March 2013 Finance Report (subscribers only)

Sawadee krab to all you legendary email subscribers. Welcome to my March finance report, as prepared from a foldy desk in my room at the Check Inn hotel in Bangkok.

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.

But before we get to that, let me throw out some of the many kindnesses that came my way last month. All told, they ended up saving me a good chunk of money or just making my life better in some shape or form.

Paid in Kindness

  • Carou Llou and her husband met up with me at a nice restaurant in Bangkok and treated me to great conversation and lunch. Be sure to check out Carou Lou’s blog. She’s been doing the location independent thing for almost two decades!
  • Everyone at Aspire fitness club in Bangkok, where I’ve started doing CrossFit. Wicked nice people who know their shit. Alice, Andrew, Daniel, Giada and Henrik in particular.
  • Johnny R. for the great chats and insights, and for inviting me along to an introductory Muy Thai session at Lumpini Park. And of course Tomas for leading that session.
  • Spyros and Kai for the cool Masterminding as always.
  • My friend Shaz for the weekly hangouts and for treating me to Middle Eastern food.
  • Johnny Ward for all the great info about Cambodia and how to get there. It was on his recommendation that I went to Sihanoukville. I’m sure there were also a hundred other ways he made my life easier last month. Good guy to live with.
  • Several folks on the way to Cambodia who helped me out and refrained from ripping me off. Such as that chap named Vutha who took me on the back of his scooter from the border to the bus station.
  • Anna, La and Lynn, the Cambodian beach touts who were always nice to me. Lynn gave me a great foot massage and tried to upsell me like a champ.
  • Jilly on the boat Bamboo Island. She’s an English lady who ditched everything back home and started doing boat tours in Cambodia, bought a boat and went into business with her boyfriend and some good locals. Lovely lady, gave me good info and rubbed sunscreen on my back.
  • Vanya and Louise and that German/Austrian couple and the Norweigian stoner dude and a bunch other cool people I met on Koh Ta Kiev island. Really enjoyed my stay there.
  • Random dude who helped me get my backpack off the boat at Otres beach. If I’d tried it solo I’m pretty sure I would have been left with a soggy laptop.
  • Anthony and Will for more cuppas.
  • Tom, Will, Anthony, Johnny, Mike, Turner and Thiti for coming out for my birthday dinner. Happy days. And to Will and Anthony especially for picking up my check 🙂
  • Girl at my usual chicken satay place for helping me find a seamstress to fix my majorly ripped pants.
  • Nong for gifting me a shirt. Ahhh…
  • Ann for the great massages.
  • The elderly lady who helped me cross the street outside the supermarket. What? The traffic was bad, okay!
  • Shani for treating me to a fancy Italian dinner.
  • Matt Bailey for a fun interview over Skype. That interview will appear here once Matt has the site launched later in April.
  • Kitty for the rock climbing company.
  • And thanks to everyone who read, commented, and shared my writing during the month of March. You make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

(Note: The risk of listing out such kindnesses is that I may forget someone who was very kind to me during the previous month. My apologies if you did me a good turn and I haven’t mentioned you above. It’s not that I don’t appreciate your generosity; more likely that I just had a brain fart.)

Okay, let’s move on to the more numerical form of currency. Keep in mind that I spent a few days visiting Cambodia, and the rest of the month living in Bangkok. Diving in…

March Expenses

Food and Drink

Groceries€ 319$ 410
Pubs, Coffee Shops, Restaurants, Take-aways€ 449$ 577
Total€ 768$ 987

Way up from the €598/$776 I spent last month. I don’t usually look for deals when it comes to food. Whatever I really want to eat, I usually get regardless of price. Although I have to admit that several fancy dates added to my food expenses in March.

Housing and Utilities

2 nights at Chez Paou, Sihanoukville€ 47$ 60
1 night at the Phoenix Hotel, Bangkok€ 32$ 41
My share of electricity bill at Bangkok apartment€ 28$ 36
1 night at Ten103, Koh Ta Kiev€ 8$ 10
Total€ 115$ 148

This was just €49/$64 last month. As previously mentioned, I prepaid three months rent for my apartment in Bangkok, so I haven’t had to worry about that since.

