Applying Stoic Principles in a Struggling Economy

Ethan Steininger
2 min readDec 3, 2022


Is this the condition that I feared?

I’m known amongst my circles as the van guy. The experience of building, traveling, and living in a camper van for a year was certainly exciting, but there was a deeper, more philosophical motivation.

By forcing myself through experiences that required little to no resources, I’m able to mentally prepare myself for times where resources are scarce. Consequentially, this allowed me to take more risks understanding that the worst case scenario (returning to van life) is actually not so bad.

Sure gas and food costs money, but water and solar energy are free and I was able to subsist on less than $500/month. This amounts to $6,000/year, an incredibly small amount that is actually quite less than minimum wage in the U.S.

I’m a developer, and let’s say my ability to code withers away. I know I could always take up a manual labor job. So what really do I have to lose by quitting my cushy job and pursuing a dream?

Comfort breeds complacency.

I understand not everybody has the capability of selling their belongings and living in a vehicle for an extended amount of time. This inability however shouldn’t preclude you from forcing yourself into similar, minimalistic, experiences. Live in a city? Go camping once a quarter. Have children? Don’t use electricity once a week. Young child? Refrain from social media for an hour a day.

There are hundreds of ways to prepare yourself for the worst case scenario. We need to be careful of getting too comfortable with our lifestyles. Once you remove this complacent mentality, you’re truly free to finally take the risks to do anything. You now understand that challenging economic environments are actually blessings in disguise.