Thursday, January 31, 2013

The First Month

Well, I just looked at my monthly spending summary online. I can honestly say that if I had to pay rent, I wouldn't of made it through the month. Last semester, I took 21 credit hours and expected the extra $600 charge past my tuition funding of loans and grants. This semester, with only 18 credits, I did not expect the $700 past is normal for a semester. :|

Plus the $280 I spent to get the transmission and engine fluids flushed and the oil change. (The guy at Meineke also said that I should replace my timing belt, but I'm probably going to delay until summer.)

Plus the $400 on books. UGH!

So the first month of trying to save money by living in my car  is working, it's just that all the spare money I'm saving is going to school. While, I did go over on my food budget, most of the overspending was to pay for food that will last into February (granola, chips, peanut butter, WestSoy milk, dried fruit)

Next month should be easier, as I won't be in the process of moving and I got the whole car thing down.

It's a Pug Life

Hey, remember when I mentioned that my mom's pug vomited all over me during Winter Break?

 Stomach herbal medicine.

With a pug on it.

My life.

It's Snowing!

Front Passenger

Driver's Side
Waking up to a snow covered car felt a little magical. I also feel safer when it does snow (or is very cold) because there are less people out and about.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Things I've Noticed

I invariably arrive early. (Where else to go?)
I work out more. (Must shower.)
I spend more time on homework. (No distractions.)
I always wake up early. (Must be awake by six to use the gym bathroom)
I’ve made more plans with people. (There is always an activity to occupy the time in between bedtime and wake-up time: hanging out with friends, getting a workout buddy.)
Setting up my bed is getting easier, so is finding safe places to park. (I’ve mapped out most eligible places, switching them up every night.)

Sunday, January 20, 2013


How the trunk looks like
Sleeping angle
As promised, pictures! The trunk finally got more organized with the tupperware containers on clearance from the holidays and the back seat sticks out less without the mattress. I sprawl out from the back driver's side door to the front passenger's. There's a small, blue ottoman where the passenger's seat normally is located, for more room.


The Dye
After removing the mattress from the car, I still felt that the blankets themselves stuck out a bit too much. Acquiring some black dye, I added three packets of dye for one blanket and two for the smaller blanket. The results didn't turn out as well as I had hoped.
Blotchy Job

I sprinkled the dye across the surface of the blanket before folding it up and stuffing it in the washer. It obviously still hit some places harder than others. Oh well, at least the blankets aren't that bright of a lavender anymore. Because it's such a small car, I quickly grew tired of folding up my blankets and stuffing them in the already full trunk. Hoping that most peoples' apathy towards the outside world will prevent much attention to my car, especially now that the giant mattress is gone.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Personal Life During The Week

The first day visiting my home city went smoothly. Saying hello and cleaning the car.

The next day my special friend got into a car pile up accident and was deemed somewhat at fault. At least faulty enough where the minimum car insurance on the car didn't cover the damage.

Special Friend and I broke up. Kind of. It's a little complicated. I gave a deadline saying that we need to get our lives in order. I mean, friend has no ambition or career goals  and I live in my car. There's that.

Two days alone, mom goes out to spend time with her special friend and I'm watching the family dogs. Early morning, I get awoken by the younger pug dog vomiting everywhere. Specifically, vomiting on me.

Several hours in the veterinary clinic and more time spent cleaning bloody dog vomit and bloody dog shit all over the house.

Then several more hours driving back up to this school city to spend a few hours working and a few hours going out.

What a week.

The Week

I've found that whenever I receive an offer to hang out or go out on the town, I'm more willing to accept now because that means more time inside. Last time I updated, I had one more night in the car, with very little sleep after staying out until 2 am on a weekday. Then, I used the last couple of days I had off from work to drive down to my home city.

I got the car checked out and had a basic oil change. The mechanic dude got a little testy and suggested I also get an transmission flush - so took care of that as well. Unfortunately, he also said that there is not a marking on the timing belt - which could break around the mileage that the Aveo is at. :| So, I'm driving around a ticking time bomb that could break and cost thousands to fix OR he just exaggerated.

I did clean up the car while I visited my home city: removed/sold the mattress, added the cold weather sleeping bag, and packed all my things in the trunk. The car looks more discrete now and I definitely feel more secure sleeping in a less conspicuous vehicle.

