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May 2013 Finance Report

Sawadee krab to all you legendary email subscribers. Welcome to my May finance report, as prepared while trying out this whole standing desk dealio.

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…

  • Franck and Oye at Bangkok Bikes Rental, for being cool, honest people and thinking win-win.
  • Dean for being an absolute fountain of great ideas for my YouTube channel. Expect to see some changes there soon.
  • That random girl I ran into while apartment hunting in On Nut. She let me into the building and showed me up to the reception area.
  • Alice, for buying me a drink, and for understanding.
  • Hajer, for haggling for a pair of sunglasses on my behalf. Saved me a few bucks 🙂
  • All the gang who showed up at El Diablo’s for some good conversation and savage Mexican food. Oh, and thanks to the cool people at another table there who shared some birthday cake with us.
  • Richard and Ian for interviewing me and asking great questions. You can listen to my interview with Richard here. All about entrepreneurship.
  • Mitch for some great business brainstorming throughout the month.
  • Yo at my building reception for getting the Internet kick-started again when it went down.
  • Jacee for the book recommendation. Actually, come to think of it, people are recommending cool books to me all the time. Thanks!
  • Dwight Turner for inviting me to the home of his organization in Bangkok. We spent about an hour playing games with all the kids. Simply amazing how that man is changing lives.
  • Matt, Ian and Turner for chats and laughs at Cheap Charlie’s. Oh, and the couple of Polish dudes who kept me company while I was waiting for that trio to arrive.
  • All the guys at Parkour Generations Asia, especially Johann for all the great coaching and for letting me interview him for this video. Parkour has quickly become one of my favorite activities.
  • Slow post office biker dude ahead of me in traffic who pulled over and let me pass by. Rare that someone is courteous on the streets of Bangkok.
  • Random couple at 7-Eleven who helped me decipher the instructions to put credit on my phone.
  • Spyros and Kai for the cool Masterminding as always.
  • Note, my brilliant personal trainer at The Lab here in Bangkok. Had a great ten sessions with him, learned a lot, made good progress.
  • The staff at Oh La La cafe, near my apartment. They’re cool with my weird orders and have even kept the place open a little late more than once to accommodate me.
  • Random lady at the supermarket who helped me figure out the whole avocado-weighing process.
  • All the hostel people whose brains I’ve been picking these past few weeks, particularly Harish, Avery, Mohit, and Pan. And everyone who has been helping me get in touch with such people, such as Karen and Turner.
  • Doorman at Emporium, who shared a laugh with me over a low ceiling.
  • Two dudes working at the supermarket in Emporium who went out of their way to help me find pomegranate juice.
  • That lady who emailed me to compliment me on my nose :–)
  • Jayhawk and Skyfall for sitting down with me and sharing their vast business knowledge.
  • Random dude on a scooter who stopped traffic at a crosswalk so myself and a few other people could pass.
  • Tom for a good chat over lunch.
  • Johnny for going out of his way to show me around his apartment building and put me in touch with his management contact.
  • Syed and Turner for sending me some quality video suggestions.
  • Mam and Dad. I realized that I never really thank them in this space, even though we stay in regular contact and they’re always there when I need them.
  • Kitty, for lots of things, but I’ll just sum it all up as her being a legend of a lady.
  • And thanks to everyone who read, commented, and shared my writing during the month of May. 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 spent all of my time last month in Bangkok. Diving in…

May Expenses

Food and Drink

Groceries € 235 $ 305
Pubs, Coffee Shops, Restaurants, Take-aways € 463 $ 602
Total € 698 $ 907

Almost exactly the same as 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

Deposit on On Nut apartment € 646 $ 840
1 month rent for On Nut apartment € 414 $ 538
Last electricity bill at Wittayu apartment € 187 $ 243
Last water bill at Wittayu apartment € 10 $ 13
Cleaner € 3 $ 4
Total € 1,260 $ 1,637

Way up from the €283/$373 I spent last month. I should of course get all that deposit money back at the end of July, when I plan to move out of my apartment in Bangkok.


