It’s no secret that vanlife can save you quite a bit of money.
No rent. No mortgage. No property taxes. However, before you can start saving big bucks, you’ll have to come up with a plan to pay for and possibly renovate your new mobile home. This may mean paying for the costs up front, or possibly financing your van.
So you’ve decided to ditch the status quo and venture into vanlife. You’ve even created a Pinterest board to save all of your favorite decor ideas. Perhaps you’ve researched vans tod figure out which one would best suit your needs. All of these aspects of preparing for vanlife are beyond exciting, but before you really get going, you’ll need to determine how you’re going to afford this new lifestyle. Some vans/van builds are inexpensive, while others may be a bit more extravagant. No matter what your style is, there are plenty of ways to help you finance your dream house on wheels. Here are just three of those options.
Take advantage of the opportunity to downsize your current possessions. Cash in on items that just won’t make the cut.
While it would be nice to bring everything you currently own with you, it’s just not realistic. Unless you are already living a very minimalist lifestyle, downsizing in preparation for vanlife is a must. It may be hard to part ways with some of your furniture, decor, and other items, but doing so can actually provide you with some of the money you will need to pay for your van and/or van build. Think about it; whether you are living in your own house or apartment, you probably have lots of large furniture like a couch, a bed frame, a table, etc. Obviously, none of these items can fit into a van. So, why not sell them?
These pieces of furniture are typically seen as big-ticket items. Consider having a garage/yard sale or even an estate sale if you don’t mind people entering your home. If that’s not your speed, apps like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are great digital alternatives for selling furniture.
Furniture isn’t all that you can sell as you attempt to downsize before the big transition. Typically, storage space is limited when living in a van. That means–you guessed it–you’ll have to get rid of some of your clothes. Sorry, fashionistas. Again, getting rid of your clothes doesn’t have to be negative. Clothes, shoes, and accessories usually do not get a lot of traction at a garage or yard sales, but you can sell apparel at cash-for-clothes stores like Plato’s Closet and Clothes Mentor. Places like these are great because they do the selling for you, which will free up your time to work on other tasks in preparation for vanlife.
If you have a bit more time on your hands, you can check out some local consignment shops. Consignment businesses typically do not offer cash on the spot, but if your items sell, they will contact you and give you a percentage of the profits. Like in most cases these days, there are also online options for selling your clothes such as Depop and Poshmark. There’s a bit more legwork involved, like photographing each article of clothing, crafting item descriptions, and shipping each piece that you sell, but it’s a practical way to earn extra money.
Don’t let the home equity you’ve built go to waste. The quick cash that home equity loans provide is a godsend.
Homeowners are at an advantage when it comes to financing nomadic living. You’ve heard of home equity and you’ve probably heard of home equity loans, but do you know how each can benefit you? First, you’ll need to know the definition of each. Home equity refers to the difference between what your house is currently worth and how much you owe on your mortgage; in other words, how much of your mortgage you’ve already paid off. Home equity loans, on the other hand, are loans that you pay off with monthly payments toward the cost of your home. Another name for this type of loan is a second mortgage.
Many people use home equity loans to pay for home improvement projects, but you can use the money for anything, including buying a van and renovating it.
What’s even better is that you get all of the money up-front. It’s best to figure out how much you will actually need for your van and/or van build because whether you use the entire loan amount or not, you have to pay it back. If you don’t know how much you will actually need, you can explore a home equity line of credit (HELOC). HELOCs are great because you only pay back what you actually borrow. For instance, you may only use $10,000 of the $20,000 that you were approved for. You will only be responsible for paying back the $10,000.
Of course, to take advantage of a home equity loan or HELOC, you’ll have to have built enough equity to be useful for your van purchase and/or renovation. How do you do that? Just pay your mortgage every month. It’s as simple as that, but do note it takes some time. So if you’re a new homeowner, this may not be your best bet for financing your van. However, if you’re a seasoned homeowner and vanlife has been a long-term goal for you, this type of loan is one to learn more about.
In lieu of physical gifts, request gift cards, cash, or a helping hand. Your loved ones will understand.
With so many opportunities throughout the year to give and receive gifts, why not make it work for your needs? During the holidays and on birthdays, typically we list what we want. As you prepare to make the switch to vanlife, you’ll be thinking a lot more about your needs instead. So, when grandma asks you what you want for Christmas this year, think about what could help you in your nomadic lifestyle. It may be difficult to fight the temptation to ask for nonessential items, but remember your goal is to downsize as much as possible.
You might feel a little weird asking people for money, even if it’s a close friend or relative. However, there are tactful ways to express your desire for funds. When asked what you want, you could say something like…
“I always love your gifts so much! My life is a little different this year, though. I know I usually make a list of accessories, household items, and other odds and ends. However, as you know I’m preparing to buy and renovate a van to live in. Anything you can contribute toward that would be really helpful. If you’d prefer to buy me a gift for [insert holiday], something small to decorate my new home would be great since I’m trying to downsize.”
Some of your family and friends may not be on board with your new living arrangements, but because they love you, they will be happy to support you in any way they can. Remember, gifts don’t have to be monetary or material. You can ask your family and friends for the gift of a helping hand.
Whether you’ll be a solo traveler or you’ll have a companion, the more hands-on-deck when it comes to building, the better, and as the old saying goes, time is money. And don’t forget to show that same generosity to those who help you when you can!