If you read last month’s vanlife expense report, you know that I “made money” on the van. November, on the other hand, was a zinger to the pocket. There were some necessary hefty purchases to make and with the plan to leave in January (surprise!), the race is on to order everything I need, renovate the van, and plan my route. Let’s just say things are moving slowly and I’m anticipating a last minute scramble.
What Currency Is Used in This Series?
All dollar amounts will be listed in CAD. I’m doing this for a few reasons: 1) I’m Canadian and that’s the currency I spend my money in, 2) anytime I do research online, whether it’s been for the van, travel, or anything else, I always end up bummed out because everything is in USD and after converting the figures, it’s sometimes downright depressing, and 3) the majority of you reading this are also Canadians so it just makes sense! If you’re American and reading this, you’re welcome for the happy dance you’ll do when everything will turn out to be less money than you originally read. It’s a win-win, folks!
Why Am I Sharing My Vanlife Expenses Online?
As I mentioned above, some of you have been showing interest in learning about the nitty gritty details of vanlife. As someone who’s interested in personal finance (you’ll see finance books sprinkled through my annual goals posts), I’m also a curious person who wants to know more, regardless of the subject. In addition to the curiosity, I really believe topics like health, money, sex, politics, and so on shouldn’t be taboo. How do we make that happen? By talking about them! More often than not, what we see online is filtered with rose-coloured glasses and romanticized to no end. I’m all for rainbows and butterflies to set our sights high and inspire dreams, but it’s the information and the details that allow us to make them happen.
There’s a a concept used in education called “backwards design” to reach goals. First, identify the goal, then figure out the steps required to get there, and last, put the plan into action. A common problem that can occur is that the end goal is muddy, unknown, or misleading, thus the steps to get there won’t be of any use. On the other hand, if you have concrete information to help guide your decisions, you’ll be one step closer to the finish line. My goal with these expense reports, inspired by others like Kara and Nate‘s that I’ve read online and found helpful, is to provide you some insight and information on your financial/travel/life journey.
How Much Does a Campervan Cost?
The short answer is “it depends”, which is just about the worst answer anyone can give (and truest more often than not). However, if you want the deep dive on this answer, check out the post I wrote on the cost of my Dodge Ram Promaster campervan.
What’s Included + Budget Tools
There are some monthly expenses that won’t be included, such as gifts, business expenses, investments and so on because they’re not relevant to the series. However, if you are interested in learning more about budgeting and personal finance, I’ve written a few blogs on why you should have a budget, how to create a budget, and the most common budgeting mistakes people make. I also put together a mini personal finance and budget guide on Instagram.
In these monthly expense reports, you’ll find a mix of fixed and variable expenses. In the fixed category you’ll find storage, insurance, the van payment, and my phone bill, which I try to keep consistent but sometimes has spillover data charges. In the variable category I’ll include gas, vehicle maintenance, items for the van (both fun and necessary), groceries, dining out, showers, laundry, and accommodation. I might include entertainment as well, but I haven’t decided yet. Is this something you’d be curious to see as well? Let me know in the comments at the end of this blog post.
Okay, without further ado, here are the Vanlife Expenses November 2022 breakdown.
Enjoying the content on Travel with TMc? Help the blog to grow & click the button below!
Fixed Vanlife Expenses November 2022
Phone & Data = $64.41
I didn’t end up changing my phone plan for November and December. I still might, but it hasn’t been on the tops of my list.
Storage Unit = $84.25
I have an apartment, which could house the items in my storage unit, but then the apartment would feel like a storage unit. I’m not crazy about this expense, but it is what it is for now.
Insurance = $78.45
My insurance for the van is pretty affordable. No complaints here.
Van Payment = $337.42
This feels a bit like an experiment since I’ve been debt free for several years and never make purchases unless I have the cash to buy items outright. While I did have the money for the full price of the van, and on principle I hate paying interest, the math worked out to go this route this time. It’s been a mental adjustment for me to wrap my head around doing things this way, but what’s life without a little experimentation?
