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July 2014 Finance Report

Bem-vindo o’ legendary email subscriber. This is my July finance report, as prepared from my apartment (aka Casa Gringo) in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

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. Keep in mind that I spent the entire month living here in BH. Diving in…

July Expenses

Food and Drink

Eating out € 138 $ 186
Groceries € 154 $ 207
Total € 292
$ 393

Down quite a bit from the €349/$477 I spent in June. I realized that it’s actually cheaper to eat out twice a day in Belo Horizonte, rather than buying groceries and cooking at home. The trick is to go to a sem balanca restaurant for lunch and get dinner to go while I’m there (store it in the fridge until evening). Works out to a little over eight dollars for two very healthy and filling meals.

That example highlights one of the hidden costs of travel: It can take a while to figure out where the best deals are in town, so you end up spending more than you have to your first few days/weeks/months in a place. Then by the time you do have it sussed, you’re on the move again :-/

Housing and Utilities

Rent at Casa Gringo in Belo Horizonte (1 month) € 504 $ 678
Total € 504 $ 678

Same as last month. We really got screwed on this, our last rent payment in Belo Horizonte. It wasn’t a bad price to pay while the World Cup was going on, but after that we could have probably found a better place for almost half the price. Unfortunately, we signed a three-month contract for Casa Gringo, so we were stuck with it.


90-day Brazilian visa extension € 22 $ 30
Taxis in Belo Horizonte € 5 $ 7
Total € 27 $ 37

Up a little from from €16/$22 last month. Once again, I stayed put the whole month in Belo Horizonte.

Business Expenses

Web design outsourcing € 521 $ 700
PayPal fees € 26 $ 35
AWeber email marketing € 22 $ 30
Skype credit € 19 $ 25
Total € 588 $ 790

Up from the €622/$851 I spent in June. I spent quite a bit on outsourcing to help get me through a few difficult freelance projects.

Gifts and Donations

Camera float strap giveaway on DtR Facebook page € 4 $ 6
Total € 4 $ 6

Up from nothing in June. In 2013 I gave away $7,000 and ended up minus about that much for the year. This year I was aiming to donate 15% of my income, but I’ve decided to drop that goal in light of some wise comments on last month’s report.


Einstein: His Life and Universe € 8 $ 11
Born Standing Up € 7 $ 9
Tuesdays With Morrie € 7 $ 9
The Great Santini € 1 $ 2
Total € 23 $ 31

Down a bit from the €32/$44 I spent on books in June. I also signed up for a free trial of Kindle Unlimited which should save me a good bit of money given how much I read (up to two books per week now).

Quick reviews of the books listed above:

  • Einstein: Fascinating, not just for science geeks.
  • Born Standing Up: Steve Martin’s stand up years. Fun, insightful read.
  • Tuesdays With Morrie: Makes you think. Makes you cry.
  • The Great Santini: Solid novel with vivid characters.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Doctor check-up in Belo Horizonte € 84 $ 113
Bar/club/party entry fees in Belo Horizonte € 61 $ 82
Forro dance classes (3x weekly for one month) € 40 $ 54
Phone credit € 24 $ 32
iPhone cable € 16 $ 22
Toiletries € 11 $ 15
Headspace monthly subscription € 10 $ 13
Belo Horizonte walking tour € 4 $ 5
iTunes movie rental: The House I Live In € 3 $ 4
Total € 253 $ 340

Way up from the €143/$196 I spent on miscellaneous in June. The doctor I went to wasn’t great but he did give me peace of mind that the headaches I was having weren’t anything serious. Also, I’m surprised that I spent so much on nights out since I didn’t feel like I had a very active social life last month. Would have been a lot worse though if I was drinking!

Expense Summary

Food and Drink € 292 $ 393
Housing and Utilities € 504 $ 678
Travel € 27 $ 37
Business Expenses € 588 $ 790
Gifts and Donations € 4 $ 6
Books € 23 $ 31
Miscellaneous expenses € 253 $ 340
Total Expenses € 1,692 $ 2,275

About the same as June’s expense total €1,656/$2,275.

