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January 2013 Finance Report

Sawadee krab to all you legendary email subscribers. Welcome to my January finance report, as prepared from the kitchen/office of my apartment building in Bangkok.

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

  • Good old Michael Lovan for some good times hanging out in Bangkok. Actually, I could say that about a ton of people. Will, Anthony, Johnny, Cat, Lizzie, Carter, Sean, Derrick, Travis, other Will, Andrew… and dozens more that are slipping my mind.
  • A bunch of cool people I met at the weekly CouchSurfing meeting in Bangkok.
  • Shaz for bringing me along to my first hot yoga session and joining me for dinner after.
  • Jaja and Goy for getting me into Bash nightclub and VIP section for free. Apple bottom jeans, boots with the fur…
  • Random dude named Mark from New York who I met in the gym, gave me advice on where to buy a weights belt.
  • Will and Anthony for letting me join them during a couple of their intense workouts at the gym.
  • Will for gifting me a padlock to use at the gym.
  • Karol Gajda for emailing me some smart tips on pricing for Kindle.
  • Anthony for waiting around for me for an hour or so while I was getting my iPhone.
  • KTB bank in Chiang Mai, for finding my bank card and holding it for me until I could make a run up there to collect it.
  • My friend Shaz and her boyfriend Rob for inviting me for a great dinner and chat at their place in Bangkok. Veggie lasagne… mmmmm.
  • Spyros and Kai for the cool Masterminding as always.
  • Danny for organizing a cool get-together at The Long Table and inviting me and the lads along.
  • Lady at the breakfast place near the apartment complex who ran down the street after me to give me back the sunglasses I’d left on the table.
  • Johnny, Will and Anthony for a great first month in Bangkok. After traveling mostly solo for about 18 months, I realized that I was really missing having that core group of friends to hang out with regularly. Learning a lot from them all business-wise, too.
  • Jeff, our landlord in Bangkok, for giving us a good deal on the apartments and just being a cool, chilled out dude.
  • My new roommate Johnny Ward for getting us sorted in a killer apartment in Bangkok. Myself and Will Peach were about ready to pay much more for a not-so-nice place until the J-man stepped in and set us straight. He’s also been great filling us in on the do’s and don’ts of the city.
  • And thanks to everyone who read, commented, and shared my writing during the month of January. 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. Especially this month, when I did a remarkably sucky job at keeping track of everything.)

Okay, let’s move on to the more numerical form of currency. Keep in mind that I spent all of January living in Bangkok. Diving in…

January Expenses

Food and Drink

Groceries € 115
Pubs, Coffee Shops, Restaurants, Take-aways € 528
Total € 643

A good chunk up from the €455 I spent on food and drink in December. I’ve been eating out in nice restaurants quite a lot in Bangkok.

Housing and Utilities

3 months rent + 2 months deposit at Bangkok apartment € 1,645
1 night at Saphai Pae hostel, Bangkok € 9
Total € 1,654

Up from €127 last month. The 3-months rent plus the deposit hurts the pocket a lot this month, but good to know that’s taken care of now for a while.


Taxis in Bangkok € 104
Bangkok-Chaing Mai return train ticket € 69
Bangkok metro € 41
1-day scooter rental in Chaing Mai € 5
Scooter fuel € 2
Canal boat in Bangkok € 1
Total € 222

Down from €484 in December. I had to make a quick run to Chiang Mai early in the month since I left my bank card in an ATM there. Luckily I was able to contact the bank and they held it for me. Might have been a nightmare trying to get a new one sent from overseas.

Business Expenses

Personal Assistant trial commissions € 115
Personal Assistant € 73
AWeber email marketing € 22
Apartment Internet € 18
Post Affiliate Pro (for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription) € 14
Ecwid shopping cart (for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription) € 13
PayPal fees € 10
Chiang Mai apartment Internet € 5
Internet cafes € 4
Socialoomph.com (monthly subscription) € 3
Amazon Web Services (ebizfacts.com CDN) € 3
Total € 280

Up from €133 in December. Notes…

Personal assistant
Thanks to everyone who applied for my personal assistant position. It was kind of ridiculous how many great applicants I had to turn down. I’m really happy with the person I ended up hiring. I picked her from a shortlist of seven applicants who I put through some trial tasks. Some of those tasks generated income for me, hence the commission payout listed first above.