2 months of scooter rental in Bangkok € 129 $ 168
Scooter deposit € 52 $ 68
1-month Thai visa extension € 50 $ 65
Scooter fuel € 23 $ 30
Taxis in Bangkok € 10 $ 13
Bangkok BTS (skytrain) € 5 $ 6
Total € 269 $ 350

Not too different from last months’ numbers of €211/$278. The scooter rental and fuel definitely costs me a bit more than using public transport all the time, but for the convenience it’s a small price to pay.

Business Expenses

S6 Personal Assistant € 1,207 $ 1,569
SWB writers € 423 $ 550
PayPal fees € 25 $ 32
WordPress premium theme € 23 $ 30
AWeber email marketing € 23 $ 30
Post Affiliate Pro (for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription) € 15 $ 19
Ecwid shopping cart (for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription) € 14 $ 18
Amazon Web Services (ebizfacts.com CDN) € 4 $ 5
Socialoomph.com (monthly subscription) € 3 $ 4
Total € 1,737 $ 2,257

Up from €1,226/$1,617 in April. I’ll tell you a bit more about the S6 and SWB projects further down. Other notes…

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 € 154 $ 200
Donation to Umbrella Foundation € 150 $ 195
Donation to Heifer International (Mastermind penalty) € 77 $ 100
Donation to PETA (Mastermind penalty) € 77 $ 100
Tip for restroom attendant € 1 $ 1
Total € 459 $ 596

Down from last months’ donation total of €695/$917, but I still reached my goal of donating 15% of my income.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Monthly gym membership (True Fitness) € 57 $ 73
Replacement for lost scooter key € 34 $ 44
Convection cooker € 26 $ 34
Phone credit € 26 $ 34
Toiletries € 24 $ 31
Cinema: Iron Man 3 (premium seating) € 21 $ 27
Bed sheets € 16 $ 21
Yoga mat € 12 $ 16
Ferriss wheel ride € 12 $ 16
Haircut € 11 $ 14
Sunglasses € 9 $ 12
Book: The Education of Millionaires € 8 $ 11
Book: Bad Astronomy € 8 $ 11
Book: The Way to Love € 7 $ 9
Big canvas bag (for moving stuff to new apartment) € 7 $ 9
Cop bribe € 6 $ 8
Traffic fine € 6 $ 8
Book: The God Delusion € 6 $ 7
Subscription to Raam Dev’s Journal € 5 $ 7
Book: Rich Dad, Poor Dad € 5 $ 6
Laundry € 5 $ 6
Cinema: Great Gatsby € 3 $ 4
Book: The Upside of Irrationality € 2 $ 3
Postcard and postage € 2 $ 3
Kitchen cleaning supplies € 2 $ 3
Total € 320 $ 416

Way down from the €1,477/$1,948 I spent on miscellaneous last month. Only a few of the books I bought are affiliate linked as I haven’t read them all yet.

Expense Summary

Food and Drink € 698 $ 907
Housing and Utilities € 1,260 $ 1,637
Travel € 269 $ 350
Business Expenses € 1,737 $ 2,257
Gifts and Donations € 459 $ 596
Miscellaneous expenses € 320 $ 416
Total Expenses € 4,743 $ 6,164

Balls! I somehow spent even more this month than last, when my expenses added up to €4,577/$6,038. I wouldn’t mind but as you’re about to see, I wasn’t able to keep up the pace with my earnings.

May Income

Away from the minuses and on to the pluses…

Sigma 6 project € 1,854 $ 2,410
SWB project € 753 $ 978
Book editing (freelance for a friend) € 149 $ 194
$50 Blogs € 96 $ 125
Reader donations (muchas gracias!) € 65 $ 84
A Course in Courage € 33 $ 43
Amazon book royalties € 22 $ 29
Amazon affiliate payment € 8 $ 11
Total Income € 2,981 $ 3,874

A big drop from last month’s earnings of €4,507/$5,946. 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. Business wasn’t great this past month however, and if I subtract what I paid my assistant this income stream only produced €647/$841 for the month of May. Things looked to be picking up a bit at the end of the month, so hopefully I’ll have better numbers to report for June.

