It’s a rainy Sunday afternoon here in Stone Lake, WI. Adam is working at a local bar called the Chit-Chat, where he has been cooking all weekend for some extra cash (woo-hoo for grocery money!) Currently I’m perched up on the couch at the local coffee shop, The Whistle Punk, and hoping all this rain helps wash away the mass amounts of pollen we have up here! The other day Adam and my great Uncle Bill saw the ‘cloud of pollen’ coming our way in the sky, and it honestly looked just like a cloud of smoke. I’ve never seen so much pollen in my life!
Monday, the day this post goes live, marks one official month on the calendar (May 24) since we said goodbye to our lives as we know it and moved up north. CRAZY!
The end of Week #4: let’s dive right into all of the dirty details of supplies, and finances to prepare for full time RV living. This is obviously a hot topic amongst people interested in our journey and I think it can be beneficially to anyone following along to learn more about how we prepared for something like this! It’s totally worthwhile to be honest and authentic with you on the ins and outs of finances so you can see how possible it can be to make your dreams come true, no matter where you are at in life!
Disclaimer: Adam and I are fortunate enough to not have any significant debt from credit cards or student loans in going into this experience. We wholeheartedly believe this has helped us make this dream come true and are extremely grateful for this experience.
Prepping for the Road Ahead
Starting a stock pile
When we first were telling everyone about our grand adventure, a common question we got was how long were we preparing for this financially? The honest truth: it was really only about 6-7 months. We really didn’t save all that much financially to get started, aside from our own personal and joint savings that we have already been (trying to) build up for years. To get started with everything initially, it did not cost us as much as you would maybe think it did.
Luckily, around the time we were planning and preparing for this adventure was also tax return season and a time of a few surprise bonuses for me at work. Our tax return funds and my work bonuses were really the only money we used up front to pay for any of our preparations. We allocated a combined tax return amount of about $2,000, and about another $2,000 in work bonuses to build up our supplies. Other than that we partially did a vehicle trade in to help acquire our new towing rig – our 2013 Chevy Express Van, and we initially are financing our 2019 Grand Design Imagine travel trailer.
Budget friendly plans for the future
Throughout our planning, we also came to the agreement that as a way to cut costs and save money while we are on the road, we will primarily be doing what is called ‘boondocking’. This means we will seek out FREE public land everywhere we can,, without having to pay the daily costs to set up in various RV parks. With our extra large water tanks in our RV, we should be able to last about a week at a time, where from there we could maybe pay for 1-3 nights in an RV park to fill up again, take quality showers, and recharge!
Thankfully, and unbeknown to a lot of people, there is no shortage of free public land out there in the most beautiful places of the country. We have found so many websites and resources to show us the way and are excited to see the world firsthand, raw and wild.
Once our house is sold and taken care of, the only payments we will have per month will include cell phone/internet, (bi-annual) insurance for the van and trailer, and the trailer payment itself, (food for us and Bengals & gas too of course!) Although we will work as much as possible, the anticipated funds from selling our home will help take care of those bills for 6-12 months while we get situated and make adjusted plans for the future.
Disclaimer: We also did a joint phone plan with some of our friends to cut even more costs!
Tax Return Supplies
A majority of the supplies we stocked up on with our tax return were ‘household products’ with the intent of having enough for a years worth. This included things like toothpaste, cleaning supplies, hair products (for me), makeup (also me), soap, towels, etc. We also purchased things specifically for RV living, such as a weather radio, walkie-talkies, small laundry baskets to fit new tiny living, and a french press for electricity free coffee!
It’s super important to me to have natural products and I wanted to stock up on all of my favorites while I had the money to do so. Examples of products purchased include:
- Cleaning supplies – Dr. Bronner’s magic soaps. Natural, chemical free, biodegradable and concentrated! Plus most of their soaps are super multi purpose!
- Hand & dish soaps – Seventh Generation natural hand and dish soaps. Unscented of course! (Don’t want to engage with that toxic fragrance loophole! Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read my previous blog post: )
- Toilet Paper: Seventh Generation 100% recycled toilet paper, processed without any chemicals containing chlorine.