The first night back from my home city I used the sleeping bag. Almost everything but my feet stayed rather warm. I only realized that my feet stayed against the cold, metal door the whole night. DUR! When the gym stays open later during the semester, it will be easier waking and showering - until then sink showers on the weekend. Although, next Tuesday is the first day of school. I can't believe it.

I should also mention that the transmission flush on my car screwed up my set up budget for the month. I had the money to cover it, but ehh who wants to spend almost two hundred dollars on their car in a week? Not I!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Third Night and The Man

The night itself went pretty smoothly. I got to sleep in a bit due to my schedule. In an attempt to stay stealthy, I set my alarm for sunrise. Unfortunately, when I woke up the sun shined brightly enough for my position to be more noticeable. I wasn't approached, but it made me slightly uncomfortable with the possibility.

The Rec Center is currently on a Winter Break schedule, which means that on weekends I don't have the time go to the Rec Center. So, this is the first day where I had to do a "bathroom shower" in the library. That went pretty smoothly, as the bathrooms at the entrance are single rooms and have plenty of privacy.

Not wanting to be stuck inside all day, when the temperatures appeared agreeably, I found a small park near my work to go and read. A patrol officer noticed me near my car. He said he wanted to make sure I was okay, because my head bowed down over a book, but I didn't really believe him. Then he asked if I lived in my car and I answered him honestly.

He then explained to me about housing options, gave me his card, and left. It isn't illegal to sleep in your car in the state of Colorado. Over the past three days, I've been approached by two police officers (albeit the first one is my fault). I honestly think the mattress in the back might be causing too much attention. Definitely need to get rid of it and just sleep on the seats.

An orange and four carrots for 50 cents each, tortilla and peanut butter for 30 cents, and a sausage biscuit for 1.07.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Second Night

After I rearranged the sleeping position and had experience placing the window covers, getting into bed and sleeping went much smoother. I do need to wear two pairs of socks when I'm sleeping, as it gets really cold. The weather tonight is reported to be 12 degrees and this morning I awoke to 9 degrees. Although, it's not cold enough to keep me from sleeping in - I set the alarm for 5:40, but sleepily turned it off and slept in till 6:21. Oh well!
The Situation, taken from my sleeping position

As long as I am under the comforters, I stay relatively warm. In an attempt to solve the condensation problem, I left one window cracked slightly. No frost covered that particular window, but the rest of the car windows carried a thin layer.

To eat healthier and cheaper, I finally took a trip to the grocery store and picked up some fruit, tortillas, a yogurt cup and peanut butter. Because work offered free chicken sandwiches in the break room my daily food expenses stayed low: 50 cents for the orange, 50 cents for the cup of yogurt, 14  cents for a tortilla and 12 cents for the peanut butter spread on the tortilla. $1.26 for the day isn't bad at all!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Quarters

Several van dwelling websites have video tours or photographs of their modified vans. Right now the car is a complete mess, so in the meantime here is the layout of how I have it set up. Still needs some work on the organization part. Further still,  I don't know how exactly to hide this from my co-workers, as we all park in the same lot. :| More to come~!

The Food

I didn't really plan out my first month. I do have a basic mess kit (plastic container, knife, spoon, fork, cup), but haven't really put together a plan on what I should purchase to survive on my budget, in a car for a couple of months.

Today, I already spent 1.69 on the hamburger, leaving 1.61 for today. Per serving, I will be looking at how much it costs to get things like granola bars and make sandwiches. Right now though, it looks like breakfast is something off the dollar menu and dinner will be canned food from the grocery store.

Many sites have warned against eating fast food as a substitute for meals, Romana S. at uses the term false economy, which I understand. If I did order 5-10 dollar means at fast food restaurants I couldn't stay in my budget.

I would defend the big burger (520c) I had this morning from Carl's Jr as having almost half my caloric intake (1200-1400c) taken care of for a dollar. Well, it was suppose to be a dollar, but it looks like Carl's Jr is more expense than other value menus. Taco Bell, McDonalds and others have items that only total 1.07, but have 400-500 calories. A granola bar for .50 cents or can of fruit for the same can fill up my other two dollars.

With more planning, I will hopefully have a better plan that eating off the dollar menu everyday, but for the next couple of days that will have to work.

