Debt Drives Student To Live In Pick-up Truck

Swamped by credit card debt, a 26 year old California State Fullerton senior works at the Apple Store, goes to school, and sleeps in his pick-up truck. From The Seattle Times:

The 26-year-old has been living in his truck for nearly 19 months, skirting rules against sleeping in vehicles while otherwise living the life of a mainstream student. What started out as a way to save some cash has turned into a journey of self-reliance and independence.

“Even though I had a good job, I was tired of living paycheck to paycheck and not making any headway with my credit cards,” he said. “I’ve learned that I can push myself, break down my own boundaries. I’ve been able to learn that I can change and adapt to different kinds of situations.”

The odyssey began in 2005. Bussell was working full time as a “Mac genius” at the Apple Store in Newport Beach, sharing a $1,600-per-month apartment. He had racked up more than $10,000 in credit-card debt and was struggling to pay for school and save money. So on July 29, 2005, he started living in his truck, with the goal of lasting one year.

For Bussell, homelessness is a game, with co-workers betting on how long he’ll last, but for many people it is not. On the bright side, after 19 months of peeing in Gatorade bottles and eating yogurt, Bussell’s credit card debt is nearly paid off. —MEGHANN MARCO

Debt drives student to live in pickup [Seattle Times]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Citron says:

    Yeah, but what sort of bottle does he take care of his other business in?

  2. RandomHookup says:

    College chicks are hot for dudes who live out of trucks.

  3. DeeJayQueue says:

    I want to know where he claims as a permanent address on his W2 for work? Where he gets his bills delivered to? The postman won’t come to “That blue F150 parked in front of Taco Bell.”

  4. Youthier says:

    I can’t feel to sorry for him or applaud his “boundary pushing” until I know why he had so much credit card debt. Was it books and medical bills or was it an Xbox 360, new computer, and all 10 seasons of Friends on DVD?

  5. Elaine Chow says:

    @missbrooke06: Well, I doubt it would be an Xbox 360 or a new computer considering he’s living out of a truck (I don’t think they have enough space)… maybe it was the cost of the truck? :P

  6. cindel says:

    I think College Students should be required to take a Credit Card course so they may learn about debts and CC etc etc.

    If I knew then what I knew now, I wouldn’t have gotten myself into debt. Thank god I’m only paying a student loan.

  7. Gopher bond says:

    For an address you can just use a Post Office Box. Or if people give you crap about the PO box, you can keep your old address but just ask the post office to hold your mail. I forget how long they’ll do this, but it’s a while. Periodically go in and pick it up, if they say they aren’t going to hold it any longer, tell them fine and then re-submit the hold form again.

    I had an extended voluntarily homeless sojourn.

  8. reginae says:

    I’ve gotta hand it to him for being that serious about getting out of debt.

  9. Pelagius says:

    It’s unfortunate that “Personal Finance” isn’t on Bush’s No Child Left Behind tests, but at least some schools have recognized the need. Back in the stone age when I went to high school we had an “Economics” course which was more help in understanding CIA World Factbook reports than in balancing my checkbook.

  10. AcidReign says:

    …..Some people will do what it takes to help themselves, others whine. Hats off to this dude. I notice he didn’t reveal his favorite parking/sleep spot…

  11. Gopher bond says:

    Like the recent SNL skit says, personal finance isn’t that hard, the book is only one page long.

    “If you don’t have any money, you should not buy anything.”

    “Well let’s say I don’t have enough money to buy something. Should I buy it anyways?

    No-o-o-o. “

    Are we seriously going to blame schools? Are we really saying people are too stupid to figure that out themselves? If that’s the case then, well, that’s how it is and there ain’t no changin’ it.

  12. Asherah says:


    An SNL sketch I actually enjoyed!

  13. I keep asking this when people talk about schools and nobody has yet answered — Illinois requires consumer education for all high school students as a condition of graduation. Yet Illinois does not show particularly greater levels of economic literacy or lower levels of bankruptcy, credit card disaster, generalized overextension, etc.

    So the experiment has already been tried on a pretty large scale for quite some time, and it hasn’t particularly improved outcomes. What, exactly, do people think teaching high school students about personal finance would help, given the data that shows no changes from national norms in Illinois? And if you think it DOES help what, exactly, is wrong with the Illinois curriculum that it’s simply not working?

    Not that I’m against consumer education (what it’s called in IL); just that it hasn’t particularly helped here and I don’t think it’s quite the panacea some envision. Like 10th graders really want to hear you natter on about balloon mortgages.

  14. This reminds me of the time a few years ago that my cousin went on vacation for a week and came home to find that a hobo had cut a hole in the ragtop of her Tracker and was sleeping in the back seat. She now has a hard top, and a seat lovingly termed “the hobo seat”.

  15. stenk says:

    I am glad he has no kids or Partner to support!

  16. swalve says:

    Who thinks they can pay for college (and rent and other debt) working at the Apple store?

  17. Maulleigh says:

    Good for him. I applaud people who take responsibility for their lives and don’t just take on more debt.

  18. puka_pai says:

    The original article notes that he gets his mail at a PO box.

    I can’t help but wonder why it’s taken him so long to pay off his credit card bills. Assuming (yeah, I know) that he’s not paying half of that $1600/mo apartment rent as well as the associated utility bills, he should have been able to pay if off months ago. He says in the original article that he “just hasn’t gotten around” to finding a new place to live. I smell a stunt here. How did the reporter even find him, if he’s keep a low profile because it’s illegal to live in his truck?

  19. Musician78 says:

    I don’t care what he did to get into debt, the fact that he is so serious about getting out of debt is what impresses me. He could have just gone bankrupt like most people do.

  20. Kornkob says:

    @puka_pai: In 19 months he’s ‘close’ to knocking down his $10k plus (the plus is importnat— coudl have been 12k) debt. That actually sounds about right (if your rent estimate is correct) when you consider he’s still got living expenses, not to mention a certain amount of start up costs (to make life practical/livable). Never mind that he’s probably running the truck more frequently now to charge his laptop or provide heating/cooling.

    As for how the reporter ‘found’ him. It could have been as simple as the cop who ticketed him dropping the story on the reporter or even that the ‘reporter’ was actually someone the subject knew. There’s also the possiblity that the reporter saw the guy climbing out of his car or heard him talking about it with a friend. But it seems to me that what probably happened is the news kinda got around by word of mouth— after all, having a friend who has lived in his truck voluntarily for a year plus is an interesting anecdote– and eventually made its way to the ears of a reporter who tracked him down.

  21. Negative says:

    When I was a kid my dad lived in the back of his truck when he had to travel out of state for work. He is an outdoorsman and figured he could handle ‘camping out’ for a year. He said it wasn’t too bad.