January 2015 Finance Report (subscribers only)

Well hello there o’ legendary email subscriber. This is my January finance report, as prepared from a shotgun in New Orleans.

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 traveled quite a bit in January, starting off in San Jose, Costa Rica and ending up in San Antonio, USA (see my travel map here).

Diving in…

January Expenses

Food and Drink

Eating out€ 360$ 406
Groceries€ 57$ 65
Total€ 417
$ 471

Way up from the previous month, when I only spent €256/$310. As I was on the move a lot, I was eating out a lot, which adds up. But on top of that, Central America proved to be a little pricier than expected food-wise.

If we break it down to cost per meal (assuming three meals a day), I spent $5.06 per meal in January, which isn’t bad for a man who doesn’t consider himself a foodie.

Housing and Utilities

5 nights at Gaudy’s Hostel, San Jose, Costa Rica€ 90$ 102
2 nights at Quetzalroo, Guatemala City€ 37$ 42
2 nights at Lucy’s Hostel, Granada, Nicaragua€ 27$ 30
2 nights at The Landing Hotel, Ometepe, Nicaragua€ 26$ 30
3 nights at Hostel Suites DF, Mexico City€ 24$ 27
2 nights at Hostal Antigua, Guatemala€ 17$ 19
1 night at Tarcoles Hotel, Tarcoles, Costa Rica€ 17$ 19
1 night at Montelena Hostel, Santa Elena, Costa Rica€ 16$ 18
1 night at Hotel Miami, Limon, Costa Rica€ 14$ 16
2 nights at Hostel San Marcos, Guatemala€ 14$ 16
2 nights at Hostel Del Sueño, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua€ 14$ 16
1 night at Sotz Hostel, Panajachel, Guatemala€ 12$ 13
1 night at Hostel Qhia, San Cristobal, Mexico€ 8$ 9
Total€ 316$ 357

The prices in Central America were a bit better when it came to accommodation, which is how I was able to reduce my costs a bit from €312/$378 in December.


Costa Rica car rental for 4 days€ 144$ 162
Bus: Mexico City to San Antonio€ 107$ 121
Bus: Managua to Guatemala City€ 73$ 82
Taxis in San Jose€ 41$ 46
Bus: San Antonio to New Orleans€ 38$ 43
Bus: Pana to San Cristobal€ 33$ 37
Ometepe motorcycle rental for 2.5 days€ 33$ 37
Bus: San Cristóbal to México City€ 24$ 27
Bus: San Jose to La Virgin€ 21$ 24
Costa Rica parking ticket€ 17$ 19
Taxi in San Antonio€ 13$ 15
USA visa exemption€ 12$ 14
Nicaragua entry fee€ 12$ 14
Bus: Guatemala City to Antigua€ 12$ 13
Bus: Antigua to San Marcos€ 9$ 10
Fuel for motorcycle€ 8$ 9
Fuel for rental car€ 8$ 9
Costa Rica highway tolls€ 7$ 8
Costa Rica exit fee€ 7$ 8
Nicaragua exit fee€ 6$ 7
USA border fee€ 5$ 6
Bus: Mexico City to Teotihuacán (return)€ 5$ 6
Water Taxis: Lago Atitlan€ 5$ 6
Ferry: Moyogalpa to San Jorge (return)€ 5$ 6
Taxi: Rivas to San Jorge€ 4$ 5
Bus: San Jorge to Masaya€ 2$ 2
Taxi in Managua€ 2$ 2
Bus: San Juan to Rivas€ 1$ 1
Bus: La Virgin to San Juan€ 1$ 1
Metro in Mexico City€ 1$ 1
Bus: Granada to Managua€ 1$ 1
Bus: Masaya to Granada€ 1$ 1
Total € 658
$ 743

I don’t believe I’ve ever had so many different entries in this section before! The long-haul buses were pricey in Central America, but local transport (save for taxis in Costa Rica) was always pretty cheap. The totals above are way down from €1,357/$1,642 in December.

Business Expenses

Google AdWords€ 42$ 47
PayPal fees€ 29$ 33
AWeber email marketing€ 27$ 30
Domain renewals€ 11$ 12
Total€ 108$ 122

Down from the €157/$190 I spent on business in December.

Gifts and Donations

Total€ 0$ 0

Down from €8/$10 I December. I no longer have a specific goal for donations (I used to try give away 15% of my income), having decided to focus on building up a decent savings cushion before trying to save the world.


The Kinowear Bible€ 24$ 27
Total Recall (Schwarzenegger bio)€ 14$ 16
Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist€ 10$ 11
Station Eleven€ 6$ 7
A Brief History Of Time€ 4$ 4
Total€ 58$ 65

Up from €21/$25 in December. You can see all my book recommendations over on Goodreads. You won’t find The Kinowear Bible over there though. That’s a book about fashion for men. I’m learning more about fashion as I plan to overhaul my nomadic wardrobe this year and figured it best I acquire some knowledge first.