Variable Vanlife Expenses November 2022
Gas = $460.02
Thanks to high gas prices and one impromptu trip to Ottawa to pick up some items for the van, November’s gas total is higher than I anticipated for the month. With that being said, I had an awesome time in Ottawa and am stoked that I was able to go. The only problem was not being able to stay longer when I stumbled upon a few gems in Québec and our capital city!
Vehicle Maintenance & Repairs = $253.63
Even though I’m heading south, I had my snow tires put on for the winter months that I’m in Canada. The other important winter maintenance was getting the underbelly coated with rust protection at Krown. The previous owner had done this and considering the van isn’t just my vehicle, I thought it wise to continue with this preventative measure. Have you ever scheduled the rust protection maintenance for your vehicle? Even though I grew up in Canada, I’d never done this for any of my previous vehicles.
Van Items = $2,556.44
Cue the satisfactory hole in my pocket. November is, to date, the most expensive van month thanks to a few necessary large purchases. I always knew I wanted a front-loading fridge, however I didn’t think it would be possible to buy until next year. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the hefty price tag that I thought would push the timeline. Instead, it was because the company only had a pick-up option for fridges…and they’re located in British Columbia. Luckily for me, Lady Fortune appeared once again. As much as I have a love-hate relationship with social media, without mindlessly scrolling on Instagram late one Wednesday evening I wouldn’t have seen that fellow van friend, Marie, was rolling through B.C. with her new van. Long story short, she very kindly made a small detour, picked up my fridge and water tank, and we met in Ottawa where I picked them up.
In addition to purchasing a NovaKool R3800 DC 12V Refrigerator ($1,848 with tax), I also bought a 32 gallon water tank with all of the required fittings ($528.28) from Curious Campervans. In addition to these large purchases, I also bought paint supplies from Dollarama ($15.26), some miscellaneous items ($138.04), and an extendable snow brush from Canadian Tire ($27.11). I timed the purchases I had to make on Amazon for Black Friday, and bought a step stool ($19.88), curtains ($45.15), dishes ($25.41), bowls and a tension rod for the curtains ($53.10). For some reason, the curtains I ordered in October weren’t shipped and so Amazon automatically refunded the $48.05. At Home Depot I picked up the lumber needed to build out the fridge and bench area ($108.93), as well as a storage area behind the driver and passenger seat. And last, I sold back the original chest fridge the van came with back to the previous owner. The fridge worked perfectly well and could fit a lot of items, but I wasn’t fond of having to take everything out any time I wanted to find the food I was looking for.
Groceries = $242.11
This month was pretty standard as far as grocery costs go. Nothing special to report here other than my rekindled love for oatmeal and fruit in the morning!
Food on the Go = $157.63
In November the majority of my dining out expenses came from busy days when I was eating on the way to and from work. It’s the not healthiest or most ideal way to go about things, but sometimes the days are so jam-packed with supply teaching, travel coaching, and private teaching that I barely have time to go to the washroom. I could reduce this category’s total by meal prepping, but sometimes I don’t feel like it. In Ottawa I enjoyed a couple of awesome cafes and one breakfast restaurant, the Wild Oat Bakery.
Laundry = N/A
Showers = N/A
Camping / Accommodation = N/A
TOTAL MONTHLY VANLIFE EXPENSES = $4,234.36 CAD
The total cost of my fixed expenses in November was $564.53, which (has it should be) was the same as October. The total variable costs in November was $3,669.83, which was $3,223.68 more than October due to a lot of van item purchases and the gas costs for a trip to Ottawa. In sum, the monthly vanlife expenses in November was $4,234.36. How does this compare with what you spend in these categories over a month? Let me know in the comments below!
To get the tea on how much the converted Promaster that I bought cost, check out the post I wrote on how much campervans cost. If you want to start reading the series from the very beginning, here is the April Vanlife Expenses blog post.
Stay tuned to all things vanlife and travel by subscribing to the (nearly) monthly newsletter and joining the adventure on Instagram. Thanks for reading!