A Wealth Poem – Recited by Guy on The Road

That was the title of an email I just received from Aimee – a fellow fan of the site.

Intrigued (of course) I opened it up, and I’m so glad I did:

Yo J,

You HAVE to listen to this guy! My boyfriend and I are taking off in a van in the Fall to explore America for 5 weeks and he came across this photographer who did a project on people living on the road. They’re mostly in vans and RVs, but there’s a couple others too. This guy reminds me of how I rationalize life and money and basically defines wealth for himself.

The other stories are interesting too, but this one grabbed me:


I clicked the link, hit play, and for the next 67 seconds let the soulful words of Mr. Randy Vining (“guy on the road”) fill my ears with wisdom. I HIGHLY encourage you to stop what you’re doing right now and listen to it too. We should wake up to this every morning!

If you don’t have access to speakers or headphones or any other 20th century listening device (who are you??), I’ve taken the liberty of transcribing it below. It doesn’t do Randy’s voice any justice (again, just so passionate and soulful), but fortunately the words speak for themselves:

Wealth Poem, by Randy Vining


is like a leaky bucket beneath a water spout.
The running water is the income, expense, is the leakage out.

And the measure of your wealth is,
How long could you hold out if some sadness fortune turned off the water spout?

Most folks focus on the spigot seeking increase of the flow…
I focus my attention on the leaky stand below.

I have sought to plug my bucket. Reducing my expenses,
holding in my savings like a cowboy mending fences.

With patience I waited for bargains, didn’t count on Lady Luck.
Lived well below my means, getting bang for every buck.

And when the water rising in my bucket reached that calculated mark,
I left behind all drudgery and flew off like a lark…

So I think my wealth is great because my needs are small,
and I won’t have to work again with any luck at all.


can purchase freedom, if you have the guts to buy it.
I know folks with beaucoup bucks too afraid to try it.

But I purchased freedom with the savings in my pail,
and across highway seas of adventure…

in my land yacht, I will sail.

What a perfect way to start Friday – thank you so much, Aimee :) It really is about conscious spending and living, isn’t it? The more you widen that savings gap, the closer you get to freedom.

Here’s more about Randy, the wordsmith, as well as the photographer and spreader of this message, Andrew Waits, below. Check out their websites once you’re done too.

More on Randy (mobilecodgers.blogspot.com)

I won my financial freedom 30 plus years ago by efficient living and house renovation. Now I wander and wonder—read, write, play, dance, sing, engage whoever interests me and regularly report via this blog. I urge my readers to consider a “heroes’ journey” for their life:

  1. Respond to ones’ fascinations
  2. Wake up ones’ creativity
  3. Share your adventure

More on Photographer Andrew Waits (andrewwaits.com)

Andrew Waits is a freelance photographer based in Seattle, Washington. His project, Boondock, is a photographic investigation into a population for whom a vehicle represents not just a mode of transportation, but a means of shelter and sustainability. It seeks to reveal a subculture whose existence isn’t carved into the landscape of America, but a mirage upon it. Surveying both urban and remote locations to provide a unique juxtaposition of vehicle, owner, and environment, it explores ways in which survival dictates a fluidity of location, interconnectivity, and the concept of home.

andrew waits photographer

Pretty cool who the internet brings together, eh?*

*That’s for you, Mich ;)

[Photos by the talented Andrew Waits. Check out the rest of his shots – they’re incredible!]

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  1. Jen @ Jen Spends June 6, 2014 at 7:43 AM

    Awesome poem! Reducing expenses was how I was able to quit working to be with my kids, and now we’re working toward full independence. I wish more people (outside the PF community) would take Randy Vining’s words to heart.

    1. J. Money June 8, 2014 at 2:10 PM

      Very nice – that’s quite the accomplishment :)

  2. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life June 6, 2014 at 8:03 AM

    What I have found is that regardless of how much you reduce your expenses and live simply, the bucket will never get full if you don’t bring in enough income. This has always been my challenge, but I’m workin on it step by step.

    1. Aimee June 6, 2014 at 1:50 PM

      Totally true, but this guy decided on drastic expense cutting by living in a camper. In any life style there are only so many expenses you can cut before you must bring in more income. It all depends on what your life style choice is, and there is no wrong answer! Live the life you want to live, no matter what that life is.

      1. J. Money June 8, 2014 at 2:13 PM

        Yup. Once you’ve hit the level of frugality you’re comfortable with, the only way to explode your wealth going forward is larger income and/or better investments. As much as I’d love to try living in a camper, my wife and kids would disown me :) So I tend to concentrate on the income side of things too – happy medium of both.

  3. Michelle June 6, 2014 at 8:12 AM

    Thanks! :) I like how Andrew uses “projects” for his photography, sadly it’s a concept I’ve never taken full advantage of…well until now…I started taking photos from the moonroof of my car, while stopped of course. It’s weird I know and I’m sure if I ever post them the police will have something to say (no handheld devices law in Toronto). I’ve always done your traditional photos of traveling, food, etc.. but I really enjoy light painting and having an odd subject. Time to get some new ideas and projects, thanks for the inspiration! :)

    1. J. Money June 8, 2014 at 2:13 PM

      I love the moonroof idea!!! As long as you’re not always just capturing blue skies! Haha…

  4. Brian@ Debt Discipline June 6, 2014 at 8:48 AM

    Interesting topic Andrew Waits decided on. Some great stories on his web site. Mr. Randy has done a nice job putting it all in perspective!

