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April 2013 Finance Report

Sawadee krab to all you legendary email subscribers. Welcome to my April finance report, as prepared from my new apartment in On Nut 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

  • Alice and the other cool folks at Aspire fitness center for letting me use their wifi and work from their lobby for an hour or so before Crossfit.
  • Kitty, for being my willing and able partner on many an adventure this past month.
  • Mike for the refresher spin on his motorcycle, and for snapping a cool pic of me power-kicking invisible zombies off a train track.
  • Spyros and Kai for the cool Masterminding as always.
  • Franck and Oye at Bangkok Bikes Rental, for sorting me out with a motorcycle for my Chiang Mai trip, and then a scooter when I got back to the big smoke.
  • The ever-legendary Will Peach, for spotting me some cash for my GoPro purchase so I didn’t have to run and find an ATM right then. Better yet, he let me crash a couple of weeks rent-free at his apartment in Bangkok after the lease on my place expired.
  • Lots of kind people from my trip up to Chiang Mai. Several restaurant and guesthouse owners let me to charge up my camera and phone and helped me out with directions and recommendations.
  • Charin at the Three J Guesthouse in Kamphaeng Phet. Probably the nicest place I’ve ever stayed, in terms of value for money and how welcome they made me feel. I stopped by again on the way back from Chiang Mai to catch an afternoon nap. I offered to pay for a full night but Charin insisted on giving me a discount.
  • The very friendly and helpful night market people in Kamphaeng Phet. Got some great eats there.
  • Krass at Baan Kiang Chan, the place I stayed in Mae Sot. Wicked attentive with the refills and fans.
  • The random chap who helped me get unlost in a Chiang Mai shopping mall.
  • Paul and Tim, who I ran into at a bar in Chiang Mai. I was early to meet a friend and they recognized me from the blog and invited me to join them. Had a great time hanging out with those mad feckers.
  • The infamous Turner Barr for lots of good brainstorming and hanging out throughout the month.
  • The even more infamous Travis Garner, for being my buddy in the trenches and on the front lines during Songkran in Chiang Mai. Epic times were had.
  • Ann for good hanging out while in Chiang Mai. And her friend Ying, for helping ensure I wasn’t a dangerous weirdo 😉
  • Hajer for eggy meals, cups of tea, and good company.
  • Shaz and co. for the regular meetups and hangouts in Bangkok.
  • Turner, Chris, Brock, Stephen, Ian, Jamie and Talon for a good blogger meetup and dinner conversation.
  • Doorman dude at Nana Plaza who didn’t mind me shooting a video right there.
  • Johnny for sorting out the deposit refund on our apartment in Bangkok.
  • Both of my assistants for being all kinds of brilliant and continuing to make my life easier.
  • Cody McKibben for interviewing me live for his DNA crew. Enjoyed that a lot.
  • Everyone who took the time to submit their random acts of courage stories for this blog post. My apologies that I couldn’t include them all.
  • Nikki for helping me find a new apartment in Bangkok.
  • Yo and Noon, who work at my new apartment building and helped me get everything sorted there.
  • And thanks to everyone who read, commented, and shared my writing during the month of April. Feels as if I got more compliments on my writing these past few weeks than ever before. So, thanks again. You People 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 all of my time last month in Thailand, mostly in Bangkok, with a week-long trip up to Chiang Mai and back for the Songkran festival. Diving in…

April Expenses

Food and Drink

Groceries € 200 $ 264
Pubs, Coffee Shops, Restaurants, Take-aways € 485 $ 640
Total € 685 $ 904

Down a bit from the €768/$987 I spent last month. I still cook quite regularly at home, on average about one meal per day, but I do tend to splash out in restaurants. If it wasn’t so hot here I’d happily eat at the cheap, street-side restaurants all the time and save myself a massive chunk of cash.

Housing and Utilities

3 nights at the Check Inn, Bangkok € 88 $ 116
4 nights at S.K. House, Chiang Mai € 73 $ 96
My share of the electricity bill at Wittayu apartment € 40 $ 53
Cleaners for Wittayu apartments € 30 $ 40
1 night at Baan Kiang Chan, Mae Sot € 19 $ 24
1 night at Aajam Riverfront Rooms, Kanchanaburi € 19 $ 24
1.5 nights at Three J Guesthouse, Kamphaeng Phet € 14 $ 18
Total € 283 $ 373

Up from €115/$148 last month. The rent on my first apartment in Bangkok was prepaid in January, but I spent time in quite a few hotels and guesthouses on my trip to Chiang Mai.


