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February 2012 Finance Report

خوش آمد to all you legendary email subscribers.

Welcome to my February finance report. 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.

Let’s dive in…

February Expenses

Food and Drink

Groceries € 91
Pubs, Coffee Shops, Restaurants, Take-aways € 327
Total € 418

Up from the €389 I spent on food and drink in January. I’ve been opting to eat out more rather than hunt around for supermarkets and cook my own meals. I figure it saves me a good chunk of time, which in turn saves me money.

Housing and Utilities

3 nights at the Ankara Han Hostel, Ankara, Turkey € 78
4 nights at the Agora Hostel, Istanbul € 57
2 nights at the Green Frog Hostel, Bucharest € 23
Total € 158

Down from the €335 I spent in January, mostly because some very cool people in Romania gave me free places to stay for the majority of my time there. I could have found a cheaper place in Ankara, but opted to splash out on a private room.


3-day Train from Ankara to Tehran € 44
Bus from Bucharest to Istanbul € 37
Taxis in Bucharest € 30
Turkish visa at border € 17
Bus from Istanbul to Ankara € 16
Passport photos and printing for Pakistani visa application € 12
Taxis in Istanbul € 12
Ankara Metro tickets € 5
Tram/metro tickets in Istanbul € 3
Metro tickets in Bucharest € 2
Total € 178

This was €123 total last month. Given how far I traveled in the last week or so of February, I’m quite happy that this expense came in under €200. Gotta love that a 3-day sleeper train through Turkey and Iran costs less than a 4-hour train ride across the UK.

Business Expenses

WooThemes Developer Club (monthly subscription) € 15
MS Remote Desktop (monthly subscription) € 14
Ecwid shopping cart (for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription) € 14
Domain renewal € 12
AWeber email marketing (extra charge for 500+ subscribers) € 8
Socialoomph.com (monthly subscription) € 3
Total € 66

Not much different here from the €55 I spent in January.

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 € 38
Donation to Kopila Valley Children’s Home € 38
Donation to I Am That Girl (Mastermind penalty, see below) € 15
Donation to Heifer International (Mastermind penalty, see below) € 15
Donation to my buddy Tyson Barnhart € 15
Donation to 30vanquish for blog hosting € 8
Bottle of wine brought along to a house party € 4
Street donations € 2
Total € 135

Almost exactly double my donations from last month, but again I fell short of my goal to donate or give away 10% of my earnings. Must try make up for that in March.

Mastermind penalties
I’m part of a Mastermind group that meets every two weeks on Skype to discuss our goals and brainstorm ideas. To hold ourselves more accountable, we’ve set a monetary penalty for failing to reach our goals: a $40 donation to charity. The goal I once failed to achieve was to keep my total computer time below 45 hours per week.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Turkish bath and massage in Istanbul € 28
Turkish SIM card € 24
Skype credit € 18
Toiletries € 12
Book: The E-Myth Revisited € 11
Entry fees for clubs in Bucharest € 10
Phone credit € 10
Book: Walk Like A God € 9
HostelWorld.com Gold Card € 8
Book: Stranger in a Strange Land € 7
Book: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People € 6
Book: Anything You Want € 6
Subscription to Raam Dev’s Journal € 5
Nargileh in Istanbul € 5
Club cloakrooms € 4
Map of Istanbul € 3
New notebook € 3
Laundry service at Ankara hostel € 3
Postcard and stamp for the grandma € 2
Towel rental at Agora hostel € 2
Book: I Moved Your Cheese € 1
Book: How We Decide € 1
Currency exchange in Ankara € 1
Bus stop squat toilet € 1
Total € 179

Down from the €199 I spent on miscellaneous bits and pieces in January. I’ve been reading a lot more thanks to lots of time sitting on buses and trains, hence the book purchases. I signed up for the Kindle Daily Deal and scored a few good reads on the cheap that way. Only dumb purchase above was the Turkish SIM card, which I didn’t end up using at all.

Expense Summary

Food and Drink € 418
Housing and Utilities € 158
Travel € 178
Business Expenses € 66
Gifts and Donations € 135
Miscellaneous expenses € 180
Total Expenses € 1135

Slightly better than last month’s €1169 total, but a good bit above my goal of €1000.

January Income

Away from the minuses and on to the pluses…

Freelance web design € 1384
$50 Blogs € 255
A Course In Courage € 50
Total Income € 1,689

A good chunk better than January’s total of €1,145, and way more than enough to cover my expenses. If I could do it all over again though, I’d probably pass up a few of those freelance projects in exchange for more free time. Learning.

Where that leaves me

I had €3,803 to my name at the end of December. After applying the most recent exchange rates (I have accounts in both Dollars and Euros), that had decreased slightly to €3,709. Taking into account all my February expenses and earnings, my total bank and cash balances now work out to €4,419.

