So you just got canned, sending your financial situation into a tailspin. Next month’s rent is looming, your fridge is essentially empty, and you promised to take out a lady friend this Friday — what do you do? Tap into your savings? Sell off your valuable goods? Get a loan? Those may seem like quick ways to get instant cash, but do they benefit you in the long run?
Well, don’t fear, for there is one often-overlooked option to keep you afloat during your personal financial crisis: living rent-free in your car.
I know, I know, you’re used to the modern luxuries of 2016, but I’m here to convince you that temporarily giving up a few those comforts and living in your vehicle can go a long way in terms of getting your finances in order — and the good news is you can do it without anyone you know noticing. Here’s some helpful information on how to get by until a new job rolls around:
Get a Gym Membership
This first step is essential — the hardest part about living in your car is the obvious lack of restroom facilities. Getting a gym membership, preferably one that is open 24/7, is a great way around this problem as it gives you access to both a toilet and a shower for a low, monthly reasonable price. This way, you can keep up with your personal hygiene routines and skip out on looking like a hobo to your friends, family, and potential new employers. And hey — you also get an air conditioned place to work out in as well!
Cost: $30-$50 a month at gyms, $10-$20 a month or possibly free at college campuses
Make sure your car can generate the electricity you need.
Let’s face it, in today’s world, we’re all plugged in all the time, and there’s no need to change that. Using the combination of a good cigarette lighter converter and a portable solar battery, you’ll have the tools to charge nearly anything: your smartphone, laptop, or iPad. They can even be used to power small, 12V cooking appliances, such as a portable skillet or water heater. Just make sure to balance out your electricity consumption with charging your vehicle’s battery with its alternator.
Cost: $20-$40 for cigarette lighter converter, $70-$100 for portable mini solar panel, $30-$40 for skillet
Keep your car optimized for living in it
A truth about living your car is that you’re going to be in a much smaller space than you’re accustomed to. While living in a windowless, spacious van is ideal, most people won’t have one of those and will have to settle for their four-door sedan. The best way for living in one of these is to come prepared and organize your belongings — designate a sleeping area and make it comfortable, buy yourself a small cooler to keep drinks in, stock up on dry foods, use your trunk as a closet, make sure to find a few discreet parking spots you can stay in overnight, keep relevant documents on hand, have a first aid kit, and invest in a good flashlight.
Cost: $30 for mini Coleman drink cooler, $30-60 for flashlight, $20-$25 a week for gas, food varies greatly depending on appetite
Don’t forget about your mail
This may seem obvious, but living in a car might make you forget that you’re a member of society that receives tons of junk mail and a few bills monthly The best way to get your mail without an address is renting a post office box. Remember, you have to do this before taking the start living in your car because you must provide the post office with an actual address. If you’re unable to take out a PO Box, see if a friend will let you use their home address as your new one.
Cost: $8-$12 a month for PO Box