As many of you know, I quit my 9-to-5 job back in November and I’m currently transitioning into sustainable self-employment. The plan is to earn the majority of my income online so I can travel indefinitely and work from anywhere with an internet connection, like a geeky Jason Bourne.

One of my main goals with this blog is to lay down a blueprint so others can learn from my journey and achieve their own freedom.

The biggest problem with leaving 9-to-5 is giving up the steady paycheck that comes with it. You’ll often have to endure a few lean months before you begin to see real money trickle in from your entrepreneurial ventures. That’s where I’m at right now, and I’d like to reveal exactly what that’s like and how I’m making it work.

I plan to post these finance reports once a month, so you can see how much my lifestyle costs and how I afford it. If you’re not interested in all that stuff, no worries. Just skip these posts.

Three quick notes to help you understand how I track my finances:

  • I round my expenses up and my earnings down. The idea here is that I’ll be left with a few extra Euros at the end of each month and I can go buy myself a nice frock or something.
  • Earnings don’t count until the money is in my bank account or the cash is in my hand.
  • I record what I spend and earn each day in a spreadsheet on Google Docs, or just on paper if I don’t have Internet access. I try to track absolutely everything.

Let’s get into some numbers…

January expenses

€385 – Rent and utilities

Rent accounts for €375 of this. I just moved in at the end of December, so the utilities haven’t really caught up with me yet. This expense will be higher next month.

€336 – Miscellaneous business expenses

Although I technically can (and will when it comes time to do my taxes) classify expenses like rent and utilities as business expenses, I’ll keep them separate for the sake of this exercise. Let me break down the total here a little more:

  • €225 – New hard drive (after the great laptop crash of 2011)
  • €50 – Things software
  • €48 – Manifesto cover photo (from Hazy Sun Images)
  • €3 – Manifesto binder mock-up (from these guys)
  • €8 – Vimeo plus subscription (only needed this for December, forgot to cancel)
  • €2 – Printing

€233 – Groceries

“Groceries” accounts mostly for food, but also a few miscellaneous items I pick up at the supermarket like toilet paper, mouse traps, etc.

€111 – Pubs, coffee shops and restaurants

I love meeting up with people for a chat in a pub, coffee shop or restaurant every now and then. The total above accounts for 21 different chats :-). This expense would be much higher if I drank alcohol, but I’ve given that up for the year as a prolonged experiment.

€31 – Miscellaneous personal expenses

This total is made up of three trips to the gym (€7 a pop), plus my unprecedented haircut last week.

€20 – Education

I’ll break this one down, too:

I actually bought another book in January, but it was via an Amazon.com gift certificate so that absorbed the €7 cost.

€16 – Entertainment

This accounts for trips to the cinema, theatre, museums and sporting events. The most expensive show I saw in January was the Snatch Comedy improv gig last Sunday. Admission was €10 but it was worth every penny.

€10 – Travel

Very few travel expenses for January. The total here accounts for five local bus trips.

€4 – Donations

This consists of the odd Euro given to buskers, and the occasional homeless person. Not accounted for is the spare change I usually throw into coin boxes around town (I try not to keep any change below 50c).

I also gifted a copy of Getting Things Done (affiliate link) to a friend of mine in the US, but the €8 for that came out of my gift certificate balance on Amazon.com so we won’t count it here.

€27 – Unknown

When I added up all my expenses for the month and then figured out the difference between my start and end balances, I was left with €27 unaccounted for. I have no idea where that money went. I can only assume that I forgot to make note of an expense or two during the month. For closure’s sake, let’s just say I spent it on medication for a sick puppy.

Total expenses for January: €1,173

That works out to much more than my estimated weekly expense total of €230 that I mentioned in a previous post. If I subtract the unfortunate expense of replacing my hard drive, I’m right there at that €230 mark. Of course, unforeseen expenses are expenses nonetheless, and I can’t pretend they don’t count in the grand scheme of things.

January earnings

Um… not much to say here, since I didn’t earn a single penny in January. (Thankfully, February has already been much better ;-))

Total earnings for January: €0

Where that leaves me

I could afford not to earn any money in January because I’d saved up a solid chunk of change before quitting my 9-to-5 back in November. I also cashed in my retirement plan, which has left me with a nice cushion to work with. My bank and cash balances at the start of January added up to €9,718. At the end of the month, I’m down to €8,545.

Outlook for February

I could certainly afford to go another few months without earning any money, but I’m eager to get some cash flowing in the positive direction. As such, I’ll be focusing a lot more on income generation this month. Sticking with my original 4-month plan, I’m aiming to release a paid product at the end of February, and I’ll be diving into some serious affiliate marketing via Corbett Barr’s course.

I’ve also got a sizable check about to clear as payment for a website I just relaunched for my brother’s business (If you’re looking for fancy stairs in Ireland, he’s your man). I still have some work to do there, with a bonus incentive for some SEO magic.

As for expenses, I may end up spending even more money in February than I did in January, since I’ll soon be booking flights and accommodation for Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit in June. I’ll have to take advantage of all that there is to be learned from the Travel Hacking Cartel to keep the cost of that trip down.

Feedback

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.

Finally, a quick hat tip to Raam Dev, whose nomad finance reports served as much of the inspiration for me to start similar. Check out his latest report here.