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August 2012 Finance Report

Namaste to all you legendary email subscribers. Welcome to my August finance report, as prepared from my favorite little breakfast place in Kathmandu.

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

  • Enwil took me on his bike up to a great viewpoint overlooking Kathmandu, and also helped me buy and figure out the whole USB Internet thing here in Nepal.
  • Narayan, brother of the guy who owns the Hotel Global Inn in Pokhara, helped me get those paragliding photos transferred from a CD to my memory card.
  • Gurung from Bikemandu for teaching me how to ride a motorcycle. Sure, I paid him for the lessons, but methinks he went above and beyond in his efforts to help me.
  • Siobhan Cronin at the Irish Examiner for helping me get another piece published, and for sending me along a PDF of the article.
  • Andrew Caldwell and Benjamin Spall for going through the first drafts of my book and providing me with excellent feedback. Also a huge thanks to Andrew for suggesting I write the thing in the first place, and for numerous helpful suggestions for things to see and do in Pokhara.
  • Loki, the Hungarian chap I met in Kathmandu who recommended a fantastic and cheap restaurant in Pokhara.
  • Niraj is always lending me a hand, helping me figure out the dealio with visas for Tibet/China, acting as my translator when needed, and a bunch of other stuff.
  • Cris for inviting me along to Pushapati and sneaking us in the back way.
  • All the people I asked for directions on the way to Pokhara, and while trekking.
  • Kai, Spyros, and Ian. All members of my Mastermind group who helped me come up with some pretty good ideas in recent weeks, including the idea for Kathmankok.
  • Everyone who has joined the Kathmankok group on Facebook.
  • That chap Gareth from Oz, who loaned me his coat at the top of Poon Hill. Good thing too, or I surely would have froze!
  • The little girl at Sun Welcome restaurant who gifted me a smartie 🙂
  • Jimmy and Andrea, the Swedish couple, for allowing me to join them at that restaurant in Pokhara and proving to be great company.
  • And thanks to everyone who read, commented, and shared my writing during the month of August. You make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

(Note: The risk of listing out such kindnesses is that I may accidentally 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 my time last month in Nepal. Diving in…

August Expenses

Food and Drink

Groceries € 20
Pubs, Coffee Shops, Restaurants, Take-aways € 345
Total € 365

Up from €329 from last month. Worked a lot from coffee shops and restaurants again, since the wifi at Sun Rise Cottage was often on the blink.

Housing and Utilities

Three weeks rent for Sun Rise Cottage, Kathmandu € 154
Two nights at Double Tree Hotel, Pokhara € 17
One night at Global Inn, Pokhara € 8
One night at guest house in Ulleri, Nepal € 2
One night at guest house in Ghorepani, Nepal € 1
Total € 182

Way up from €64 in July.


9-day motorcycle rental (including petrol and parking) € 82
Trekking permit + trekking insurance + handling fee € 38
2-day scooter rental (including petrol and parking) € 13
Taxis in Kathmandu € 11
Annapurna trekking map € 3
Indian visa telex fee € 3
Total € 150

Up a little from the €134 I spent on travel last month. Renting that motorcycle was worth every penny. That was some bucket list ish riding through the valleys of Nepal. The telex fee turned out to be a waste, since I decided right after that I wouldn’t be going back to India.

Business Expenses

Project Shwatantra € 87
Web design outsourcing € 50
Ncell Connect (USB Internet connection) € 42
AWeber email marketing € 24
WooThemes Developer Club (for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription) € 16
Post Affiliate Pro (for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription) € 15
Ecwid shopping cart (for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription) € 14
Dreamhost web hosting € 14
Internet cafes / wifi charges € 3
Socialoomph.com (monthly subscription) € 3
Total € 268

About the same as last month. Some notes…

Project Shwatantra
I wrote a bit about this last week. I’m teaching a couple of Nepalese guys web design and paying them for helping me out on various projects.

Ncell Connect
This turned out to be a waste of money. I was hoping I could use the USB Internet to get online and respond to emails and such while trekking. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a signal anywhere, and so could only afford to spend three days out on the trails. I get antsy when I know I have clients waiting to hear from me. Can’t leave them hanging for very long.

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 One Girl € 102
Amazon gift cards (Ikigai contest) € 40
Books for Project Shwatantra: Don’t Make Me Think € 32
Donation to Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation (via Facebook) € 20
Donation to Barefoot College (via Facebook) € 20
Donation to school while trekking € 5
Chocolate bar donation to street kids in Kathmandu € 1
Donation to guy in Pokhara for taking my pic € 1
Total € 221

Down from the €269 I donated last month, but I made my goal of donating at least ten percent of my income, so it’s all good.

