Budgeting and Van Life

Budgeting and van life

I want to write about budgeting and van life, because I have realised in the last 24 hours that I have no idea how to budget. Nick has spent the entire duration of our relationship managing our finances very well. We have always lived within our means, and by that I mean we have never spent more than we have, but we have often and regularly dipped into our savings. Like most months since we had children.

We – perhaps foolishly – didn’t set out on this van life with a budget. Now nearly 3 months into our travels, we thought it was time we actually looked at what we’ve been spending. Every day since we left we’ve been jotting down in a notebook our daily spends. Last night we put that all into a spreadsheet, and Nick did some fancy calculations to show us how much we spent on various things over each month, what that equates to daily.

I’ll be honest, some of it was pretty eyewatering.

You can read what we spent month by month here.

Sticking our heads in the sand

This morning cooking breakfast I had an emotional outburst, and asked Nick if we could please go back to England and stick our heads in the sand. Well, because that’s what we’ve been doing for many years. Sticking our heads in the metaphorical sand that our society creates for us. It encourages us to spend, to always want something more, and I have been swept up in this in my own way.

Our journey so far has been an emotional one for me, I’ve written about that before if you are new to our blog (and on our Instagram). I am learning so much, and am honestly ok sitting with all these hard and painful emotions. But there are a lot of them! Van life is showing me that, if we let it, it has the ability to peel back the layers – on us as individuals, on the way we’ve been living, perhaps even on the entirety of our lives. I want to write about this more in a separate post. But one of those layers is about money.

This post on budget isn’t going to factually tell you our monthly spend, facts and figures etc. Although we would like to share some of that in the future. Instead, I want to share a few of the things I’ve already learnt from looking at our spending over these first 3 months on the road.

Learnings from our spending on the first 3 months on the road

I have learnt that:

If our moods our low, especially ESPECIALLY mine, we spend lots. What do we spend on?

  • We spend on eating out – it eases daily life, it makes us temporarily feel better, it’s a bit of an escape from reality.
  • We spend on staying somewhere comfy – escapism. August especially I was incredibly homesick, incredibly depressed, all I wanted to do was go back ‘home’. I wrote about my Regrets. I poured our my heart on Instagram. I openly said that this van life adventure just felt like a “really rubbish holiday”. I also got ill, then everyone else in the family did. So we stayed in a hotel for 5 days, and it helped. But it cost a lot.

If the Baby Bus has problems, we spend lots. On what?

Mainly the same things as above. Eating out, food, and accommodation. But in slightly different ways.

  • We spend on accommodation because the Baby Bus is breaking or threatening to break, and we feel vulnerable travelling around with two small children. (And we were all a bit emotional for the above reasons). It was also practical, because we had to put the Baby Bus into a garage and therefore couldn’t stay in it overnight.
  • We spent on eating out and food because we are living in a hotel and don’t have many other options to cook our meals. All the pain au chocolats (thanks France), all the pizza (thanks Italy). Also we buy processed crappy foods because they make us feel better momentarily.

Exploring why we spend

Whilst this initial look at our spending (and lack of budgeting) has been a hard pill to swallow, I do appreciate the learnings I’ve already taken from it. There is so much insight to be gained from what we’ve been spending on. And why! The why is so interesting, and for me, if we are to ever be at peace with how we spend a money, it is the ‘why’ we need to explore.