Category Archives: Frugal living

How to Convert a Toyota Minivan into a Campervan

Living in my car, or preferably a van, has been, for many years, my Plan B for the time when rents will become unaffordable. The livable van also sounds like a good option for low-cost travel or camping. This post is a great how-to for a simple van conversion. And simplicity is always a good idea, especially when the idea is to live and travel frugally.

roamwildandfree

After many months of traveling the U.S. in our car, popping up the tent every night, and enduring all that Mother Nature dumped on us, WE UPGRADED! Transitioning from tent life to van life is not as complicated as one may think! You don’t need to buy a top of the line cargo van while spending months of time and $$$ gutting it and rebuilding it to perfection (don’t get us wrong, appreciate all 4-wheeled works of art). Converting the minivan into our road home was cheap and easy, just the way we like it. Below are the simple steps we took for the conversion.

Step 1. Gut the Van

DSC_0364

This was easy as pie. We took out all of the seats and floor mats behind the front cockpit. At this point we also detailed the entire van to clean the interior up.

Step 2. Figure out your platform dimensions

DSC_0370

Finding the right dimensions for…

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March 30, 2016 · 4:00 pm

Florida Next Winter

Note: This post was first published Jan. 8, 2015 on one of my experimental blogs. Now it’s December 2015. The year has come and gone, and a new winter will begin Dec. 21. And I’m not in Florida yet. My excuse is that major life decisions take time. I’m working  on it. 

Baby, it’s cold outside!

Tuesday, we had snow and 26 degrees. Wednesday, it was 17 degrees in late afternoon, and down to 12 degrees by the time I got home from work, around 9:30 p.m. I live in the Mid-Atlantic states. The climate here is supposed to be relatively moderate.

Except when it’s not. Tonight, it’s cold as a witch’s tit.

The heater in my 216-square-foot apartment runs constantly all night. It can’t raise the temperature inside high enough to cut off.

Is it any wonder that every year about this time, my thoughts turn to Florida? I’ve only been there once. I flew into the Tampa airport to help rescue my brother (he was very ill) and drive him back to Maryland. I have very little direct experience of Florida, but I know a lot about it second-hand. (Update: Took a two-week road trip to Florida in June 2015 to research housing options. So I’ve made a little progress.) Continue reading

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Filed under Frugal living, Housing, Life, Social Security

Low-Cost Options For College

As a public service, for information purposes only, here’s a nifty graphic on the subject of college costs. No fee has been paid for publishing the graphic, and no endorsement of the information or source is implied. No endorsement of any institution named below is intended.

The concept of a bachelor’s degree in three years is seductive, but can it be done without sacrificing the quality of education and the meaning of a degree? Medical education is a separate subject, and I think we could shorten the length of training (and the cost) required for a medical degree. — John

Making College Affordable
Source: Affordable-Online-Colleges.net

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Filed under Frugal living, Life

Note To Maryland Democrats: Get Serious About The High Cost Of College

Itssimplewarren6

We’ve got a two-part problem here:

  • Student debt that burdens recent college graduates, as well as those who will graduate this spring and in years to come.
  • Sky-high and still rising college costs. That includes tuition, fees, room and board.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and two dozen other senators are taking the lead on the debt part of the equation. Sen. Warren and others introduced yesterday the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, a bill that would allow borrowers to refinance student loans to a lower interest rate. This bill, if it passes, will not solve the student debt crisis, but it would be a start.

As long as the cost of going to college remains prohibitively high, we’re constantly creating more student debt.

Maryland’s three gubernatorial candidates have all addressed the issue, but feebly. Simply slowing the rate of increase in the cost of college is not exactly a solution. As long as college costs are high, the debt problem will keep getting worse.

Seems to me the real answer is something more radical. Like start reducing the cost of tuition, or providing much more means-based student aid.

You want a really radical idea? Free college tuition. It’s been done before. It should be tried again. We could start on a limited basis, for instance free tuition at Maryland community colleges for any student graduating in the top 25 percent of any high school class in Maryland. That’s just one possibility to illustrate the concept. The fundamental idea is, we’ve got to make college affordable again for middle-class and working-class students.

Otherwise, more and more students are going to pass on college because it’s just too expensive. That decision might limit them for the rest of their lives, and it will definitely inhibit the growth and competitiveness of the American economy. Not everyone needs to or wants to go to college. But everyone who has the ability and the desire to do college work should have the opportunity.

Just my opinions.

— John Hayden

 

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Filed under Debt crisis, Frugal living

Cheap TVs And Costly Health Care

Once in a while, a sentence or paragraph in the daily news seems to capture the truth.

“America is a place where luxuries are cheap and necessities costly. A big-screen TV costs much less than it does in Europe, but health care will sink you.”   — Joseph Cohen, Queens College, New York

Makes you wonder, why do so many Americans ridicule Europe, especially the European model of universal health care?

That paragraph is from a story in the April 27, 2014, edition of The Washington Post, under then byline of Carol Morello and Scott Clement. The headline is, “Less Dream, More Reality: America’s middle class is shrinking and is being squeezed by the pressures of diminishing opportunity, stagnant wages and rising expenses.”

The story follows a typical American family with two full-time wage earners and three children. They’re not exactly poor; they qualify as middle class. But as the story reports, they’re “masters at scrimping,” out of necessity.

As the headline says, it’s just a glimpse of reality. Makes me glad I still subscribe to a good daily newspaper.

— John Hayden

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Filed under Economy, Frugal living

Black Friday

Your word for today, Black Friday, is: MATERIALISM.

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November 29, 2013 · 1:51 pm

Good Intentions . . . In A Tiny Apartment

small kitchen sink piled with dirty dishes

I promised myself I wasn’t going to let this happen in the new apartment. Famous last words.

On the positive side, the sink is small — you might even say tiny, as kitchen sinks go — so it limits the number of dirty dishes that can pile up. Plus, I left most of the dishes at the old apartment. How many dishes does one bachelor need? Continue reading

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Filed under Frugal living, Housing, Life, Simple Living

Slideshow of Tiny House Photos

For some reason, readers of WIP are fascinated by tiny houses. BTW, I’ve lived in a one-room efficiency apt for five years, and plan to move to one that’s even smaller in the fall.

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March 22, 2013 · 12:32 am

Sue Dreamwalker is on a roll. Every one of her recent posts has been an inspiration to look at our lives and change. Simplicity, food, environmental awareness. — John

Dreamwalker's Sanctuary

The Planet is in our Hands

 

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Filed under Frugal living, Life, Simple Living

Sustainable Living, All It Takes Is Work

Couldn’t resist posting one more video. A most energetic and inspiring older couple. I guess local food and organic food is possible. All you need is dirt and work.

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March 6, 2013 · 5:55 pm