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April 2011 Finance Report

*** Explanatory bit for new readers / skip this if you know the dealio ***

I quit my 9-to-5 job back in November and I’m currently transitioning into sustainable self-employment. The plan is to earn the majority of my income online so I can travel indefinitely and work from anywhere with an internet connection, like a geeky Jason Bourne.

One of my main goals with this blog is to lay down a blueprint so others can learn from my journey and achieve their own freedom.

The biggest problem with leaving 9-to-5 is giving up the steady paycheck that comes with it. You’ll often have to endure a few lean months before you begin to see real money trickle in from your entrepreneurial ventures. That’s where I’m at right now, and I’d like to reveal exactly what that’s like and how I’m making it work.

I post these finance reports once a month so you can see how much my lifestyle costs and how I afford it. If you’re not interested in all that stuff, no worries. Just skip these posts.

Three quick notes to help you understand how I track my finances:

  • I round my expenses up and my earnings down. The idea here is that I’ll be left with a few extra Euros at the end of each month and I can go buy myself a nice frock or something.
  • Earnings don’t count until the money is in my bank account or the cash is in my hand.
  • I record what I spend and earn each day in a spreadsheet on Google Docs, or just on paper if I don’t have Internet access. I try to track absolutely everything.

*** End of explanatory bit ***

April Expenses

I’m changing the categories up a bit this month, making it easier for you folks to scan through and see what I’m spending my money on. Hat tip to Raam Dev, since I pretty much stole his formatting :-P.

Food and Drink

Groceries € 172
Pubs, Coffee Shops, Restaurants, Take-aways € 119
Total € 291

Overall, I spent €48 less here compared to March.

Rent and Utilities

Home Internet € 60
Gas and electric € 25
Total € 85

No rent expense for April, since the deposit I paid back in December covered my final month’s accommodation in Cork. Some bills did catch up with me though. That €60 is for four months of home Internet access.


Bus from Cork to Waterford € 20
Train from Carlow to Dublin € 13
Local bus fares € 3
Total € 36

Funny story: I bought the Carlow-Dublin train ticket online, and received a reference number to type into a machine at the station. Except when I got to the station, there was no machine. So I went to the guy at the ticket window and explained what had happened. His solution:

— I’ll write ya a note!

So off I went with my stamped and signed note. When I got to Dublin, I presented it to the ticket inspector at the exit gate. He shook his head and laughed. “Typical Carlow!”

Business Expenses

iDevAffiliate software € 75
Government stamp duty on business credit card € 30
Aweber email marketing (affiliate link) € 13
Mobile phone credit € 10
Vimeo Plus € 9
Printing € 5
Internet cafe € 1
Total € 143

I used iDevAffiliate to create an affiliate program for A Course In Courage. If you’ve tried the course and liked it, you can sign up to the program and grab a special referral link. Then, whenever someone registers for the course via your link, you get $10 per month for as long as they’re subscribed. Win-win-win. Full details on the program here.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Louisiana 2010 taxes € 182
Government stamp duty on personal credit card € 30
You Don’t Need a Job, You Need Guts by Ashley Ambirge € 27
Donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (details here) € 16
Snatch Comedy improv show at Crane Lane € 10
My first ever yoga class € 7
Byki Spanish app for iPhone € 6
Pay-it-forward smoothie (details here) € 5
Xtra vision movie rental (Goodbye Solo) € 4
Street donations € 2
Total € 289

Stung this month by that tax payment and the credit card fees. Oh well, at least I got a nice federal tax refund to make up for it (see below).

I want to give a special mention here to Ms. Ambirge’s ebook, since it kicks serious ass. There’s a lot of how-to stuff in there, but it was the last two sections that really tickled my pickle, all about the mindset you need to succeed as an online entrepreneur, and Ash’s own inspiring story. If you fancy checking out You Don’t Need Guts, buy it via my link above, forward along your receipt to himself at ndoherty dot com, and I’ll gladly throw in a half-hour Skype session where we can share notes on the ebook and chat about whatever else you like.

Expense Summary

Food and Drink € 291
Rent and Utilities € 85
Travel € 36
Business Expenses € 143
Miscellaneous expenses € 289
Total Expenses € 844

Turns out April was easily my least expensive month so far this year, mostly because I didn’t have to pay any rent and I barely traveled.

April Income

Alright, away from the minuses and on to the pluses…

US Federal tax refund € 305
Cash gifts from friends and family € 260
A Course In Courage subscriptions € 88
World Domination Summit accommodation refund € 78
Yoga studio loan repayment € 34
Affiliate payment for Guerrilla Influence Formula € 32
Loose change cashed in € 25
Revenue € 822
minus 20% tax – € 164
Income € 658

I have to admit, I got very lucky as regards income in April. The bulk of it came from a nice tax refund and generous cash gifts from family before I moved to Spain (gracias a todos!). I was also repaid a loan I made to a friend several months back, and I discovered that my hostel payment for the World Domination Summit won’t actually be charged to my credit card until I get there, so that amount goes back on the plus side of the ledger for another few weeks.

