We started our 8-week cross country road trip in August and did a ton of driving across the US, in addition to a lot of hiking (about 150 miles in 3 weeks). We were nervous about how sleeping in the van would be on the road trip, but it has actually been really good most nights.
You can check out a video tour of the van setup and an update on the start of our road trip in this video.
The plan to start the trip in the northern states where temperatures aren’t so hot at night was a good one. We actually ended up spending a total of 17 nights in the van during August, with a few hotel stays and stays with friends/family interspersed along the way. Not only did this save us money on the trip, but it also saved us a lot of time by being able to pull over and sleep right along our route (sometimes within or just outside of the National Parks) instead of driving to Airbnbs each night. This has been my favorite trip that we’ve ever taken to this point, with some amazing sights at national parks across the country. If you want to follow along with the rest of our trip, the best place is on the Travel Therapy Mentor Instagram page where we post frequent photos, videos and updates along our trip! (Follow us @TravelTherapyMentor on Instagram!)
Income from the websites (FifthWheelPT and Travel Therapy Mentor), was about the same in August as in July, with a few payouts from various companies. We’re gradually starting to trend upward in placements and income, but there will certainly still be some very low earning months ahead. I’m hoping for a better 2021 when things get closer to normal, but we’ll see how that goes. I’m considering looking for a travel physical therapy contract around the end of the year, which would bring in a decent amount of income. It’s now been about 16 months since I last worked as a PT, and I’m a little worried about my skills getting rusty!
My expenses continue to be lower than my income each month and pretty reasonable overall. Not having a mortgage or rent payment due to paying cash for our townhouse earlier this year has made my fixed costs at home very low, and traveling/sleeping in the van has kept costs moderate while on the trip. My biggest expense category for August was food due to eating out at least once and sometimes twice per day.
The S&P 500 was up 7.01% in August. My own portfolio was up about 2.9% on the month due to a more conservative asset allocation. I’ve been amazed seeing the equity rally we’ve had despite some pretty grim real economy data. Things seem pretty irrational right now in the markets, but who knows how long this upward trend will continue. Even though it would be nice to have more money in equities right now, I’ve enjoyed the feeling of security with a conservative asset allocation, especially with less income coming in each month right now.
Financial Independence Progress
My net worth increased by about 1.9% in August when all said and done. This again puts me at a new all time high net worth with just under 31x my anticipated future yearly expenses! I’m consistently amazed at how quickly my net worth is increasing despite much lower than usual income over the past six months and a conservative asset allocation. This really goes to show the power of keeping expenses low in both good and bad times.
We’ll be spending all of September finishing up our road trip across the US, before returning home at the beginning of October. Even though I’m getting a little weary after a month on the road with a lot of driving and activity, I can’t wait to see more beautiful sights across the country over the next month. Things will be more laid back on the second half of the trip, with many more nights in hotels and Airbnbs than in the van. This will make my expenses higher but will be a welcome “vacation” from our action packed and somewhat “rugged” vacation so far.
Income in September should be lower than in August along with the higher expenses. It’s possible that September could be my first month with a negative savings rate in over 5 years! I’ll do my best to keep that from happening, but time will tell how much income comes in and how much I end up spending during the month. This certainly wouldn’t be the end of the world with such large jumps in net worth in recent months.
Until next month. Stay safe and healthy!