April 2014 Finance Report (subscribers only)

Bienvenidos o’ legendary email subscriber. This is my April finance report, as prepared from a coffee shop in La Paz, Bolivia.

As usual, I’ll share with you all the details of my finances below, along with a few notes that I think you’ll find interesting. It was a rollercoaster month for me financially, as I saw the balance in my primary checking account dip to $170 before landing a bunch of freelance gigs and receiving an avalanche of kind donations.

Keep in mind that I spent most of the month living in Cusco, Peru. Diving in…

April Expenses

Food and Drink

Eating out€ 208$ 288
Groceries€ 80$ 111
Total€ 288
$ 399

Up a bit from the €237/$327 I spent in March. I had a nice routine going in Cusco, making breakfast at home every morning and then hitting up the same two bargain spots for lunch and dinner every day.

Housing and Utilities

Rent at Casa Pepe in Cusco (3 weeks, almost)€ 106$ 147
3 nights at AirBnB apartment, La Paz€ 44$ 61
1 night at The Wild Rover, La Paz€ 7$ 10
Total€ 157$ 218

A little more than last month’s total of €142/$196, which isn’t bad considering I only paid for a half-month’s accommodation in March (the other half was prepaid on the cargo ship).

Travel

World Nomads Travel Insurance (4 months)€ 201$ 279
La Paz-Uyuni bus (round trip)€ 52$ 72
Uyuni salt flats tour€ 31$ 43
Cusco-La Paz bus€ 27$ 37
La Paz-Santa Cruz bus€ 21$ 29
Taxis in La Paz€ 18$ 25
Taxis in Cusco€ 3$ 4
Local minibus in La Paz€ 1$ 1
Total € 353 $ 490

Up from the €210/$290 I spent on travel in March. The whole trip to Uyuni turned out to be a waste of money as I got hit with a severe bout of altitude sickness and spent a day in the hospital instead of touring the salt flats. Oh well. Shit happens, and at least I have the World Nomads insurance to cover the hospital bill.

Business Expenses

The Foundation€ 432$ 599
WordPress premium themes€ 69$ 95
AWeber email marketing€ 22$ 30
Elance€ 14$ 20
Flippa auction fee€ 6$ 9
Github€ 5$ 7
iPhone App: Stopwatch Pro€ 3$ 4
Amazon Web Services (ndoherty.com CDN)€ 2$ 3
Total€ 553$ 767

About the same as the €551/$761 I spent on business last month. Notes…

The Foundation
This is an online course teaching people how to build a software business. The $599 payment is one of six, due monthly. I haven’t taken advantage of the training materials the past three months, first because of travel and more recently because I’ve been focusing on freelance work to get some income rolling. But I’m still happy with my investment in The Foundation and planning to devote a lot more time to it once I settle in Brazil in May.

Gifts and Donations

Book for a friend€ 6$ 8
Groceries for a friend€ 2$ 3
Total€ 8
$ 11

Down from €17/$23 last month, and way short of my goal to donate 15% of my income each month. I’ve been holding back on the donations for a few months now. In 2013 gave away $7,000 and ended up minus about that much for the year. While I’ll still try hit that 15% mark overall this year, I won’t be selling myself short to do it.

Books

Mastery€ 5$ 7
The Elements Of Style€ 2$ 3
Total€ 7
$ 10

Up from nothing the last two months. I haven’t read enough of either of these books to recommend them.

Miscellaneous Expenses

AIB bank government stamp duty€ 30$ 42
Laundry€ 12$ 16
Sunscreen€ 6$ 8
Belt€ 4$ 6
Haircuts€ 4$ 6
Club entry in Cusco€ 3$ 4
Seamstress€ 2$ 2
Toiletries€ 1$ 2
Wedding photo (at Bolivian wedding)€ 1$ 1
Total€ 63$ 87

Down from the €88/$121 I spent on miscellaneous in March.

Expense Summary

Food and Drink€ 288$ 399
Housing and Utilities€ 157$ 218
Travel€ 353$ 490
Business Expenses€ 553$ 767
Gifts and Donations€ 8$ 11
Books€ 7$ 10
Miscellaneous expenses€ 63$ 87
Total Expenses€ 1,429$ 1,982

Up from March’s expense total of €1,245/$1,718. Pretty satisfied overall with how I spent my money in April.

April Income

Away from the minuses and on to the pluses…

Freelance web design€ 1,699$ 2,356
Reader donations (muchas gracias!)€ 687$ 953
Book sales: The Cargo Ship Diaries€ 586$ 813
Book sales: Disrupting the Rabblement€ 41$ 57
Amazon affiliate income€ 16$ 22
Affiliate income: How To Live A Life of Travel€ 8$ 11
Affiliate income: Clickbank€ 8$ 11
Total Income€ 3,045$ 4,223

Way, way up from the €140/$193 I pulled in last month. I owe almost all of my April income to you fine readers of Disrupting the Rabblement, since many of you either sent me a donation or offered me freelance work. Without all that kindness, I would have been pretty screwed.