July Income

Away from the minuses and on to the pluses…

Freelance web design € 681 $ 915
Book sales from Amazon € 103 $ 138
Reader donations (muchas gracias!) € 52 $ 70
Amazon affiliate income € 45 $ 60
Book sales: The Cargo Ship Diaries (direct from ebizfacts.com) € 31 $ 42
Total Income € 912
$ 1,225

About a third of the €2,689/$3,678 I pulled in the previous month.

I’m disappointed with those totals, as I felt I worked non-stop in July and should really have more to show for it. I continued to suffer for some poor project pricing decisions I made back in April and May.

Biggest regret?

I don’t have any big spending regrets from last month. Really, my biggest regret is related to income, as I believe the freelance project that provided the bulk of my income last month actually cost me money. I spent way too much time working on it considering how little I was paid, and had to pass up other (likely more lucrative) job opportunities as a result.

When I think back to the initial discussions with the client about that project in May, I can now see all the red flags I ignored. Some hard lessons learned there.

Where that leaves me

I had €2,737/$3,744 to my name at the end of June. After applying the most recent exchange rates (I have accounts in EUR, HKD and USD), those totals shifted a little to €2,781/$3,738. Taking into account all my July income and expenditure, my total bank and cash balances now work out to €1,982/$2,664.

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

  • €891/$1,202 in January
  • €550/$759 in February
  • €1,105/$1,525 in March
  • €1,616/$2,241 in April
  • €1,394/$1,900 in May
  • €1,033/$1,412 in June
  • €780/$1,050 in July
  • €2,071/$2,783 overall

Outlook for August

Expenses are not looking good given a big secret expense that I’ll share with you next month. I’ll be pretty happy if I can keep my total expenses for August under $2,500. Income should be pretty solid though, in the $3,500 vicinity, thanks to a bunch of projects I’ll be wrapping up.

Feedback welcome

Thoughts? Questions? Speak up in the comments below.

Archived finance reports

I’ve been posting these monthly finance reports since January, 2011. You can view all my old reports via this page.

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  1. Thanks for sharing these report, Niall! I’m a relatively new reader and accounted for one of those Amazon book sales in July. Really enjoyed it (and should remember to leave a review).

  2. re: Kindle Unlimited. I read a lot, but there aren’t enough books that I need/want to read in Kindle Unlimited to make it worth it. Are you finding enough there?

    I have Amazon Prime which gives me 1 ebook rental per month (same books as are available in Unlimited). Made a list of books that I’m interested in, but it’s not enough to go with Unlimited: http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/2QV9ZNJ2LB0IC/

    Would love to see the list of KU books you’re reading during/after your trial.

    1. I thought the same when I first looked at the books available on Kindle Unlimited. Out of the first 30 books on my wish list, none of them were available via KU.

      But somehow in the past couple of weeks I’ve ended up downloading five KU books, finished two and I’m at least halfway through two more.

      – The Dudes Abide, Alex Belth
      – Nonviolent Communication, Marshall B. Rosenberg
      – Tao of Jeet Kune Do, Bruce Lee
      – Bruce Lee: be like water!, Andrea Dillon
      – The Rookie Copywriter’s Survival Guide, Doberman Dan

      If I keep up that pace it’s definitely worth it for me.

        1. Ruthlessly honest and inspiring! Hang in there, man! Would you consider Medellin as your next stop? I heard the cost is relatively reasonable. Couldn’t tell for sure. Till next month!

  3. I thought you were going to go easy on the clubs Niall! Lucky you don’t drink or your trip would be well over.. Must look into Kindle Unlimited, sounds like a good idea 🙂 All the best over there..

  4. Hey Niall,

    I am really curious how the whole Foundation project worked out, I don’t see a lot of that back in your reports. Honestly, did you learn and got “themagickey” for internet business now or is it another sales program that works if your lucky enough and presistent in what they tell you to do??? Thanks in advanced, following you already over a year now and just wanted to say that it has been awesome and inspiring. I am travelling over 10 months myself now, located in Darwin Australia now

    1. Hey Timothy,

      I don’t think there is any magic key for business 🙂

      I like what The Foundation teaches, and the course material is solid. I believe I’m failing though due to the fact that I haven’t put aside enough time to really commit to implementing what I learn in the course. I think you need to do at least an hour of uncomfortable action every day for at least 2-3 months, and then you’ll see some solid results. I haven’t done that.