11-day scooter rental in Bangkok € 87 $ 115
Motorcycle fuel (Bangkok-Chiang Mai trip) € 63 $ 83
Taxis in Bangkok € 42 $ 55
Bangkok BTS (skytrain) and metro € 13 $ 17
Scooter fuel € 5 $ 7
Parking at Mae Sot night market € 1 $ 1
Total € 211 $ 278

Down a bit from the €228/$293 I spent on travel last month. I finally went ahead and rented a scooter mid-way through the month. Much handier than having to get taxis everywhere, even if it does work out a little more expensive.

Business Expenses

Personal Assistants € 1,136 $ 1,499
AWeber email marketing € 23 $ 30
PayPal fees € 18 $ 24
SEO writing, outsourced € 15 $ 20
Post Affiliate Pro (for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription) € 14 $ 19
Ecwid shopping cart (for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription) € 13 $ 17
Amazon Web Services (ebizfacts.com CDN) € 4 $ 5
Socialoomph.com (monthly subscription) € 3 $ 4
Total € 1,226 $ 1,617

This is down from the €2,108/$2,710 I spent last month, when I splashed out on a new laptop. Notes…

Personal assistants
I hired a second assistant a couple of weeks back, to help with an SEO writing business that I’ve started. I’ll be happy to share more info on that in due time, still early days right now. My first assistant continues to handle pretty much all the work related to my Sigma 6 project, still going strong.

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 In Search of Sanuk € 303 $ 400
Donation to One Girl € 303 $ 400
Donation to street family (following the bargirl incident) € 27 $ 36
Donation to SOS Children’s Villages (Mastermind penalty) € 15 $ 20
Donation to In Search of Sanuk (Mastermind penalty) € 15 $ 20
Donation to Gahaf Tounsi € 15 $ 20
Book giveaway via DtR Facebook page € 13 $ 17
Tip for pizza delivery guy € 3 $ 4
Busker donation at the bridge on the River Kwai € 1 $ 1
Total € 695 $ 917

Up from last month’s donation total of €407/$523, and for the first time since January I reached my goal of donating 15% of my monthly earnings. For the year I’ve now donated just a shade over 14% of my income, which works out to €2,020/$2,665. Feels good.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Personal trainer (ten sessions) at The Lab € 419 $ 553
GoPro camera and accessories € 342 $ 451
Clothing (3 dress shirts, 1 sports shirt) € 156 $ 206
Parkour sessions (ten-pack, paid in advance) € 81 $ 107
Monthly gym membership € 58 $ 76
1 terabyte external hard drive € 64 $ 84
Aromatherapy massage at Bangkok Natural Spa (incredible) € 44 $ 58
32MB memory card € 43 $ 57
Phone credit € 41 $ 54
AIB credit card government stamp duty € 30 $ 40
Water guns for Songran € 23 $ 30
Security bribes at abandoned skyscraper in Bangkok € 19 $ 25
Toiletries € 19 $ 25
CrossFit session at Aspire € 17 $ 22
Helmet for scooter (to replace one that was stolen) € 17 $ 22
Parkour session € 14 $ 18
Police bribe at toll gate in Bangkok € 14 $ 18
Cinema: The Place Beyond the Pines € 13 $ 17
Shisha € 10 $ 13
Bangkok nightclub entry fees € 8 $ 11
Book: The Magic of Reality € 7 $ 9
Rock climbing session € 7 $ 9
Subscription to Raam Dev’s Journal € 5 $ 7
iTunes movie rental: Taken 2 € 5 $ 7
Book: Private Dancer € 5 $ 6
Book: My Exile Lifestyle € 2 $ 3
Washing detergent € 2 $ 2
Wifi card at coffee shop € 2 $ 2
Laundry € 2 $ 2
Haircut € 2 $ 2
Restroom massage at the Happy Times Bar, Bangkok € 2 $ 2
Waterproof pouch for Songkran € 1 $ 1
Bucket for Songkran € 1 $ 1
Light scarf (promptly lost) € 1 $ 1
iTunes movie rental: Amelie € 1 $ 1
Total € 1,477 $ 1,948

Wow. Way up from €388/$499 last month. Lots of seemingly small expenses added up. Notes…

Fitness expenses
A big chunk of the above expenses are fitness related, as I continue on my year-long quest to become functionally fit. I hired a personal trainer at a place called The Lab in Bangkok to help improve mobility in my hips and shoulders. I also signed up for a 10-pack of Parkour classes (absolutely loving those), and I’ve kept my original gym membership and will continue to lift there twice a week.

Expense Summary

Food and Drink € 685 $ 904
Housing and Utilities € 283 $ 373
Travel € 211 $ 278
Business Expenses € 1,226 $ 1,617
Gifts and Donations € 695 $ 917
Miscellaneous expenses € 1,477 $ 1,948
Total Expenses € 4,577 $ 6,038

I somehow managed to spend even more than last month’s €4,014/$5,160. Once again though, I’m not too concerned about big spending so long as I’m breaking pretty even with my earnings, and so long as I’m spending the vast majority on things I value.

