9 min 51 sec

Serial Side Hustler Works from 180 Sq Ft Airstream

An engineer charts a new career teaching personal finance, all while living on the road in an Airstream travel trailer.
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What It's About

Engineer uses his love of budgeting to map out adventure.

Business Model
Skills Required
Budgeting & Communication
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

Nick used freelancing as a stepping stone to the side hustle he ultimately wanted to build. If you're looking to start freelance writing, he's mapped out seven steps that will help you be successful. Here's a PDF file with the seven steps, and watch his YouTube video for a more in-depth breakdown.

Fun Fact

More than 10 million households own an RV, and they’re not all retirees (read more about it, here!). 1 million Americans live out of their RV, many of whom are young couples like Nick and Hanna and families working remotely.

Notes from Chris

Episode 889
Nick True has had side hustles all his life. Throughout childhood, he sold homemade bread and candy bars out of his backpack. Later, he transitioned to teaching piano lessons and tutoring students for the ACT.

When he went away to college, Nick took his love of the hustle with him. He graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and started working in the power industry … but he also started his first blog. It was called True Tightwad—a name that was a play on his last name and a nod to another passion of his: personal finance and budgeting.

While his friends growing up were dropping their allowance on video games and skateboards, Nick was focused on saving. Instead of poring over graphic novels and comics, Nick devoured books on personal finance.

So, when Nick realized that he hated his day job as an engineer, he doubled down his efforts to save enough money so that he could eventually leave … and maybe even begin a new career.

But, although his goal was to share his knowledge with others, he knew deep down that teaching in the traditional sense wouldn't satisfy his desires either. You see, Nick and his wife, Hanna, had lofty travel goals that would make staying in one place stifling, and he didn’t want to feel chained down by the strict constraints of the traditional education system.

When Nick stumbled across the world of online entrepreneurship, he realized that maybe he could combine his passion for finance and teaching, all the while creating the freedom he most wanted.

Nick started out writing posts about the day-to-day aspects of managing money: topics like building solid money saving habits, planning for big expenses, and finding ways to simplify. While the focus of his content was on personal finance, the tips he provided were more of a means to an end—that end being the freedom to live your own adventure. In other words, money was a tool to experience all that life had to offer.

To monetize the blog, he took advantage of affiliate marketing and display ads. Despite his best efforts, however, the blog income didn’t amount to much the first two years—just pocket change, really. But what it did do was help generate finance-related freelance work which was priceless in getting his foot in the door within the personal finance community.

Freelancing was never the long-term goal, but it was an ideal stepping stone. It allowed him to build his business skill set, work with key players in the finance industry, and sustain an income that would support the early stages of his passion project.

After transitioning to video and roping in Hanna, a steady stream of subscribers brought in $300-$400 in affiliate profits on a monthly basis. But more than the ad revenue, YouTube also generated a new income stream that Nick had not considered before—coaching. Subscribers who followed the channel started requesting one-on-one assistance creating a budget that would fit their situation and lifestyle.

While general advice was great, it wasn’t always applicable to entrepreneurs or people with multiple jobs, to people with large families, those who get paid on an odd schedule, own real-estate, or have some other unique arrangement. So, Nick and Hanna tapped into this market by offering coaching sessions that included a 90-minute one-on-one video call with screen sharing, their notes, a session summary, next steps that person should take, and unlimited questions via email. They set their rates to $225/session, and let their audience know that they were available.

By early 2019, Mapped Out Money was bringing in $1,200-$3,000 per month—split between YouTube ads, affiliate revenue for a budgeting tool Nick recommends, and one-on-one coaching clients.

Since starting Mapped Out Money, Nick was finally able to leave his day job, and he and Hanna have been living in an Airstream, traveling around the U.S. Staying true to their beliefs in the positive effects of minimization, their living space comes to a grand total of 180 sq ft, AND they travel with two cats and two dogs! (They call themselves the “True Zoo,” after their last name.)

Over the next year, Nick hopes to build Mapped Out Money to a sustainable level. While he enjoys working with several of his freelance clients, he’d like to get the side hustle to a place where freelancing work could be optional.

RV life has fit Nick and Hanna’s values so well, they plan to continue on the road for many years to come. Keeping the freedom to work remotely and control their own time will allow them to pursue their other ambitions in the future, like adopting kids, being able to visit their parents, continuing to travel, and staying “true” to their personal finance goals.


  • Mapped Out Money: Budget for travel and learn how to map out your next adventure over on Nick and Hanna's website!

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,


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Quote of the Day
"When you transition into being your own boss, it's easy to let the time slip away from you. Make sure that you're spending your time in ways that are effective for the business."
—Nick True #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau