Avoiding the ‘race’11/1/2017
The simple life with Dave Pruitt
Dave Pruitt is a traveling production manager for reality TV. We actually never met until he reached out about needing a place to crash. He lives in his 1966 Chevy Sportsvan and travels to where the work takes him. He is on his way to Chicago from Los Angeles to work on a show. He doesn’t have a home base of any type. He has minimized his lifestyle to be extremely self-sufficient.
What does it take to live without any financial ties to anything? Not even a cell phone?
Debt for me was what I felt everyone had over me. So if I wanted to quit a job I didn’t like, I had to think about all the things I could no longer pay for. That feeling of someone having any leverage on me is not something I enjoyed. I wanted to be invincible, you know? You can fire me from a job, but you really can’t do anything to me. I have a smartphone, but I only make calls when I am on Wi-Fi. People get so caught up in “micro transactions.” All those subscription services that are really affordable individually. But we subscribe to everything that looks affordable — $5.99 a month here, $40 a month there, most people on a smartphone subscription costs more than $100 a month.
Well, most people have a smartphone, and most people will have at the very least rent or mortgage. You don’t. You live/travel with a 1966 Chevy Sportsvan.
Yeah, I mean it has everything I need, and it’s paid off. Freelancing is a tough gig, and when I was tied to an apartment I basically had to look for work within a 40 to 50 mile radius. I couldn’t justify paying for a hotel room when I was also paying for an apartment. It would just dig into my day rate because everyone wants you to work as a local (a person who doesn’t need to be provided lodging).
Your van is completely rigged out. Can you talk about everything you have inside of it?
I got a small sleeping bag as my bed, a mini kitchen which includes a pine cone stove that can charge my devices, a coffee maker, small cooler and a carry-on suitcase. Sometimes I need to travel with a show, in which I have to get on a plane, so I make sure that my suitcase is small enough for basic essentials. My van is very well maintained, even though it’s old. I learned how to be my own mechanic for emergencies, but I do take it for oil change, basic maintenance, etc.
One thing I want to point out is that you don’t live in poverty. You actually make a really a good living, and I think that people might instantly assume that you don’t have much of an income.
Oh, yeah, I make around $300 to $400 a day. I have a savings account, IRA, etc. I think about retirement and all those things just like everyone else. I just treat my income differently than other people. I still spend it like everyone else. I just think about what I am going to spend it on first and think, “Is this a good way to spend the earnings I have worked really hard for?”
So it sounds like you are pretty frugal with your money. Do you ever do anything out of pure enjoyment?
I once bought a motorcycle for a couple of grand and then rode it all the way from Los Angeles to Mexico City. Then I ditched the bike and flew back to L.A. That’s a little more on the extreme side of things that I do. But I mean some people would spend that and go to Disneyland, and that to me seems like a complete waste of money. If I am going to do something for fun, I am going do something that I will remember for the rest of life. Disneyland is like eating that pink marshmallow gunk at the salad bar. A motorcycle ride through Mexico is like the best Kansas City BBQ that was smoked for days before it was consumed.
If you had to choose a place right now to settle down in, where would it be?
Honestly, I’d pick a city like Des Moines. Cities of this size are perfect because they sit on that edge. I had lunch yesterday at Krunkwich, and then I walked next door to Zanzibar’s for a great cup of coffee. The sun was shining, there was a residential neighborhood budding up next to the business street, and it made me think that this would be a great walkable community, which is something I personally need. I want to be able to walk everywhere. Cars are important, but I think we misuse them. If we did a better job of being organized, we wouldn’t have to “race” from one place to another. ♦
Kristian Day is a filmmaker, musician and writer based in Des Moines. He has couch-surfed across the west coast as well as through the Midwest. He also offers his home up to unknown travelers passing through Des Moines… for free. Follow him on Twitter at @kristianmday.