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How We Live On $1,000 A Month

how to live on 1000 a month, budget for travel, how to live in a van, how to travel on a budget, how to travel longterm, giant moneySince embarking on our van life adventure we have had to look at money a bit differently, and we mean that in a good way. With no rent to pay, no water, electricity or cable bills, let alone a television, life is pretty simple. The largest chunk of our budget goes towards gas and groceries and the rest we are left to play with, responsibly of course 😉

giant nickel in canada, where is the giant nickel, giant nickel, cool things in canada, giant moneyWe’ve hesitated writing a post on this for a while now mostly because, as bloggers, it’s hard to know exactly how much to share, but after countless questions from friends, family members and those looking to embark on a similar journey, we have finally decided that it’s time to enlighten the baffled masses. So, what is our budget anyway?!  

Plain and simple, $33 per day or $1,000 per month (per person) is what we figured we could do, and while a week in New York City looks different than a week in the middle of Maine, in the end it all seems to balance itself out, and here’s how:

 1. We cook a large majority of our meals:

sprinter van kitchen, van life cooking, cooking on the road, amazing roadtrip recipes when on the road, cooking in a van, how to cook in a vanFrom locally caught salmon, quinoa and a fresh-cut salad cooked next to the Saint Lawrence River in Canada:

van life cooking, cooking on the road, amazing roadtrip recipes when on the roadTo grilling up the perfect feast on top of a mountain along the Blue Ridge Parkway:blue ridge parkway, driving the blue ridge parkway, hikes along the blue ridge parkway, driving on the blue ridge parkway from tennessee, travel across america, live in a van, couple travels across the world, van life meals, cooking in the mountainsThere are so many ways one can be culinarily savvy while on the road. With places like Kowalski’s, Meijers, EB, Costco, Krogers, Publix, Maxi, Trader Joe’s (love) and Piggly Wiggly, we have been in more grocery stores than we ever even knew existed! Luckily our camper van comes fully-equipt with a mini fridge, freezer, dual stovetop and a microwave (which we really only use to nook potatoes and pop popcorn), allowing us the freedom to make a whole slew of delicious meals no matter where we might find ourselves! We also have a portable grill and camping stove for when it’s just too beautiful to be cooking inside:

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amazing rice, pyramid of rice, sea thai new york, sea thai brooklyn, amazing foodRIGHT.

things to do in reykjavik, reykjavik art, architecture reykjavik, iceland bucket list, beautiful things in iceland, iceland food, slippbarinn, traditional icelandic feast, fermented shark iceland2. We celebrate happy hour in the great outdoors: 

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We have heard time and time again from fellow travel bloggers how drinking can be/is the greatest part of their budget, but given the fact that we would rather use our funds elsewhere and that our values tend to guide our actions in a different direction, we have discovered that it’s easy to celebrate happy hour every now and again without breaking the bank!

left foot charlies, best hard cider in michigan, traverse city cider house, best hard cider in america, couple cheers, cute couple, couple drinking3. How do we make money?

ludington ohio, amazing street art, cute couple sticking out tongue, sun graffiti, cool faces graffitiWhile Drew may not be a location independent web coder and I may not be a web designing digital nomad, we all have to start somewhere right? For now we are professional bloggers who have the privilege of working with many companies who are happy to comp our activities and meals in exchange for our five-star services. While we certainly don’t do this all the time, it does allow us to share epic, must-do, one-of-a-kind experiences and meals without having to drain an entire month’s budget in one day. The life of a travel blogger does require some work you know, and it’s not always a walk in the park

bungee america, bungee jumping, bridge to nowhere, mr and mrs adventure, facing your fears, bungee jumping california, brittany rouilleBut what about an actual income? Being that we are in the early stages of our blogging careers and we are constantly moving around, adventuring, catching up on writing and such, this means that we haven’t yet had the space or time to develop something that will allow us to “rake it in,” or so to speak. For now we experiment, day dream and make connections that, when the time is right, will develop into something BIG. Oh! Speaking of something big, be on the look out for our upcoming budget-travel series on Invibed.com!

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Bonus Tip: Get a Charles Schwab checking account, they reimburse all ATM fees, worldwide, and there’s 0 monthly fees!