- Hygiene products – Schmidt’s Naturals (deodorant and toothpaste), Kopari Beauty (deodorant and face washes), Beautycounter (natural, biodegradable cleansing wipes), Lola (organic cotton tampons, and natural wipes).
- Makeup – Mostly all from Beautycounter. I don’t wear a lot to begin with so it’s easy to acquire enough for a year or more!
- Makeup – Milk Makeup (mascara), their special CBD Kush mascara that I’ve reviewed before on my blog here.
- Dry food goods – Thrive Market (all organic – rice, pasta, macaroni & cheese, beans, avocado cooking oil, ghee butter), Silver Fern Brand (organic probiotic plant protein powders), Costco (organic peanut butter, organic pasta and sauce, organic tuna, organic protein bars, and a huge 20 pound bag of organic rice), Bulletproof (ground coffee bags – because, caffeine addicts!)
Pro tip: I’m a thrifty shopper by nature. I saved even MORE money by entering discount codes I got from podcasts I listen to such as Almost 30 podcast and That’s So Retrograde. Through their affiliations with so many natural and organic companies I was able to save sometimes as much as $30 off my orders!
Pro tip #2: I also downloaded an app on my computer called Wikibuy from Capital One. This app is a money saving GAME CHANGER, as it scans any available coupon codes it can find on the internet and automatically enters it into your cart to save you megabucks. A lot of times I was able to use the codes Wikibuy finds WITH my codes from listening to podcasts. Score!
Work Bonus Supplies
With one big ticket item in mind, needed for our adventures ahead, we decided to allocate 50% of the work bonus money on one thing: a generator. Adam did countless hours of research on generator types and which one to have, and we decided on one that we were able to get from Amazon and have delivered directly to Stone Lake, WI.
Another 25% of this money was just allocated towards new items for tiny living. Since we were moving from a King bed to a Queen, I purchased a new organic cotton comforter from Under The Canopy, and new organic cotton sheet set actually just from Target. I also got a few organic hand and shower towels from Under The Canopy too!
The last 25% of this bonus pool is currently being saved with the idea of purchasing a few solar panels that are able to be connected directly to the travel trailer. We hope this will help bring extra energy while we are out on the road.
Garage Sale Funds
I may have had the mindset that we would make a lot more from the garage sale than we did, but we still racked in about $1200 that went to really good use in getting some more supplies for RV living. We first took a trip to Home Depot and filled up a cart full of supplies I never thought I’d ever buy, with things like a shovel, an hand saw, a big hatchet, bungee cords, rope, and more! (Our cart probably looked SO suspicious!)
Since we are traveling with cats, and want to make that as cleanly and easy as possible, we also used some garage sale funds to get an enclosed end table cat litter box from Bed Bath and Beyond! This hides the litter box and helps reduce litter flying everywhere and smell of course. We also want to be able to protect our RV furniture as much as possible so we got some recliner scratch protectors and seat covers too! We also made a few more Amazon purchases such as an Air Compressor, a bottle jack, a 50 foot drinking hose, an outdoor rug, and a Mr. Heater space heater.
Lastly, we purchased a Verizon Jetpack Mifi 8800L, in hopes of having a strong internet connection anywhere along the way that we have 4G! We also got an antenna to boost the signal in weak spots too.
Amazon Prime Membership Rewards
A lot of the things we bought for the RV, were purchased off Amazon. I’m a Prime Member and receive monthly rewards based on my purchases. By regularly using this CC for things while we were living in Woodbury, we were able to continuously rack up rewards points… aka FREE MONEY. This allowed us to get even more supplies off our list and prepare as much as possible for life on the road!
Additional Resources – Full Time RV Living Facebook Group
By joining a group on Facebook called, Full Time RV Living (with over 60,000 members) we have been able to expose ourselves to an INSANE amount of resources we would have never had before. This group has been so informative, offering advice, and even info on people traveling with cats. The group also shares websites for working on the road, how to get a strong internet connection, and so much more!
Making Money on the Road
Arguably the biggest question of the day, “how are you going to make money on the road?” I feel like people just assume there isn’t a way to do so, and forget that we live in an online world where there are so many opportunities to make an income right from your computer (if you have a solid connection of course, ha!) Obviously this is also me maintaining a super positive and creative outlook on life – nothing is going to just fall into your lap. You still have to do the work and go into with the mindset that you CAN make it happen. You never know until you give it a try, right???
