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December 2012 Finance Report

Sawadee krab to all you legendary email subscribers. Welcome to my December finance report, as prepared from the lobby of my my new apartment building in Bangkok (waiting to get wifi set up in the apartment itself).

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

  • Derrick Yazwa for meeting up with myself and a few friends and taking us to some cool places in Bangkok for NYE.
  • Bud Rockey for the great swim coaching in Bangkok (more on that below), and gifting me a pair of goggles.
  • CX for insanely generous help searching for an apartment in Bangkok, and treating me to lunch a couple of times.
  • Danny for putting me in touch with CX in the first place. And for inviting me to Mastermind with his group for a session.
  • The legendary Will Peach, for meeting me off the train in Bangkok, showing me around the place, and just general good hanging out. Excited to be spending a lot of time with that chap for the next three months (we live in the same building).
  • Ellen for good hanging out and convos, and for treating me to the occasional meal in Chiang Mai.
  • Nam in Chiang Mai. Knitted me a scarf (!!) and proved great company for several weeks.
  • Sony store people in Chiang Mai, for helping me compare cameras without being all salesy.
  • Mike, the Scottish-born dude I met at a Mac store in Chiang Mai, gave me lots of good advice on buying electronics in Thailand.
  • All the sexy people who donated to the Umbrella Foundation as part of my Christmas gift campaign. Together we raised over $2500 to help fight child trafficking in Nepal. Stoked!
  • Everyone who grabbed my book during the free promo I ran on Amazon a few weeks back (672 copies downloaded!) and everyone who helped promote that whole dealio.
  • Josie for the great emailing, helping me get my energy and clarity back. Also Kai and Spyros for similar while Masterminding.
  • Anthony for writing a quality guest post for the blog.
  • English chap named Rob I met during my visa run to Laos. I had no cash on me and he offered to pay for my late fee getting into Thailand at the border. Also on the same trip, the legendary Rebecca from the States bought me veg fried rice at a pit stop when there was no ATM around.
  • Simona for all the great info and contacts ahead of the visa run.
  • Emily for inviting me out for dinner and good chat, and Kevin for putting us in touch.
  • Matt and Kwan for gifting me food and drink when we hung out with Emily that eve. Matt was also kind enough to come find me when I couldn’t locate the meeting spot.
  • The folks at Imm Aim restaurant at Chiang Mai, both staff and fellow customers (Arthur, Marilyn, Pete, Martin, et al). Great place to eat and hang out.
  • Caroline Leon for several invitations to do cool stuff in Chiang Mai throughout the month, and continued good chats.
  • Chai, the owner of bar/massage place Chang Chalaa. Invited me to hang out with him and some friends one evening, good times.
  • Travis Garner for inviting me out and treating me to breakfast in Chiang Mai. Really good dude.
  • All my web design clients and everyone reaching out who wants to work with me. I’m ridiculously fortunate.
  • John and Motoko for twice inviting me to their place in Chiang Mai for breakfast. Good food, good chat, and impromptu music lessons :-).
  • All the folks in the DtR comments and on Nerd Fitness who gave me good ideas for the Functional Fitness thingy.
  • And thanks to everyone who read, commented, and shared my writing during the month of December. 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 most of December living in Chiang Mai, then moved to Bangkok on the 28th. Diving in…

December Expenses

Food and Drink

Groceries € 35
Pubs, Coffee Shops, Restaurants, Take-aways € 420
Total € 455

Way up from the €302 I spent on food and drink in November. I ate out quite a lot and was occasionally paying for two.

Housing and Utilities

9 days rent at Puri Piman apartments, Bangkok € 62
5 nights at Saphai Pae hostel, Bangkok € 42
Electricity charges at Puri Piman apartment € 15
1 night at Vientiane hostel € 5
Water charges at Puri Piman apartment € 3
Total € 127

This totaled €384 last month. Way down because I’d paid in advance for about half December’s rent on the Chiang Mai apartment.


