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June 2013 Finance Report

Sawadee krab to all you legendary email subscribers. Welcome to my June finance report, as prepared on a couch in my underwear. TMI?

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

Thanks to…

  • Cool British people on the shuttle train to Thanaleng who chatted with me for a bit.
  • Fa, the chatty Thai business lady who kept me company during the taxi ride to Vientiane.
  • Tao at the Thai embassy in Vientiane who tried to get my visa processed even though I showed up there after closing time.
  • The Khamkhoun hotel people for looking after my bag for me while I went to pick up my visa at the embassy in Vientiane.
  • Family lady in the tuk-tuk who told me a bit about Laos and the situation here with land mines and such.
  • Thai lady on the train back to Bangkok who helped me figure out my ticket mix-up. And the attendants on that same train who tried to find my a new bed after it turned out my ticket was for the wrong date. They also brought me blankets in the seated car and arranged the seats so I could put my feet up.
  • Ian for giving me great feedback on my interview for Love Affair Travel.
  • Aaron via the DtR Facebook page for sending me info about Chinese visas.
  • Dude at iStudio who helped me get my old Mac started up and then printed off a document for me, all for free.
  • Ian and Mike for all the invites to dinner and such.
  • Bessie for thinking of me and sending me interesting stories.
  • Lady working at 7-11 who helped me add credit to my phone.
  • Half-assed employee at Erawan Park who didn’t seem bothered about us going up to the seventh level of the falls after closing time.
  • Brent for recommending this excellent Embrace The Shake TED talk.
  • The Parkour guys as per usual, especially Johann for lending me a slackline and gifting me a t-shirt 🙂
  • Barbara, Caterina, and Katie for all the great work they’ve done and continue to do for me.
  • Jack for treating me to a smoothie and inviting me for some sprint training. Must also give Matt a shout out on the sprinting front. He gave me some great tips to help improve my 100m time.
  • Mohammad for meeting up with me in Bangkok for a good chat and offering his photo services.
  • Mitch, Kai and Spyros for good Masterminding all through the month.
  • Masa for meeting up with me in Bangkok, starring in one of my videos, and helping me practice silence 😉
  • Johnny and Kitty for the hospital recommendations, and Johnny for offering to help me out with anything and everything while I was laid up.
  • All the folks at Bangkok Hospital who helped me out.
  • Dude at the petrol station who helped me with my crutches.
  • Kevin, Silvia and Rebel for good hanging out on a Friday.
  • Molly for referring business my way.
  • Emmett for helping me out big-time with the audio on one of my videos.
  • Ko Sichang ferry guys for dropping us off closer to shelter when it was pissing rain.
  • Owners of the guesthouse we stayed at in Ko Sichang for gifting us an umbrella to use, and making sure we got back to the ferry on time.
  • Technician dude at my apartment building for fixing the washing machine for me, and letting me know where to get my flat tire fixed.
  • Random motorcycle taxi dude at the gas station who showed me how to work the air pump.
  • Girl at the fruit stall who remembered that I’d left behind the three apples I paid for last time, and was happy to make amends.
  • Dean for holding me accountable and helping me out big-time with the rebranding of my channel on YouTube.
  • Kirk for treating me to a big meal at lunch one day when we met for a chat. Legend.
  • Lance for the heads up about this amazing video on reversing desertification.
  • All the DtR readers who responded to my book giveaway offer, recommending lots of cool books and throwing many a kind word my way.
  • Mike and Johnny R for their Thai island recommendations.
  • Kitty for all the loveliness 🙂
  • Jayhawk, for the great Krav Maga intro in the park.
  • Maximilian for recommending to me the excellent MoneyWiz iPhone app, and Scott for recommending to me the equally excellent Swift Player iPhone app.
  • Gaelle for taking the time to forward me along every message in a great email series I couldn’t sign up to myself for some reason. And for treating me to a coffee when we met in Bangkok.
  • All the kind and thoughtful people who responded to the survey I put out a few weeks back.
  • And thanks to everyone who read, commented, and shared my writing during the month of June. You People 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 took three separate trips out of Bangkok during the month. Diving in…

June Expenses

Food and Drink

Pubs, Coffee Shops, Restaurants, Take-aways € 436 $ 567
Groceries € 192 $ 250
Total € 628 $ 817

Down a bit from the €698/$907 I spent last month. I usually eat two meals at home each day during the week, grab lunch or dinner at a restaurant, and then go a bit nuts with restaurants at the weekend.

