Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mini Book Review: Walden On Wheels

Walden on Wheels by Ken Ilgunas

Full book title: Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom

Graduating from college with an undergraduate degree and a $32,000 debt, Ilgunas finds there are many people competing for the same poorly paid jobs. How to get out of debt became a focus. Three years later after working in remote Alaska he had paid off his student loan.

Acceptance at Duke University in a master's program, Ilgunas is determined not to get into debt again for education. With an ancient van outfitted as his dorm room, he lives on a campus parking lot. Living compact for two years became a daily challenge while he avoided any chance of being spotted by anyone including the campus police.

Closing in on his graduation, his campus living becomes known. The college relocates him to another campus parking lot. He finishes his degree and is honored to be one of the speakers to address the graduates.

There was no rule against living in a car on campus when the author first enrolled. However, shortly after his graduation, there was an additional rule on the parking permit application -- no living in vehicles on campus parking lots.

This is a great memoir of a young Ilgunas, graduating with student debt, adventure living in Alaska and finally living simply (credit to Thoreau) in a van while getting his master's degree.

For more written word from the author, check out Ken Ilgunas' website.

Just a few days after finishing the book, there was an entry at My Budget 360 about the Student Loan Bubble.

By comparison to Ilgunas, my financial struggle through college was easy. It took seven years of part and full time working to support my way through college. I even managed to buy a new baby blue convertible along the way. However, I couldn't make it to graduation without getting a loan in my last semester.


  1. I saw a piece on him on the news. My library doesn't have the ebook yet. I'll have to look for a hard copy. It sounds fascinating.

  2. Sounds like a good one. I wish I had thought of that when I was in college. I finished with $30k in debt back in 1986. It took me four years to pay it back. The thought of not paying it back never crossed my mind. The student debt problem has topped $1 trillion and delinquent payments are rising. That would make a logical future bailout. We're well over $17 trillion in debt now and rising fast. Yeehaw!!!! Let the good times roll!!!!

  3. Since I stayed home with my kids to homeschool we did not save for their college. We supported my daughter through school by paying her rent, groceries and car expenses and she had a part time job for extras and laundry. However none of that covered tuition so student loans it was. Her first loan payment is due next month I believe and is in the neighborhood of $350 month.


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