4. We bike, run, kiteboard, rock climb, hike and search for adventures near and far that don’t cost a thing (at least once you have the gear):
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Over time, we’ve come to realize that these are our favorite things to do, and while they may not be easy on our tired muscles, luckily they don’t tend to be too taxing on the wallet. We highly recommend getting the America the Beautiful Annual Park Pass if you plan on traveling as we do, it pays for itself in just a handful of visits.Summiting mount baldy, best southern california hikes, hiking california, ski resort hikes, summer hikes in california, best way to hike mount baldy, how to hike mount baldy, ski lift5. Our souvenirs consist of well-used maps, sweet stickers, vintage post cards, smashed pennies, the occasional patch and of course, memories. Not only do these fit into our budget quite well, but they also fit into our van 🙂

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wall drug souvenir, where is wall drug, smashed penniesAt first we had a hard time not buying unique little bits and bobs for our one-day bookcase, but soon enough we no longer had to remind each other of the fact that life isn’t about stuff, in fact, life is better without it! Besides, we’ll have about a million photos to choose from for our mantle one day.


butter half, mural in austin, best photo ops austin, best murals in america, cute couple, adventurous couple, beautiful couple, mr and mrs adventureMore than anything the reason we are able to do what we do is because we are willing to sacrifice, for each other and for our lifestyle. Having a mini-fridge means we don’t have room for the usual, luxurious variety of salad dressings, let alone ketchup. We also have to be ok with the fact that sometimes we are going to want different things, but because we only have so much space and we have no choice but to go in the same direction, we have to find a way to compromise and both be happy about it at the end of the day.

jump for joy engaged, couple jumping, jumping gif, fun gif with balloons, jumping with balloonsThese little tips, along with a healthy dose of determination, self-control and CRAZY, are what help give us the freedom to “live the dream,” and while it may not always be easy, and likely seems nuts to most, we’ll say it again and again…

it's worth it, totally worth it, kissy face



  1. Reply

    Mikhail Branski

    February 7, 2019

    This is rather vague. I mean, are you doing this only temporarily? It looks like you have a vehicle and all the equipment and clothes of some folks who have saved up a lot of money already. That would be my first comment. Anybody can travel for a year or several like this. It is rather easy to do. In fact, it is extremely easy given the fact that you apparently are not making payments on your vehicle (I assume it was already paid for). You are not unique in the least and nothing you say here is new. Millions of folks have done this and done it affordably. I think you may have even been born into families with money and have had many things taken care of for you. And, probably, can slip back into a lifestyle you want because you have a large stash of savings! I don’t know…but I am NOT impressed with anything I see here. Sorry to be negative but as someone who has traveled to countries on a much smaller budget…..and seen and know many persons who have done likewise…..I would have to say…seeing your ads on here that you are probably not being forthright….as to all your expenses….and how much money you have to fall back on. You look like comfortable yuppies who will probably write a book and get it published with all the connections you have. Right? Right.

    • Reply

      Brittany Rouille

      February 24, 2019

      I think it’s important to answer comments like these. Yes you can travel on a smaller budget, and we are happy to hear that you have had the opportunity to see the world too, but this is not just “travel” for us, this is our normal everyday lives. Our budget is something that must sustain us and take care of all aspects of our lives and we are not trying to deprive ourselves. We work hard, we always have. Our families do not fund us, we have always had to make a way for ourselves. That is what has made us stronger… and probably why we are ok with living without as much stability as most, it makes us come alive. Hopefully this has shed a little light for you, it’s easy to judge, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. Hoping our story can at least show you that you can have your freedom and your quality of life too – all you need to do is believe and do what it takes.

  2. Reply


    January 17, 2019

    Wow! I have travelled 40 countries but never had this amazing experience. Shine on! Stay strong and safe!

    • Reply

      Brittany Rouille

      January 17, 2019

      Thank you so much! And 40 countries, so incredible ♡!

  3. Reply


    April 29, 2018

    I must say…you eat well and make $1000 not look at all like a struggle or deprivation. I lived on $110/mo. for two years in my twenties (Peace Corps). There were some definite challenges and low points (no heat in 20 degrees isn’t super fun), but I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything. I love your blog.

    • Reply

      Brittany Rouille

      April 30, 2018

      WOW Amy. $110 a month must have been quite the challenge. What did you eat most? Where were you in the Peace Corps? So glad that you can find our blog useful or inspirational or something along those lines! Blessed to share the journey with you ❤️

  4. Reply


    May 8, 2017

    I am embarking on an adventure similar next year. I have the 2000 Roadtrek paid for already and put new tires on it and had it checked out by a mechanic to look for anything serious or needed before I can way back on work. I will be 58 and plan on working 3 months out of the year instead of full time I work now. I too would like to live on a 1000.00 a month budget but cannot get past a big chunk of the money going to health insurance, van insurance, and money put aside for maintenance monthly (emergency fund), Can you address this? Thanks! I enjoyed what you posted so far.