Housing and Utilities

1 month rent for On Nut apartment € 399 $ 519
2 nights at River Kwai Hotel, Kanchanaburi € 58 $ 75
Electricity bill at On Nut apartment € 37 $ 48
2 nights a Khamkhoun Hotel, Vientiane € 35 $ 46
Water charge at On Nut apartment € 3 $ 4
Telephone charge at On Nut apartment € 2 $ 3
Total € 534 $ 695

Way down from the €1,260/$1,637 I spent last month, though that included the hefty deposit paid on my apartment.


6 months travel insurance from World Nomads € 232 $ 298
Double-entry Thai visa € 48 $ 63
Car fuel for Ko Sichang trip € 29 $ 38
Laos 30-day visa € 27 $ 35
Train and taxi package: Vientiane to Bangkok € 23 $ 30
3-day scooter rental on Ko Sichang € 18 $ 24
Train: Bangkok to Nong Khai € 17 $ 22
Scooter fuel € 14 $ 18
Bangkok BTS (skytrain) € 10 $ 13
Shuttle train and taxi from Nong Khai to Vientiane € 8 $ 10
Tuk-tuks in Vientiane € 5 $ 7
Scooter tire change € 5 $ 6
Currency exchange fee in Vientiane € 3 $ 4
Highway tolls € 3 $ 4
Bangkok Metro € 2 $ 2
Laos exit stamp € 1 $ 1
Total € 442 $ 575

Up from last months’ numbers of €269/$350, thanks to the visa run to Vientiane and weekend trips to Ko Sichang and Kanchanaburi.

Business Expenses

S6 Personal Assistant € 727 $ 946
Renaissance TV video animation € 430 $ 560
SWB Personal Assistant € 367 $ 477
Dreamhost web hosting € 92 $ 120
SWB writers € 77 $ 100
AWeber email marketing € 61 $ 79
PayPal fees € 26 $ 34
Fancy Hands € 19 $ 25
Ecwid shopping cart (for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription) € 14 $ 18
Domain renewals € 13 $ 17
Amazon Web Services (ebizfacts.com CDN) € 4 $ 5
Socialoomph.com (monthly subscription) € 3 $ 4
Total € 1,833 $ 2,385

Up a bit from €1,737/$2,257 in May. I’ll tell you a bit more about the S6 and SWB projects further down. Other notes…

Renaissance TV video animation
This is the cool, 14-second intro you might have seen on my recent YouTube videos, part of my rebranding efforts over there. Check this clip if you haven’t seen the animation yet.

Fancy Hands
This is a handy virtual assistant service I tried out last month, getting 15 tasks for $25. What kind of tasks? Well among other things I asked them to send me contact info for the top Krav Maga schools in Hong Kong, and meeting times of the biggest English-speaking Toastmasters clubs in Bangkok. I didn’t renew my subscription for July simply because I don’t expect to have many such tasks for a few weeks. I recommend it though, especially for research stuff that would take you 15 minutes or more. Might as well pay some $3-5 to do it for you.

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

Disrupting the Rabblement book giveaway (50 books) € 533 $ 693
Donation to Arts Wisconsin (Mastermind penalty) € 46 $ 60
Donation to Changing the Present (Mastermind penalty) € 46 $ 60
Donation to NCMEC (Mastermind Penalty) € 31 $ 40
Total € 656 $ 853

