van life

8 Tips for How to be Poor

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My full time job is traveling as a speaker and comedian, so obviously I’ve had a lot of experience being incredibly poor. Some seasons are super busy and lucrative while other seasons are slow and terrifying. There’s harvest and famine. You get used to both, but harvest is a lot more fun.

I’ve learned a lot about how to succeed at being poor. Here are some tips for when money is tight.


Stop driving. Save money on gas. You can walk more places than you think.

Look inside your heart and make important ethical decisions before moving forward as a poor person. Does stealing toilet paper count as real stealing?

Get a library card. No more buying books or renting movies.

Don’t do any research about incremental fasting. Just use that concept as an excuse for only eating one meal a day.

Only eat at restaurants that have rewards programs that can lead to free meals. Chik-fila is your new best friend.

You won’t spend money while you’re asleep. Take naps to pass the time.

Stop buying stuff. Please. Please stop. Just because socks have holes in them doesn’t mean they need to be replaced.

Always look on the bright side. Some research is now showing that being poor can actually make you more creative.

 

“Research on creativity and constraint demonstrates that, when options are limited, people generate more, rather than less, varied solutions—apparently because their attention is less scattered.

 

Also, I should probably mention that there’s no shame in living in your van. I did it for 2 and a half years. It’s cool. Not that bad. Get a gym membership so you can shower.

Cleaning a van sucks

I spent most of tonight cleaning my car. Camp season is about to start. It'll be chaotic and exciting and if I'm not careful my car will become a horrifying mess that'll just get worse and worse all summer.

When I lived in my van I had a real hard time keeping it clean. I would let it get super dirty until I hit rock bottom and then I'd be like "ok this has gone too far" and I'd clean. That's also my process with haircuts.

Luckily my new car doesn't have as much space as my Honda Odyssey so cleaning doesn't take ALL DAY. Here's an old video of me cleaning out my van before my house show tour. Watching it brought back a lot of wonderful memories. I used to live in my van. How weird is that?

Van Life Memories

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Quick recap of where I’m at in life:

3 years ago I bought a minivan to live in while I performed across the country

Last week I found out the engine was ruined and I needed to get a new vehicle

I took this as a little push from God to enter a new “season of ministry” so I opened a Patreon to raise monthly financial support for my ministry

So far people have been more than generous and it’s all blown me away

I spent all day yesterday at a car dealership. I got a new vehicle and got rid of the van.

My time as “Taylor Johnson, comedian who lives in his van” is over. It feels strange to say goodbye. I spent so much of the last three years in that van.

For most people “living in a van” sounds so strange and sad and horrible but it wasn’t bad at all. I got used to it real fast and it became my new normal.

 

ANSWERING QUESTIONS

Honestly the worst part of living in my van was telling people I lived in my van. I got the same questions over and over. “Why?” “Where do you shower?” “Where do you sleep?” “You live in a van….DOWN BY THE RIVER?!” I got these questions so often I started to make videos to answer them for everyone.

Here’s a playlist of all those videos

 

SELF DEFENSE

People also asked me if I had a gun in my van but no one ever really bothered me when I was parked at night. Once a cop wanted to see if I was dead or doing something horrible but when he found out I was just sleeping, he left me alone. Another time a security guard told me I couldn’t park where I was and told me to go to the bank across the street to sleep.

Besides that, I was totally left alone. But if I did need to fight for myself, I guess I did have one line of defense: a cup.

 

NEW EXPERIENCES

Living in my van came with all these new experiences I would have never had otherwise. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and into some weird places. 

I have a membership to Planet Fitness and that’s where I’d shower every morning while living in my van. My most popular video on youtube came from a new experience I thought I’d try while stopping at a Planet Fitness on the road.

I decided to try a tanning bed. It was weird.

 

My new car is a Nissan Rogue. It’s not big enough to sleep in. The more I think about it, the more I know I’m going to miss the van life. It was simple. It was fun. I could go anywhere without worrying about where I could take a nap.

I know God has a plan. I know nothing lasts forever. I know that change will always come. Goodbye, van. I pooped my pants at least 3 times while living in you. No one can ever take those memories away.

Amen.