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.

Travel

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.

Books

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.

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. 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.