Several readers wrote to share this story of extreme personal finance from the pages of the Los Angeles Times: 26-year-old Andy Bussell has been living in his truck, homeless by choice, for the past year-and-a-half.
The odyssey began in 2005. Bussell was working full time as a “Mac genius” at the Apple Store in Newport Beach, sharing a $1,600-per-month apartment in Aliso Viejo. He had racked up more than $10,000 in credit card debt and was struggling to pay for school and save money for a three-month road trip. So on July 29, 2005, he started living in his truck, with the goal of lasting one year.
Andy sounds reasonably well-adjusted. He has a job. He’s going to school (he’s a film student). He hangs out with his friends. He engages in hobbies like yoga and rock climbing. Where he differs from average young adults is his willingness to cut corners and live cheap in order to tackle his debt. After eighteen months of extreme frugality, his credit card debt is nearly gone.
Andy’s blog has some interesting bits, particularly his cross-country road trip. (I’ve always wanted to do a cross-country road trip.) His blog is all on one page, and begins with arrival of his camper shell. Scroll to the bottom and then work your way up to follow his entire homeless adventure. He even shares some lessons he’s learned from his experience, such as:
- You never really think about the angle of your bed until you’re parked at a slant. Annoying.
- Avoid sleeping at 24 Hour Fitness — that’s where I got my ticket.
- Angle the truck away from any street lights (if possible). Easier to sleep in the dark.
- Carry extra floss.
- Always have backups and emergency planning.
Despite the current rash of media attention, I get the impression that Andy would much rather have a home. He went into the project expecting to live in his truck for a year, and for the past few months he’s been halfheartedly looking for a place to rent. It sounds as if there are other issues besides money involved: “So I’ve been looking for a room to rent. It’s hard. Between my hatred for people and my hatred for people in my space I’m just not getting anywhere.”
The Cal State Fullerton Daily Titan has a short video interview with Andy in which he describes his lifestyle.
[Los Angeles Times: Homeless by choice, O.C. student learns self-reliance, via Don, Matthew, and Evan]
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