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Everything I Earned And Spent In 2013

2013 was my third full year being a self-employed vagabond, traveling around the world without flying while working from my laptop. I managed to visit eight countries during the year, starting in Thailand and ending up in South Korea. I increased my income significantly over the previous twelve months, but like a dumbass I more than doubled my expenses at the same time, and netted a loss of almost $7,000 for the year.

If you’re a regular visitor here you’ll know that I’ve been tracking all my income and expenditure since I quit my day job at the end of 2010, and sharing detailed monthly finance reports with my email subscribers. Below I’ll share with you a summary of all my income and expenses from 2013.

2013 Expenses

Business Expenses € 15,269 $ 20,208
Food and Drink € 6,428 $ 8,503
Travel € 6,185 $ 8,315
Housing and Utilities € 5,432 $ 7,254
Gifts and Donations € 5,376 $ 7,135
Books € 304 $ 402
Miscellaneous € 5,533 $ 7,336
Total Expenses € 44,523 $ 59,157

Total Expenses in 2012: €21,049 / $27,751 (view my 2012 financial summary here).

2013 Income

Sigma 6 project € 31,605 $ 41,894
SEO Writing Business € 2,116 $ 2,769
Freelance web design € 1,343 $ 1,787
Gifts and Donations € 1,101 $ 1,466
Wood Egg project € 731 $ 989
$50 Blogs € 708 $ 924
Coaching € 349 $ 480
Affiliate Income € 332 $ 438
Book royalties € 255 $ 338
A Course In Courage € 173 $ 229
Miscellaneous € 695 $ 914
Total Income € 39,408 $ 52,228

Total Income in 2012: €25,269 / $33,316 (view my 2012 financial summary here).

Other numbers of interest

Total cash and bank balances on January 1, 2013 € 8,374 $ 11,057
Total cash and bank balances on December 31, 2013 € 4,036 $ 5,547
Difference between those two numbers € 4,338 $ 5,510
Money spent per day in 2013 € 121.98 $ 162.07
Money earned per day in 2013 € 107.97 $ 143.09
Lowest earning month (November) € 1,835 $ 2,494
Highest earning month (June) € 4,538 $ 5,904
Most expensive month (November) € 5,227 $ 7,104
Least expensive month (February) € 1,655 $ 1,966


  1. I’m aware that the difference between my income and expenses for the year doesn’t match the difference between my start of year bank balances and end of year bank balances. I’ve double-checked the numbers and can’t find any mistakes in my calculations so I’m at a loss as to the cause of this. Seems to be too much of a discrepancy to attribute to inflation or interest rates. Any ideas?
  2. There are several expenses I regret from 2013. The apartment I rented for two months in On Nut, Bangkok was overpriced. I also overspent on food while I was living in Bangkok. Also the GoPro I bought back in April (barely used it since).
  3. My goal was to donate 15% of my income in 2013. I didn’t quite make the mark, falling short the last two months especially as my savings began to dwindle and I couldn’t quite justify digging into them to keep donating. Interesting that I spent about $7k more than I earned throughout the year, and my donations amounted to about the same. So if I hadn’t donated anything I would have been right at the break even point for the year. That said, I don’t regret giving away all that money. The vast majority went to causes I was happy to support. Plus, I don’t pay taxes, so giving away a chunk of my income is the least I can do to contribute back to society.
  4. Throughout the year I leaned heavily on the (largely passive) income from the Sigma 6 business. I’m grateful for that as it gave me the freedom to devote lots of time to experimenting with other business pursuits and getting into the best shape of my life. As previously noted though, I’m leaving that income stream behind in 2014. Might be the dumbest move ever. We’ll see.
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  1. I’m wondering if you know how much time you spent to earn the money that you did. Because one of the points is to have passive income, but the phrase passive income should really be retitled, non-job income as there is always some effort involved in setting up and keeping a passive income stream going. Just curious if you track your work hours?

    1. Hey Nancy,

      I didn’t track my time working on the Sigma 6 project, but after I hired an assistant to do most of the work in March, I spent about an hour per week on it, save for a couple of weeks in September when I was writing system documentation and rejigging a few things.

  2. Seems you gave up a little bit on your minimalist approach this year my friend 🙂

    Saying that, don’t forget that part of 2013 expenses you invested back in your business.

    The key in that sense is not to have a larger saving account at the end of the year (you lose money with inflation anyway) but rather a larger and reliable stream of income (preferably passive and preferably multiple income streams…), something which you plan to do with your software initiative. Then keep investing back into your business as it’s probably the best investment you can make.

    Hope it makes sense.

    1. It seems like you’ve reinvested a lot of your money (one-third of your expenses) back into your business. I interpret this report to say that you spent roughly $39,000 (in personal spending), and invested $20,000 back into your business.

      In other words, in my opinion, you’re living a decently frugal life and you’re investing one-third of your income. That’s a great accomplishment.

      The one piece of advice that I’d offer — if you don’t mind me offering unsolicited advice — is to set something aside for retirement. I don’t know how the retirement system works in Ireland, but I’m assuming that individuals are responsible for providing for themselves. If that’s the case, then create a habit of setting some money aside for your senior years.

      That said, congratulations on a successful year. You’re doing an awesome job of earning and traveling and I can’t wait to see more of your success in 2014.

      1. Thanks, Paula. I appreciate that advice. I would like to start building up my savings.

        I don’t see the 20k I put back into the business last year as an investment though. I wasn’t expanding or growing the business, mostly just paying my assistant to do the work for me. Which was great in that gave me a lot more free time, but it didn’t help improve the business any methinks.

  3. Niall,
    On the bank thing are do you keep track on a cash basis (meaning you track exactly when its spent and comes/goes in/out of your bank?) Or more on a semi-cash/accural basis so you have accounted for expenses that havent yet hit the bank, or income as well.
    Maybe your January bank statement will show an expense coming out Jan 2nd that you posted in Decemebr is what I am thinking 😉

    1. Hey Eden. I track everything at the point of sale. So as soon as I pay for something, I track it there and then.

      So yeah, I paid for some things at the end of 2013 that pay some of my way in 2014. For example, I paid my January rent in December, and I paid for pretty much all my February travel, food and accommodation expenses in November.

  4. Hey Niall,

    Someone must have asked this before, but I couldn’t find the answer :

    what’s your system to keep track of your expenses very accurately?

    Cheers to 100k$ in your bank next year !


  5. You two have a look of pure devilment about ye in that photo flashing 1000 Baht notes..

    …Is exactly what i’d think if I didn’t know you.. But seeing as you don’t drink, hate sexpests and probably gave half of it to a monk outside..

    What about Paypal fees? I’d say they are in the $$$ region..

    Also, rumor has it you can live in Thailand for $10 per day.. You must have been royalty with your VIP busses and extra Paleo meals..

    1. PayPal fees are included in business expenses. I haven’t added them up but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were close to $1000 for the year.

      And yeah, definitely spent way too much in Bangkok. Eating Paleo for a few months was expensive, and I spent more than I should have on rent there.

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