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March 2012 Finance Report

Namaste to all you legendary email subscribers.

Welcome to my March finance report, which has been quickly cobbled together from a sweaty Internet cafe on the North side of Mumbai.

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.

Let’s dive in…

March Expenses

Food and Drink

Groceries € 48
Pubs, Coffee Shops, Restaurants, Take-aways € 283
Total € 331

Surprisingly enough, this is way down from the  €418 I spent in February. I felt sure I’d see an increase since I was eating out so much, especially in Sharjah/Dubai, which isn’t all that cheap. I also spent quite a bit on tea and coffee while working from hotel lobbies and coffee shops.

Housing and Utilities

13 nights at AirBnB apartment in Sharjah € 342
6 nights at the Firouzeh Hotel, Tehran € 85
AirBnB booking fee € 26
2 nights at Traveller’s Inn, Mumbai € 17
Total € 470

Way up from that €158 I spent in February, a month which saw me freely hosted by some very cool people in Romania. This past month though I had to pay a good bit for accommodation in Sharjah, and that AirBnB fee stung a bit. I did save a little though while I was cash-strapped in Iran and had no choice but to resort to Couchsurfing for a roof over my head. Many thanks to all the legendary people there who helped me out.


Royal Caribbean cruise from Dubai to Mumbai (including gratuities) € 963
Taxis in Sharjah/Dubai € 93
Ferry from Bandar-Abbas to Sharjah € 59
Iranian visa extension € 19
Taxis in Tehran € 15
Bus from Isfahan to Bandar Abbas € 14
Bus from Tehran to Isfahan € 8
Taxis in Isfahan € 7
Bus/metro tickets in Tehran € 3
Metro tickets in Dubai € 2
Bus ticket in Isfahan € 1
Taxi in Mumbai € 1
Total € 1185

I only spent €178 on travel last month so this is way up. That cruise wasn’t cheap, but it was the only boat I could find to take me across the Indian Ocean to Mumbai. I actually had to pay for the full 12-day cruise, even though I was only on board for four nights. Mercifully, I didn’t have to pay anything extra while I was on that cruise, apart from gratuities. I ate like a king and made good use of the gym. (If you haven’t seen the video of the cruise I put together, click here.)

I also spent more than usual on taxis in March, mostly in Sharjah/Dubai, which isn’t the most pedestrian friendly place I’ve ever been. Everything’s very spread out and to get from the apartment to a coffee shop with fast wifi required either a 40-minute walk or a quick cab ride.

Business Expenses

AWeber email marketing (3-month subscription) € 44
Your Freedom VPN software (for full web access in Iran and UAE) € 20
WooThemes Developer Club (monthly subscription) € 15
MS Remote Desktop (monthly subscription) € 15
Ecwid shopping cart (for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription) € 12
Socialoomph.com (monthly subscription) € 3
Total € 109

Up from €66 in March. I needed that VPN software to get on to sites like Facebook and Twitter in Iran, and Couchsurfing in UAE. There is actually a free version by the same company that I now believe works just as well as the paid version. D’oh.

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 Rainbows 4 Children (via Facebook, see below) € 38
Donation to Wounded Warrior Project (via Facebook, see below) € 38
7 Habits book giveaway (see below) € 29
Sweets for kids in Mumbai slum € 1
Total € 106

Down a little from the €135 I gave away in February, and still not quite hitting my target of donating 10% of my income.

Facebook donations
The donations to Rainbows 4 Children and the Wounded Warrior Project were suggested by folks on the Disrupting the Rabblement Facebook page. I asked them to nominate their favorite charities and then donated $50 apiece to the first two. I might do this more in future.

7 Habits book giveaway
Again via Facebook, I gave away three copies of my favorite book to celebrate my birthday. I asked folks to tell me about their most memorable birthday and picked three winners from the responses.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Adult dating site (3-month subscription) € 45
UAE desert tour € 25
UAE SIM card and credit € 17
Sunscreen € 15
Mumbai slum tour € 12
Indian SIM card and credit € 8
AIB banking fee € 7
Book: Elephant Girl € 6
Book: The Faraway Horses € 6
Subscription to Raam Dev’s Journal € 5
Mumbai club entry € 5
Book: Losing My Virginity (Richard Branson) € 5
Iranian SIM card € 4
Haircut in Bandar Abbas € 4
Book: The Story of My Life (Helen Keller) € 3
Printing € 2
Internet cafe in Dubai € 1
Internet cafe in Bandar Abbas € 1
Total € 171

About the same amount spent here as last month. I should note that the slum tour I did in Mumbai was of the unofficial variety. Through another guy staying at my hostel I met a cab driver who lived in the slum and offered to give us a tour. Worked out well.

Expense Summary

Food and Drink € 331
Housing and Utilities € 470
Travel € 1185
Business Expenses € 109
Gifts and Donations € 106
Miscellaneous expenses € 171
Total Expenses € 2,372

Yeah, so hiked up quite a bit compared to the €1135 I spent in February. My goal as usual was to stay below €1000, but the expense of staying almost two weeks in Sharjah and the cost of that cruise gave me no chance.