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 In Search of Sanuk € 440
Donation to Arts Wisconsin (Mastermind penalty) € 15
Donation to Water.org (Mastermind penalty) € 14
Wine gift for dinner party € 13
Total € 482

Down from €838 in December. My goal last year was to donate at least 10% of my income (I ended up donating 12.7%). The goal for 2013 is to donate at least 15%. On track so far.

Miscellaneous Expenses

iPhone 5 € 612
6-week gym membership € 75
Snoop Dogg concert € 58
Deposit on 3 tailored shirts € 50
International bank transfer fee (for rent payment) € 43
Bangkok club entry fees € 31
Shirt € 28
Blender € 23
iPhone 5 sports armband € 19
Book: Ishmael € 16
2 pillows € 14
iPhone 5 soft jacket € 14
Bed sheet and pillow case set € 12
Bangkok apartment cleaning € 10
T-shirt € 10
Haircut € 9
Phone credit € 8
Toiletries € 8
Subscription to Raam Dev’s Journal € 5
Chase credit card fees € 4
Towel € 4
Book: The Omnivore’s Dilemma € 3
Entry to public swimming pool € 3
Faxing and printing € 3
Belt € 2
Laundry € 2
Laundry detergent € 2
Total € 1,068

Way up from the €273 I spent on miscellaneous last month. Notes…

After almost 4.5 years with my iPhone 3Gs, I bit the bullet and splashed out on the new model. My old phone had gotten so sluggish that I hadn’t been able to use Internet on it properly in about two years. Nice to have a zippy smart phone again, and something I don’t mind spending good money on since I know I’ll get good use out of it and it’s likely to last me a half decade.

I only link up the books I’ve already read and recommend. After reading a book a week in 2012, I’m way behind that pace so far in 2013. Bangkok can be distracting.

Expense Summary

Food and Drink € 643
Housing and Utilities € 1,654
Travel € 222
Business Expenses € 280
Gifts and Donations € 482
Miscellaneous expenses € 1068
Total Expenses € 4,349

Almost double the €2,310 I spent in December. Whoops!

January Income

Away from the minuses and on to the pluses…

Sigma 6 project € 2,178
Freelance web design € 571
Reader donations (muchas gracias!) € 95
Amazon.com book royalties € 33
1000 Baht note found on ground outside club € 25
Amazon affiliate payment € 8
Total Income € 2,910

Down a bit from the €3,372 I pulled in the previous month. Still pretty happy with that number though, since it was rough going for a while getting settled in Bangkok.


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 €8,633 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 €8,374. Taking into account all my January income and expenditure, my total bank and cash balances now work out to €7,593.

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

  • €1,439 in January
  • €1,439 overall

Outlook for February

I’m expecting another expensive month. My laptop is slowly dying and is costing me time and money at this point with its pervasive pinwheel. I really should splash out and buy a new one before it crashes, and I’ll probably do that this month. At the same time I am expecting a good month income-wise. January started slow but the advertising gig picked up near the end, so hopefully that will continue rolling through February. I’m still aiming to have €10k in the bank by my 31st birthday in mid-March, so it’s pretty essential I finish February in the green.

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. Hi Niall,

    Because so much of your income comes from the Sigma 6 project (???), I was curious to know if you believed it was still possible to make a majority of your income from web design.

    Do you turn down a lot of projects, or is that your choice of projects that add up to € 571?

    Thanks for the reply.

    1. Hey Silver,

      I turn down a lot of projects, or refer them to friends. Pretty sure I could have made at least €2k on web design alone in January if I’d focused all my energy on that. The Sigma 6 stuff is proving to be a better return on my time investment for now though.

  2. You are a continual inspiration (and reminder that I suck at record keeping). January was a crazy expensive month for me as well, glad I’m not the only one!

  3. Just a quick question, Niall. I’m interested in The Omnivore´s Dilemma but it seems to focus mostly on the food industry in the US. Would you say it’s still of interest for us Europeans? Just a yes or no will be fine 🙂

    1. Yes, still of interest. I don’t think Europe is too far behind the US in terms of how messed up the food system is. Lots of interesting stuff in that book that’s applicable the world over.

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