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August 2013 Finance Report

Nín hǎo to all you legendary email subscribers. Welcome to my August finance report, as prepared from the tiny corner desk in my tiny corner room in my tiny corner apartment in Hong Kong.

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. Keep in mind that I spent almost the entire month living in Hong Kong, one of the most expensive cities in the world. Diving in…

August Expenses

Food and Drink

Pubs, Coffee Shops, Restaurants, Take-aways € 163 $ 215
Groceries € 216 $ 285
Total € 379
$ 500

Way down from the €629/$832 I spent on food and drink in July, when I was living mostly in Bangkok. I’ve made a conscious effort to save money on food in Hong Kong. I prepare the same three meals at home each day and usually have a fourth meal at one of two cheap restaurants near my apartment.

Housing and Utilities

Hong Kong apartment deposit € 586 $ 774
1 month rent for Hong Kong apartment € 536 $ 709
2 nights at Hong Kong Hostel € 36 $ 47
1 day at Green Forest Hostel, Nanning € 7 $ 9
Easyroommate.com.hk subscription € 7 $ 9
Total € 1,171 $ 1,548

More than double what I spent last month, though I expect to get that full deposit back at the end of September when I leave town. The rental price is about as cheap as it gets on Hong Kong Island, and that’s for a small room in a shared apartment. Fortunately, the people I’m living with are pretty cool.


Vietnamese visa € 49 $ 65
Hong Kong metro € 34 $ 45
Chinese visa € 34 $ 45
Train: Hanoi to Nanning € 34 $ 45
Train: Nanning to Shenzhen € 16 $ 21
Taxi to Hanoi train station € 5 $ 6
Currency exchange in Shenzhen € 2 $ 2
Shenzhen metro € 1 $ 1
Total € 174 $ 230

About half of what I spent on travel the previous month. Getting visas here in HK is much easier and cheaper than doing so in Bangkok.

Business Expenses

S6 Personal Assistant € 1,015 $ 1,341
SWB Personal Assistant € 321 $ 424
AWeber email marketing € 38 $ 50
Dreamhost web hosting € 27 $ 36
PayPal fees € 16 $ 21
Ecwid shopping cart (for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription) € 13 $ 17
Fancy Hands € 11 $ 14
Domain registrations € 9 $ 12
Facebook ads (for Mucha Guasa) € 9 $ 12
Amazon Web Services (ebizfacts.com CDN) € 4 $ 5
Total € 1,462 $ 1,932

Down a bit from €1,644/$2,172 in July. I’ll tell you more about the S6 and SWB projects further down. Other notes…

Mucha Guasa
This is an experiment I’m trying with a friend. The goal is to build a Facebook community of Spanish language learners, and then see if we can create and sell helpful e-learning products to them. We’ve given ourselves a month to get 1,000 likes on the page. Failing that, we’ll likely drop it and try something else. We’re almost two weeks deep as of this writing and way off the pace, but we’ll see what happens these next couple of weeks.

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

Pay it Forward giveaway on Facebook € 303 $ 400
Book giveaway (You Are Not So Smart) € 39 $ 51
Contribution to Stomping Ground € 38 $ 50
Donation to a friend € 38 $ 50
Donation to Loyola University New Orleans € 19 $ 25
Total € 436 $ 576

Down from last months’ donation total of €726/$985, and still a little short of the goal to donate 15% of my income each month. So far this year I’ve given away €4,297/$5,681, which works out to 14.3% of my income.


On Writing € 10 $ 13
Death From The Skies! € 9 $ 12
Emergency € 9 $ 12
On Combat € 8 $ 10
Night € 5 $ 6
Letters From A Stoic € 4 $ 5
The Richest Man in Babylon € 3 $ 4
Total € 47 $ 62

I’ve decided to give books their own category so you can easily see what I’ve been reading each month. The total cost here is about the same as July.

