If you can’t guess from the photo, the key to saving a significant amount of money for us was to live small in an Airstream travel trailer. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, our money saving journey is no surprise, but I don’t think I’ve ever shared the amount until now.
I don’t say this to brag or make anyone feel like they aren’t doing enough. I know everyone’s situation is different. Hell, everyone’s definition of a budget is different! And, of course, everyone’s salary or ability to make money is different. That being said, it’s personally helpful and inspirational for me to see other people’s journey and success– not to judge myself against, but to know that it is possible.
Let’s rewind a bit. In 2013, my husband, George and I were a newly married couple. We had very little savings and we lived paycheck to paycheck. At that time, our rent each month was $1,000. I was a librarian and George was a teacher. We spent everything we made on life expenses– groceries, utilities, gas, electric, etc. We didn’t see a way out and we didn’t feel like we were living according to our values. We wanted to travel, to get a dog and we wanted George to be able to pursue his dreams of being a full-time artist.
In May 2013, I landed a new job closer to our families, so we took a look at our budget, started looking at apartments and we were instantly discouraged. We knew that we couldn’t get ahead financially by renting another apartment. We also knew that we wouldn’t qualify for a mortgage. We had no credit and almost no savings. We saw an endless cycle of debt in front of us and we wanted out.
We were laying in bed one night talking about our dilemma and I casually mentioned that I had once read an article about a couple that lived in a Winnebago. George took that idea and ran with it. That night we stayed up most of the night surfing the web for travel trailers. The Airstreams we saw on Craigslist were the most appealing— they were stylish and cool and I didn’t feel like we were losing anything.
The next four months were a whirlwind of downsizing, moving, buying and fixing the trailer. We bought our Airstream for $5,000 and spent an initial cost of $1,500 to fix her up. Living in the Airstream has been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.
Since we stay on George’s family farm land for free, we don’t pay rent. We do chores around the farm and we do still pay for electricity. We end up spending around $1,000 for expenses each month. Our expenses include things like my IRA, groceries, gym memberships, gas, etc. I take that money out of my paycheck. (You can see a more of our costs here.) We invest most of what George makes back into his business, so long story short, we essentially live on one paycheck and we save what we would have once spent on rent.
Of course I love a savings challenge, like the 30 Day, No Budget Money Saving Challenge or the No Spend November Challenge. And those do help! But the most significant way we save is to autodraft that $1,000 “rent” payment into savings each month.
We feel so relieved to have a safety net now. We’ve also been able to take some amazing vacations, I got laser eye surgery and we adopted a dog. We couldn’t have done it without our Airstream home.
Now, maybe you’re interested in living in an Airstream or an RV too, but you can’t live on family land or even in someone’s backyard– that’s ok. It can still be done! Look for RV parks in your area or check out Tiny House Parking in your state. If you do it right, living in an RV or Airstream can get you on the fast track to financial stability.
Next week I’ll be releasing my ebook, “The Ultimate Guide to Living Full Time in an RV, Airstream or Motorhome.” It details exactly how you too can live this life. Stay tuned!
Would you ever consider living in an RV to save money? Chat with me in the comments.