that online businesses are the easiest ones that is not true. In actual, you will have to do great hard work with patience. Yes, online business takes time to be stable and get started generating income. In this period, I would recommend you guys to do some freelancing job or you can join FluidStack platform and can get passive income from your devices.

On the other hand, why don’t you guys started working as travel bloggers? Travel bloggers are earning a lot nowadays. However, you would be called entrepreneurs if you come with unique blogging ideas.



From what I’ve read, very few people make much from blogging ot any type of social media, but if you have a good product or service and know how to market it, you can do well.


"Be the reason someone smiles today!" ~ Van_Dweller


What about Vlogging to promote products from a big brand or to give travel guide (already people are doing but ratio is less)? But I think it would need time and effort.



You have to be very popular and very lucky to achieve this, in my humble opinion the market is already over saturated, and unless you fill some sort of neglected niche, your chances are probably slim to none.

I always suggest people work normal jobs until they can build an online income large enough to support themselves, and put money away for later.


"Be the reason someone smiles today!" ~ Van_Dweller


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