Travel

Taxis in Bangkok€ 105$ 135
Cambodian visa€ 26$ 33
Bus: Sihanoukville to Bangkok (via Siam Reap!)€ 23$ 30
Taxis/motos/tuk tuks in Cambodia€ 15$ 19
Bangkok BTS (skytrain)€ 13$ 17
Bus: Thai-Cambodian border to Sihanoukville€ 10$ 13
Boat: From Otres Beach to Koh Ta Kiev, and back€ 8$ 10
Bus: Bangkok to Trat€ 7$ 9
1 day scooter rental in Sihanoukville€ 5$ 6
Songtow: Trat to Cambodian border€ 5$ 6
Bangkok airport link train€ 4$ 5
Currency exchange fee in Cambodia€ 4$ 5
Scooter fuel€ 3$ 4
Total € 228 $ 293

Up a bit from the €153/$199 I spent on travel last month. Given how much I’m spending on taxis around town, I’m thinking of renting a scooter later in April to get me around Bangkok.

Business Expenses

MacBook Air (13-inch)€ 1,203$ 1,547
Personal Assistant€ 569$ 731
Web design outsourcing€ 101$ 130
AWeber email marketing€ 61$ 78
MacBook Air case€ 53$ 68
MacBook Air shoulder bag€ 34$ 44
PayPal fees€ 24$ 31
A Course In Courage affiliate payment€ 19$ 24
Post Affiliate Pro (for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription)€ 15$ 19
Ecwid shopping cart (for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription)€ 14$ 18
Things iPhone app€ 9$ 12
Socialoomph.com (monthly subscription)€ 3$ 4
Amazon Web Services (ndoherty.com CDN)€ 3$ 4
Total€ 2,108$ 2,710

Way up from €314/$408 in February. Notes…

Macbook Air
This was a long time coming. I’d had my MacBook Pro for more than 3.5 years and it was really beginning to show its age, running slowly and freezing regularly. I’m pretty happy with my new Air. I went with the shop spec (1.8 GHz processor, 4 GB RAM, 250 GB hard drive) instead of pimping it out custom-style. I figure since I intend to do a lot less web design going forward that I won’t need such a powerful machine.

Personal assistant
Progressing slowly but surely here. I’m hoping to have my assistant pulling in more than $1k next month. She’s doing great work and making my life much easier.

Post Affiliate Pro
This is for the $50 Blogs affiliate program. If you’ve ever got a friend who needs a blog set up, send them my way. I’ll get them up and running good and fast, and you’ll get a 60% cut of whatever your friend pays. Win-win-win. You can sign up for the program here and grab your affiliate link.

A quick note about 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

Donation to Ben Randall’s Human, Earth project€ 232$ 298
Donation to Mike Welch’s Jump For A Cause€ 77$ 99
Gift of Fear book giveaway (details at the end of this post)€ 61$ 78
Donation to Arts Wisconsin (Mastermind penalty)€ 16$ 21
Donation to Rightfooted (Mastermind penalty)€ 16$ 21
Donation to “helpful” guy at Cambodian visa checkpoint€ 3$ 4
Tip for taxi driver€ 2$ 3
Total€ 407$ 523

Down a bit from last month’s donation total of €436/$566, and actually well short of my goal to donate at least 15% of my earnings each month. I came up short in February, too. Must make amends soon.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Chase credit card foreign transaction fees€ 66$ 85
Monthly gym membership€ 59$ 76
Bangkok club entry fees€ 35$ 45
Frying pan€ 30$ 39
Workout gloves€ 23$ 30
Toiletries€ 21$ 27
Rock climbing gym€ 20$ 26
Skype credit€ 19$ 24
CrossFit at Aspire€ 18$ 23
Stretch exercise rope€ 16$ 21
Phone credit€ 13$ 17
Multivitamins€ 11$ 14
Book: The Girl Who Played With Fire€ 9$ 12
Book: 50 Psychology Classics€ 8$ 10
Washing detergent€ 8$ 10
iTunes movie rental: Looper€ 5$ 6
Subscription to Raam Dev’s Journal€ 5$ 6
AIB quarterly banking fee€ 5$ 6
Foot massage at Otres Beach€ 4$ 5
Candles€ 3$ 4
Ear plugs€ 3$ 4
Haircut€ 2$ 3
Pool tournament entry in Sihanoukville€ 2$ 3
Pants stitching€ 2$ 3
Bamboo Island beach chair rental€ 1$ 1
Total€ 388$ 499