  5. Noonan June 6, 2014 at 9:31 AM

    This great poem that sums the frugality thing up very well. Anyone who has a bucket list should readβ€”or better yet listen toβ€”this bucket poem!

    1. J. Money June 8, 2014 at 2:14 PM

      “bucket poem” – good one :)

  6. Aldo R @ MDN June 6, 2014 at 9:44 AM

    That was pretty cool. I played it twice!

    We should all focus on plugging up that bucket.

  7. John @ Wise Dollar June 6, 2014 at 9:47 AM

    Very cool J, awesome poem! I could not agree more, so much of it does come down to that conscious spending and saving. Align that with what you want in life and run after it with all you have. So simple for many to overlook, but definitely possible to do!

  8. EL @ MoneyWatch101 June 6, 2014 at 10:34 AM

    Great Poem and recited very well by the author. It’s a great message and something many bloggers have been saying for years, just not that poetic. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Christine @ The Pursuit of Green June 6, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    Great way to look at finances and make it a lot more elegant. This is the kind of thing I would like to print and frame somewhere! Happy Friday!

    1. J. Money June 8, 2014 at 2:16 PM

      Well that’s easy enough – just hit print on your computer and cut it out! Haha…

  10. @freepursue June 6, 2014 at 12:41 PM

    Thank you for sharing this interesting set of links. I went to look at Andrew Waits’s project pictures after reading your post.

    I looked at the various individuals in the pictures and I witnessed a wide range of emotions and states of being: solace, sadness, stoicism, resolve, relief, joy, curiosity, excitement, promise, purpose… The collection leaves the impression it represents a cross-section of the country, only on wheels.

    I am left to wonder though, other than Randy Vining, who is living on the road or in a vehicle by choice. I don’t think this is a representation of “my bucket is full” folks. What I do know for sure is that these are people with unique stories and the pictures make you want to hear them.

    1. Aimee June 6, 2014 at 1:47 PM

      There’s actually an entire subculture of people who live in vans, a huge portion by choice. They call themselves van dwellers. It’s amazing how much I have found about this since my boyfriend and I have decided to hit the road. There are some very talented people out there who have turned utility vans into mini RVs! I’m hoping we will be half as talented for this trip.

      1. J. Money June 8, 2014 at 2:17 PM

        Very interesting!!!

  11. Ben Luthi June 6, 2014 at 12:46 PM

    Our biggest leaks right now are medical-related, which freaking sucks because not only are the leaks bigger, but the inflow is less too. I guess you’ve got to do what you can with what you’ve got, though.

    1. J. Money June 8, 2014 at 2:17 PM

      Agreed :( Medical stuff is no joke – esp. here in the U.S.

  12. Done by Forty June 6, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    I want to drink whiskey with that guy. And play horseshoes.

    1. J. Money June 8, 2014 at 2:54 PM

      YES! Haha.. with a nice fat cigar too :)

  13. Mike June 6, 2014 at 2:12 PM

    But I purchased freedom with the savings in my pale,
    and across highway seas of adventure…in my land yacht, I will sail.

    A great poem and awesome reading, but for the person who transcribed it, I think you should be saying “savings in my pail” for the above line.

    1. J. Money June 8, 2014 at 2:56 PM

      Will tell the captain ;)

  14. Joe@StackingBenjamins June 6, 2014 at 4:56 PM

    “I know folks with beaucoup bucks too afraid to try it.” – Love it. Money alone doesn’t fill your soul. Great message.

  15. No Nonsense Landlord June 6, 2014 at 10:46 PM

    I am planning on doing something similar. Hit the road with a 5th wheel, likely out West or up to AK for 4-6 weeks at a time, before arriving back home for a few weeks again.

    Money isn’t everything, but it certainly helps…

    1. J. Money June 8, 2014 at 2:56 PM

      If you find yourself around Virginia at any point, do reach out :)

  16. El Budget Nerdo June 7, 2014 at 6:18 AM

    Seriously love that guy. I definitely know what it’s like to be on the road all the time, and I’ll admit that there’s a certain “freedom” to it that you can’t find elsewhere.

  17. Kyle | Rather-Be-Shopping.com June 7, 2014 at 10:39 AM

    Dude, this is great! What wisdom from a guy living life on his own terms. I gotta say I’m a bit envious.

  18. Bill at FamZoo June 7, 2014 at 6:08 PM

    Epic! Love the poem, love the voice. A great thing to share with kids – nice simple metaphor and message.

    1. J. Money June 8, 2014 at 2:58 PM

      Oh yeah – kids could totally understand that! Even more so going exploring around the country in an RV :) “This is what you can do forever if you save your money and not give into temptation!”

    1. J. Money December 5, 2014 at 9:22 PM

      YES!! How the hell did you find that and connect the two? Haha…

      Thanks man, this was a treat :)

      Did you catch what that lady who came on afterwards said? Wise words!

      “I find there’s two types of people – people that like money, and people who like things. The ones who have the things don’t have any money, and the ones who likes the money doesn’t have many things.”