Here’s how I’m doing so far in 2012:

  • €24 in January
  • €554 in February

Outlook for March

Everything is still a bit of a mystery as I move towards India. Turkey wasn’t quite as cheap as I expected, and I’m still figuring out the fair price of things in Iran. My next stop after Tehran will be Dubai, and I hear that’s a pretty expensive place to be. Once I do get to India though (hopefully before March 20th), I expect I’ll be able to live quite comfortably for very little money.

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. Michael Shortall

    hey Niall,

    im amazed how you are travelling the world and actually saving money.
    Could you please go into more detail on where you slept each night? im a bit miffed tbh. thanks 🙂

    1. Haha, wait until you see my next report! I definitely didn’t save much money this month 😛

      As for where I slept in Romania, I was lucky enough to be offered places by readers of this blog. Three people reached out to me asking if I needed a place.

      In Cluj I had a nice apartment all to myself, in Bucharest I first slept on a mattress on the floor of a small apartment (the guy who hosted me was a friend of a reader), and then moved into a nice big bedroom in another apartment.

      That’s one of the great things about this blog. I seem to be generating a lot of goodwill with it and get paid in regular kindness 🙂

  2. Good job on going green again this month. I’ve just had a thought re:your courage course. Did you think offering it on twitter’s #courage Hash Tag?. Enjoy Iran!

    1. Hey, thanks Tal. Yeah, I posted a few promo bits with the #courage hastag on Twitter. Also kept an eye on that and the #fear hashtag and responded to folks who I thought might be interested in the course. No sales pitches, just trying to make connections. I didn’t get many bites from it though. But then I probably shuld have persisted a bit longer.

  3. Looks like the income and outgoing is turning the corner!
    Hopefully your internet connections allow it to continue.

    Was the Turkish bath and massage worth the money?I hear they really tear you apart !

    Learnt any Farsi yet? Try : Whalah shama Hoobeh …I think it’s How are you? or some form of greeting.

    I’m sure you’re getting quite a bit of attention in iran,you’ll be quite a novelty there I would have thought!

    Stay lucky!

    1. Hey Aleks.

      The Turkish massage was amazing. Big hairy butch dude was spinning me around on a marble slab and scrubbing the bejesus out of me. Twas quite an experience. The bath house itself wasn’t great though. If not for the massage I would have been disappointed.

      Haven’t learned much Farsi yet. I’m lazy with languages when I know I’ll only be in a place for a week or two.

      As for attention here, I find most people don’t pay me much. I thought I’d stick out like a sore thumb, but if that’s the case, the locals here are good at feigning indifference.

      Thanks for the comment.

  4. Rajith Vidanaarachchi

    It’s good to see you’re gradually increasing your income!

    I’ve been curious from the beginning to see how it would go.. and glad to see your journey is becoming a success story! 😀

    Mucha suerte!

  5. Thanks for the report! Here’s a few thoughts:

    1) Cooking for yourself is great. But think of eating out as investing in your experience of seeing the world during this adventure you’re on. Cuisine, although diverse, is a common thread connecting all cultures and enriches your experience.

    2)Turkish SIM card lesson: Don’t buy things before you need them? Easier said than done…

    3)Most important thought: Get a donate button on your site. You are creating quality, thought-provoking, inspiring material here. You are taking time to track your expenses which benefits of other travelers. Let them support you for this work you’re doing if they would like. I’ll be first in line!

  6. Congrats, Niall. Great to see you doing well. Good to see your net balance increasing as your travelling these huge distances! Fair play. Onwards…!

  7. Hi Niall, it’s great to hear that you’re making a consistent income from your web design business now. As this represents the bulk of your income, how about going into some more details?. You itemise all of your expenses down to the last Euro but it would be interesting to see a breakdown of your income, a portfolio page, how you won the client, etc. I think this would help to inspire readers who are thinking about a location independent lifestyle and are following you as an example.

    1. Hey Andrew. Good suggestion.

      My freelance income came from nine different clients last month. Here are a few of the sites I worked on:


      Some projects are big (full sites), some are small (quick tweaks/troubleshooting). Most of my clients find me either through this blog, or via word of mouth. I haven’t had to go chasing a client in months. I’m actually at the point now where I’m going to start saying no to some clients, as it’s proving difficult to keep up with the workload when I have inconsistent Internet access on the road.

      1. Michael Shortall

        great question.. i was just wondering the same myself.


        The very site that pointed me in your direction 🙂

        Although if read wrong it sounds like a dirty irish site lol.

        Niall, where do you get your free lance contracts? where did you study web design?

        1. Hey Michael,

          I pick up most of my freelance work via readers of this blog or word of mouth. Most of the time people email me asking if I’m available for hire.

          I started learning web design myself as a teenager. I did a Multimedia and IT course in college in Ireland (WIT), but I didn’t learn much about web design directly from there. Most of what I know has been self-taught, just from working away on my own projects, trial and error.

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