Down a bit from €415/$539 in February. Notes…

Fitness expenses
I continue to invest in gym memberships and fitness equipment. I went rock climbing near the end of the month and really enjoyed that. Just need to find a cheaper place to do it now and I’ll go more regularly. I did two CrossFit classes (first one was free) and really enjoyed those, too, so I’ll be going back for more in the coming weeks.

Expense Summary

Food and Drink€ 768$ 987
Housing and Utilities€ 115$ 148
Travel€ 228$ 293
Business Expenses€ 2,108$ 2,710
Gifts and Donations€ 407$ 523
Miscellaneous expenses€ 388$ 499
Total Expenses€ 4,014$ 5,160

Whoops. More than double last month’s total of €1,966/$2,552. I’m not too concerned about the big spending so long as I’m breaking pretty even with my earnings, but at the same time I would like to start putting away some savings each month.

March Income

Away from the minuses and on to the pluses…

Sigma 6 project€ 2,677$ 3,442
Freelance web design€ 580$ 746
$50 Blogs€ 156$ 201
Reader donations (muchas gracias!)€ 105$ 135
Birthday cash gifts from friends and family€ 100$ 129
A Course In Courage€ 55$ 71
Aweber affiliate payment€ 41$ 53
Amazon.com book royalties€ 19$ 24
Amazon affiliate payments€ 19$ 24
Total Income€ 3,752$ 4,824

Up a bit from last month’s income of €3,241/$4,207. Notes…

Sigma 6 project
I can’t reveal too much about this money-making endeavor. Reason being that it’s a partnership that was offered to me on condition that I don’t go blabbing about the whole thing. All I can say is that it involves selling advertising on travel blogs, and my assistant is handling most of the workload for me nowadays.

Freelance web design
March was a big month for me in that I finally wrapped up the last of my contract web design projects. I’d been looking to move away from web design work for a while, and now that I have I’m able to focus my energies on some other interesting projects. Details to follow 😉

Where that leaves me

I had €9,073/$11,779 to my name at the end of February. After applying the most recent exchange rates (I have accounts in both Dollars and Euros), that had increased nicely to €9,223/$11,857. Taking into account all my March income and expenditure, my total bank and cash balances now work out to €8,828/$11,349.

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

  • €1,439/$1,970 in January
  • €1,275/$1,655 in February
  • €262/$337 in March
  • €426/$548 overall

Outlook for April

I expect income to end up about the same in April, although I am launching a new business venture and if that gets off to a fast start I might see a nice increase. As regards expense, I’ll likely go ahead and buy a new camera and my housing costs will also jump up as I try to find a new pad for my final few weeks in Bangkok.

Feedback welcome

Let me know your thoughts on these reports. Do you find the info helpful? Would you like more detail? Less? If you’re self-employed yourself, I’d also love to hear about your financial adventures. (Yes, I’m keeping comments open on the monthly reports.)

P.S.

I posted this photo of my finance tracking spreadsheet to the DtR Facebook page earlier today and had a few people ask if I could share the template. Here’s a bare-bones version on Google Drive, available to everyone.

15 Comments

  1. Travis

    Niall!

    Thank you for sharing the barebones spreadsheet copy. I’ll be chopping that up and merging it with current tracking to increase expense accuracy.

    Also, how do you spend so much on food? Why don’t you pay rent?

    Most importantly – what did you think about Looper?

