Living in a car to pay off debt

Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income.

I don't spend lavishly on clothes, hair appointments, or travel. I drive a 12-year-old Honda Civic. I got into debt by trying different business investments, including real estate and selling refurbished tablets. I also took out a student loan that I really didn't need but couldn't turn down the money I automatically qualified for. Those are the main sources of my debt.

My debt payments began to total more than $1,100 a month. I moved in with an aunt and uncle to make ends meet. When they wanted to raise the rent, it was the straw that broke the camel's back. I was fed up with my situation. I couldn't even afford to rent a room anymore.

I took a drastic measure, which I know most people won't agree with. I decided to move into my car. But that wasn't all. There was no way I was going to live in my car for any length of time and come out in the same situation.

I buckled down and reviewed Dave Ramsey's system. I was familiar with his program but had never really studied it or applied it. I made a commitment to live differently from that month on (September 2013). It took two months to save up $1,000 for an emergency fund and to pay off my seven smallest debts. The third month, I brought current a credit card that was three months behind. Life felt so much more manageable. I could answer the phone again without trepidation. Eight months later, I paid off all three credit cards.

It wasn't just living in my car that did it, though. After I made the commitment, I got an insurance payout for damage to my car, a refund from the doctor, and some other small financial blessings here or there. All of that “extra” money went toward my debt. Before, it would have gone toward … who knows?

For the winter months, I moved in with a friend and rented a room for less than what my aunt and uncle charged me. She has been really understanding and was helping me out. However, in one month, she will need her room back. Since starting this journey, I've lost a job, faced medical emergencies and car breakdowns, and learned new survival skills.

Only two of my friends know about my situation. I've worked hard to keep it hidden from coworkers and family members. They will only worry about me, and they can't give me the help that I really need. I have blogged about my experience anonymously. I'm bracing myself for the negative backlash from readers — “You're stupid. That's dangerous!” Still, I am excited to be on this temporary journey and just thankful that I have the independence, the mental fortitude, the creativity, and the good health to make this happen for myself. I am $10,000 richer so far in less than one year!

[Editor's Note: This is an amazing story; but we wanted to understand Livinginmyhonda's reasoning on some things, so we asked:

Q. Why did you take out a student loan that you didn't need?

A. I took the student loan because it was free money and I also wanted to continue investing in real estate — ultimately it helped me sell the two properties I owned. I had to bring money to the table. Not what I had in mind originally. Dave Ramsey would call it a stupid tax, and so would I.

Q. Where are you living in your car? Do you live in a WalMart parking lot?

A. I park my car in hospital parking lots (lots of security cameras, guards on patrol, and employees coming and going all hours of the night). I also park on the street outside an apartment complex that I used to live in. There are no parking restrictions there and I feel relatively safe in that neighborhood. (I know that no neighborhood is perfectly safe).

Q. Are you currently working?

A. I'm a teacher. Three months after I started this debt-free journey, I was blessed to lose my job. It turned out to be a blessing because I got a job that pays 35 percent more (even though I loved the first job dearly).

Q. How do you manage grooming, etc., to go to work each day or to go to job interviews?

A. I got a gym membership so I would have a place to shower. After leaving the gym, I go to my storage unit and change clothes. Then I go to work. I spend the rest of my time in parks, libraries, fast food restaurants, or staying late at work.

Q. You say you are $10,000 richer. What do you mean? Is it because you have paid off your loans or by saving money in an emergency fund?

A. I feel richer because of the debts paid off so far and because of the security that a starter emergency fund gives. After paying off credit cards this past spring (three months ahead of schedule due to the new job), I started a car replacement fund. My car is 12 years old, and I consider this fund to be my way of paying off debt in advance.

Q. Do you plan to find a place to live?

There was no answer to this question, so we have to hope that Livinginmyhonda will once again find a stable and safe living situation.]

More about...Debt

Become A Money Boss And Join 15,000 Others

Subscribe to the GRS Insider (FREE) and we’ll give you a copy of the Money Boss Manifesto (also FREE)

Yes! Sign up and get your free gift
Become A Money Boss And Join 15,000 Others
guest
85 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Kirsten
Kirsten
6 years ago

Wow! What a story! I think it sounds incredibly brave for many reasons, but the biggest reason is because you had to step outside of your comfort zone. I don’t know tha I’m brave enough to essentially become homeless in order to take charge of my financial life.

