This Couple Figured Out How to Stop Paying Rent and Now Saves $2,000 a Month

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In the past year, Dan and Tracy Kellermeyer have lived in Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Oregon, and Las Vegas. While all that travel sounds expensive, the pair has managed not to spend a dime on housing costs.

“We came up with the idea that if we could string together back-to-back housesits, then we could live rent- and utility-free and travel the U.S.,” says Dan. Now, the nomadic couple shares their housesitting experiences on their blog, Sitters on Tour.

Here’s how the couple got started as housesitting hustlers — and their advice for others looking to do the same.

When one door closed, another opened

Before they became digital nomads, Dan and Tracy rented a townhouse in the suburbs of Chicago. Dan had started working from home as a business analyst, but Tracy got laid off from her job as a program manager for a wellness company.

“That was a big turning point in our lives,” says Dan. “With the loss of her income, we started thinking outside the box.” Since Dan’s job was already location independent, they brainstormed ways to work and travel at the same time.

“We both loved to travel and started reading about how other people were traveling the U.S. and the world while working from home,” says Dan. “We still wanted to stay mindful of our budget, so we looked at other options and that’s when we found housesitting.”

Housesitters typically stay in someone’s home for weeks or months at a time. They’re responsible for taking care of the property, as well as caring for any pets that live there.

After working with their landlord to end their lease early, Dan and Tracy built their profile on TrustedHousesitters and House Sitters America. “Within a few months, we had our first four-month housesitting gig,” says Dan.

Since then, the couple has moved around the Western U.S., building their careers and saving money as they go.

Using their savings to pay off student loans

Although the costs of moving so frequently would usually add up, Dan and Tracy actually save thousands per month as housesitters. In fact, Dan estimates their full-time housesitting saves the pair over $24,000 per year.

So what are they doing with all the extra savings? “We initially decided to take all the money we saved by not paying rent and use it to pay off our student loans faster,” says Dan. “We both still have about $100,000 in student loans combined.”

Dan owes about $60,000 in undergraduate loans after attending Purdue University, and Tracy has about $40,000 from the University of Wisconsin. After graduating, they refinanced their federal loans to lower their monthly payments.

Today, though, Dan and Tracy’s priorities have shifted away from paying off their debt as fast as possible. While they still make minimum payments, their current focus is investing in their careers.

Building their careers as digital nomads

Now that Dan and Tracy aren’t tied to one city, they’re taking advantage of their new lifestyle and building their dream careers.

“After five or six months, we realized that this lifestyle could also allow us to pursue careers that were more fulfilling to us,” says Dan. “I ended up leaving my full-time job to focus on building my financial planning practice.”

Dan founded New Heights Financial Planning, where he works as a financial planner with clients all over the country. He provides virtual consulting on living a location-independent lifestyle.

He also founded New Heights Solutions, which mainly provides virtual assistant services to financial planners. Tracy, meanwhile, now works as a “taskmaster” with the company, providing online administrative support to its various clients.

Plus, both Dan and Tracy are building out their blog, crafting guides on housesitting, travel, and adopting a minimalist lifestyle.

To grow their various businesses, Dan and Tracy prefer long-term housesitting arrangements over short-term ones. “People wonder if we are on vacation all the time, but we still work normal work hours,” says Dan. “[It] just happens to be from a new city every few months!”

Building up an emergency fund is key

Starting any new business is risky, especially if you’re doing it from the road. To protect themselves, Dan and Tracy save money in an emergency fund. “A solid emergency fund is a must for anyone setting out on a nomadic lifestyle,” says Dan.

Not only is an emergency fund essential if you lose your income, but it’s useful if a housesitting gig goes south. In Phoenix, for instance, Dan and Tracy found themselves in a prickly situation.

“The homeowners moved to a different house in the middle of our three-month sit and we found seven scorpions during our stay in the new house,” says Dan. Though the couple did fulfill their contract and finish the job, they were comforted knowing they could have quit early thanks to their savings.

Since a location-independent lifestyle can be unpredictable, preparing for random expenses is key. Build a three- to six-month emergency fund to help you be ready for whatever comes your way.

Utah is Drop. Dead. Gorgeous. Bryce Canyon is probably one of the most unique #nationalparks we've visited! Have you been?!

A post shared by Dan + Tracy | Sitters On Tour (@sittersontour) on

Do your research before you hit the road

Apart from their scorpion encounter, Dan and Tracy have had mostly positive experiences as housesitters. Their favorite stay was at a ranch in Durango, Colorado, where they watched 13 barn cats and spent the winter skiing.

To ensure a safe and comfortable experience, the couple recommends drawing up a contract with the homeowner. Make sure you outline the terms of the agreement, including the address and dates of your stay, along with who is responsible for paying for utilities.

“Most pets and people are great, but you do have to do more due diligence so you don’t get into a negative situation,” says Dan. While Dan and Tracy accept long-term assignments, they also recommend housesitting for shorter trips.

“Housesitting can be a great way to vacation, even if you aren’t looking to do it full time,” says Dan. “If you want to spend the holidays somewhere new, you might look for a housesitting gig for a week or two.”

Whatever your goals, you can find ways to cut back costs and save money. “There are so many different ways to live a nomadic lifestyle, and each one has its quirks,” says Dan. “Do your research and connect with other people living the lifestyle before you set out on your own journey.”

If you first need to find a work-from-home job, these websites offer remote opportunities.

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1 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

  1. VARIABLE APR – APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes.

2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student Loan RefinanceFixed rates from 3.999% APR to 7.804% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.480% APR to 7.524% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.480% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.07% plus 0.91% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

  1. Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). The following table displays the estimated monthly payment, total interest, and Annual Percentage Rates (APR) for a $10,000 loan. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) shown for each in-school loan product reflects the accruing interest, the effect of one-time capitalization of interest at the end of a deferment period, a 2% origination fee, and the applicable Repayment Plan. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment, which is reflected in the interest rates and APRs displayed. Variable rates may increase after consummation. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.08% effective July 25, 2018.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.07%. Variable interest rates range from 2.72%-8.17% (2.72%-8.17% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.50%-8.69% (3.50% – 8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at http://www.citizensbank.com/EdRefinance, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled, must be in repayment of their existing student loan(s) and must make the minimum number of payments after leaving school. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The co-signer (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
  4. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.
  7. Average savings based on 18,113 actual customers who refinanced their federal and private student loans through our Education Refinance Loan between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. The calculation is derived by averaging the monthly savings of Education Refinance Loan customers whose payments decreased after refinancing, which is calculated by taking the monthly student loan payments prior to refinancing minus the monthly student loan payments after refinancing. The borrower’s savings might vary based on the interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of the loans they are seeking to refinance. The borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if their monthly payments are lower.
2.57% – 5.87%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Earnest
2.80% – 6.38%1Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Laurel Road
2.48% – 7.52%2Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit SoFi
2.47% – 7.99%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Lendkey
2.57% – 6.65%3Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit CommonBond
2.72% – 8.17%4Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Citizens
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.