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Living in a Van Was the Best Financial Decision I Ever Made

Ken Ilgunas
June 15, 2013

On the first night I tried to sleep in my van, I was lying in my sleeping bag sprawled out on the back seat, parked in a mostly empty Wal-Mart parking lot. I'd wake up every 15 minutes because I was nervous that the security guard driving past my van would knock on my door and make me leave.

My new home had 60 square feet and four wheels. While most people would consider living in a van an embarrassment, a low point, or even a "rock bottom," it would -- though I didn't realize it then -- turn out to be the greatest financial decision I'd ever made.

No one would end up waking me up in the Wal-Mart lot, and, over the next two years, almost all of my other fears would prove to be entirely unfounded.

Debt-free; dirt-poor
In January 2009, when I'd decided to move into the van, I was nearly broke. I had just $4,000 in the bank and no possessions other than a laptop, a camera, a cell phone, and a suitcase full of clothes and a backpack full of camping gear.

I had next to nothing because