NicoleAndmaggie
NicoleAndmaggie
6 years ago

A good reminder that real estate investing isn’t without risks!

TB
TB
6 years ago

I think more people do this that I could ever imagine. It’s brave and extreme and it seems to be working.

Claudiu C.
Claudiu C.
6 years ago

Hello,

Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I would never say to anybody that you are stupid, as I can’t put myself in their shoes, and I can’t fully know what road they’ve taken in life.
I do wish you all the luck in the world, but I can see you are a brave man and I know you will soon get out of this situation.

All the best,

Claudiu

William Zeitler
William Zeitler
6 years ago

After college I lived in my van for a year — partly due to finances but mostly to step back and get some perspective. Roamed the country. One of the best things I ever did. It’s just as easy to break into an apartment or house as it is a car, so the ‘safety’ issue is something of a red herring. Bravo for questioning the ‘received wisdom of society’ that you have to live a certain way (and spend a certain minimum amount). Our options are largely bounded by our imaginations.

livinginmyhonda
livinginmyhonda
6 years ago

Thanks for sharing a little of your experience. I agree with you on the safety issue.

In my area, houses are broken into every year and people are assaulted in their homes, but I’ve never heard of someone being caught sleeping in their car and assaulted.

I’m not saying it’s perfectly safe, but I worry more about being caught by security guards and being told to move on than being assaulted.

Melissa M
Melissa M
6 years ago

Wow. Just Wow. I have certainly thought about doing that but I don’t have the b****. So extreme. Hope she is truly being safe.

Fredrik von Oberhausen
Fredrik von Oberhausen
6 years ago

Well done!

Starting extreme is usually the most efficient approach for reaching a change.

Learning to stop and balance it is step number two and it might be time to consider that.

Ann
Ann
6 years ago

First, congrats for making those difficult decisions.

Now, I’m going to be judgmental for a moment: Why in the world were your aunt and uncle charging you rent!?! I can’t even imagine expecting my nephew to pay to live with me. He’s family. If he needed to live with me until he retires, I’d let him. You’re supposed to help out family any way you can.

I understand wanting to help someone learn to help themselves, but you don’t kick family to the streets.

Carla
Carla
6 years ago
Reply to  Ann

I was thinking the same thing. If I had a family member or friend who was truly working to get out of their situation, I could never kick them out on the streets. We (my husband and I) live in a one bedroom apartment but we would make it work.

Karen
Karen
6 years ago
Reply to  Ann

I was thinking this also and tried not to be judgmental but we have 3 nephews all of whom we love dearly. If they needed a place to stay for a while, I may barter with them for chores, etc. but I certainly would not charge them rent high enough to cause them to move out. Maybe Livingina Honda can clarify this more…

Shasha
Shasha
6 years ago
Reply to  Karen

I guess the author is trying to conceal his real situation from his family so the aunt and uncle never really knew.

livinginmyhonda
livinginmyhonda
6 years ago
Reply to  Karen

Karen, My uncle has financial struggles of his own. I thought my moving in and paying rent would benefit both of us. He would get extra income and I would pay less than what strangers on Craiglist were charging (which I couldn’t afford anyway). Eventually, my uncle felt that I should have more money, so he should be getting paid more. He looked on Craigslist and saw the going rates and wanted to charge what they were charging. I think his own financial pressures just go the best of him. We talked about this when I told him I was… Read more »

K-ro
K-ro
6 years ago
Reply to  Ann

Obviously we don’t and can’t know the situation with the relatives. From my reading of the story, it appears livinginmyhonda wasn’t really fully committed to paying off debt at that time (see paragraph 5, “All of that “extra” money went toward my debt. Before, it would have gone toward … who knows?”) If the writer wasn’t fully committed, why should the relatives be more committed? Also, why the assumption that aunt & uncle even knew the extreme debt situation? In paragraph 7, livinginmyhonda states, “I’ve worked hard to keep [my situation] hidden from coworkers and family members.” Before judging, it… Read more »

Lucille
Lucille
6 years ago
Reply to  K-ro

I don’t think any of us should judge the family. Who knows what the situation was? Maybe they needed that extra cash. Someone above said they’d let their nephew live with them (without paying a dime?) until the nephew retired if he needed to. Really?! Not to judge you either, but why should someone live rent-free, family or no family? A temporary situation is one thing, but you can love your family and still need to keep your boundaries and expect them to pick up their end of things. Esp when we’re talking about adults. Just my opinion.