March Income

Away from the minuses and on to the pluses…

Freelance web design € 757
$50 Blogs € 254
Family birthday gift € 200
Reader donations (muchas gracias!) € 85
Google Adsense (from ndoherty.biz) € 74
A Course In Courage € 44
Amazon.com affiliate earnings € 11
Total Income € 1,425

I’m quite happy with this. Despite a constant battle with shoddy Internet access in Iran and Sharjah, I wasn’t far off matching last month’s income total of €1689. Of course, I had some significant help in March thanks to the donations and that birthday gift, so I didn’t truly earn it all.

March was actually the first month this year in which I received donations. I had a prominent donate button on the site before I redesigned everything at the end of January, but never got around to putting it back since. Just a couple of weeks ago I added a donate button to the email template for subscribers, which is how the recent donations came through. One small issue though is that PayPal are now investigating my account, saying that I may not be allowed to accept donations. We’ll see how that turns out.

Where that leaves me

I had €4,419 to my name at the end of February. After applying the most recent exchange rates (I have accounts in both Dollars and Euros), that had increased slightly to €4,443. Taking into account all my March expenses and earnings, my total bank and cash balances now work out to €3,574.

Here’s how I’m doing so far in 2012:

  • €24 in January
  • €554 in February
  • €947 in March

Outlook for April

Well, I’ll be spending most of my time this month in India, which is supposed to be one of the cheaper countries in the world to visit, so we’ll see how that goes. I do have to renew my travel insurance, but other than that I don’t foresee any big expenses. As regards income, I’m hoping I’ll have an easier time finding reliable Internet access here in India than I did in the Middle East. If so, I should easily be able to crack that €1k mark again.

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.

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    1. It’s resolved now. Seems they suspected I might be posing as a charity to collect donations, and they wanted to see documentation proving that I was a registered non-profit. I emailed them back and explained that I was accepting donations from readers and they were happy enough with that.

  1. Hey Niall,

    Great report! You can definitely have a awesomely frugal trip in India. I was there 15 months ago. I bought a 3-4 week train pass with itinerary before going over, and it only cost $200-$250. I’m certain it would have been cheaper if I just bought each segment while in India (and MUCH less of a headache, but that’s another story.)

    Hope you’re good at haggling. If not, you’re going to improve. Or it may be so cheap sometimes it won’t be worth the bother. You’ll meet some really great people, and then some people trying to take advantage of you it seems. Be smart, but try to put yourself in their shoes, so that you can come away appreciative of the experience instead of bitter (which would be easier.)

    Look forward to hearing more tails from the road!

    1. I hear you, Mitch. I had a frustrating experience a couple of days ago with two street kids hassling me for money. They wouldn’t stop chasing me and my friends until we got into a taxi, and were grabbing onto my arms and lifting themselves off the ground. I think they were trying to get me to raise my arms so they could then reach into my pockets.

      I had to remind myself that those kids would be sleeping on the street that night, and would probably go to bed hungry. Hard to get angry with them then.

  2. Niall, I always enjoy your monthly reports – both financial and traffic. I think it’s great practice to do monthly financials! I just started this year, and I’m actually currently a month behind (still need to do February). That cruise looked awesome and it’s so cool to see the map and how much ground you have traveled. We have a globe here and I’ve been showing my family from time to time: “Look! Look how far Niall has traveled!” Your journey gets me excited, and gives me ideas about my upcoming travels.

    Keep rockin’ man 🙂

    1. Cheers, Matt. Nice that you’ve started tracking your finances, too. Even if you don’t share the numbers with anyone, it still makes you very conscious of where your money is going. As the say, what gets measured gets managed!

    1. Haha, no. I eat quite well. In Dubai I went almost everyday to a falafel place and ate a sandwich there. For breakfast I often had cereal, and for a snack I would feast on banana and peanut butter sandwiches.

      In Iran I saved a lot on food because lots of people offered me meals there. Here in India food is very cheap, so not spending very much.

  3. Hey Niall,
    My first ever comment, so I hope Cocopop screens me through! I’ve been following your blog updates since about a month now, and your vagabonding has inspired me to plan a RTW of my own…if my husband agrees to it, that is! I think I’ve always been a vagabond at heart, and now I want to shed consumerist trappings and ‘follow me dreams’, and a large part of it is thanks to you!

    Alright, to come to the point, we live in Mumbai, closer to the southern part, in a place called Mahim. We live with my husband’s family, and we’re not the typical Indian family, but you could Couch-live with us if you’re so inclined. Internet access on the house in exchange for us picking your brains about how you’re doing what you’re doing? Or we could buy you dinner one night if you already have your accommodation chalked out.

    Oh, and welcome to Mumbai! Let us know if you need any help with anything! And I so look forward to meeting you!


  4. Hi Niall, thanks as always for your detailed report. They’re great at getting some measure of how much things cost whilst travelling, which really helps when trying to plan budgets. They’re also so inspirational, makes you realise that you don’t have to have a huge savings to go and do what you want with your life. Thank you 🙂

  5. This is great, Niall. Really bad that you had to spend so much on a half-cruise. We recently booked a cruise (from Royal Caribbean going through Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, Dom Republic and Haiti) which is probably our last splurge vacation for a while since we are very intent on continuing our volunteer-cation in future (after the wonderful experience in Costa Rica).
    Have fun in my hometown 🙂


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