    Reply
    • Niall Doherty

      Haha, good questions.

      I spend a lot on food these days because I really really like not caring about the price of what I’m eating. And because I went out on quite a few fancy dates last month 😉

      I haven’t paid rent the past couple of months because I prepaid for 3 months in January.

      Thought Looper was pretty good. A bit underrated methinks.

      Reply
  2. Jane

    Hi Niall,
    Love that you show your finances to us. I learn a lot from it. Curious about your personal assistant. Are you using a VA? and how did you find her? Any suggestions as I’m about to leave on extended travel and would like to find an assistant to manage all of my online activities. Can’t link to my blog post because it’s not up yet! But working on it.
    Jane

    Reply
    • Niall Doherty

      Hi Jane,

      Yes, using a VA. I’ve never actually met the girl, only communicated via email. I found her via my blog, asked for applicants in this post back in January and got some great responses.

      Reply
  3. Joanie

    Ha ha, you left off the condoms 🙂

    Reply
    • Niall Doherty

      Nope, they’re in there as part of my toiletries expense 🙂

      Reply
      • Joanie

        I was just teasing you. I saw it on the screenshot on FB broken down individually and when I didn’t see it there, I just wanted to mess with you. I love your transparency and willingness to share your life. I have been very inspired by your voice, your travels and experiences, your careful examination of humanity and you force me to question things in my own life which is always easier to see when someone else suggests it. So, thank you!

        Reply
  4. Scott

    You’re surely going to make some Americans happy with the US dollars column.

    Thank you for displaying both (and not getting rid of Euros).

    Reply
  5. Crystal

    Niall,

    Why are you spending so much on Chase Bank foreign transaction fees?

    Hope you’re well and that you remember to visit us here in New Orleans on your way back through North America.

    Crystal

    Reply
    • Niall Doherty

      Hey Crystal,

      New Orleans will be a big stop for me when I get around to the US again 🙂

      I paid for the laptop with my credit card, and some of those donations, too, hence the heft transaction fees. That’s the only credit card I have, so not much choice unfortunately.

      Reply
  6. Mike

    Not to be a party pooper, but IMHO…

    Looking at your income, if you take out the Sigma project, then the whole house of cards falls down — all of the other incidental income sources don’t amount to much at all (especially if you take out the web design, per your plan).

    I think the lifestyle you’ve chosen sounds great, but it seems to me that in your case it all hinges on the Sigma project. I’m not sure that it’s a replicable strategy — i.e. depending on smoking out “some great project” that gives you a $3K monthly income…

    Reply
    • Niall Doherty

      I agree completely, and I’ve addressed this previously. I don’t feel very secure having all my eggs in one basket. Which is why I’m going to try launch a new income stream this month, and hopefully start working on a third in May.

      I could keep up the web design and have that as a supplemental source of income, but that doesn’t scale or automate well, so looking for other opportunities that do.

      Reply
  7. Rick Neuman

    Hey Niall

    A quick question concerning affiliate links, specifically Amazon, many kindle eBook links at present.

    I have already bought a few eBooks that you have recommended either directly or listed in your expenses reports, most recently your own ‘Disrupting the Rabblement’

    However living in Ireland links to the US version of Amazon don’t really help me, or rather don’t help you much as I can search for them manually on the UK site.

    I figure if I’m going to be spending the cash anyway, I’d like to see you get a cut of it too, since you did make the recommendation 🙂

    Any advice on how to do that?

    Reply
    • Niall Doherty

      Hey Rick,

      Easy answer is not to worry about it. Amazon’s commission payout is pretty tiny anyway.

      There is apparently a plugin I could install that would figure out where the site visitor is located and load up the appropriate affiliate link (Amazon.co.uk instead of Amazon.com for instance). I’ve just been too lazy thus far to install and test that.

      But I appreciate the thought. As long as you’re checking out a few of the books I recommend and getting something good out of them, that’s payment enough for me 🙂

      Reply
      • Rick Neuman

        Good enough, thank you 🙂

        Reply

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