Ann
Ann
6 years ago
Reply to  Lucille

In my culture, (1) you help family, (2) adults can live with their parents indefinitely, and (3) the younger generation sometimes live with their older relatives to help them out because we don’t believe in putting our seniors in retirement homes.

I currently live alone, but if my parents reach a point where they can no longer live on their own, I’ll move them in with me–and I won’t be charging them rent, just like they never charged me rent when I lived with them.

Juli
Juli
6 years ago
Reply to  Ann

Why is it the aunt & uncle’s responsibility to fund their nephew’s lifestyle? If he had been truly doing his best to get his financial life in order, then I would say yes, they could help him out. It sounds like he wasn’t making wise financial choices at that point in time. And he was costing them money that they could be getting by renting the room to a non-family member. I don’t feel like they did anything wrong.

Ann
Ann
6 years ago
Reply to  Juli

From the post, it didn’t sound like the aunt and uncle were previously renting out the room and there was no mention of them renting out the room after Livinginmyhonda moved out. Looks like they lost the companionship of their niece (I think Livinginmyhonda is female) and the extra income.

Winterlady
Winterlady
6 years ago

I admire you. You figured it out and took responsibility for your life in a creative and intelligent manner. Good Luck to you and your adventure. But most of all be safe.

Tisj
Tisj
6 years ago

This is interesting.
I just have one question, What did you use for an address? Or was that not an issue?

livinginmyhonda
livinginmyhonda
6 years ago
Reply to  Tisj

I use a PO Box that can also be written as a street address (not all post offices allow you to do that).

livinginmyhonda
livinginmyhonda
6 years ago

I was very nervous about putting my story out there, and I was prepared for criticism. But this initial response has been amazing. Thanks for understanding my situation, everyone.

Ben
Ben
6 years ago

I’m sorry but I don’t respect this. Trading one set of risky behavior (poor financial choices and lack of self-discipline) for another (unstable living situation and/or mooching off others’ kindness) isn’t something that I can admire or would ever recommend to others.

Karen
Karen
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

I agree that her decision is drastic and not for everyone but where is she mooching? Did I miss something? She is paying for a gym membership to have a shower, paying for a storage unit to have somewhere to change clothes and she is working.

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
6 years ago
Reply to  Ben

If she can’t afford rent, she can’t afford rent.

End.Of.Story.

And I’m pretty sure she isn’t the only person in this country who’s had to live in a car beause it’s the only place they could afford to sleep!

Rail
Rail
6 years ago

Jen is right. This girl is taking it to the extreme because that is what she needed to do. We have guys at my job living in trucks and cars because they are forced to different locations right now and cant afford house payments and rent on a place 150 miles away. We do what we have to sometimes, and it ain’t always fun!

Rob
Rob
6 years ago

It’s amazing the courage and fortitude to stick with it. I’m in bad shape but have a good income. So, I won’t have to move into my car. But this inspires me to move forward.

Vanessa
Vanessa
6 years ago

I would also call you brave. I admit to fantasizing about doing something similar myself, not to pay off debt but to ramp up savings. But I’m spoiled by modern conveniences. You are definitely made of tougher stuff.

Like Ann, I also don’t understand why your aunt and uncle were charging you rent, and then raised it?! It’s one thing to cut off someone who is mooching off you, but when someone is clearly trying to pull themselves up you don’t kick them while they’re down.

martha
martha
6 years ago

I can see how this was a viable option while getting out from under debt, but surely with a teacher’s salary (and savings account!) you could at least afford a studio apartment? This living situation is extreme to the point of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, in my opinion.

livinginmyhonda
livinginmyhonda
6 years ago
Reply to  martha

Martha,

I didn’t have a savings account one year ago (well, there was no money in it because I didn’t plan well so it was regularly depleted).

I earned a private school teacher’s salary at the time, and they get tend to get paid lower than public school teachers. The salary would have been fine if I didn’t have a lot of debt (which I had). My debt payments consumed almost one paycheck a month. Rent for a studio would have taken almost the entire other paycheck.

Mysticaltyger
Mysticaltyger
6 years ago

Despite being drastic, I think your initial choice made a lot of sense and showed that you are made of some tough stuff….but now that all or most of your debt is paid off, I do hope you’ll consider getting a studio apartment or room share (ideally, close to work….then maybe you won’t need a car!).