Thank you!

I’m still welcoming select web design projects, so do let me know if you have anything you need done. You can see samples of my past work over at ndoherty.biz.

Where that leaves me

I had €1,352/$1,866 to my name at the end of March. After applying the most recent exchange rates (I have accounts in EUR, HKD and USD), those totals were left pretty much the same at €1,347/$1,868. Taking into account all my April income and expenditure, my total bank and cash balances now work out to €3,061/$4,244.

Here’s how I’m doing so far this year:

  • €891/$1,202 in January
  • €550/$759 in February
  • €1,105/$1,525 in March
  • €1,616/$2,241 in April
  • €930/$1,245 overall

Outlook for May

Expenses will likely be higher in May, as I travel to Brazil and plonk down a deposit and rent payment on a new apartment in Rio or Belo Horizonte. I also have my final Foundation payment, and will have to swallow that $620 hospital bill until I can claim it off my insurance. Brazil is supposed to be quite expensive overall, too, so my food and miscellaneous expenses will probably rise accordingly.

As for income, I’ll keep chipping away at the freelance web design work. That should again be my primary source. I’m also eager to get back into building my software business, and will have good opportunity to do so once I’m settled in Brazil. I doubt I’ll be seeing any income for that in May, but hopefully I’ll lay a strong foundation for June and July.

My overall goal for May? Given all those expenses, I’d be pretty happy just to finish in the green for the month.

Feedback welcome

Thoughts? Questions? Speak up in the comments below.

22 Comments

  1. Josh Lipovetsky

    I just love it when faith translates into real-world results. There are fewer things more incredible than that. Thank you, Niall!

    Reply
  2. Nelson Montz

    Niall, got to get that food bill down: Eating out is nearing triple the grocery expenditures. Food bill almost double housing? Rediculous. I cook for one and eat like four in the USA, and I don’t spend anywhere near that. High food costs in South America? I could live like a friggin’ King with reasonable housing.
    In fact I could live well on just my Social Security income of $1500/month- not counting other resources.

    1) Watch little expenses that nick you month in- month out.
    2) Your $3000 investment is anything But: It’s money out the window, until
    you get disciplined to work it consistently. Quit fooling yourself.
    3) Yep! Without reader donations you would be screwed. A young man is
    always susceptible to buying the next thing and the next. There is no
    reason why you can’t Save decent money, if you wake up. Most don’t.

    Reply
    • LeckyT

      Man, tough love, but I agree with Nelson on the food thing. I know there are many good social reasons to eat out, but lunch and dinner every day? Just sayin’

      Also, the Foundation payments (I think you have 3 left, right?) might look to many folk to be money wasted, but the only thing that kept me from starting out on that journey (apart from the fact that the Foundation dudes make me feel woefully inadequate – not their fault, mine own!) was that I couldn’t dedicate enough time to SaaS at this juncture.

      But, I regret it, and think it may well have been an opportunity too good not to take up, even if I didn’t put my all into it at first. The education you get from their out-of-comfort-zone approach is worth the monthly payment. It’s an investment in you, but you get out what you put in, as always; no silver bullets.

      Keep it up, Niall, some of us are just jealous just watching from the sidelines!

      Reply
      • Niall Doherty

        Like I replied to Nelson, I have no regrets about the food expenses. Money well spent for the overall value received.

        As for the Foundation, I only have one payment left. And yeah, definitely not a silver bullet. I need to invest a lot more time in it these coming months to really see that investment pay off. That will be my priority once I get settled in Brazil. Pretty confident about it though given the progress I’ve made so far.

        Reply
    • Niall Doherty

      I have no regrets about my food expenses. I only had to cook breakfast for myself every day, and then enjoyed two meals a day in nice restaurants. In one I had good wifi and was able to work through lunch while enjoying good food, and the other was well worth the money for the social aspect (I would meet and chat with many friends there), as well as a great meal.

      Could I have eaten cheaper? Absolutely. But I would have spent more time shopping for food and cooking it, or eating less quality food from street or market stalls and not getting my social fix.

      My goal is never to minimize how much I spend on food. Honestly, I think it’s silly to try reduce my food bill from $400 to something more like $200. It would take me less time and effort to earn the extra $200. Why put all that time and energy into penny pinching when the savings are limited? Doesn’t it make more sense to spend time and energy on earning more, since earnings are potentially unlimited?

      To address your specific points:

      1) I agree, but only when those expenses are meaningless. Like if I was spending tons of money on something that provides me little value.

      2) I agree that the investment has yet to pay off in monetary terms, but that hardly means I’m fooling myself.