As for actual earnings, I didn’t do very well; just €120 altogether, about the same as last month. There still haven’t been many sign-ups for A Course In Courage, though I remain optimistic that it can bring in some significant income once I devote more time to marketing.

(A quick note on the 20% tax: I’m intentionally going over the top with that estimation. It will never be quite that high since I’ll have a certain amount of tax free allowance and I can write off a lot of items as business expenses, but I like to put aside that little bit extra just to be safe.)

Where that leaves me

I had €6,900 to my name at the end of March. After applying the most recent exchange rate (I have accounts in both Dollars and Euros), that had shrunk to €6,665. Taking into account all my April expenses, earnings and taxes, my total bank and cash balances now work out to €6,517.

A quick summary of how I’m doing so far this year:

  • – €1,173 in January
  • – €641 in February
  • – €785 in March
  • – €186 in April

Outlook for May

So I just moved to Spain, and I’ll be here until mid-August. These few months are really make-or-break for me. I have to start earning enough to cover my expenses, or else my savings will be depleted and I’ll end up looking for one of those pesky job things, or resorting to freelance web design work (not ideal).

Most of my focus for May will be on marketing the bejaysus out of A Course In Courage, doing SEO work for mi hermano (there’s a €500 bonus there for me if I can get his site to #1 on Google.ie), and building several affiliate mini-sites.

As for expenses, I should be able to keep those below €1,000, despite the cost of moving country and paying rent again.

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.

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  1. Niall,

    Great info. Interesting that you’re willing to be so transparent about your income and expenses, few people are. But I think you win audience by doing that.

    I also wanted to break out of my 8-to-5 window for a long time… but with my precious pregnant wife and a 4-month-old little boy on my shoulders, I don’t feel courageous enough to quit to devote my time to entrepreneurship. I don’t have any money leftover to save, so my plan for now is to apply hard for a better paying job so I can build some savings in order to sustain me and my family when I do make a change.

    I did show some courage by entering the graphic and web design / printing industry a few years ago with no prior education or experience. I’m self-taught. But now it feels like I’ve reach a plateau with the company I currently work for (and with economy slow, the last raise I received was 3+ years ago).

    Maybe you would have any suggestions or pointers for me.


    1. Hey Ross, thanks for the comment!

      I think it’s smart to stick with a regular job for now, especially with a young family to support. If you’re eager to move up to a bigger and better position, I’d advise you to start targeting companies you’d really like to work for, and then pitch yourself to them, show how you can add value to their team or solve some problem that they have. It doesn’t matter if they’re not hiring. If they like you enough, they’ll bring you on board.

      Seth Godin’s books are great for more on this. Linchpin would probably be a great start.

      Hope that helps. Thanks again.

  2. Pavel Nosikov

    Hey Niall!

    For me this posts are detailed enough to get the picture.

    I did’t understand why you counted Government stamp duty on business credit card 2 times (in Business and Miscellaneous expenses). Isn’t it a mistake?

  3. Excellent detail Niall, keep cracking on so you can buy more frocks haha!

    I am totally with you on Ashley Ambirge’s ebook….totally arse-kicking!

    1. Also read Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk. Also amazing stuff on how to be open and vocal about your passion and living it out in spite of fears setbacks.

  4. I love reading these reports Niall. They make great inspiration, and it’s great to see someone right at the start of their journey chronicling it all the way through 🙂 Best of luck with it all!

    1. Thanks, Rob. Yeah, I figure not many people online report on their income and expenditure until they’ve “made it,” and then it’s mostly just to brag!

  5. Love the simplified categories! 🙂 I haven’t posted my expense report for April yet, but it’s very similar to yours, about $1500 expenses and $1700 income.

    I’m thinking of moving my expense reports to WordPress pages instead of posts. The financial reports seem like such a departure from everything else I write about and it almost feels silly posting it on the front page.

    I wish there was a way to make the reports a bit more entertaining…. I really liked the little story you added to the Travel section.

    1. Thanks, Raam!

      I get what you mean about these posts being a departure. This will actually be the last time I post mine on the regular blog. I’m going to create a newsletter and offer these little “extra insight” posts to subscribers. My monthly traffic reports will be included as well, and maybe a few other bits and pieces.

      1. Great idea! I think I’ll create a separate section on my blog using pages and then mention the reports to my email subscribers and on Twitter and Facebook.

  6. Interesting post! I’m considering to become an entrepreneur as well, so this info is great.

    I was just wondering if you don’t have any expenses for insurance?

    1. Hey Simon. Thanks for the comment. I don’t have any insurance at the moment. Risky, I know. I have it on my to-do list to get the World Nomads travel insurance. Four months coverage would cost me about €200 (and it works out cheaper if you buy longer-term).

      I think I’ll wait to get insurance though until I really start traveling later this year. I’m still taking a risk this summer not having any insurance, but I figure not too much can go wrong in Spain, especially since I’m staying mostly in one place and not jumping around a lot.