making $ on the road
Making (And Saving) Money On The Road
By Lovell A. Lee Jr.
“Whether you are single or in a family unit with kids, you need to consider implementing some basic financial steps to make changes in your life for the better.”
My wife Paris and I have been together on the roller-coaster called life for just over seven years. That’s 87 months, 382 weeks, or 2675 days. It all started with us meeting in the military while we were living on-board an aircraft carrier, USS Nimitz CVN-68. We had grown accustomed to receiving a steady income. Soon, this story quickly landed us living in our first van, a converted low roof Nissan NV 2500.
Whether you are single or in a family unit with kids, you need to consider implementing some basic financial steps to make changes in your life for the better. Please understand that we are coming from a place purely based on our experience, and we are not financial advisors. Also, don’t hesitate to reach out to us and ask any questions — our DM’s are only a click away!
Making More Money
Making money is easier said than done. But, if you are like many of us here, whatever’s in your bank account is not enough. So, you better set some money-making priorities up so you can participate in topics we cover later on. More money can be acquired with fluidity while living stress-free, like Topanga of @myvan_mylife. Her Facebook employment status best defines her income generation strategy: “Wanderer at Self Employed.”
In contrast, soon-to-be digital nomad, Allen of @pedestrial_walker owns a cyber security school with Boeing and Homeland Security contracts. To change your life, for the better at least, you first need a J-O-B. Whether it’s your entrepreneurial endeavor, monetizing your YouTube, House Sitting for Trusted Housesitters, or even a 9-5, you need a source of income that has an immediate return.
Draft Your Budget
Without a plan, you plan to fail. If you already have an adequate budget, then you’re ahead of the curve. Many of us are not creating budgets, or we’re just using scrap papers and notepads to take down expenses. Along with not budgeting, a common mistake is not asking for help. Luckily there are many resources to take you to the next step in understanding and taking control of your finances.
Being transparent about personal finance with yourself and/or your partner is essential. Financial infidelity is totally a thing – and that behavior just isn’t healthy. According to credit.com, “While only about a fifth of adults admit to lying to their spouse about finances, closer to a quarter of adults (60.5 million) say that they’ve had their romantic partner try to pull a fast one on them in regards to finances.” So, if you have a partner, be as upfront and clear about your finances and financial planning as possible. This, in combination with living the vanlife, will have you thanking your past self down the road.
When Paris and I became official, it took a year for us to merge our finances officially. We got married less than a year after becoming official. We never got serious about our finances until we were already living in our van for four months. If we’d worked together sooner, we might have set ourselves up for success rather than failure. There are many resources available for budget templates that are just a Google search away. Start with something, and you can always change or make a new template of your own. Head over to novelkulture.com for the budget template we used to pay off $50k in debt.
Achieving Debt Freedom
Our supreme goal was to consistently allocate 50 to 70 percent of our income to chomping down debt. By the time we moved out of our apartment, we had racked upwards of $50,000 in debt. This debt included credit cards, personal loans, vehicle loans, and more. The debt payoff method we used is known as the Avalanche method. That is when we focused on paying off the high-interest debt first. If you have the means, you can use the snowball method, which means taking on the smallest size regardless of interest rate.
Save Your Money
We recommend that you be mindful of your emergency savings as you pay off any debt you may have. We focused on paying off debt, but we began allocating more towards our savings as our heads started reaching the surface. Save at least 50 percent towards your Emergency Fund until you reach 12 months’ worth of your monthly expenses.
If you’ve ever heard of financial independence, you should look into achieving it. According to an article published by Dave Ramsey, F.I.R.E. stands for “Financial Independence, Retire Early.” F.I.R.E is all the rage – but not as much as it should be. The goal is to save and invest very aggressively—somewhere between 50–75% of your income—so you can retire sometime in your 30s or 40s. Although we have not (yet) reached our F.I.R.E number, we have built an emergency fund that will hold us over for a year of expenses. So, whatever strategy you choose, stick with it and be consistent!
We’ll let you in on a secret – out of the five years that we’ve been doing YouTube, we’ve only made about $1400. Although leveraging time for money is not the most efficient use of your time, as it grossly underpays you, it is the fastest way to bring in cash for compounding wealth over time. When we were full-time students, that meant getting a job at our school. We also consider our classes as full-time jobs, as they’re what’s most natural for us and help us develop our time management skills.
Getting back to working on the road, investing in our businesses was one of the best things we could do. Aside from establishing and growing our emergency fund, investing in our business provides a direct source of capital for creativity. You might want to take a look at some possible ways you can invest in your own business.
One stream of income we created was from Novel Kulture Vending – our vending machine business. It was enjoyable, AND it became profitable for us after less than a year. If you can stay in an area long enough, you can work to automate the process. Don’t get me wrong, there is a considerable time and money investment to start. Unfortunately, our machine burned down in a shop fire, so we had to start over from scratch. The good news is, we made enough back to fill up the new machine with drinks. Remember, it’s all about location, location, location. Get to know your customers, find your competitors, and get in the game!
Additionally, the pandemic has created another opportunity that’s made a good return on investment. This is called Peer 2 Peer lending. This type of income pays in interest, equity, dividends, or all three. It can also be a powerful means of passive income. Do you have a trusted friend or family member who has a profitable business? Are they growing? Do they have a good track record? Well, if you have enough savings, see if you can use your money to help them reach their next goal.
If you are savvy, you can try the stock market. It is a great place to look if you want to invest in companies. One option is to invest in businesses with an Initial Public Offering or IPO i.e. going from a privately held company to a publicly traded company. It’s not just individual public business shares that are available on the stock market, though.
We have invested in other products we feel are safer, such as ETFs, or Exchange Traded Funds, and REITs, or Real Estate Investment Trusts. We found that investing in these publicly traded stocks is less risky and comes with lower expense ratios. In addition, there are many ETFs that pay out quarterly dividends that you can ‘reinvest’ for compounding growth. What makes REITs attractive is that the trust is required by law to pay out 90% of profits to shareholders in dividends. That sounds like a good deal to me.
Real estate is widely regarded as the biggest wealth builder. Real estate should be on your radar if your number one goal is financial independence and generational wealth. You can tailor your portfolio for more active or passive management. Our goal for next year is to win a tax lien certificate at auction for a multifamily duplex or quadplex. Since the current homeowner enjoys an equitable right of redemption, we cannot foreclose on them for 366 days. If they pay off their delinquent taxes to the county, they also pay us 20 percent, just for holding a tax lien certificate. This move can be very lucrative, and it will allow us to plan and transition out of vanlife.
We haven’t even scratched the surface on how to implement these changes in your life or situation. We attribute our progress to a diverse group of sources, including the Earn Your Leisure Podcast, Dr. Boyce Watkins, Suze Orman, Our Rich Journey, Dave Ramsey, Robert Kiyosaki, and more! It may seem like a lot to swallow, but we encourage you to start saving or paying whichever number feels right – it’s better than nothing. The bottom line is that Paris and I transitioned successfully from being active duty military with NO financial literacy. We failed terribly at managing finances, moved out of our luxury apartment, and sold our cars, except our cargo van. We jumped right in and hit the pavement hard with vanlife, and we’ve been going strong ever since. We have become debt-free, are very close to F.I.R.E, and are developing wealth for generations to come!
If you have any questions, we are happy to answer or elaborate on them!
PEACE OUT Y’ALL!
Find Lovell and Paris on Instagram @lovellandparis, and check out their website novelkulture.com . Look out for the launch of the “Travelin’ Hustlas Podcast” for more money-making ideas. All photos courtesy of Lovell A. Lee Jr..
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