World Nomads travel insurance (6 months) € 227
Thai visa renewal (double entry) € 51
Taxis in Bangkok € 43
Bus ticket from Chaing Mai to Vientiane (return) € 43
Taxis in Vientiane € 28
Laos visa on arrival € 27
Train ticket from Chaing Mai to Bangkok € 22
6-day scooter rental in Chiang Mai € 13
Scooter fuel € 11
Taxis in Chiang Mai € 7
Metro tickets in Bangkok € 6
Bus ticket from Phuket to Chiang Mai € 6
Total € 484

Up from €353 in November.

Business Expenses

AWeber email marketing € 60
PayPal fees € 19
WooThemes Theme Club (monthly subscription) € 15
Post Affiliate Pro (for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription) € 14
Ecwid shopping cart (for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription) € 14
Chiang Mai apartment Internet € 5
Socialoomph.com (monthly subscription) € 3
Amazon Web Services (ebizfacts.com CDN) € 3
Total € 133

Down from €257 in November. Notes…

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

Matching $1000 donation to the Umbrella Foundation (details) € 758
Donation to Graham Hughes / WaterAid € 50
Donation to In Search of Sanuk € 30
Total € 838

Up from €560 last month. Ended up raising more than $2500 (my contribution included) for the Umbrella Foundation in Nepal. Thanks a mil to everyone who helped out with that.

One of my goals for 2012 was to donate at least 10% of my income. Happy to report that I ended up donating 12.7%. Aiming for 15% in 2013.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Total Immersion swimming lessons in Bankok (2 lessons) € 75
Total Immersion DVD € 25
Chase foreign transaction fees € 15
Bangkok club entry fees € 15
Cinema tickets € 14
Chiang Mai apartment cleaning € 13
Book: A Wild Sheep Chase € 10
Toiletries € 9
One session at Trinity gym in Bangkok € 8
Book: Un Lun Dun € 8
Book: Meditations on Violence € 8
Book: The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem € 8
AIB quarterly banking fee € 7
Thai massage € 7
Sunglasses € 6
Subscription to Raam Dev’s Journal € 5
Book: The Fence € 5
Book: The Gift of Fear € 5
Chase payment protector fee € 4
Printing and photocopying € 4
Bed linen rental at Chiang Mai apartment € 3
Laundry (several loads) € 3
Haircut in Chiang Mai € 3
iTunes movie rental: How To Train Your Dragon € 3
Book: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo € 2
Hostel towel rental € 2
Spoon € 2
Hydration salts € 2
Entry fee for Buddha Park, Vientiane € 1
Games of pool at a random bar in Vientiane € 1
Total € 273

About the same as last month. Notes…

I only link up the books I’ve already read and recommend. I’ve got a quite a few sitting on my Kindle now that I’ve yet to read. Must cut back on the buying for a while.

Total Immersion
Been interested in getting some one-on-one coaching in this swimming method ever since I saw Tim Ferriss’ post about it a few years back. TI pioneer Terry Laughlin put me in touch with a great coach named Bud Rockey here in Bangkok and I grabbed two lessons with him as soon as I got into town. Learned a lot in the 5+ hours of coaching, now just need to practice the technique regularly until it becomes automatic. Luckily there’s a nice pool in my new apartment building 😉

Expense Summary

Food and Drink € 455
Housing and Utilities € 127
Travel € 484
Business Expenses € 133
Gifts and Donations € 838
Miscellaneous expenses € 273
Total Expenses € 2,310

Not far off the €2,131 total I spent in November.

December Income

Away from the minuses and on to the pluses…

Sigma 6 project € 2,806
Freelance web design € 263
Reader donations (muchas gracias!) € 200
$50 Blogs € 76
Amazon affiliate payment € 17
How To Live A Life Of Travel affiliate payment € 10
Total Income € 3,372

A good bit down from the personal best €4,859 I pulled in the previous month. Still pretty happy though, given that I hit a rough patch of burnout and earned almost nothing the final week of the month. I’ve also been turning down lots of freelance web design work so I’m not killing myself.


Sigma 6 project
I can’t actually 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.

