7 Tips for Saving Money While Living in a Van

Do you end up spending most of your salary on rent and electricity bills? Are you frustrated of having to forgo all your other priorities because you simply don’t have the resources for them? Have you considered living in a car to save money?

Hundreds of thousands of people in the country have started living this way and it’s time for you to do the same. Purchase a conversion van or get in your normal car and start your motorhome journey. 

The first step is accepting that living in your car will require adjusting. You won’t have the same amount of space in your vehicle as you did in your apartment or house, which means you will have to downsize. Then use our 7 tips for saving money while living in a van/car to set up your mobile home.

Our 7 Tips On Making The Shift Easier

1. Pay Attention To What The Law Says 150


When living in your car, you need to be aware of what is legal and what is not. This is because breaking the law leads to fines, which won’t help you save money. Unfortunately, the rules change from state to state.

Generally, it is illegal to sleep on someone else’s private property and on land owned by the government. It is okay to park on public streets as long as you stay within the local parking time limits. This is typically around 72 hours.

Keeping these guidelines in mind, here are your best options:

  • public land (national parks, forests, etc.
  • your own land
  • campsites
  • highway rest areas
  • parking lots
  • trucker stops

2. Make A List Of What You Need To Buy 120

Staying organized will help you save money. Keep a record of all your purchases, how much money you have left from the monthly budget, and your total bank balance. Gather the data in a spreadsheet or notebook. 

Either way, you will know exactly where you stand whenever you want to buy something. It is a form of self accountability because you can not make rash decisions anymore. Therefore, you will save money. 

When first making the shift, list down everything you need to buy depending on what vehicle you are living in. Converted vans have a lot more space than cars but the latter works perfectly well too. 

If you want to save money, try to stick to the basics. Get things like a pillow, a blanket, a flashlight, storage bins, and electric cooking devices. Cover all your bases and stop after. 

As for food, you can find everything you need at a grocery store. They have great ready made options in the bakery sections. You can also get canned foods. Separate a portion of your budget for food and figure out how often you can afford to indulge yourself. 

Moreover, we recommend that you make a list of everything you need to buy before moving to the car. Then continue to do this at the start of each month. 

The first estimate will help you gauge how much you should be spending on average. You can use it to approximate how long you want to stay in the car. 

The second one is to monitor your expenses and to make sure you are not going over budget.

3.  Set Up A Showering And Hygiene Routine 140

When you make the decision to live in your car, you need to make sure you aren’t forgetting about hygiene. You still need to go to your job and/or find a new one. Nobody will hire you if you smell bad and look like you showered for days at an end.

Letting go of personal care is a surefire precursor to losing your employment. Therefore, it is vital to take care of yourself.


For showering, you can either include a cubicle in your conversion van or look for places that offer public shower facilities such as truck stops. If you’re joining a gym, you can also just shower there. You can also buy a portable shower head and hook it up to a water supply.

Always keep water on you to brush in the morning and to wash your face.

4. Manage Your Sleeping Arrangements 150

It is extremely important for you to sort out your sleeping arrangements before you start living in a car. If you are unable to, you will have to shift back to a house and go back to where you started.

Even if you rent out a motel, you will spend money on rent and that won’t help you save up.

There are several options for sleeping. The best one for you depends on what type of vehicle you have. For conversion vans, you can purchase a fixed, retractable, or bunk bed. Alternatively, you could get an inflatable mattress: use it at night and store it away during the day.

For cars, get a pillow and blanket and use the back seat. Buy curtains for your windows if privacy is a concern to you.

It’s okay to occasionally crash at a friend’s, however, you should not depend on that too much. Arrangements like these aren’t very sustainable. 

5. Make Sure You Have A System Of Personal Protection 130

When living in a car, you have to make sure you are protected. This is important because If you are robbed, you will lose all your valuable items.

Firstly, put your money in a bank. Don’t keep too much cash on you. Also, if you have any jewelry or expensive accessories, put them in a secure locker. You will have to pay for this protection, however, it will cost a lot less than if your savings were stolen from you.

Secondly, look into investments. As soon as you’ve saved up a little, consult your bank and invest the money in a low to medium-risk project. Remember to diversify your portfolio so your cash is safe.

Lastly, make sure your car locks work. If your belongings are stolen or your vehicle is harmed, you will end up spending a lot to undo the damage.

6. Plan Out The Costs Of Living In A Car 180


By choosing to live in a car, you will automatically cut back costs. However, if you want to do extra things like getting a gym membership, you need to do more than just save the money that used to go towards paying rent. you will have to plan out your expenses and prioritize.

This means that you won’t be able to do a lot of the activities you’d want to. For instance, you can’t eat out with your friends every other day and you definitely can’t purchase a new laptop or phone simply because a new model came out.

Make a map of all the things you need to pay for in your motorhome. Then stick to it. When you shift your entire life to save money, it is essential to prioritize that objective and not lose sight of it.

The exact cost will depend on your vehicle. But let’s say you’ve calculated that you need $10 per month to pay for all your essential needs, don’t spend more than that. If absolutely necessary increase it to $11, but do not go beyond that.

7. Be Patient 150

Van life isn’t as tough as some people paint it out to be. Once you get the hang of it, it is very fun. However, it will take you a little time to adjust. During that period, be patient and don’t give up.

Moving from a home to a vehicle is difficult. There is a lot less space. But there’s also a lot more freedom. So if you are ever worried about the tediousness of it all, think about all the good things you get alongside them.

Additionally, saving money will take time. You won’t become a millionaire overnight. Compounding your wealth is a long process and will require a serious commitment on your part.

However, if you are sure that you want to sacrifice certain pleasures in exchange for accumulating cash, you need to be able to push through the hard times. Giving up will never get you there.

Wrap Up

Living in a car or van is a great idea if you want to save up. Follow these tips to make the process easier:

  • Avoid fines by keeping up to date with the law. Don’t give police officers any chance to take money away from you.
  • Keep track of your finances. Know where you stand at all times and hold yourself accountable. 
  • Remember that people don’t like hiring dirty employees. Figure out a way to shower regularly if you want to keep your job. 
  • Don’t depend on other people to give you a place to crash. Get used to your new accommodations. 
  • Protect yourself and your belongings against thieves.
  • Make expense plans and stick to them. 
  • Be patient with yourself and your mobile home. Don’t give up.