Miscellaneous Expenses

1 month of Krav Maga classes € 191 $ 252
Phone credit and sim cards in Hong Kong € 26 $ 34
Krav Maga t-shirt € 20 $ 26
Skype credit € 19 $ 25
iPhone armband € 17 $ 22
Subscription to Raam Dev’s Journal € 5 $ 7
Haircut € 5 $ 7
Laundry € 4 $ 5
Tin opener € 3 $ 4
Toiletries € 3 $ 4
Air freshener € 2 $ 2
Postcard and stamp € 1 $ 1
Total € 294 $ 389

Down from the €561/$741 I spent on miscellaneous last month. Notes…

Krav Maga classes in Hong Kong
As part of my ongoing pursuit of functional fitness, I came to Hong Kong mainly to train in Krav Maga. Honestly, I haven’t been thrilled with the training so far. It’s overly technical, and we rarely simulate real fight situations. I was hoping for more screaming and bruises. Of course, it doesn’t help either that we only train twice a week. I think it’s tough to become competent at anything if you’re only practicing it for 2-3 hours a week.

Expense Summary

Food and Drink € 379 $ 500
Housing and Utilities € 1,171 $ 1,548
Travel € 174 $ 230
Business Expenses € 1,462 $ 1,932
Gifts and Donations € 436 $ 576
Books € 47 $ 62
Miscellaneous expenses € 294 $ 389
Total Expenses € 3,962 $ 5,237

Down a nice bit from last month’s total of €4,460/$5,919.

August Income

Away from the minuses and on to the pluses…

Sigma 6 project € 2,671 $ 3,532
Reader donations (muchas gracias!) € 116 $ 154
$50 Blogs € 95 $ 125
Web design € 51 $ 68
SWB project € 33 $ 43
A Course In Courage € 32 $ 42
Amazon.com affiliate payment € 21 $ 28
Amazon book royalties € 17 $ 23
How To Live A Life Of Travel affiliate payment € 8 $ 11
Total Income € 3,045 $ 4,026

Way down from last month’s personal best of €5,028/$6,647.


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. Taking away the expense of my assistant, the profit here was €1,656/$2,191 for the month of August, down significantly from July’s total of €2,097/$2,770 and about half of June’s profit total. I will be spending the first week of October checking in with this business and seeing what optimizations I can make.

SWB project
This was the SEO Writing Business (SWB for short) I experimented with for a few months, before making the decision at the end of July to shut it down. Simply too much work for too little profit. I can always pick it up again pretty easily though if I’m really stuck for cash, and do the work myself instead of hiring an assistant. Final numbers for the business: €2,094/$2,769 revenue, €1,600/$2,116 expenses, €494/$653 profit.

Where that leaves me

I had €7,499/$9,911 to my name at the end of July. After applying the most recent exchange rates (I have accounts in EUR, HKD and USD), those totals had stayed essentially the same, at €7,496/$9,911. Taking into account all my August income and expenditure, my total bank and cash balances now work out to €6,641/$8,780.

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
  • €1,762/$2,290 in May
  • €126/$164 in June
  • €568/$728 in July
  • €917/$1,211 in August
  • €2,733/$3,591 overall

Outlook for September

Confident that expenses will be lower, hopefully down around the $4k mark this time as I have all my visas in order and won’t have to pay a full month’s rent.

Income-wise, who knows? It’s always hard to predict how much money the Sigma 6 project will generate in any given month, but I’ll be covering for my assistant this coming week and will hopefully find some opportunities to optimize the business and generate extra income. More certainly I have a nice $1k payment coming at the end of the month when I complete my work as a researcher for the 2014 Thailand Startup Guide.

Feedback welcome

Thoughts? Questions? Speak up in the comments below.

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  1. Looks like life is treating you well in HK!

    You should definitely explore Wing Chun while you’re there. A very practical style of martial arts. It has evolved more in the past 100 years or so as a street fighting art.