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
6 years ago

Wow. I’d rather declare bankruptcy than be homeless. There’s a reason why we have bankruptcy laws, and it is to avoid situations like these in which people damage their health and endanger their safety over debts. Even heroes of capitalism like Henry Ford, H.J. Heinz, Walt Disney, Milton Hershey and celebrity hairdo Donald Trump were bankrupt at some point. They reorganized and went on to make fortunes. And even if you don’t declare bankruptcy, you can always talk to your creditors and negotiate a payment schedule. They’d rather get something than nothing. Nicole/Maggie said this is a reminder that you… Read more »

Toni
Toni
6 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

I think you have to take the moral aspect into consideration when looking at bankruptcy. You took the money, you spent it, and now you want to screw over the people who loaned it to you. I’m not trying to be judgmental–my parents and my brother have both filed for bankruptcy–but I think that if there is any way humanly possible, you should pay off your debts and not take out bankruptcy. It might be a different situation if she had battled cancer and had hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical bills with no way to ever pay them… Read more »

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
6 years ago
Reply to  Toni

@ Toni The moral aspect comes more clearly into play when you’re talking about fraud–things like lying about your income or employment to qualify for debt. As for legitimately obtained loans, lenders take the risk of bad debts into account when fixing an interest rate. HIgh risks pay higher rates, low risks pay lower ones. It’s part of the system. To purposefully deceive and abuse the bankruptcy system is immoral, but to honestly fail and then take legal refuge is not. I understand that there can be a difference between what is legal and what is moral, but generally as… Read more »

Midwest Jane
Midwest Jane
6 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

FYI, El Nerdo, one could argue that many municipalities in this country still run debtor’s prisons. This came to light in the whole national discussion surrounding Ferguson and my city of St. Louis.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/27/us/in-aftermath-of-missouri-protests-skepticism-about-the-prospects-for-change.html?_r=0

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
6 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

@ Midwest Jane–

WOW! That’s appalling. Thanks for the link. I had no idea! What a terrible system…

livinginmyhonda
livinginmyhonda
6 years ago

Thanks, El Nerdo, for the thought you put into your comment.

I did negotiate with credit card companies long before I started this journey, and they did what they were able and willing to do.

I also talked to a bankruptcy attorney last year – the month I started this journey. By the end of that conversation, the hassle and costs of bankruptcy weren’t worth the effort compared to what I would gain. Student loans cannot be discharged during bankruptcy, and they constituted the bulk of my debt.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
6 years ago

I talked to a bankruptcy lawyer in my state in 2009 or 2010 when my business crashed– ended up not pursuing it, but it was like a $1200 flat fee. Pretty cheap. We didn’t go that way but kept it as a “nuclear option” when talking with the creditors. In the end we didn’t need it. And yes, student loans are non-dischargeable, but can’t they be deferred or restructured in case of hardship? (I don’t have them so I am no expert). I am concerned that you might be paying for your debts with your kidneys (literally). Or worse. Having… Read more »

Laura
Laura
6 years ago

First, I applaud livinginmyhonda for taking a drastic step towards financial solvency. I do have a judgmental comment but it is not at all directed at LIMH personally. Am I the only GRS reader who finds it totally pathetic that affordable housing in the U.S. is so difficult to come by? This is reminding me of a story in “Nickel and Dimed” by Barbara Ehrenreich. I don’t have the book in front of me, but I recall in one chapter how she’s working as a Merry Maid and finding out one co-worker is living out of his car and others… Read more »

Mysticaltyger
Mysticaltyger
6 years ago
Reply to  Laura

Yes, I agree with you regarding the affordable housing thing. Especially in the larger cities on the East & West Coasts….very little is done to build more housing so that supply and demand come into balance….mostly thanks to overly strict zoning laws promoted by NIMBYs in the name of “environmentalism” and other such smokescreens.

michelle
michelle
6 years ago

Desperate times call for desparate measure..so first of all congratulations on what you have already done. Wishing you all the best in going forward to find stability.

Erica W.
Erica W.
6 years ago

Wow. I’ve been feeling sort of down on myself and low and lonely lately and your story made me feel very grateful that I have a roof over my head. I hope that you’ll be able to afford to get into a rented room soon. I know there are furnished rooms for rent in my mid-sized New England city for $100 per week. I’ll be praying for you and hope things get more stable for you soon.

livinginmyhonda
livinginmyhonda
6 years ago
Reply to  Erica W.

