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February 2013 Finance Report

Sawadee krab to all you legendary email subscribers. Welcome to my February finance report, as prepared from the kitchen/office of my apartment building in Bangkok before I head off for yet another yoga session (I’m getting quite bendy these days, oh yes!).

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. I have to admit though that I did a really bad job of keeping track throughout February, so there’s a lot missing from the below list.

Paid in Kindness

  • Neung for letting me crash a night at her place in Bangkok.
  • Spyros and Kai for the cool Masterminding as always.
  • Turner Barr for lots of good hanging out.
  • Johnny, Will and Anthony for spotting me some cash after I lost my bank card (second time since I arrived in Bangkok!) and had to order a new one from overseas. Thanks as well to the folks on the phones at Charles Schwab bank for getting that card to me.
  • Anthony and Will for the cuppas.
  • Johnny for continually making it easier on me to find my way around and get shit done in Bangkok.
  • Nong and Nam for feeling sorry for me and letting me catch up and beat them at bowling.
  • Shaz for inviting me and the lads out to a jazz bar. Good times.
  • The lady at the chicken satay place for gifting me a bowl of soup with my usual order.
  • Iris, the lady who manages our apartment, for being on top of things and dealing with all the maintenance guys.
  • The few smiley dudes at the front desk of my apartment building, for holding doors, saying hello, and just generally being cheery chappies.
  • And thanks to everyone who read, commented, and shared my writing during the month of February. You make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

(Note: The risk of listing out such kindnesses is that I may 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 of February living in Bangkok. Diving in…

February Expenses

Food and Drink

Groceries € 229
Pubs, Coffee Shops, Restaurants, Take-aways € 369
Total € 598

Down from €643 last month. Still eating out regularly, but I’ve found some cheaper places and I’ve also started cooking a bit more.

Housing and Utilities

My share of electricity bill at Bangkok apartment € 45
My share of another utilities bill at Bangkok apartment € 4
Total € 49

Down from the whopping €1,654 I spent last month, most of it on 3-months advance rent and deposit.


Taxis in Bangkok € 77
30-day Thai visa extension € 48
Visa late fee (one day) € 13
Bangkok skytrain € 13
Photocopying for visa stuff € 2
Total € 153

Down from €222 in January. Taxis are pretty cheap but I get them a lot so they add up. The public transport in Bangkok isn’t actually all that great. The skytrain and metro don’t reach many parts of the city, and they both close before midnight, so no luck using them to get home after a night out. Bangkok has huge rush hour traffic problems as well, so it’s usually motorcycle taxis that I get, weaving in and out of the congestion.

Business Expenses

Personal Assistant € 191
Web design outsourcing € 38
AWeber email marketing € 23
Post Affiliate Pro (for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription) € 15
PayPal fees € 15
Ecwid shopping cart (for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription) € 14
Domain renewals € 12
Socialoomph.com (monthly subscription) € 3
Amazon Web Services (ebizfacts.com CDN) € 3
Total € 314

Up from €280 in January. Notes…

Personal assistant
The above payment doesn’t include my assistant’s first month commission, since I paid that right at the start of March. With that included though I ended up paying her US$731 for the month. Hoping we can bump that up to $1k next month. It’s all working out pretty great so far.

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 my friend Flor’s Tour de Cure campaign € 401
Donation to the Umbrella Foundation (Mastermind penalty) € 20
Donation to the Polaris Project (Mastermind penalty) € 15
Total € 436

Down a bit from the €482 I donated last month, and about €50 short of my goal to donate 15% of my earnings. I’ll have to try make up for that in March.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Bangkok club entry fees € 66
Monthly gym membership € 57
Valeo training belt (including shipping) € 55
Balance due on 3 tailored shirts € 55
Phone credit € 38
Jeans (2 pairs) € 35
Replacement Mac charger € 25
Toiletries € 19
Bowling in Bangkok € 18
Shisha with friends € 13
Cinema (Die Hard 4) € 7
Book: How Good People Make Tough Choices € 6
Book: Paleo for Beginners € 5
Subscription to Raam Dev’s Journal € 5
Entry to public swimming pool € 4
Bribe to get into the abandoned skyscraper (see here) € 3
Faxing and printing € 2
Haircut € 2
Total € 415

Down from €1,068 in January. Notes…

Valeo training belt
I tend to hurt my back when doing squats or deadlifts in the gym, so I bought this belt on Amazon. The shipping cost more than the belt itself, but I’m really glad I have it. Nothing like compound lifts to bulk up.