  2. I was going to recommend Wing Chun too….before 3 people beat me to it!
    A few old school Masters hanging out in HK I think…it could be interesting getting connected to the ancient culture….put a bit of Yin and yang into the proceedings 🙂

    Good luck!

  3. I’ll add another vote for Wing Chun here. Brilliant close fighting style You won’t scratch the surface in three months, but will get some ideas.

    The problem with ‘being too aggressive’ at the beginning is that it prevents you from learning decent technique as you are too busy reacting and tensing up. It is better to start slowly and speed up.

    The other thing to remember is that *real* fights are over in seconds. It seems to me that once you have learned to take a few punches, then sparring is of limited use.

    You should only ever be in a fight in the absolute last resort. I.e You haven’t been able to run (best option), talk some-one down, apologise ( usually works) , hand over your wallet and so on and so you have to fight to win.

    This means going for eyes, neck and throat to take down the assailant. Anything else is of limited use, as brawlers can take a lot of punishment.

    You can’t practice this sparring for obvious reasons.

    I’m a WC person through and through. It isn’t perfect (no martial art is), but it is extremely good. It originated in HK as a street fighting style so you are in the right place for it.

    Many WC people I know complement it with Krav.

  4. Well done for living so cheaply in expensive Hong Kong. You did superbly to get visas so cheaply. I like it that you did self catering very economically and spent more on that than eating out. Good luck with the next part of your journey and for having low expenses in September.

  5. How about adding Wing Chun to the Krav Maga? Continue with twice a week, and fit in as many Wing Chun classes as you can around it.

    Awesome close quarter striking style, so might complement the KM training and give you some of those bruises you are looking for 🙂

    1. Had a look at Wing Chun. It could be good, but I’m beginning to believe that the most important thing with any self-defense system is finding a teacher who strives to simulate real-world attacks in the training.

  6. Krav Manga seems like a waste of time and money. Stuff like this is a lot of muscle memory and feel. This is something people practice all their life to get good at and with this little time commitment you won’t even become a bad newbie. 3 months after the class is over, you will not have anything to show for it. Drop it. Try to get a refund.

    That said, I looked at how you define “functional fitness” and it’s a pretty solid plan. Balance, cardio, core strength, accuracy. That’s functional fitness. Agree.

    For actual defense – aside from good judgement and top notch social skills – by far the best defense is your 100m dash. 100m dash has worked wonderfully for me when I encountered 4-5 knife wielding robbers in Bogota… until I tripped up and fell on wet grass at which point it was all over as they surrounded me. But otherwise, it would’ve been a very easy escape.

    It is easy to find the ‘optimal’ response when you are presented with some BS scenario on youtube. (Punch this way, defend against a knife that way, defend against 3 opponents other way, etc.) But in real life, you don’t even know what scenario is in front of you. You may think you are facing X, but you don’t know if your opponent has a gun in his pocket or if he has 2 friends standing behind you ready to slash you. Who knows.

    That said, I do think there is some benefit to taking some fighting-art classes. But these classes absolutely need to incorporate sparring and getting comfortable with getting hit. This is step 1. The big benefit is to help you not tense up and think clearly after you get hit in the nose and start seeing stars. When adrenaline goes sky high, most people will not be able to make good decisions or put their imaginary lessons and strategies in place because they will freeze up.

    1. Hey Vito. Yeah, pretty much agree with everything you wrote there. Although I think KM can be very good and useful if it’s taught the right way. I think the biggest issue I’m having is the structure of the class. I was sparring with one guy last week and we were really going at each other and simulating a real fight as best we could, and then the teacher told us to calm down and stop being so aggressive with each other. I can understand that she doesn’t want any bloody noses in her class, but that still bugged me.

      1. Martial arts are for the most part not really functional. However they’ll give you form and physical training to better yourself.
        Its a common misconception that martial arts teach you to fight. They however prepare your mind and body to handle fights.
        That’s why i prefer traditional Asian arts.
        And as the op said don’t expect to master anything 3 hour a week (cf the 10000 hours rule)