$100 a week!

Maybe I need to research moving to New England…:-)

Janel Booker
Janel Booker
6 years ago

I agree with Toni. Financially, bankruptcy makes sense. Morally? No way. These are your debts, therefore they are your responsibilitiy. Bankruptcy can sometimes breed irresponsibility. Congrats to you Honda. I’m sure you can sleep with a clear conscious.

livinginmyhonda
livinginmyhonda
6 years ago
Reply to  Janel Booker

Thanks for the encouragement, Janel. I agree with you on the morality of filing bankruptcy in my case. The bankruptcy attorney encouraged me to go buy a new car, computer, and any other expensive purchases so I could roll them into the bankruptcy filing. He told me anything I didn’t pay within the next 5 or 7 years had to be forgiven anyway, so if I missed payments during the payback period, there was nothing companies could do to get their money. None of that settled well with me. I can’t judge any other person’s situation who chooses to file… Read more »

Tina
Tina
6 years ago

There was a time that my husband and I thought about bankruptcy but couldn’t live with that because we made the debt and it is our responsibility to take care of it. As a catholic, bankruptcy is frowned upon and even though we don’t go to church that often, we still try to follow the beliefs we are devoted to.

I commend you on making such a tough choice to live in your car. I wouldn’t be able to do it!

Janette
Janette
6 years ago

You must live in a very high cost of living area. Have you ever thought of relocating? If you are a teacher and land a position at a Title 1 school, your federal school debt can be discharged after five years. There are loads of title one schools still looking for teachers. Teachers often share apartments for several hundred a month. That would leave you with enough to live off of. I think you are a bit naive in thinking that living in your car is pretty safe. Seems as if there is much more to this story. Take care.… Read more »

Clay
Clay
6 years ago

As odd as it may sound, I’ve fantasized living out of my own car at one point.

I am sure this experience has built your confidence. Hopefully, you will not ever be in the financial situation you just came out of, but when times get rough, you know you can make it through again. Now isn’t that a great feeling?

Best wishes and much respect,
Clay

Robert F.
Robert F.
6 years ago

Really amazing story. Thank God I have a roof over my head but If I were in a similar situation maybe I would do the same… I wish you all the best – I hope you resolve the problem quickly.

Mary
Mary
6 years ago

WOW–that’s all I can say. Drastic situations call for drastic measures. I’m glad it’s working for you.

CHRISTA
CHRISTA
6 years ago

I think this is smart and awesome – too bad that you’ve experienced people being critical of you. It’s wonderful when people are truly willing to sacrifice and think outside the box to improve their situation and change their lives. I think one of the best parts of an experience like this is it teaches you how adaptable you are. So many people don’t change their lives because they can’t imagine adapting to anything different, even though we are all way more adaptable than we think. It’s also sad how accustomed to luxury so many Americans have become, causing them… Read more »

Jane
Jane
6 years ago
Reply to  CHRISTA

Wow, so having an actual roof over your head is not a “luxury”, in the US?

Mysticaltyger
Mysticaltyger
6 years ago
Reply to  Jane

That’s not what she said or implied and you know it.

Dianecy
Dianecy
6 years ago

While you may not find anything for $100/week, there are other options worth pursuing. The best I can think of is looking for an elderly person who wants to stay in their home. Just having someone able-bodied around makes a huge difference. What is effortless for you is nearly impossible for them. It’s critical to find someone whom you like and who’s needs are relatively small, as I am talking about companionship, not nursing care. You could ask at a church, Senior Center, Meals On Wheels office or even your doctor. Living in your car has served you well, but… Read more »

Marie
Marie
6 years ago

Please, please look into working in an impoverished school district that will forgive your loans after 5 consecutive years of service. I can say from experience that you will definitely earn that loan forgiveness the hard way, but your resume and your bank account will thank you.

https://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/charts/teacher

livinginmyhonda
livinginmyhonda
6 years ago
Reply to  Marie

My current school (and past school) qualifies for loan forgiveness, and that was the plan until I was laid off mid-year. Once you quit or get laid off mid-year, you have to start the 5-year timeline all over again (I think that policy should be changed).

So, that’s what I’m doing. Loan forgiveness only applies if you complete 5 consecutive years.