Replacement Mac charger
My old charger died so I had no choice but to get a new one. The official Mac ones cost a fortune, but I was able to find a copy for much cheaper. Bit of a bummer since I’m only a few weeks away from buying a new laptop.

Expense Summary

Food and Drink € 598
Housing and Utilities € 49
Travel € 153
Business Expenses € 315
Gifts and Donations € 436
Miscellaneous expenses € 415
Total Expenses € 1,966

Way way way down from the €4,349 I spent last month. Yayness!

February Income

Away from the minuses and on to the pluses…

Sigma 6 project € 2,816
$50 Blogs € 191
Reader donations (muchas gracias!) € 53
Chase credit card (points cashed in) € 53
Amazon.com book royalties € 41
Amazon affiliate payments € 32
Freelance web design € 24
Wishlist Member affiliate payment € 22
How To Live A Life Of Travel affiliate payment € 9
Total Income € 3,241

Up a bit from the €2,910 I pulled in the previous month. Notes…

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, and my assistant is handling most of the workload for me nowadays.

Where that leaves me

I had €7,593 to my name at the end of January. After applying the most recent exchange rates (I have accounts in both Dollars and Euros), that had increased nicely to €7,865. Taking into account all my February income and expenditure, my total bank and cash balances now work out to €9,073.

Here’s how I’m doing so far this year:

  • €1,439 in January
  • €1,275 in February
  • €164 overall

Outlook for March

One of my financial goals was to have €10k back in the bank by my birthday on March 16th. €10k was how much I had when I quit being an employee almost 2.5 years ago, so it’s pretty sweet for me to get back to that having worked online and traveled halfway across the world since leaving the 9-to-5 life behind. I doubt I’ll make it however. It’s already March 9th as I’m writing this update, so I’d need to pull in a grand profit over the next week. I’m sure I could do it if I hustled my ass off, but instead I’m going to take a leisurely trip to Cambodia and lie on the beach for a few days 🙂

But back to the outlook dealio. I’ll be spending a lot this month as it’s about damn time I bought a new laptop for myself. I’ve also been meaning to buy a new camera, but I may wait until April for that. As for income, I expect to crack the €3k mark again, no worries.

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. I love how you are not paying any taxes. Can you really keep doing that and get away with it? Maybe I should consider moving.

    1. I’m not obligated to pay taxes anywhere as long as I don’t stay for very long. It’s different for every country, but usually if you stay 6 months or less per year, you’re off the hook.

  2. Hi Niall,
    I’ve only begun reading your blog a month or so ago but I really enjoy it! Your continual thoughts on disrupting the rabblement are quite thought-provoking for me and I’ve forwarded a number of your blogposts to friends! You’re also influencing my slowly evolving thoughts about travel as a lifestyle and this being the first financial report of yours that I’ve read is very helpful in shaping some of those thoughts. If you like, have a looksee at the first blog I started a few years ago documenting an amazing yet quite harrowing 6 months in Kenya I spent a few years ago. It was just a blog for family and friends to keep up with me while I was gone but became a cathartic documentation of memories and writing I’m very proud to have. Thank you again for what you do. I really appreciate it!

    1. Hey Alexandra,

      Thanks for the comment. Just read your house arrest post. Wow, sounds like you were right in the thick of things in Kenya. Must have been a great experience. I agree that writing really helps you capture and examine your feelings. In a few weeks I’ll be posting the first for what I hope will become a monthly mini-diary here on the blog, little snippets from each day.

    1. Definitely. Mostly in restaurants. There are lots of good cheap places to eat here if you don’t mind going without a/c.