Where that leaves me

I had €7,374 to my name at the end of November. After applying the most recent exchange rates (I have accounts in both Dollars and Euros), that had decreased slightly to €7,270. Taking into account all my December income and expenditure, my total bank and cash balances now work out to €8,633. Still on track to have €10k back in the bank by my 31st birthday in mid-March.

Here’s a review of how I did 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
  • €1,540 in September
  • €2,535 in October
  • €2,728 in November
  • €1,062 in December
  • €4,209 overall

Stay tuned for next weekend, when I plan to send out a financial review of 2012. Should be interesting to see how I earned and spent money in different areas over the course of an entire year.

Outlook for January

Expenses will be much higher than usual. Not only have I just paid 3-months rent in advance and a 2-month deposit, but I also plan to retool and buy some new gadgets before the end of the month. Additionally, eating out is more expensive in Bangkok than Chiang Mai. On the flip side, I’m going to be pushing hard on the Sigma 6 stuff these next few weeks. We’ll see how it shakes out. Exciting times.

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. (Yes, I’m keeping comments open on the monthly reports.)

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  1. Looks great man! Happy to see things are coming together! You’ve come a long way! Would love to hear more about the sigma 6 project at some point. I have a couple guesses as to what that’s all about 😉

    Cheers man and keep it up!

  2. Niall, this is lovely! I am in a bit of a financial situation and my spending habits aren’t exactly .. smart, haha. I’d like to know what’s your opinion on:

    a) the importance of sharing your finances with your readers


    b) how does that impact your work / life – being so out there in the public?

    Keep up the lovely work. I’m a new follower but glad to have connected to you!

    1. Hey Abdullah,

      Thanks for the comment. To answer your questions…

      a) People seem to get value out of it and it generates a good few new subscribers for me every month, so it’s a win-win. Helps build trust as well.

      b) Makes me think twice about what I spend my money on. (Like when I considered paying for membership to an adult dating site last year.) I see this as a good thing, as it encourages to be the same person in public as I am in private.

      Thanks again.

  3. Hi Niall,
    Well done with your finances. Are you doing internet at the eating out places then? You never seem to spend much on groceries.

    It is great you are giving more than 10 percent of your income to charities. I followed Graham Hughes journey with much interest. Water Aid is a very worthy charity. I am also really enjoying following your exciting journey. Good luck to you this month.

  4. Greetings,
    Good job on hooking up with a TI trainer. The system sure works as I can attest to it from practicing it since some months back. Waiting for Fiona Laughlin to get back to Los Angeles to catch a session.

  5. Niall- Well done!! I’m curious as to how did the swimming lessons go?

    I have never heard of sigma 6?


    1. Hey Matt.

      Swimming lessons went well. I’m certainly not a fantastic swimmer yet, but I’ve got a solid foundation now. I really like the method and the thinking behind it. I’ll write more about it at some point.

      Sigma 6 is just the name I gave the advertising project I’m working on. Doesn’t mean anything really.

  6. Your “Paid in Kindness” section just keeps growing! Are you more aware of thoughtful gestures now, keeping better track of them, or are people being more kind to you in general?

    Congratulations on a nice income this month as well! Looks like you’re successfully making your travels sustainable. Did you ever have any doubts? Do you still have doubts?

    I’m also interested to hear if the Total Immersion lessons end up being worth the cost!

    1. Good questions!

      I feel like I haven’t been keeping great track of the paid in kindness stuff since I moved to Bangkok, mostly because I’ve been running around trying to find an apartment. So I guess I can still improve a lot when it comes to that. Mostly I do think it is about awareness and making time to reflect and realize how lucky you are every day.

      As for doubts, I still have them, just of a different sort. I know now that I’ll always be able to make a living off web design so long as I’m willing to hustle. The new doubts are along the lines of, “Can I scale up this project?” “Can I master outsourcing and automation?” “Do I have what it takes to build a profitable business that delivers incredible value without requiring me to work ridiculous hours?”

      Will definitely be writing more about TI. I really like the thinking behind. It makes sense. Now I just need to practice it and see how good I can get.