Nine months ago we developed a system that worked for us to follow each month to stay on track with our spending and to hopefully end up putting money away into our savings and clearing our remaining debt each month. For our budget we created six categories that we spend money in each month; rent, groceries, gas, utilities, dogs, and extra spending. We calculated how much we need per week for each category and allowed for slight fluctuation month to month. We then calculated our total monthly income and the total amount of all six categories of spending per month. Then we divided the percentage of the total amount that we would each withdrawal in cash per month according to who made more/less of the total monthly income combined.
This budget allows us to use the amounts we need for their specific purpose in cash and physically see what we are spending for every purchase. For instance our weekly grocery bill will fluctuate between $110-$150 when we need more bulk items that we only buy once or twice in a month, though we put $660 in our grocery category every month. Another example is our dogs category, we add $200 to this category each month. Our 17 Kg bag of dog food that we buy costs us half this amount and lasts us a whole month, though this gives us room for say new toys/poop bags/treats or to go towards a vet bill or medication one of our pups may need at any point in time. Any remaining money left in each category at the end of the month goes directly into our savings no matter what, and so far every month we put money there and this money remains untouched for emergencies/future/or time off when we choose.
Moving into Gus bus has allowed us to totally get rid of one category (utilities) of monthly spending as we no longer have power/water hook up, there's $200 that we were spending every two months. As well we have converted our 'rent' category to the money that we spend on the places that we park Gus each night. This first month is a test run for us to see how our costs such as 'rent' change as we are not spending close to the $1500 ($50/night) that our suite was costing us. No, living in a van or bus down by the river doesn't mean that you turn into a bum and no longer contribute to society. It does though mean that you are able to utilize apps or sites such as 'free campsites' when there is one available in your area as well as choose how much you would like to spend each day/week/month for having access to water hook up, electrified sites, or go completely off grid with the ability to sustain yourself for a few days, which is pretty darn cool.
Our budget has allowed us to be able to take the summer off starting in June and make our way back to Saskatchewan to see our families while exploring a ton of beautiful British Columbia along the way. By this, we don't mean that we are free and pocketing all of our income with tons to spare each month, we are 22 and 23 and yes we still have a bit of debt, but we have been smart about how we utilize our income each month and are able to chip away at it and eliminate alot of it with a plan of when it will be completely eliminated. All the while still living a happy life full of adventure.
Money is on everyone's mind and is ultimately the root of all evil if you let it be. We have had jobs where it seems like we had an abundance of it at times and we have had times where we are scraping by stressed as all heck through the month. Choosing to move into our bus though has given us the opportunity to live a lower budget lifestyle while focusing on other facets of life. We are able to slow down and take in all that is around us and important to us. We are also taking the opportunity to turn our true passions into an income for ourselves through art, photography, and creating/building. It has been such a neat experience to be able to have the time to complete a blog, painting, folder of photos to edit in just a couple days. Do what you love and love what you do. No harm can come from giving it your all!
Brooke & Logan