April Income

Away from the minuses and on to the pluses…

Sigma 6 project € 3,943 $ 5,201
Deposit refunded from Wittayu apartment € 478 $ 630
Reader donations (muchas gracias!) € 38 $ 50
Loan repayment from a friend € 29 $ 38
Amazon affiliate payments € 11 $ 14
How To Live A Life Of Travel affiliate payment € 10 $ 13
Total Income € 4,507 $ 5,946

Up from last month’s income total of €3,752/$4,824, and not far off my personal best for monthly income. 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. I continue to scale up the operation gradually, but I’m eager to develop other income streams so I won’t have to rely so heavily on this one.

Where that leaves me

I had €8,828/$11,349 to my name at the end of March. After applying the most recent exchange rates (I have accounts in both Dollars and Euros), that had decreased slightly to €8,625/$11,378. Taking into account all my April income and expenditure, my total bank and cash balances now work out to €8,884/$11,720.

(Yeah, I know the above numbers may look a bit funny. I earned more than I spent in April yet my balance is higher at the end of the month. Likewise, my Euros balance decreased while my Dollars balance increased. All this weirdness can be accounted for by exchange rates.)

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
  • €70/$92 in April
  • €496/$654 overall

Outlook for May

Off to an expensive start so far. As of this writing I’ve already paid a good chunk of commission to one assistant and put down a deposit and a month’s rent on a new apartment in Bangkok. I don’t foresee any other big expenses though for the next few weeks. I’ve signed up for all those fitness activities and I plan to knuckle down and get some good work done this month, so not much time to be out and about throwing money around. As for income, I suspect I’ll pull in about the same amount I did in April. Hopefully more if the SEO writing business takes off, though that’s more likely to build slowly.

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. Holy crap, 6,000 USD in a month!? That’s crazy expensive. Well, I guess you’re on vacation at the same time so it should be about right…

  2. Hi nail, I enjoy your blog and your book was fantastic, I just feel that there might be some shady bs regarding your sigma 6 project, it’s like out of thin air you’re pulling in 5k a month… doesn’t seem realistic to me. Thanks.

    1. Sorry I can’t reveal more, Leon. Two reasons why:

      1) My partner in this business only brought me into it on condition that I couldn’t reveal what it was all about.

      2) Related to the first, it’s not an infinite market. If I told everyone here exactly what I was doing and how I was doing it, pretty sure I’d make a lot less money next month.

      Hope you can appreciate that. I’ve started two other businesses this month and I plan to be a lot more transparent about those should they start earning me good money.

  3. Your finance reports are so detailed they make mine look like they were prepared on accident.

    I will continue to copy you. Best of luck on your SEO venture, it’s a lucrative industry!

  4. Hi Niall

    Thanks for sharing…its great to read and made me think of the importance of being more consciously aware of my own business and personal living costs….you are right those small amounts soon add up..!!
    Part of the transition from corporate life to self employed is the change in attitudes to money. The money you earn yourself has so much more worth and also not getting a wage on the same day each month quickly changes your views on spending.
    Its great to read about someone else’s challenges to help your reflect on your own

    Have enjoyed reading your other blogs too… keep up the good work 🙂


  5. You my friend, are a sexy panda cub.

    And I envy your balance sheet. I dare not keep track of my spending as I am sure the black hole of the bar tab will surely be too sickening.

  6. Hey Niall,

    I’m fairly new to the site and have to say that I love reading your finance reports (have read two I believe). I’m nomadic and spent a few years living in Thailand – one of those years was in Bangkok (Pomprab), so I find the details of your current expenses really interesting. In addition, I appreciate the detail you go into in your reports. It’s always interesting to see how others approach this lifestyle.

  7. I find the information both interesting and helpful. The only difference is that I plan for my business to be US-based, so while there are no exchange rates to deal with, I have 2 daughters and our expenses are definitely higher. I’m in the process of establishing and growing my SEO writing business as well, although I’ve barely made headway so far. If I don’t increase my income by the end of the month, I’ll have to get a “real” job so I can feed my family. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Thanks for sharing Niall, always amaze me how you get all this information so neatly organized.
    More spending, but it seems you’ve been doing a lot of outdoor and fitness related activities! I want too! (Working on it).

    BTW, I was a monthly donor, and one day you cancelled that… Was that intentional?

    Anyway, keep up the good life!


    1. Thanks, Jorge. I didn’t cancel any of the monthly donations. Some have been cancelled over time, but I assumed it was just the donors cancelling them once they saw I was doing pretty well financially.

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