Samantha
Samantha
6 years ago

This is an extreme (for most of us) commitment to becoming debt-free. While not feasible for me and my family, I commend you for being willing to do whatever you felt necessary to dig yourself out of debt. This journey will certainly teach you new skills! And you will be able to look back at this time, knowing you never want to get back to this place again. What motivation for responsible money management!

Jean
Jean
6 years ago

So other than your student loans, which will be forgiven if you stayed employed for 5 consecutive years, you are debt free? Is it your goal to save up enough money to pay cash for a replacement car? Once that’s done, then what? Will you continue to live on your NEW car? Or will you feel like you can go & rent a room or apt somewhere? While you told us where you’ve been & where you are now financially, I’d like to know where you want to go in the future, past saving for a car. While I applaud… Read more »

livinginmyhonda
livinginmyhonda
6 years ago
Reply to  Jean

That’s a good, thoughtful question, Jean. I have some consumer debt to pay off then my only debt will be student loans. I expect to pay off the consumer debt well before next spring. So, my goal is that by next spring, I will have a new apartment and get my dog back (my family has been keeping him for me in another state). I will recreate my budget with more balance (like saving more for retirement). I may even quit the second job and spend more time developing my teaching materials to sell online, or researching and writing about… Read more »

debt debs
debt debs
6 years ago

First off, I commend you for doing whatever it takes but I hope this is short lived and you can get to the point where you are renting a room soon. As others have said, this could be bad for your health physically and mentally. Lucille, I agree, you need to help family but you need to have boundaries too. Otherwise you could be enabling a family member to not take the steps they need to take to turn their life around and be responsible. Some family members are leeches as well. I’m not saying this is the case here,… Read more »

livinginmyhonda
livinginmyhonda
6 years ago
Reply to  Linda Vergon

I’ve done a lot of research on how to live in my car, and most of the answers I’ve found come from the west coast. You can find a lot on the Internet that might help in Oregon. I, however, live on the East Coast. Some circumstances are quite different. For instance, it sounds like in the West gym memberships are expensive. Mine is $16/month. Out West there are legal disputes over whether a person can live in her car or where she can park. I can’t find anything pertaining to the East Coast except that in New York City… Read more »

Riss
Riss
6 years ago

It’s good to see so many thoughtful, balanced, and sincere comments on this post. I guess that must be a reflection of the readership that this blog attracts. I wish Livinginmyhonda the best in getting through this challenge and making it all work for the better. I have to admire his/her courage and determination in taking this step to achieve financial balance again. It’s tough for so many people these days, and when someone is going through major financial struggles, often none of the options are without risk and stress. There’s been a whole range of views expressed here and… Read more »

livinginmyhonda
livinginmyhonda
6 years ago
Reply to  Riss

Thanks, Riss for the ideas.

I learned about similar methods of survival and living from doing research online about car-living/van-dwelling. However, I expect the experience to be short-lived and spending a few months in my car is the simplest way to handle it in the meantime.

Louisa Rogers
Louisa Rogers
6 years ago

When I read your story, I assumed all along you were male. Then someone speculated you were female. If you are a woman, I can’t help but worry about your safety. I know you are taking precautions, and I wish it were not so, but women just seem more vulnerable in our culture (maybe everywhere). I’m a physically strong woman, but, sadly, I speak from experience.

livinginmyhonda
livinginmyhonda
6 years ago
Reply to  Louisa Rogers

Thank you for caring, Louisa (and others who have made similar comments about health and safety). Just to respond to a few concerns: I love eating, so I’m not anorexic. Because I’m a teacher, I have access to a microwave and fridge at work, so that helps keep me from eating all fast food and junk. At one school I had an electric skillet tucked away for cooking rice and garden omelets. One student told me, “It always smells so good when I come in here!” I kept fresh fruit in the room inside a cabinet. As for sleeping in… Read more »

Sarah
Sarah
6 years ago

Kudos to you! Honestly I would like to see more people living in their cars striving to be debt free than people living in their mansions with loads of debt under their name. You’re not hurting anybody with living in your car… I would have done the same thing had I been in your situation… being debt free is a beautiful thing… having savings/money to fall back on is even better 🙂

Erin
Erin
6 years ago

I have to admit that this is something I’ve contemplated once or twice, even though I know how hard it would be. But the amount of money I’d save by not paying rent would greatly help me get out of debt, and fast.