Up from last months’ donation total of €459/$596, but a little short of the goal to donate 15% of my income each month.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Hospital bill (ankle) € 188 $ 244
Parkour classes (10 pack) € 87 $ 113
Skechers footwear € 74 $ 96
Monthly gym membership (True Fitness) € 55 $ 71
Phone credit € 25 $ 32
Toiletries € 15 $ 20
Tiger Temple entry fee € 15 $ 19
Chase credit card foreign transaction fees € 14 $ 18
Medication and bandages € 12 $ 15
Cinema: World War Z € 10 $ 13
Multivitamins € 9 $ 12
Book: To Sell Is Human € 8 $ 11
Subscription to Raam Dev’s Journal € 5 $ 7
Erawan Falls entry fee € 5 $ 7
Postage for health insurance docs € 5 $ 7
Mouth guard € 5 $ 7
AIB quarterly banking fee € 5 $ 7
iTunes movie rental: Silver Linings Playbook € 5 $ 7
iTunes movie rental: This Is 40 € 5 $ 6
Jock strap € 5 $ 6
Haircut € 3 $ 4
Arcade games € 3 $ 4
Laundry € 3 $ 4
iPhone app: Swift Player € 2 $ 3
iPhone app: Trail Wallet € 2 $ 3
iPhone app: MoneyWiz € 2 $ 2
Flowers € 2 $ 2
Washing up liquid € 1 $ 1
iPhone app: Logical Fallacies € 1 $ 1
Photocopying € 1 $ 1
Total € 571 $ 743

Up a bit from the €320/$416 I spent on miscellaneous last month. The trip to the hospital was after I hurt my ankle while exercising one evening. I could barely walk on it the next morning and felt sure I’d broken a bone, but turned out it was just a sprain. I’ve made a claim on my travel insurance so I should get that money back eventually.

iPhone apps
Out of the four apps listed above, they’re all actually pretty good. Swift Player lets you speed up audio and video nicely so you can get podcasts and the like into your ears faster. Pretty cool being able to listen to an hour-long podcast in just thirty minutes with no loss of comprehension. Trail Wallet is great if you’re a backpacker wanting to stick to a budget and keep track of your expenses while on the move. I’m using MoneyWiz full-time though for my finance tracking, as it lets me record income as well as expenses, change currencies on the fly, and backup all my data automatically.

Expense Summary

Food and Drink € 628 $ 817
Housing and Utilities € 534 $ 695
Travel € 442 $ 575
Business Expenses € 1,833 $ 2,385
Gifts and Donations € 656 $ 853
Miscellaneous expenses € 571 $ 743
Total Expenses € 4,664 $ 6,068

Pretty close to last month’s totals of €4,743/$6,164, but for the fourth straight month I managed to spend more than $5k. That wouldn’t be an issue except that I’ve now spent more than I’ve earned for four straight months as well :-/

June Income

Away from the minuses and on to the pluses…

Sigma 6 project € 3,756 $ 4,887
SWB project € 537 $ 699
$50 Blogs € 77 $ 100
Reader donations (muchas gracias!) € 46 $ 60
Chase credit card points redemption credit € 45 $ 59
Aweber affiliate payment € 36 $ 47
Amazon book royalties € 27 $ 35
Amazon affiliate payment € 13 $ 17
Total Income € 4,538 $ 5,904

A nice bounce-back from last month’s earnings of €2,981/$3,874. Notes…

Sigma 6 project
I can’t 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. Taking away the expense of my assistant, the profit here was €3,029/$3,941 for the month of June.

SWB project
This is the SEO Writing Business (SWB for short) I’ve been running for a few months now. I’m happy to share all the details on this one, but it hasn’t quite taken off like I’d hoped so there’s not much to share. I’ve set strict goals for this business in July: if it doesn’t generate profit of at least $500 by the end of the month, I’ll pull the plug and move on to something else. In June the profit was just €93/$122.

Where that leaves me

I had €7,307/$9,496 to my name at the end of May. After applying the most recent exchange rates (I have accounts in both Dollars and Euros), that had decreased slightly to €7,300/$9,486. Taking into account all my June income and expenditure, my total bank and cash balances now work out to €7,052/$9,174.

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

  • €1,439/$1,970 in January
  • €1,275/$1,655 in February
  • €262/$337 in March
  • €70/$92 in April
  • €1,762/$2,290 in May
  • €126/$164 in June
  • €2,384/$3,108 overall

Outlook for July

Once again the goal will be to try get my expenses back under the $5k mark. Not going to be easy though. Business expenses will likely be high again, I have a few fitness expenses pending (personal training in Parkour and a new gym membership) and I’ll have to buy visas for China and Vietnam ahead of my overland trip to Hong Kong at the end of the month.

