December 2013 Finance Report (subscribers only)

안녕하세요 to all you legendary email subscribers. This is my December finance report, as prepared from my cozy little apartment in Busan, South Korea. I’m here until the end of January, at which point I’ll be hopping on a cargo ship across the Pacific.

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. Keep in mind that I was on the move quite a bit last month, passing through Thailand, Laos, China and South Korea. Diving in…

December Expenses

Food and Drink

Pubs, Coffee Shops, Restaurants, Take-aways€ 229$ 314
Groceries€ 72$ 99
Total€ 301
$ 413

Almost the exact same as last month. I made an effort to eat at budget restaurants for most of December.

Housing and Utilities

1 month rent on Busan apartment€ 311$ 427
Deposit on Busan apartment€ 138$ 190
Busan agency fee (to help find apartment)€ 34$ 47
3 nights at Villa Aphay Guesthouse, Luang Prabang€ 33$ 45
5 nights at Green Forest Hostel, Chongqing€ 30$ 41
2 nights at HiKorea Hostel, Busan€ 23$ 31
2 nights at Baan Wing House, Chiang Mai€ 14$ 19
3 nights at Khammany Inn, Luang Prabang€ 12$ 17
1 night at VIP Guesthouse, Chiang Mai€ 9$ 13
2 nights at Kaiyue Hostel, Qingdao€ 7$ 9
Total€ 610$ 839

Way up from last month’s total of €172/$233, but then the majority of the above total covers my rent for January as well. I stayed in hostels frequently as I was traveling through Laos, China and South Korea. I love hostels for meeting people, but they suck for getting work done.


Ferry: Qingdao to Incheon€ 90$ 124
World Nomads travel insurance (5 weeks)€ 87$ 119
Train: Chengdu to Qingdao€ 61$ 84
Chinese visa€ 43$ 59
Bus: Luang Prabang to Kunming€ 43$ 59
Bus/boat: Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang€ 36$ 50
Train: Kunming to Chongqing€ 29$ 40
Laos visa on arrival€ 25$ 35
Bus: Incheon to Busan€ 25$ 34
Busan metro€ 17$ 23
Train: Chongqing to Chengdu€ 12$ 16
Taxi in Kunming€ 6$ 8
Tuktuks in Luang Prabang€ 5$ 7
Currency exchange in Incheon€ 5$ 7
Scooter fuel€ 4$ 6
Chongqing metro€ 4$ 5
Reservation for Tina’s Hostel in Chongqing so I could get Chinese Visa€ 4$ 5
Currency exchange at Laos/China border€ 3$ 4
Scanning and printing for Chinese visa€ 1$ 1
Chengdu metro€ 1$ 1
Incheon metro€ 1$ 1
Total € 501 $ 688

That’s what 6,000 kilometers of overland travel looks like. And yet I’m way down from November’s total of €3,068/$4,170 spent on moving about.

Business Expenses

Sigma 6 Personal Assistant€ 661$ 909
The Foundation (monthly payment)€ 436$ 599
AWeber email marketing€ 72$ 99
PayPal fees€ 55$ 75
Sigma 6 promotion expense€ 36$ 50
Internet cafe in Luang Prabang€ 15$ 20
Ecwid shopping cart€ 12$ 17
Amazon Web Services ( CDN)€ 3$ 4
Printing€ 1$ 2
Total€ 1,292$ 1,775

Down a bit from the €1,465/$1,991 I spent on business in November. I’ll tell you more about the Sigma 6 project further down. Other notes…

The Foundation
This is an online course teaching people how to build a software business. I’d been following their free content for more than a year and was eager to join the program, despite the steep price. I’m liking the content in there so far, but I’ve got a lot of learning and work ahead of me before I can tell you if the investment is worth it.

Affiliate links
I link to everything I use so you can go ahead and check out the products and services for yourself. However, I only become an affiliate for products and services that I actually like and am happy to recommend. If you click through and buy something via my affiliate links, it doesn’t cost you anything extra, but I get a percentage of the sale price. Please don’t buy anything unless you have a clear need for it!

Gifts and Donations

Operation Save Santa€ 73$ 100
Extra tip at Boutique Del La Pasta in Chiang Mai€ 2$ 3
Beggar in Chongqing€ 1$ 1
Total€ 76$ 104

Up a little from last months’ donation total of €52/$71, but still far short of the goal to donate 15% of my income each month. It’s hard for me to justify giving away hundreds of dollars right now when my savings are pretty low.