  5. Uff I remember how expensive Brazil was, especially comparing to the rest of the continent.. It is said those who live close to the border go to Argentina for electronics:) I can imagine how much worse it got during World Cup.. You were probably already asked this a mil times already, but why do you have so little from affiliate marketing? I’ve read other travelers’ blogs – they make a lot more with their hosting company/booking websites/int’l insurance promotions.

    1. Hi Anna,

      I’m not big on affiliate marketing. I tried a few offers on the blog over the years but never had much financial success with it, and I felt I weakened the trust of my readers with each offer. At least on this blog, I only recommend products/services I use myself, but there’s not a whole lot I do use, and I’m not very pushy with the recommendations.

      1. “I felt I weakened the trust of my readers with each offer” Limiting belief?

        There are definitely ways to do it without losing trust. That said, this — “I only recommend products/services I use myself” — is one of those ways. It’s obviously tough to recommend something if you don’t have anything to recommend.

        1. Yeah, books are about the only thing I can recommend consistently, and the affiliate commissions on those are pretty small, certainly not enough to live on unless I was getting 20x the clicks.

          I think you’re right though that there are some limiting beliefs going on there.

  6. ahhh always painful to reflect on the red flags that we miss 🙁 glad to hear you’re taking it in your stride. jiayou niall! ie you can do it 🙂

  7. Great report thanks for sharing. I can imagine Brazil’s prices were inflated with the world cup, so you did well on living it large on a reasonable budget.

    Charge more for your websites, you do great work and should work with clients whom understand the quality of your work.

  8. I liked reading your finance report. I know that you are finding Belo Horizonte a lot cheaper than Rio. It is a wonderful idea to eat out at lunch time then take some of your food from there to eat later at dinner time. I know what you mean about finding budget stuff once you have been in a place for a while. It is a pity Casa Gringo is costing you so much. Good luck for expenses in August. I have just come back from my trip to beautiful Iceland.

  9. Have you considered moving to a cheaper place/country while you really focus and work on your business? If I were in your situation where money is starting to become really tight I would move to the cheapest place I could and cut out everything not absolutely necessary, then work non stop & save for a few months until you have at least $10k.

    1. Yeah, have definitely considered that. The trouble is, I’m stubborn and want to finish my no-fly trip around the world within the next 14 months. And that requires me to pass through another 10+ countries, meaning I won’t be staying put in any one place for more than two months or so. I’ve pretty much accepted the fact that big business success may have to wait until after I’m done with this trip. Then I can move to a cheap place for a year or so and really focus on that side of things.

      1. You could stay put in a cheap place for 6 months, save up and then finish the trip in the following 8 months. Just some ideas. Do some couch surfing? Live with one of your many followers in a cheap place??? Live with a group in a cheap place?? Housing and food/entertainment expenses are the easiest places to reduce spending. You don’t want to reduce business expenses, only streamline and find other places to spend on business with a strong return on investment. You know best as you have been on the road a long time. Thanks for all of the interesting content. I am spending 3 months in Guatemala studying Spanish and volunteering for a cooperative. Hasta Luego!

  10. As an IT professional I have noticed a large opening in the Marketing department for freelance work, it would be worth getting to grips with Hootsuite and taking on a few easy clients to manage, this can rake in guaranteed thousands per month and will guarantee income and stop the floating figures, once you use facebook and twitter you should have a fair idea of what to post and I’ve noticed IT gurus seem to be quite adept at Marketing as its all online based Google Analytics and Tag Management, might be worth looking into,

    All the best

  11. Man that high rent blows! Nothing you can do though. And a bit too late to try to squeeze in another person even if you let em take your room for a month and you sleep on the couch for half the rent price… just a thought.

    Not sure how often you pump out your book to the masses, but maybe consider more of that? Like through twitter etc.. You’re probably already doing that and then there’s FB Ad campaigns… $5 per day can be a worthwhile investment, but you might have already considered that as well !

    1. Hey John,

      I’m not doing any marketing of my book at the moment. I’ve left pretty much all my blog marketing drop off to focus on the freelance stuff. But you’re right, I should be doing more of it. Adding it to my to-do list. The book has gotten great reviews so it should be easy enough to generate more sales if I get it out there in front of people.

      Thanks for the nudge.

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