Cyndi
Cyndi
6 years ago

A truly inspirational story. Thank you for sharing. I could have never been that brave. I pray you find a safe place to lay your head and truly call home.

nitro
nitro
6 years ago

Thank you for sharing this. I have done this as well, lived in my car to reduce my expenses and pay off my $1,100/month school loan payments faster. Our stories are very similar. I lived in my SUV, showered at a gym, kept my belongings in a storage unit, used a PO Box, etc. I parked at Wal-Mart, hospitals, and my old apartment complex. And I’m a teacher. I experimented with this two years ago, sleeping in my car for 4 months. Then I moved to a different city for a new job and rented a room in someone’s house… Read more »

livinginmyhonda
livinginmyhonda
6 years ago
Reply to  nitro

That’s crazy how similar our situations are!

Do you think you will ever tell anyone? I expect to tell my family maybe a year or two after it’s all over.

I blog about my experience. I don’t advertise the blog, but I think when it’s all over I should edit it and advertise it for future car-dwellers to read for information on what it’s like.

Ineke
Ineke
6 years ago

I think it’s realy brave what you did. You took responsability for your own life and that is a good thing. I hope you will be able to move into a place of your own, no matter how small. I wish you all the best. 🙂

Jason Eastorn
Jason Eastorn
6 years ago

It’s a really very sad story. Having a big amount of debt is a very nasty experience and can be a negative impact on your life. But there are always some ways to get out of debt.

Riss
Riss
6 years ago
Reply to  Linda Vergon

LP – Wow. I don’t really know what else to say other than ‘Wow’. Reading about your determination and strength was very moving and humbling to me. All beautifully said too.

livinginmyhonda
livinginmyhonda
5 years ago
Reply to  Linda Vergon

I have the same response as Riss – WOW.

Even though we share some similarities, it’s still amazing to me to see the survival in other people.

Chris
Chris
6 years ago

Here is a link to the story of a guy who lived in his car while studying at Duke to avoid student debt:
http://www.kenilgunas.com/p/vandwelling.html

Susan
Susan
6 years ago

Well done Living in My Car: I faced a similar situation in my 20s and took a job living with and caring for a wonderful older man. I only had to make him dinner every night and keep him company. Meanwhile I lived in a nice, though decayed, old mansion on a lake. Those work for room and board gigs are out there. I paid off all my debts and saved some $. When you get your next vehicle, you might want to think about a van or small RV that makes it comfier to live in. With your salary,… Read more »

Kevin
Kevin
5 years ago

I’m living in my car too. Also on the Dave Ramsey Plan. I’m 26 living in a 1999 jetta. life is awesome!!

livinginmyhonda
livinginmyhonda
5 years ago
Reply to  Kevin

Kevin,

I wrote a blog post today that ended with “Life is good.” Actually, I have to agree with you – life is AWESOME!

I am really grateful that I have the health and independence to do what I am doing for this brief time.

I also looked up 1999 Jetta to see what it looked like. Where do you sleep at night?

Mark Zoril
Mark Zoril
5 years ago

Curious to know if you are still living in your car at this point? I am writing this from Minnesota and car leaving would be challenged in the Winter. Are you in a climate that allows for it all year round?

Jane
Jane
5 years ago

What a story! I am working on getting myself out of debt as well- with a child and husband, living in a car isn’t an option for me, but more power to you! Lots of people live in much worse circumstances not by choice, so I don’t see any reason you can’t do it by choice in order to regain control of your finances.
-Jane

Jeep adventurer
Jeep adventurer
4 years ago

I’ll be embarking on this journey in 2 months when my lease is up. Within 12 months I’ll pay off my jeep, my Harley and tax debts. I’ll also have about 30k cash which will allow me to build my dream home- a tiny house! I have a great job and I can’t wait to start this adventure. I already feel such freedom- and my family is 100% supportive. Btw- I’m a 50 year old woman!

Dianecy
Dianecy
4 years ago

Hey Jeep Adventurer, It sounds like you’re going into this with a good plan. Achieving such concrete goals will easily make up for any temporary discomforts. I follow the forum over at MMM. There’s a guy doing the same thing there in the “Journals” section. He’s in his fifties, living in a Volt and digging out of debt. To access the journals, you will have to create a log-in because that section is privacy protected. His name is dagiffy1. Create an account, then search for his name in the members section. I think you’ll find it encouraging. FYI – Only… Read more »

shares