I’ll mention here again though that I’m not overly concerned that my expenditure has exceeded my income for several consecutive months now. I’m experimenting with a lot of business projects these days, and some losses are inevitable. I see it as the price of a real-world business education. If the worst were to happen and I fell flat broke, I’m confident I’d be able to handle it and get back on my feet pretty quick with freelance work. All part of the adventure 😉

Feedback welcome

Thoughts? Questions? Speak up in the comments below.

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  1. How did you get 15 tasks for $25 from Fancy Hands? Looks like 5 tasks for that price to me. Unless you found a discount or something.

    Also, for a price range of ~€20 a month, do you think that’s the best virtual assistant one can get?

    1. Hey Mark,

      Well spotted. I made a mistake there. I paid $25 for five tasks initially and then upgraded my account. Checking my credit card statement I see I paid an additional $14 a week later to get the extra ten tasks.

      I think Fancy Hands is quite good. I was asking them to do a lot of research work, finding email addresses of businesses I wanted to call up and interview, but after a while they told me they couldn’t do that kind of task anymore.

      1. Ah. Seems a bit haphazard in what they can and can’t do. I’ve been doing some browsing to see which of these va companies might suit me, but so far not convinced by any of them.

  2. Hi Niall, thank you for posting this. Yes, I completely agree with you that you will be back on your feet and you not worrying about it. You are extremely disciplined and it shows. As you said, you are getting your MBA for this cost but in a much more interesting real way 🙂

  3. What did you think of World War Z? It was better than I thought it would be. Finished a bit quick though, didn’t get to see them rebuild society after, which would have been interesting.

  4. With your chase foreign fee around $10 a month, why not get the Chase Sapphire Preferred card at $65 a year with 40k signing and no foreign transaction fees?

      1. That is true, though if you have a PO box or a family address you could sign up for it a month or so before you head back to the states next time. Or inf you are already with Chase, look at asking them for a free switch. Most of their travel cards now have no transaction fees now.

  5. A different Scott, Scott H. Young, turned me on to the idea of listening and watching content at 1.5-2x speed. I don’t know what software he used, but he sped up the lectures for his MIT Challenge.

    Swift Player app on every iOS device is the way to go. I’m glad you find it as useful as I do, Niall.

    I use the free VLC player software on my laptop to do the same thing, but it doesn’t integrate with video sites as well as Swift. Suggestions are welcomed.

      1. With the html5 youtube player you can playback the videos at 1.5 or 2x speed. Not sure if it works as good as that swift player

  6. Hi there Nial. I enjoyed reading your June finance report. It was such a pity that you hurt your ankle whilst exercising. I hope that you feel much better. I see you are having to get many visas. Good luck with the next part of your journey. Your finances will get better I wish.

  7. Adam - Tropical Nomad

    I love how a haircut is $3 in Thailand… Try $30 minimum in Queenstown!

    I have a habit of living in the red myself as well but also due to experimenting with business projects and you can’t do everything yourself!

    Like the video into, pretty cool. Been meaning to do something similar myself..

  8. Why is your Aweber monthly cost so high? I don’t even see 79 as an option when I log into mine. I am curious about this.


    1. There’s an extra charge once you’re over 1000 subscribers. It’s not that high every month though. I think it’s $30 per month, and then an extra $10 per month for 1000+, but they only bill for latter every quarter or something like that.

  9. Hi Naill,
    I guess this is the first time I caught the health insurance premium in your reports. I would love to hear how your experience with themis going, is this your first claim and was has it been simple so far?
    People are always asking us about health insurance when abroad and since we dont have any I am always interested in getting input/feedback from others.

    1. Hi Eden,

      Thanks for the comment. Regarding World Nomads travel insurance, I’ve tried claiming from them twice before. First time was for my broken Kindle, which I had covered. With deductibles and such I only got $9 compensation I think. Ridiculous. I mentioned them in a status on Facebook and they replied back very defensively (read the small print, etc.).

      The other claim was for when I went to the doctor in Kathmandu. Turned out my medical expenses had to exceed $100 or else they weren’t covered. So this time I went and racked up the expenses, bought crutches and all the meds they advised so I’d be over that threshold. So dumb when you think about it. I have to waste money to be covered.

      Not sure there’s any better option though, and I’m still assuming they’ll pay out nicely if I ever get in serious trouble!

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