      3) Without reader donations I would still have been more than $1k in the green last month. The donations helped a lot, but I would hardly have been screwed without them.

      Reply
  3. Neil Fahey

    How was the La Paz to Uyuni bus, Niall?! I went Uyuni to La Paz (overnight) back in 2009. That was an experience I’ll never forget! 🙂

    Reply
    • Niall Doherty

      It sucked big-time. Probably the worst bus journey of my life, though a big part of that was due to altitude sickness 🙁

      Reply
  4. Hazel Lau

    Cool to see your balance is bouncing back. Did you manage to land the project I referred?

    Reply
    • Niall Doherty

      Thanks, Hazel.

      Never heard back from that guy, but just followed up with him now.

      Reply
  5. Tom

    I think it is fantastic that you could reach out to your subscriber list and get so many freelance jobs, the power of word of mouth referral is fantastic and so important for freelance workers. It is such an inspiration.

    What I cannot really believe is how many people donated to you to ‘support’ your continued travel. Especially when you have spent such a large amount on the Foundation and then on top of that have not even participated in the program to date. The amount you spent on it would have kept you in the green for several weeks whilst you secured other work. I understand these people are donating out of their own choice and goodwill. But you talk a lot in your blog posts about morality and why you make the choices you do and it is not like you are travelling the world for a charitable purpose – raising money, educating other or something similar. So I really struggle to see why people donate just to fund your travel.

    Can I ask why you did not just put the word out for more freelance work earlier before your balance reached what it did (and thus sounded a bit more like a sob story) than waiting until the last minute? You are obviously good at what you do and are a lot more fortunate that some in having a skill that can so easily allow you to work and travel.

    Reply
    • Niall Doherty

      Good question, Tom.

      I didn’t put the word out earlier because I believed I’d be able to find freelance work quite easily by other means. I spent a few weeks pitching for projects on Elance and Craigslist, expecting to have an easy time securing gigs via those channels. I was keeping track of exactly how I was pitching and trying to figure out the most effective approach, with the intention of then sharing that approach on the blog to help other freelancers.

      Unfortunately, I failed miserably to find work that way. I never even got a single response through about a dozen pitches. No idea what I was doing wrong.

      So that’s why I went to my list in the end and asked for work there. I didn’t want to have to do that, as it reeked of desperation, but I didn’t have much choice in the end.

      As for why people donate, most tell me that something or other I wrote really affected their lives for the better. I’ve spent a lot of time producing hundreds of articles and videos over the years, all available freely online, and those who feel they’ve benefited significantly from that content are eager to give back to me in some way when I’m struggling. I never expected that flood of donations last month, but I’ll gladly accept it.

      Reply
  6. Kris

    I think people donate simply because we think it is so cool to do what your doing and a part of ourselves wish we had the nerve to do it. I am insanely jealous. Also, having morality doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help. Especially when your up front on what you need and why. Love reading about your adventures Niall.

    Reply
  7. Vito

    IMO, you’re hearing what you want to hear and resisting constructive criticism. I’m happy that you’re back out of the abyss, but you’re rationalizing poor decisions.

    Remember a few months back when you were hitting 10K+ and talking about “leveling up” to bigger and better things?

    You were on your way. But instead of hunkering down and pushing yourself on the right track you were on, you gave up a sweet cash-cow gig, blew your money on a magical how-to business course, and went on a very expensive cruise for no good reason.

    Entrepreneurship is much easier when you have runway and room to make sizable investments. Preselling SAAS ideas only works for Foundation shills and about 1% of really good salespeople with good networks. (That said, I don’t know about your sales ability, but you do have a good network in the form of this blog readership.)

    Regardless; you have plenty of streetsmarts to not need The Foundation to hold your hand and give you business 101 tips and tricks. If you succeed, you will find that it’s largely due to your perseverance, hard work and common sense – not some magical advice from the Foundation. There is no magic bullet.

    Reply
    • Niall Doherty

      I think I’m being pretty realistic about my situation. I’m not sure what constructive criticism you’re referring to. I accept that I make things harder on myself than they need to be given my travel lifestyle and some of the things I decide to spend money on, but those are conscious decisions. I’ve weighed the pros and cons and I accept the consequences, for better or worse.

      A lot of the criticism I’m hearing makes my situation out to be very black and white. “If you had done that different then you would have succeeded.” But we both know it’s never that simple, and I don’t beat myself up about making a poor decision if I feel it was the best decision I could have made at the time, given the information I had available. You can call that rationalizing if you want. I call it moving forward.

