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March 2014 Finance Report

Bienvenidos o’ legendary email subscriber. This is my March finance report, coming to you from the land of barking dogs and fantastic clouds (aka. Cusco, Peru).

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 first half of the month on that cargo ship across the Pacific (save for quick stops in Mexico and Panama), and the second half in Peru. Diving in…

March Expenses

Food and Drink

Eating out € 188 $ 260
Groceries € 49 $ 67
Total € 237
$ 327

Up from the €157/$217 I spent in February. I spent quite freely eating out my first week or so in Peru, have been more conservative since.

Housing and Utilities

Rent at Casa Pepe (3 weeks) € 116 $ 160
Tierra Andina Hotel, Cusco (1 night) € 17 $ 24
The Flying Dog Hostel, Lima (1 night) € 9 $ 12
Total € 142 $ 196

Not far off last month’s total of €121/$167. The place I’m staying in Cusco is nothing fancy but it’s safe, comfortable, and has pretty good wifi.


Machu Picchu tour package (including transport and accommodation) € 144 $ 199
Lima-Cusco bus € 43 $ 59
Callao-Lima taxi € 11 $ 15
Cusco taxis € 5 $ 7
Panama City taxi € 4 $ 5
Manzanillo taxi € 3 $ 4
Manzanillo local bus € 1 $ 1
Total € 210 $ 290

Up a little from €175/$242 I spent on travel in February. That Machu Picchu package was a quick two-day trip, and it’s about as cheap as it gets. And yes, the place was awesome. I’ll go back some other time to do the full jungle trek.

Business Expenses

The Foundation € 434 $ 599
AWeber email marketing € 57 $ 79
A Course In Courage refund € 36 $ 50
Kindle formatting on Fiverr.com € 14 $ 20
Mic cable (for recording audio book) € 7 $ 9
Amazon Web Services (ebizfacts.com CDN) € 3 $ 4
Total € 551 $ 761

Up a bit from €474/$654 last month. Notes…

The Foundation
This is an online course teaching people how to build a software business. The $599 payment is one of six, due monthly. I haven’t taken advantage of the training materials the past two months, first because of travel and more recently because I need to focus on freelance work to get some income rolling. But I’m still happy with my investment in The Foundation and planning to devote a lot more time to it once I settle in Brazil in May.

Gifts and Donations

Bottle of rum for captain of the cargo ship € 13 $ 18
Hospital charge for friend € 3 $ 4
 Tip for street dude who told me about the stone of twelve angles € 1 $ 1
Total € 17
$ 23

Down from €72/$100 last month, and short of my goal to donate 15% of my income each month. I’ve been holding back on the donations for a few months now. Doesn’t make sense to be giving away money when my savings are running low.


Total € 0 $ 0

Same as last month. No need for me to buying books right now with a bunch of good stuff unread on my Kindle.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Samsonite backpack € 54 $ 75
Toiletries € 8 $ 11
Laundry € 6 $ 8
Phone credit € 5 $ 7
Peruvian SIM card € 4 $ 5
Entry to hot spring in Augascalientes € 3 $ 4
Haircut € 3 $ 4
App: Five Minute Journal € 2 $ 2
Postcard and stamp € 1 $ 2
Rain poncho € 1 $ 2
Toilet entry at Machu Picchu € 1 $ 1
Total € 88 $ 121

Up from the €61/$84 I spent on miscellaneous in February.

Expense Summary

Food and Drink € 237 $ 327
Housing and Utilities € 142 $ 196
Travel € 210 $ 290
Business Expenses € 551 $ 761
Gifts and Donations € 17 $ 23
Books € 0 $ 0
Miscellaneous expenses € 88 $ 121
Total Expenses € 1,245 $ 1,718

Up from February’s expense total of €1,061/$1,464. No major regrets from all that spending though.

March Income

Away from the minuses and on to the pluses…

Freelance web design € 78 $ 108
Amazon affiliate payment € 20 $ 28
Reader donations (muchas gracias!) € 17 $ 23
Book sales: The Cargo Ship Diaries € 14 $ 20
Amazon royalties: Disrupting the Rabblement € 10 $ 14
Total Income € 140 $ 193


Way down from February’s income total of €511/$705. I wasn’t expecting much for March though, given that I was offline for the first two weeks and then spent the third getting settled in Cusco, enjoying my birthday and visiting Machu Picchu.

Where that leaves me

I had €2,567/$3,543 to my name at the end of February. After applying the most recent exchange rates (I have accounts in EUR, HKD and USD), those totals were left pretty much the same at €2,567/$3,544. Taking into account all my March income and expenditure, my total bank and cash balances now work out to €1,352/$1,866.

