Prius Hilton #12: Expenses

As mentioned in a prior blog entry, the main reason which made me feel comfortable with experimenting with Prius dwelling was the relatively low monetary commitment required, given that I already owned a Prius.

My initial rough estimate of how long I would have to live out of my car before reaching the break-even point was less than a month. With that in mind, let’s see how that estimate held up. To figure it out, we’ll need to know:

  • Monthly apartment expenses
  • Monthly Prius Hilton expenses
  • Initial Prius Hilton expenses

Monthly Apartment Expenses

This is based on the last apartment I resided in.

  • Rent: $1670
  • Utilities: $20
  • Internet: $25

Total — $1715

Monthly Prius Hilton Expenses

Gas ($76.04)

It’s not completely clear how much of my monthly gas bill is for transportation. However, based on a few data points, I’m estimating my nightly cost for temperature control to be $2.50 / day based on a $4 per gallon cost (the Prius dashboard displays gas usage every time the car is turned off).

($2.50 / day) * (365 days / year) = $912.5 / year

($912.5 / year) * (1 year / 12 months) = $76.04 / month

U-Haul Storage ($95.42)

I rent a small storage unit for all of my extraneous belongings, like furniture.

Unlimited Data Plan ($65.00)

This is on top of my normal phone bill for talk / text. Tethering allows me to access the internet from my laptop in my car.

Total — $236.46

Initial Prius Hilton Expenses

Disclaimers & Caveats

I decided to only include expenses which I would purchase if I had to start over from scratch. To some extent, this is disingenuous, since there are items I’ve purchased, but which I later decided were unnecessary. However, in reality, there weren’t many of these to make any meaningful difference.

This is a best effort analysis to get ballpark estimates. I really only looked through my car and my Amazon purchase history, so I might be missing a few things here and there, but nothing major.

Lastly, I’m providing links to purchases solely for informational reasons (ie. I’m not making any money here).


Total — $1321.47


Here’s one year’s worth of data / projections, starting from the inception of Prius Hilton.

It might be difficult to tell, but the break-even point is under a month, by just a few days!

This graph represents the same data as the first, just highlighting the delta between expenses. One thing to note when looking at reduction in expenses in general, is that this is after-tax money. Depending on your marginal tax rate [1], a hypothetical salary raise would have to be significantly higher to achieve the same increase to your net worth.

Going through this exercise doesn’t really change how I feel about my decision (still no regrets), but it’s always fun to visualize (at least for me).

What am I saving for? Not much; I don’t have any major expenses planned. My company recently made some changes to our 401k plans to allow mega backdoor Roth IRAs [2] so I’m taking advantage of that. Also, I’ll be considering exercising stock options once I figure out my tax situation for the year.