The Budget

With my part-time job, I make around $900 a month. To put that in perspective, a one-bedroom apartment in this city costs around $750 to $900. Most college students stay in houses or large apartments together, with each student paying $400 to $500 rent. Through financial aid and student loans the semester and the Rec Center fees are paid.

My Expenses

Reoccurring: I know every month I will have to pay my phone bill, a Netflix bill, and what I want to put away in savings:
Phone Bill: $38.38 ($35 + tax)
Netflix: $7.99
Minimum Long-term Savings: $168.00

Estimated Expenses: My goal is to eat off of $3.30 a day and use under $150 in gas money (a high estimate). By the end of January, I should I have pretty good ideal of the actual costs.
Food: $100
Gas Money: $150
Toiletries/Laundry: $10
Misc: $25 (movies, clothing, etc.)
Student Loan Payment: $400

This is a pretty rough budget. I did not plan this whole car adventure particularly well. The total amount equals: 899.37.

The First Night

Before I slept outside in my car, I first slept in the garage of the townhouse I use to live at. This helped me find a comfortable way to position myself in the car. The passenger seat is taken out, so I lie diagonally across with my head in the back seat on the driver's side and my feet by the passenger's car door. In the garage this worked out comfortably and in my hurry I didn't test it outside.

Most of this could of been prevented with planning ahead of time.

1.) Privacy
My first mistake was purchasing the reflective window covers right before bedtime. It took me much too long set up the window covers. I brought nothing in the car to hold them up, so I used sewing pins against the roof fabric. It wasn't ideal. KNOW

2.) Warmth
I did not plan how my night would go. After work, I stayed dressed in my business casual. The laundry that I had done earlier that day hadn't fully dried, so no sweatpants or sweaters to wear to bed for me.

3.) Sleep
Third mistake: I curled up in a ball. Almost every two hours my knees would be sore from shivering in a ball and I'd stretched them out for a bit to relieve the aching. Moving out of my huddled position, exposed my legs to the cold air of the car. Ergo, all night I was curling and uncurling and aching.
The melting condensation after driving to the Rec Center

4.) Condensation
Because the temperatures stayed at a chilly below freezing level, the condensation in the car, from breathing, froze to the windows. When I awoke, the frost covered every window. Not knowing what to do, I turned the car on… oh wait. The keys had fallen under the seat. I searched for the keys, in my light, casual work wear: my fourth mistake.

5.) The Man
Final mistake: I forgot to turn on my lights when driving to the gym. At five-forty in the morning, I got pulled over for not having my lights on. Fortunately, the officer just gave me a warning, instead of charging the $35 fine for driving with no lights.

That was my morning. Everything got better after that: working out at the gym was peaceful, the hot shower afterwards felt amazing and the 1.69 for a hamburger breakfast happen to be a nice treat.

The Short Version

The first time I heard about van dwelling, I had just gone through my first-love break up, my part-time job had become unbearable enough that I quit and I did not feel ready to transfer from a community college to the university.

I wanted to run away.

The thing about running away is: don't tell your parents. Even though I could legally go wherever I wanted to, they quickly shut down trading my sedan for a van and driving around the country.

Looking through my computer,
I stumbled on the layout e-mailed to me when I inquired about the room around two years ago
A couple of years into the future, I'm renting a townhouse with a terrible room mate. We don't get along at all. My landlords happen to be the the room mate's parents, who bought her the townhouse for her nineteenth birthday. After months of bullshit, I get asked to move out. It's not an eviction, but request came with the subtle hint that it would be evolving into an eviction notice at the end of December.

My room mate would empty her room after several days of
hoarding dishes and trash. Then, she would only clean up after
herself after she had no where else to put her garbage.

Going to school, taking finals, packing, getting strung along and disregarded, either way - December 27th rolls around and I don't have a place to stay. Not really knowing where to go, I recalled when I wanted to live in a van.

I rediscovered articles and websites detailing the life style of van dwelling. The Rec Center at the university is a perfect place to shower and exercise. Most of the food I prepared when living with a stove didn't require much of any cooking anyways.

I didn't have a van. So, I stuffed my twin mattress in my tiny sedan, took out the passenger seat and filled it with essentials and drove back up to the university to enjoy Winter Break, living in my car.

That's most of the story, at least the important bits and pieces for an introduction.