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
  • €2,546/$3,486 overall

Outlook for April

So yeah, to put it lightly, I’m not in a good spot financially right now. My savings are the lowest they’ve been since I quit my day job 3.5 years ago. And it’s actually worse than it appears above, as I have almost $700 stuck in my Hong Kong bank account, the minimum balance I need to avoid fees. And the only way I can close that account and withdraw the cash is by going into the branch in HK, which I obviously can’t do.

Yeah, kinda sucks.

The weird thing is though, I’m not very worried about all this. I’m into a good routine in Cusco and I feel I’m making solid progress towards landing a few well-paid freelance gigs. I can’t imagine ending April with even less money to my name, and I’m excited about everything I’m learning right now business-wise. Worst-case scenario, I can stay holed up here in Peru and work my ass off for a few weeks until the bank balance bounces back. Ideally I want to be moving on to Bolivia mid-month and then getting settled in Brazil the first week of May, but it’s gonna take a little magic to pull that off.

Time to punch in.

Feedback welcome

Thoughts? Questions? Speak up in the comments below.

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  1. This is how faith is built. Income is gonna bounce back hard in May – August for you, I can feel it. It’s like you’re in the “bamboo tree” phase. The roots take time to plant, but once they are firmly in, the growth can be very rapid and large.

  2. Love your serenity and positivity. If you say you can’t be even lower at the end of next month, I completely believe it.

    Good luck and keep up the good work!

  3. Timothy Brandenburg

    Hey Niall,

    I’m having the same problems… Started my travel 2 months ago, sitting in Thailand at the moment trying to figure out how I could make money location independently. Any tips or Ideas? Hope you will manage next month!

    Greets, Timothy Brandenburg

  4. Just remember: This is temporary. Soon your income will bounce back. You’re talented and you’re a hard worker, so I’m glad to hear you say that you’re not too worried — I’m confident that you’ll be fine, and I’m happy that you share that same confidence. Rock on, and enjoy Peru / Bolivia / Brazil!

  5. Niall, keep your head up (I know you don’t need encouragement to do that), but I know business is surely going to pick up this month. You’re doing great. Keep working hard (which I know you do) and you will succeed!

    Take care, friend. And I hope to see you in New Orleans sometime soon.

  6. Best of luck on the rest of your journey. I am sure you will figure out a way to get by until some of your ideas really take off financially. God speed my friend.

  7. I know that South America is excellent having been there twice. How long was the bus ride from Lima to Cusco? I am sorry about your finances. I think the ship ride cost you thousands. It is a pity you can’t get money out of your Hong Kong bank account and you must have around $700 in your account as a minimum. I believe that Bolivia is very cheap. Do you already have a Yellow Fever vaccination because for there is it compulsory? I am off tomorrow on an Easter school holiday adventure with my two kids. We will fly Bristol to Toulouse and then Pisa to Bristol. Last year we went all the way by train from our local station in England to the Ukraine. I adore overland transport like what you are doing with your trip. I hope your finances get better in April. Good luck and take care. I look forward to reading how you are getting on when I am back from my trip.

    1. Hope you have a great trip, Maxine 🙂

      The bus from Lima to Cusco took 23 hours. It was pretty comfy though. I do have a yellow fever vaccination.

      Here’s to an epic April for us both!

  8. Georgene Harkness

    I would think that income from your most recent book will kick in – let’s see – it takes like six weeks for that to come to you, doesn’t it, though Amazon (though I know you also have a direct purchase link, too)? I surely do hope your income from that book is good. The great thing about selling books is that once written, you don’t have to do anything else!

    BTW, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, even though it was TOO SHORT!! I wasn’t ready to quit reading! No chance I would ever ask for my money back on it. But I sure do hope you intend to finish the story! 😉

    1. Thanks, Georgene. There will be other books, I promise 🙂

      Doubt I’ll make much money from the book though. Best case scenario I’m thinking is $1000 the first month, and it would drop off quite a bit then. So far I’ve earned a little over $400 from sales. And yeah, I won’t see any of that money until May at the earliest.

      1. Wow, Niall – this is the first $$ statement that I’ve looked at from you. I’m purely amazed that you keep track of everything you spend so specifically! That’s incredible!
        Pretty sure South America should be cheaper, now that you’e settled there (from everything I’ve read).
        Looking forward to your next update… and sending money angels your way… 🙂 🙂 🙂
        Cheers, deb

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