Donations via Facebook
I asked via the Disrupting the Rabblement Facebook page for recommendations of charities focused on education, then donated €20 apiece to the first two listed in the comments. I’ll likely make donations in this way again in future, and I sometimes do giveaways via the Facebook page, so jump on over there and give it a like to make sure you don’t miss anything.

Books for Project Shwatantra
The one book I always recommend for anyone getting started in web design is Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug. I wanted to buy a couple of copies of it for the Shwatantra lads, but couldn’t find it available to buy in PDF format. So I downloaded a pirate copy, then emailed Steve Krug himself asking how I could pay him directly (I like paying for stuff I value). He wrote back and thanked me for offering to pay, but suggested I donate the money to a local charity here in Nepal instead. I went ahead and donated the price of two books to the Umbrella Foundation.

Miscellaneous Expenses

The Last Resort (bungy jump + canyoning) € 124
Paragliding in Pokhara € 70
Two days of motorcycle lessons in Kathmandu € 36
Skype credit € 20
Gym sessions € 15
Laundry (several loads) € 12
Book: The Willpower Instinct € 11
Book: The $100 Startup € 10
Book: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance € 7
Gorrillapod € 6
Subscription to Raam Dev’s Journal € 5
Toiletries € 5
Water purification tablets € 4
Cinema: The Dark Knight Rises € 3
Hat € 3
Phone credit € 2
Garden of Dreams entry € 2
Hydration salts € 1
Baba at Pushapati € 1
Total € 337

More than double what I spent on miscellaneous last month. The bungy jumping, canyoning and paragliding cost a bit, but it’s probably cheaper to do those things in Nepal than anywhere else in the world. Money well spent 🙂

Expense Summary

Food and Drink € 365
Housing and Utilities € 182
Travel € 150
Business Expenses € 268
Gifts and Donations € 221
Miscellaneous expenses € 337
Total Expenses € 1,523

Up from the €1,209 I spent in July, and significantly over my goal to spend €1k or less per month. Not much I’d change though about my expenditure in August. Might have been the best month of my life.

August Income

Away from the minuses and on to the pluses…

Freelance web design € 1,481
Irish Examiner article payment € 200
$50 Blogs € 159
Reader donations (muchas gracias!) € 107
AWeber affiliate payment € 48
A Course In Courage € 34
Amazon.com affiliate payment € 12
Total Income € 2,041

Whoo! A new personal best for income since becoming self-employed, and way up from €1,193 last month. I was especially happy to get that check for €200 from the Irish Examiner. Feels like my first real income from writing.

Where that leaves me

I had €3,113 to my name at the end of July. After applying the most recent exchange rates (I have accounts in both Dollars and Euros), that had decreased slightly to €3,068. Taking into account all my August income and expenditure, my total bank and cash balances now work out to €3,641.

Here’s how I’m doing so far in 2012:

  • €24 in January
  • €554 in February
  • €947 in March
  • €1,289 in April
  • €86 in May
  • €542 in June
  • €16 in July
  • €518 in August
  • €576 overall

Outlook for September

This will likely be my most challenging month yet in terms of finances. About a week from now I plan to leave Nepal via Tibet, which will require a special and very expensive permit. Then I’ll have a couple of weeks of travel through Tibet, China and Laos before reaching Thailand. On top of that, I need to renew my travel insurance. So I’m thinking I could end up spending close to €3,000 throughout the month.

All that expenditure wouldn’t be so bad, except that I may not be able to work a lot with all the travel I’ll be doing. I have no idea what kind of Internet access I’ll have in Tibet and Southern China, but I doubt it will be very good.

Oh well. Should be an adventure 😉

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. Sup Niall! Hey, how do you keep track of all your “paid in kindnesses?” That’s a cool thing to be conscious of, do you journal about it every night?

    1. Hey Alex,

      Yeah, I have a recurring item on my to-do list which says “Note kindnesses”, and I just jot down a few things in there every so often.

      Definitely a cool thing to be conscious of.

  2. Pretty good Niall. As long as you are above the zero income, I think it’s still good.
    Irish Examiner gave you the highest amount. Congrats!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. It’s interesting to see how it all adds up! We were over on our recent expense report as well. We have a new $50 a week buget for resturants/pubs that we are trying out. If we stick to it, it should save us at least $200 a month. If your interested, here is our expenses for rv’ing through the USA. http://www.gonewiththewynns.com/?p=2619

  4. Now that’s some interesting read Niall. You know I’m a big supporter of your lifestyle. It’s great motivation to see someone do all of this. I wasn’t subscribed to the financial report before though, I see now that I’ve been missing on a bit of information.