      “Remember a few months back when you were hitting 10K+”

      The most I ever earned in a month was about 6k. I was definitely talking about leveling up to bigger and better things, and I still have that mindset. Unfortunately I’ve had to take a few steps backward, but I haven’t lost hope. I feel I’ve been learning a lot in recent months that will help me achieve my financial goals sooner or later. I may not hit the 100k mark by the end of the year (as is my aim), but I have no regrets about how I’ve spent the last few months. Giving up that “sweet cash-cow gig” had to be done for my own peace of mind if nothing else. It wasn’t a business to be proud of, and I learned little from it. I couldn’t in good conscience continue to accept an income from a business that didn’t align with my values. I’m sure you can respect that.

      Re: The Foundation, I’ve never considered it a magic bullet. I knew going in that it would require a lot of work. I haven’t put in the majority of that work yet, but I feel I’ve already made good progress, at least in terms of mindset and overcoming limiting beliefs (and what I’ve learned in there has also helped me land bigger freelance gigs). Once I’m settled in Brazil I’ll be getting back into it full-time. We’ll see how it goes.

      As for the expensive cruise, you’re right, there was really no good reason for that. It was a silly thing to do while trying to build a business. But I’m committed to finishing my no-fly trip around the world, and spending a big chunk of money to cross the Pacific was what had to be done. I could have quit the trip and focused on business instead, but I know I’d always have regretted it.

      Reply
  8. Maxine

    Hi Niall. I have the amazing joy of visiting Rio last year with my disabled son and daughter. We loved that city and will not ever forget it. I wish you have a wonderful time. Good luck getting money back for your medical bill. I know you eat out a lot more than you grocery shop. I remember we walked along the coast from to a wonderful place that made smoothie drinks. We stayed at Copacabana and that place for the drinks is at Ipanema. They were very nice drinks indeed. I wish you finances are lower for May. You have payed a lot to reach South America. However you are going to love that wonderful continent.

    Reply
    • Niall Doherty

      Thanks, Maxine. I’ll keep an eye out for that smoothie shop. I’m liking Brazil a lot already 🙂

      Reply
  9. MasterBates

    Hi Niall,
    Your monthly outgoings are simply too high and sort incongruously with the nomadic way of life.

    You should be more fugal and aim to build up a buffer for when your earnings dwindle. This will take the pressure of when you have a dry spell.

    Why not have an austerity month? Give yourself a budget of say $800 and strive not to breach this threshold. Rent a cheap room with wifi, set yourself challenging — albeit achievable — goals, and get stuck in.

    Eat out by all means, but only one meal a day and not everyday.

    With your earning capacity you could be disrupting the rabblement without doing likewise to your bank-balance.

    All that’s required is to break your spendthrift tendencies.

    Best of luck,
    MB

    Reply
    • Niall Doherty

      I could live on $800 a month, but I wouldn’t want to. Where’s the fun in that? I’d stay put in one place and just work all the time, rarely going out to eat or spending on things I enjoy? No thanks. That’s surviving, not living. I’d rather focus my time and energy on earning more rather than spending less. There’s only so much I can save, but there’s no limit to how much I can earn.

      I find it odd actually that I’m receiving so much criticism for my spending habits this past month when I was so much in the green. Last year I was spending way more money than I am this year. If anything I’m being a lot more frugal in 2014.

      Reply
  10. Ronan

    Interesting account Niall.
    I think some of the criticism you are getting is from people who dont seem to quite understand the life choices you have made. Personally I think your decision to rigidly stick to the “never fly rule” is too rigid. I think the idea of trying to go round the World without flying is an interesting idea, but that sticking so strictly to it even for the massive, expensive, boring trans-Pacific and trans-Atlantic legs is overkill, imho. If I was to undertake such a trip I would attempt to bus it or boat it for the overland or island-hopping portions and fly over the biggest oceans.
    However, all that being said, regular readers of your blog should know that crossing the Globe without flying has been one of your aims all along, so to read people criticising your trans-pacific cruise as if it were a bit of rather sloppy, whimsical over-spending seems a bit weird
    And as regards the eating out: If Niall is very close to the restaurants, he could be in and out in 45 minutes. If he was preparing his own food, and cooking nutritious meals from scratch, he would spend a considerably longer time each day sourcing food, and preparing it and cleaning up afterwards (getting into the swing of being familiar with the cheap shopping options can take a while when you are moving your location as often as Niall does).
    So one should consider the extra “alternative time-use cost” of spending say, an extra hour or more each day doing that, when he could be working on his freelance web design business. Sure, it would save him €8 to €10 each day, but I am sure an hourly breakdown would show that Niall earns at least that (if not perhaps considerably more) each hour he works in web design. So perhaps he is financially better off to concentrate on that instead?
    And of course this is to disregard the social aspect that Niall cites also.

    Reply
    • Niall Doherty

      My thoughts exactly, Ronan! Especially with regards to eating out at restaurants. Five hours of paid work per month earns me at least $200, and when that extra money allows me to eat out in nice places, save time by not having to cook or clean, and be more social, then it’s a no-brainer for me to spend it.

      Reply

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