My all-in budget is $500/month. Oversimplified a bit it looks like this:

  • $200 food
  • $100 van insurance
  • $75 gasoline
  • $30 phone/internet
  • $25 gym membership
  • $50 personal

I keep 3-6 months worth of savings in liquid assets for emergencies. There is also a tiny stream of passive income described at the bottom.


I built my rig for boondocking. I camp on public lands in 14-day stretches, reprovision, and move to the next spot. This arrangement makes practical use of my past experience with Scouting, prepping, primitive skills / DIY, etc.

It is a simple, quiet life. I wouldn’t mind being rich but living within one’s means feels a lot like being wealthy.


vehicle fuel

I budget 1 tank of gas per month and often don’t use the whole thing.


  • cook for myself rather than eating out
  • actively look for food that is in season, on sale, or otherwise discounted
  • buy dry staples that are inexpensive and shelf-stable (grains, beans, etc)
  • save leftovers in a 12v compressor fridge and use them creatively
  • cook with excess solar power when available to save on cooking fuels (propane, coleman fuel, unleaded)
  • make coffee rather than buying it

Caveat: living in a small space can limit one’s ability to buy in bulk for lower unit pricing. A 12-roll pack of toilet paper may be cheaper by the sheet but if you can’t store the package it’s moot. Consider going in halfsies with a friend to split bigger packs.


Water is a limiting factor for many people. I bought a used 35gal tank out of a parted-out Class C that allows me to stockpile a bit when I find free/cheap water. My most finely-honed “spidey sense” is for finding water spigots.

When purchasing water is required, I prefer bulk fills at RV parks and similar over by-the-gallon kiosks. At the RV Pit Stop in Quartzsite, for example, 40 gallons of water is $2 (5c/gal).

phone / internet

I have a $30/month plan from Verizon MVNO US Mobile. MVNO are much cheaper but customers tend to get “leftover” data after the “post-paid”1 customers have had their fill.

I save up major downloads (updates, movies, whatever) and handle them when wifi is available.

I do not stream any form of entertainment, although I do capture television OTA when available.


I use the V.A. system for my medical needs. There are co-pays for meds and visits, but no monthly premiums.


Like many others, I have a Planet Fitness “black card” membership that allows use around the country.

My process is:

  1. park where I can get wifi access from the parking lot. Start updating devices and pulling down data (carry phone excepted; see below)
  2. sign in at front desk
  3. start updating carry phone
    1. update apps
    2. update map info (Osmand+, iOverlander)
    3. update firmware/security
    4. download podcasts
    5. download Amazon Prime content (data saver mode)
  4. shower while phone downloads
  5. massage chair or hydrobed
  6. hang towel to dry in van, stay at PF a while if gear in van is still updating/downloading

passive income

  • I get 2-5% cash back on an Amazon Prime credit card, which in 2021 was about $17/month. I pay the CC in full each month and so do not get charged any interest.
  • when describing physical products (often bought from Amazon in the first place) I include an Amazon affiliate link. This yields about the same as the CC above, and pays for hosting of this site, the RVwiki, and is sometimes enough to get an item I need off Bezosland.
  • when describing a service I personally use (like PF or USM above), I include a referral link. Every few months one of those yields a free month off my bill. Doesn’t sound like much, but $20 is a nice bonus for those of us that live on very little.
  1. Postpaid customers pay after the month of use; these are the full-price customers. Cf. pre-paid customers, MVNO or otherwise.