    It’s great to hear that you just had the best month of your life! I hope that the harder work month that’s ahead will work out to the good.

    Keep it going and good luck!

  5. Julian Summerhayes

    Thank you for sharing your income and expenses. There is a lot of good/great material that we can all learn from, particularly the discipline of budgeting. I will give some thought to how I can help you with some of your affiliate work – if I can refer people to you then it would be my pleasure to do so. I see you mention Steve Pavlina in your recommended reading. I know it is a personal thing but it would be good to see how he manages his finances. In terms of books, one book I think you wuold like is The Tracker by Tom Brown Jnr. Michael Gerber raves about it. If you fancies a Skype chat at some stage, it would be great to chat. I think you may be able to help me with a few of my projects.

    Best wishes

    1. Hey Julian,

      Thanks for the comment. That book sounds fascinating. Not available on Kindle yet though, unfortunately.

      Definitely appreciate any business you can send my way.

      Will email you about Skype.


  6. A big congratulations on the money from the Irish Examiner, looks like you got fleeced in Ulleri while trekking! 🙂

    Not sure where the goal of 1000 euro per month expenditure comes from, but might be something to re-evaluate? Sounds like this month was that ‘dream’ month of work/life/location independent mix..

    Good one mate.

    1. Thanks, dude.

      The 1000 euro goal isn’t a big deal, just something to aim for. I don’t mind spending more than that if I’m spending the money on stuff I value, like I was this past month.

  7. Niall!!! “Might have been the best month of my life.”??!!

    AND … the $200 that feels like your first real income as a writer??!! Which you’ve written is a HUGE goal for you.

    Congrats, congrats, congrats!!! I’m rejoicing in all your successes with you.

    Thanks for having us along on your grand adventure.

  8. Hello Niall,

    I have been following your adventures for a while now, a few months. You seem to be doing really well money-wise—I haven’t read the bit about showering without soap or shampoo…lol.. but it sounds interesting. Is this a good idea in the sub-tropics?

    I was out in India in 1988–and caught dysentery ..you can’t be too careful–watch out for the water! I really support you not flying…I sometimes feel like I am the only one speaking out about this problem because it causes huge environmental problems and it has got to stop.
    Anyway–take care on your next trip–Henry

    1. Thanks for the comment, Henry.

      I’m still going without shampoo. Been about 18 months now and hasn’t been a problem in any of the places I’ve been.

      Glad you’re digging my no-fly journey. I have to admit though, I’m not any kind of eco-warrior. I’m doing it more for the challenge and adventure.

  9. Awesome stuff Niall. I always smile when I see you in the green 😉 Great month! I also started posted my income and expenses online. Thanks for the inspiration, and keep rocking !!

      1. Thanks man! I’ve been wanting to do income and expense, as well as balance sheets for a few years now. I started in Jan. 2012, and have also been tracking sleeping times (I’ve been an over-sleeper for years), and I’m mastering my sleep now.

    1. Thanks, Ty. I’m hoping for the same myself! Actually have a goal in mind to build my savings back up to €10k before my next birthday (mid-March). That’s about how much I had in the bank when I quit my job. Would be a tough goal to reach, but pretty sure I could do it if I worked smart and hard for a few months.

  10. Rajith Vidanaarachchi

    Congrats on the 500+ in Green 🙂

    I’m really impressed with the amount you earn through freelance web designing…

    What sort of scripting languages do you use.. and how do you find all your work? :O I’m quite curious!

    Looking forward to follow your story as you enter the next part of your journey!

    Mucha suerte!

    1. Thanks, Rajith.

      I mostly use HTML, CSS, PHP and JavaScript (jQuery). I rarely code anything from scratch though. Most of my work these days is with WordPress.

      I think more than my coding/design skills, what helps me please clients are my communication skills. I’m pretty good at figuring what exactly the client wants and delivering that to them in a structured way. I’ll take jumbled and rambling emails and turn them into a nicely organized to-do lists, then get to work.

      As for how I find all my work, I don’t really have to go looking anymore. Most of my clients come to me now either via my blog or through referrals. I also get a lot of repeat clients. Working on three projects today, all for clients I’ve worked with previously.

      I might write a post about all this soon, although I still think I have lots of room for improvement as a freelancer.

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