Also, the Arnie and Buffett bios are brilliant.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Boots€ 57$ 64
Levi’s jeans€ 49$ 55
Apple earbuds€ 29$ 33
Volcan Maderas guide (Nicaragua)€ 21$ 24
Volcan Irazu entry and parking€ 14$ 16
Laundry€ 13$ 15
iPhone case€ 6$ 7
Diarrhea medicine€ 5$ 6
San Jose zoo entry€ 4$ 5
Cinema: Escobar: Paradise Lost€ 4$ 5
iTunes movie rental: 22 Jump Street€ 4$ 4
Teotihuacán entry fee€ 3$ 4
Entry to Indian Nose mountain trail (Guatemala)€ 3$ 4
Shoe laces€ 1$ 1
Toiletries€ 1$ 1
Total€ 216$ 244

Up from €64/$77 in December.

Expense Summary

Travel€ 658$ 743
Food and Drink€ 417$ 471
Housing and Utilities€ 316$ 357
Miscellaneous expenses€ 216$ 244
Business Expenses€ 108$ 122
Books€ 58$ 65
Gifts and Donations€ 0$ 0
Total Expenses€ 1,774
$ 2,002

Down a bit from December’s expense total of €2,175/$2,632. I didn’t set a specific expense goal in the previous report, but I’m pretty happy to come in right at the $2k mark. Good deal for a month spent traveling up through Central America and getting in various adventures.

January Income

Away from the minuses and on to the pluses…

Freelance web design€ 1,715$ 1,936
Google Adsense (from YouTube)€ 72$ 81
Reader donations (muchas gracias!)€ 58$ 65
Book sales from Amazon€ 42$ 47
Chase credit card rewards credit€ 41$ 46
Book sales: The Cargo Ship Diaries (direct from ndoherty.com)€ 13$ 15
Amazon Ach/Cred€ 7$ 8
Total Income€ 1,948
$ 2,198

Down from December’s income total of €3,198/$3,869, but still very happy with those numbers. I was hoping to pull in at least $1,500 in January, so I easily beat that, and even came out in the green for the third consecutive month.

Admittedly though, the majority of my freelancing income above was earned in December. It wasn’t like I was juggling a bunch of freelance gigs all the way up through Central America.

Biggest regret?

The $47 I spent on Google AdWords amounted to nothing, not even a good lesson, so that was a waste. It also bugged me that I had to buy earbuds again, having lost the pair I had at the border between Guatemala and Mexico (I also lost my jacket there :-/).

On the flip side, probably the best money I spent was the $46 for the motorcycle rental + fuel on Ometepe island in Nicaragua. Good times 🙂

Where that leaves me

I had €4,140/$5,009 to my name at the end of December. After applying the most recent exchange rates (I have accounts in EUR, HKD and USD), those totals shifted a little to €4,287/$4,838. Taking into account all my January income and expenditure, my total bank and cash balances now work out to €4,389/$4,953.

Outlook for February

I’m putting together this report later than usual, so February is almost done already. Thanks in part to friends letting me crash for free with them in New Orleans for a few weeks, I should end up keeping my expenses well below the $2k mark.

As for income, I’ve been putting in solid work weeks lately, and should have close to $5k due from freelance clients by the end of the month. Whether or not I actually get paid before the calendar flips to March, we’ll have to wait and see.

Feedback welcome

Thoughts? Questions? Speak up in the comments below.

Archived finance reports

I’ve been posting these monthly finance reports since January, 2011 (four years!). You can view all my old reports via this page.

Last thing…

As you can see above, I make very little money direct from this website. If you find any of this information or my articles helpful and would like to help ensure I keep on doing what I do, this page is for you.


  1. vagabondElmer

    Thanks for sharing Niall. This transparency help inspire other to take a closer look at what to expect if they want to make the transition to location independent, digital nomad, vagabond lifestyle, etc…

  2. Victoria@ The British Berliner

    Your finance report really gives people a chance to see how easy it is and to plan for the possibilities of how they should travel. Good on yer man!

  3. jackie

    $1 on toiletries…thats a man for you!

  4. Xli

    Hey Niall,
    except for Station Eleven, all the books you’ve listed were on my reading list 🙂 The bios are indeed brilliant!

    Now if you want to save some time reading nonfiction books that sound interesting, but have only few “gold nuggets” in them, I can recommend Blinkist to you. Blinkist presents non-fiction books in a summarized, easy-to-read fashion, so that you get the key points of a book in 15 minutes of reading.
    The best thing about this is the fact that you are able to retain most of the information for a minuscule amount of time 🙂
    Check it out!


  5. James

    All that traveling and experiencing and you have more than I do in the bank, with me sitting at my desk 9-5 job. You’re an inspiration. I’m transitioning more and more. Thank you!


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