Moonwalking with Einstein€ 8$ 11
Total€ 8$ 11

Only one book bought in December, compared to two in November. I’m actually reading quite a lot still (managed a book a week in 2013), but I’ve decided to try finish more of the books that have been gathering dust on my Kindle rather than keep buying new reads.

Moonwalking with Einstein was great by the way. Highly recommended.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Wooly hat and scarf€ 18$ 25
Multivitamins€ 17$ 23
Chinese SIM card€ 15$ 20
Wireless router (for Busan apartment)€ 14$ 19
Toiletries€ 9$ 13
Laundry€ 9$ 13
Saucepan€ 8$ 11
AIB quarterly banking fee€ 6$ 8
ATM charges€ 3$ 4
Haircut€ 2$ 3
2 pairs of gloves€ 1$ 2
Washing up liquid€ 1$ 1
Sponges€ 1$ 1
Eating utensils€ 1$ 1
Total€ 105$ 144

Down from the €155/$211 I spent on miscellaneous in November.

Expense Summary

Food and Drink€ 301$ 413
Housing and Utilities€ 610$ 839
Travel€ 501$ 688
Business Expenses€ 1,292$ 1,775
Gifts and Donations€ 76$ 104
Books€ 8$ 11
Miscellaneous expenses€ 105$ 144
Total Expenses€ 2,892$ 3,974

Almost half November’s expense total of €5,227/$7,104.

December Income

Away from the minuses and on to the pluses…

Sigma 6 project€ 2,085$ 2,866
Coaching€ 349$ 480
Freelance web design€ 73$ 100
$50 Blogs€ 36$ 50
Reader donations (muchas gracias!)€ 20$ 28
Amazon affiliate payment€ 16$ 22
Amazon book royalties€ 11$ 15
Total Income€ 2,591$ 3,561

Up a nice bit from November’s income total of €1,835/$2,494.


Sigma 6 project
December was the last month of my involvement in this money-making endeavor (I explained why I’m leaving it behind here). As mentioned before, I can’t reveal much about it, reason being that it was a partnership offered to me on condition that I don’t go blabbing about the whole thing. All I can say is that it involved selling advertising on travel blogs, and my assistant handled most of the workload for me. Taking away the expense of my assistant, the profit was €1,388/$1,907 for the month of December, way up from November’s profit of €522/$710.

Where that leaves me

I had €4,358/$5,924 to my name at the end of November. After applying the most recent exchange rates (I have accounts in EUR, HKD and USD), those totals had shifted slightly to €4,314/$5,929. Taking into account all my December income and expenditure, my total bank and cash balances now work out to €4,036/$5,547.

Outlook for January

Although I’ve left the Sigma 6 project behind, I was paying my assistant on the 1st of every month for her work during the previous, so I’m still on the hook to pay her for December. That will be my largest expense. Then there will be the next Foundation payment. Those expenses combined will be about $1,700. I also have to purchase another two months of travel insurance, and go to a clinic for a health checkup before I can get on that cargo ship across the Pacific on January 29th.

Those are pretty much all my big and expected expenses. Other than that I’ll just be spending on day-to-day living.

As for income, I no longer have the Sigma 6 crutch, so that number is likely to take a dive. I don’t have anything guaranteed lined up for January, apart from another $500 from coaching. And then February will see me on that cargo ship without Internet, so I won’t even have the capacity to earn for most of that month either (on the plus side, all my food and board on that ship has already been paid for).

Should be interesting to see where that leaves me when I arrive in Peru at the end of February.

Feedback welcome

Thoughts? Questions? Speak up in the comments below.


  1. Tal Gu

    Admire your courage and dedication to searching and living true to your values. What an adventure you’re having! Keep it up my friend.

  2. Ian

    Niall, you’re an inspiration my man. I want to know how you’re going to keep yourself busy on that cruise ship! So fun… if I didn’t have to spend the next 3 months in Australia I’d fly out to S. Korea and jump on that ship with ya my man! LOVE IT!

    • Niall Doherty

      Hey Ian,

      Thanks, dude! I’ll be doing lots of reading and writing on the ship, plus practicing my copywriting skills, brushing up on my Spanish, and working out a lot (there’s supposed to be a gym on board).

      I doubt I’ll be bored 🙂

  3. Joen

    Hey Niall,

    Keep up the great work. Be safe on your long journey ahead & stay awesome =)

    – J.

  4. Steph

    What Tal said 😉
    Enjoy the cruise lifestyle!


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