If you visit the popular skoolie forums and Facebook groups, you’ll find one major repeating theme: people trying to find the lowest-cost way of doing so-and-so. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Building projects of any kind can get extremely expensive and it’s super important to seek out ways where you can save money on your build.
For us, we didn’t always seek the cheapest route, but rather the route that was a.) doable for us, and b.) something that would help us realize our exact intended vision.
But that’s not because we’re independently wealthy...we’re not. It’s because we were walking out into uncharted waters for us. In a sense, we couldn’t afford to “cheap out” on certain things because due to our lack of experience, we didn’t know where we could safely cut corners. So we didn’t.
Aside from that, I’m an insufferable perfectionist and irritatingly hard-headed (Anna can vouch for me on those attributes). Once I see a picture in my mind, I go 100% with that picture and very little can sway me. I’ll admit, this did end up costing us a bit more in certain areas.
So if buslife isn’t cheaper by default, what exactly is it?
What do you want it to be?
Our experience is that buslife is exactly what you want it to be. That sounds like magic. Well, in a way, it is magic. When you can finally get past the baggage that so many of us have as a result of slogging through our daily routines, day after day, you realize that you have the control to define your outcome.
Of course, I’m not saying that we can just snap our fingers and POOF...everything is better. Definitely not. It takes work. Lots of work.
So yeah, it is purely magical.
You don’t have bills, right?
This is definitely an area where people tend to form misconceptions. We do still have bills. In fact, we kept many of our bills. We still have things like insurance, phone and internet bills, etc.
Of course, we ditched a hefty rent bill when we moved into the bus. And that bus uses a lot of fuel. But we definitely pay WAY less for fuel than we did rent.
But if you’re keeping score: you can look at our fuel and campground costs as our rent. With that in mind, something that I tell people a lot is, yes, we still pay rent. Only now, our rent takes us all around the country—anywhere we want to go!
How do you handle problems now?
Are you a.) someone who can hit this ground running and accept issues as they arise, or b.) someone who, for whatever the reason, lets problems completely derail your plans?
If you’re person b, you’re going to want to change before considering buslife. Issues occur, problems arise, things will go wrong. But isn’t that the same of non-buslife? Ah...I see you’re getting the point.
If problems and issues drive you, buslife or not, things won’t be pleasant.
But if problems and issues drive you and your home and life are contained in a giant metal box that very well could be broken down on the side of an interstate, the effects will be so much more strongly felt...trust me!
Anna is very good about putting in the effort to find the best price and most efficient route to handle something. I, on the other hand, take a more “do it now and sort the details later” approach most of the time.
She says “Let’s buy these items since they’re on sale and will last us a while.”
I say “Hey let’s buy this because it’ll be super cool!”
This was our way before buslife and it’s our way now that we’re living the [sweet sweet] buslife. Although, I will admit that Anna’s more frugal ways have rubbed off on me and changed my outlook a bit. Although I still wholeheartedly stand by the declaration that we need a Bose sound bar in our living room. It’s a need.
Budget, budget, budget
Ok, so we’ve talked a bit about how we, as a couple, handle our financial thought processes. But how do we put our thoughts into action when it comes to our finances?
Get a budget. It’s super simple and seems elementary at most times, but having a budget is the one thing that enabled us to turn our lives around and actually save up to buy our bus. We did it for a long time, but I can’t even imagine going back to running our finances without a budget.
The type of budget we use is a virtual envelope system spreadsheet. Like I said, elementary. This sheet is segmented by month and shows virtual “accounts” for the various expenses: fuel, bills, household, etc.
We track all of our purchases in this spreadsheet and every month, we add to the virtual accounts accordingly. If a virtual account has reached 0, we don’t spend anymore in that area.
I think budgeting probably deserves a blog post of its own, so one day, I’ll write one up which details all the things we do to budget.
What if I don’t want to budget?
If you don’t want to budget, you should probably hope that you’re mega-rich or you’re really good at printing counterfeit bills.
Remember the home and life that are contained in a giant metal box that very well could be broken down on the side of an interstate that I mentioned earlier? So here’s the thing when that happens. It can be EXPENSIVE. Like super stupid expensive.
If you aren’t ready to handle a multi-thousand dollar fix and you find yourself on the side of the road, you might be in trouble. Time to fire up that bill printer.
Having a solid budget with an emergency fund will provide at least a cushion for when bad things happen.
So is buslife cheap?
Well let’s tie it all together.
If you know what you’re doing when it comes to your build, you will likely be able to find ways to save more money.
- Buslife can be whatever you want it to be.
- You still have bills in buslife.
- How you handle problems can affect how much buslife costs you.
- How you handle finances can affect how much buslife costs you.
- Having a budget can ensure that you’re prepared for whatever happens.
- Not having a budget can be disastrous.
- Printing counterfeit money is probably not a great idea to bank on.
So is buslife cheap or not? Geez...get to the point Gabberton.
What is your currency?
If you’re talking specifically about money, buslife more than likely is cheaper than house life.
But if you go beyond money and start to think about the things that really matter: spending time as a family, showing your kids everything our country has to offer, being near the ones you love, etc...you just can’t put a price on it.
For us, we simply cannot afford not to live buslife.