Here is a list of all the ways we plan to make money while traveling:
- Selling CBD – In February of 2019 I started my online business selling CBD oil and other CBD products. This is a way to generate income, as I’m paid out weekly via direct deposit, and is something I’m really passionate about sharing with the world. In my best months I’ve made about $100-$150, without spending too much time on it. This is a market that is BOOMING right now and expected to grow 700% by the year 2020. You can read more about CBD oil here: SPARK Wellness: Are You CBD Curious?
2. Freelance Writing – In May I started with a company that pays freelance writers average of $20 per article, and allows you to sign up for multiple articles weekly. All pages are contracted and written on behalf of other companies, but will allow me to utilize my skills and still make an income too (once my internet connection supports it!)
3. Cash Jobs – Each area we stay in for extended amounts of time will allow us the ability to look for cash jobs, just as Adam is doing right now in Stone Lake.
4. Workamping Jobs – Have you heard of this before? All across the country in various RV parks, national parks, and beautiful places there are jobs you can get that allow you to do seasonal work, and include a spot to stay and park your RV! This is actually something I’m really interested in doing, and in finding a place that we would want to stay for 3 or more months to make some cash. There are so many fun camping jobs, and jobs I’ve dreamed of having my whole life, like doing horseback riding trail rides, and other outdoor nature jobs. Here is the facebook group.
5. Online Administrative Work – If push comes to shove, there are so many opportunities to do online administrative work, data entry, personal assistance, teaching english online, and more. From our Full Time RV Living facebook group we have come across so many great websites that people use to find work just like this.
6. My SparkFireSwan Business – By creating our monthly Nomadic Newsletter, we allow people who want all the special inside access to subscribe and support us through a monthly Patreon donation. By signing up you will receive our monthly newsletter and directly help support our cause to pay for things like food, our internet bill, and the occasional night in an RV park.
The life you want to live will cost you your old one
Ultimately, since we are also in the process of selling our house, the goal is to profit enough to sustain us on the road for 6 months to 1 years time. This would help alleviate any stress towards having to make a certain amount on the road, pay our bills, and allow us time to adjust to the lifestyle and figure out exactly how we want to do it all. My goal is to make enough extra cash to just pay for food off the bat, and go from there!
Essentially, if we were to ultimately run into the worst case scenario of running out of money, then we would plan to just camp out where we are and get “real jobs” for a while to jumpstart us again. We have talked about this a lot and both agree that if we do run out of money, then so be it, it’s still worth going after! You can always make more money again in life and ultimately money isn’t everything anyway. The experiences you gain from life are the REAL DEAL.
“See You Later!” Party
Since day one, I wanted to ensure we went out with a bang and held some kind of party with all of our friends and family to celebrate with them before heading out west. I didn’t want it to come off as a ‘goodbye party’ or anything permanent sounding as we really don’t know what the future will hold. We are remaining pretty open minded about the whole thing. So I came up with the idea that we should hold a “See You Later” Party and keep the lighthearted attitude with everyone. So we picked the end of June, and now this shindig is already less than ONE WEEK away! Sunday June 30th, we will be celebrating with anyone free and open to a good time in downtown Stillwater at the 3rd Street Post. We are so excited to hang out with friends and family we haven’t seen in a month, or even a year, and share with them more about this exciting journey we are embarking on.
Next week will be a shorter post with it being 4th of July Holiday week. We will be in the cities this whole upcoming weekend so I’ll give an update on our house, and our “See you later” party with friends and family. Next week is already July, and now we are starting to get closer to the moment we head off west! EEEEK. Mid July we will head back to MN for our next stop at Sturgeon Lake, where we will spend my 30th birthday, and then on to South Dakota!
Help support our dream, and our wild adventure, by subscribing and supporting to our Nomadic Newsletter through our Patreon page! By making a monthly contribution you will gain special inside access to photos, tips, tricks, and detailed updates on our progress, scheduled to begin in July! Here is the link to subscribe: A&A Destination Unknown
If you want to make a one time contribution, we also have a Go Fund Me page! Check it out here: Help us see all 48 states!