      I’m happy to spend big on good food though, especially groceries. I look at food as a health investment, so I don’t mind paying a premium for the good stuff.

  3. Hi Neil,
    Very interesting reading your finances in Bangkok. Please tend to think Bangkok is a cheap place to live and it can be, however it is easy to get sucked into the social life here. Which means dining/entertaining expenses can really add up!
    My husband Brad (www.bradmol.com) and I have started really tracking our own daily expenses and found that eating and going out is literally eating up a big part of our budget.
    We’re now focusing on also eating out at less expensive places and also trying to get rid of a lot of unnecessary expenses and stuff.
    Thanks for being an inspiration that way!
    All the best,
    PS: Found your blog through my friends of 15 years Carou Llou and her husband, whom you met in person recently.

    1. Hey Cristel,

      Small world 🙂

      Yeah, Bangkok can definitely be expensive. Easy to get sucked into it, as you say. But tracking really helps you figure out what you can cut back on.

  4. Hello Niall. I am delighted you did so well with your February accounts. Thailand is an economical place to purchase a new laptop and a new camera. Going for a few days to the beach in Cambodia to celebrate your March 16th birthday is a fantastic idea. The photo of you at the top the building gives an amazing view over Bangkok. Good luck with all of March.

  5. Great job! Very inspiring. Do you realize though that in almost every monthly report you mention losing something??

    What laptop are you looking at and why? I’m thinking of picking one out this month, but haven’t started researching specs yet. Would enjoy hearing about your decision. Thanks!

    1. Haha, I think it’s just been the last two months that I’ve lost something, right? I lost my bank card twice in about six weeks. Was able to get it back the first time. Second time no such luck.

      Thinking of getting a MacBook Air. I don’t really need the Pro when I’m not doing so much web design. Definitely sticking with Mac anyways. My current Pro is sluggish now, but it served me well for 3+ years with little maintenance.

  6. Great to see how things add up, thanks for being so on the ball. the Nerdy Nomad (Kirsty Henderson) does a nice job of it too. If looking for any more travel blogs for ads, something I’m into.

    have fun in Thailand, Molly

  7. Very inspiring Niall! However might I ask why you don’t display the figures in $ as I think it would be easier to figure out all the figures. My mind goes blank when you give the numbers in €… Might just be me though!

    1. Great question. I was actually considering switching the report over to dollars yesterday. I’ve mainly kept it in € though because…

      a) That’s my home currency.

      b) I like working with a stronger currency. It keeps me a little more hungry. €3k a month is harder to get to than $3k a month, so I feel like I’m forcing myself to reach a bit higher just by thinking in Euros.

      The strongest reason for switching over though would be that most of my audience is based in the US. I’m still considering it…

      1. Selina Man Karlsson

        You’re doing great Niall 🙂 Keep it up.

        Interesting regarding the EUR and USD, how about having an extra column in the table where you do an EURUSD conversion (keep it simple by taking the latest exchange rate) so you keep both your European readers and your US readers happy.

      2. I’m from the Czech Republic, so could you give the figures in CZK? 😀

        Great job Niall! Enjoy the trip to Cambodia.

      3. I really like it in Euros, but why don’t just do both? You can probably just throw them in excel and auto-convert them, right?

      4. Make us Americans think, Niall. Don’t change to US dollars. While you’re at it, use the SI or metric system as much as possible. Just don’t start talking about pood or stone; the blog needs to keep an international vibe, but not too international.

  8. Good work! Your transparency and authenticity here is a really important factor in leading by example.

    How’s the weather in BKK this time of year?

    1. Thanks, Jack.

      The weather’s a bit hot here for me. We had too perfectly cool days last week but that’s been my only relief since I moved here. ON Friday I sweated through four separate shirts!

  9. Great work..always looking forward to “the next month” to see how things are going.
    I really find your site/stats interesting.

  10. great to hear you’re doing well, niall! super envious (and happy for you) of your lifestyle, and still really glad we bumped into you in Kerala last year 🙂 take care!

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