    • Reply


      May 9, 2017

      Hi Barbra, glad you found us! We factored those things into our monthly expenses, though we had free healthcare through Obamacare at the time. Depending on your spending, you could factor those things into a separate category, like “annual expenses,” and work out your monthly budget from there. Hope this helps and we wish you all the best on the wonderful road that lies ahead 🙂

  5. Reply


    March 16, 2016

    Wow! I never thought about how great this is for a relationship. I bet this has bonded you both together in indescribable ways, even with the inevitable difficulties. This is so inspiring and something for me to consider when I get into a serious relations(one day! haha). I hope you guys are having an amazing time.

    • Reply


      March 19, 2016

      Hi Ciara! It is a challenge but an even greater blessing. One day you’ll find a lucky dude to have your own adventures with 😉

  6. Reply


    February 29, 2016

    But you never said where the 1000 a month comes from?

    • Reply


      February 29, 2016

      Savings + Drew remotely manages a biz + travel blogging + various side jobs. Being thrifty, creative, persistent and always positive is key 🙂

  7. Reply

    Madison Belle

    January 28, 2016

    I just discovered your blog because of my english teacher, Mr. Cambon. It’s such a lovely blog and all of your experiences just showed me how seriously people take life and that what is important is having an adventure everyday. Keep doing what you’re doing because it’s inspiring to me and to others.

    • Reply


      January 28, 2016

      Mr. Cambon! I know him 🙂 You are so lucky to have such an awesome English teacher, and I’m honored he would tell his students about us. Thank you for taking the time to explore our site and share your thoughts. Life is too short and too good to miss out, be a great person and live a beautiful life.

  8. Reply


    September 21, 2015

    Strikes me that you’re sacrificing nothing important by living on ‘just’ $1,000 per month. In fact, just the opposite: by choosing a lifestyle that allows you to live happily on $1,000 per month, you’ve gained freedom most only dream about.

    • Reply


      September 24, 2015

      Well said! Thank you for taking the time to read and write to us, it seems like we find more and more ways to simplify life everyday 🙂

  9. Reply


    September 18, 2015

    this too is our dream for retirement…staying fit, healthy, and inspired til then!…all the best

    • Reply


      September 21, 2015

      and it’s a beautiful dream! that will one day come true 🙂

  10. Reply


    September 18, 2015

    Fantastic!!! I love Blue Ridge Parkway!!! I saw your California adventures!! Great places. I live in the Mojave area and frequent Mammoth… If you make it this way in the near future and need/want a place to park and or camp out for a bit I have room to accommodate such a request. You may be obligated to have to run/ climb up a few of the local mountain hills on the PCT. cheers!

    • Reply


      September 18, 2015

      Thank you so much for the offer, we were actually in Mammoth last week! We are now Albuquerque-bound for the balloon fest 🙂 Isn’t the BR Parkway the best, wish we had more time… it’s on the list of places to return to! Happy travels and perhaps we will join forces one day and conquer a mountain on the PCT!

  11. Reply

    Investment Hunting

    September 18, 2015

    Great post. Thanks for sharing your story. This just goes to show you can have it all if your perspective is in the right place. Good luck to both of you and enjoy the journey.

    • Reply


      September 18, 2015

      Thank you for taking the time to write, we are so glad you enjoyed this! That’s it, with the right perspective, and the right partner, life is a whole lot simpler 😉

  12. Reply


    August 1, 2015

    Wish i would have been able to do something like that. I enjoy reading your blog yall’ inspire me to seek out new adventures. BTW the food looks yummy and healthy. Just curious what do your workouts consist of since you r always on the road?

    • Reply


      August 5, 2015

      Hi Ari! Thank you for your kind words, we hope it does inspire you to really get out and seek to live and engage in your world in more exciting ways! We will be publishing a post soon on how we stay “fit” but really we never sit still! When we arrive to a new place we seek epic hikes, I am all over scenic running paths and we love exploring new places by bike. We actually have to balance our activity level out with days of writing in cafes. Basically life is our workout 😉

  13. Reply


    July 29, 2015

    I so want to do this! Only it will be in my “retirement” and I’ve got to find the right guy. If you run across one, send him in my direction. You too inspire me to live out loud every day. Thank you!

    • Reply


      July 30, 2015

      We have high standards for you but we can certainly keep our eyes peeled 😉

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