SWB project
This is my new SEO Writing Business (SWB for short), and I’m happy to spill all the beans on this one. I won’t say much yet though since it’s still in the early stages and I don’t have any solid lessons to share. Right from the start with this one I’ve been experimenting heavily with outsourcing. I hired an assistant to do much of the work and she hires writers on my behalf. We then edit and sell the articles to clients at a marked up price. May was our first real month in business and we pulled in almost $1k in revenue. However, when I subtract the cost of writers and my assistant’s commission, there’s not a whole lot left for me. At least not yet. By month three I hope to be pulling in about $1k in profit. Should I get to that point I’ll gladly post a detailed report showing how the business operates.

Where that leaves me

I had €8,884/$11,720 to my name at the end of April. After applying the most recent exchange rates (I have accounts in both Dollars and Euros), that had increased slightly to €8,995/$11,690. Taking into account all my May income and expenditure, my total bank and cash balances now work out to €7,307/$9,496.

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
  • €2,258/$2,944 overall

Outlook for June

I’d love to get back under the $5k mark for expenses. I’ve been over that for three straight months now. Business expenses will likely be high again, but aside from that I don’t foresee much big spending. I will have to do a visa run, pay rent and buy more travel insurance, but that’s about it methinks. As for income, hopefully the S6 and SWB projects will pick up and get me back to at least the $5k range.

Last thing I’ll say is that I don’t really mind that I “lost” so much money last month. 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. Hi, just a note to thanks your transparency. It is notable that a guy traveling can post this valuable info.

    Actually I’m in Minnesota, USA, waiting for papers to work, I come from Chile, here I m with my wife and 3 kids. Sometimes I’m thinking to have a life like yours, working and travelling.

    Thanks again for your post !

  2. You do have a fantastic nose, Niall 😀

    Thanks again for sharing, your reports have definitely inspired me to be more organised financially over the last four or five months.

  3. Hi, sugar… You’re lookin’ good! Bangkok must be agreeing with you. Your diet must be good, too. I can imagine that eating healthy is pretty easy over there with all their great fresh food markets.

    I was looking at your expenses and was surprised that the gym in Bangkok was about the same monthly cost at the New Orleans Athletic Club with is about $79.

    Stay happy and healthy, sweetie.

  4. I didn’t think these financial reports could be so interesting and wasn’t very motivated to read the April one since I expected it to be a bit boring. Now I’m looking forward to reading your next ones. But thank you so much for your transparency!

  5. Hey Niall! Great to read you expense report every month. Would you write a post some day about the mastermind thing you’re into? Sounds interesting but don’t know much about it. Thanks.

  6. Thank you for this last report. I love reading about all your financial stuff.
    You had quiet expenses this month, some are hard to believe they existed.
    Housing and food/drinks…
    I thought Thailand was cheap. So much to rent an apartment over there and also your food cost was high.

    1. Yup. I don’t mind spending so much on food. I’m not a big foodie, but I just love being able to eat wherever I want and whatever I want without having to check the prices.

      Accommodation is a different story though. I thought I got a good deal on my apartment in On Nut but now I’m not so sure. A friend of mine is renting a place for almost half the price and it’s way nice than mine. Only advantage my place has is that it’s near the BTS, but I don’t need public transport now that I have the scooter. Oh well. Lesson learned.

      Also, Thailand can be very cheap, especially outside of Bangkok, or if you rent a non-modern apartment here and eat mostly street food.

  7. It’s ridiculous but out of all that stuff the thing that caught my eye was 21 Euros for the cinema, in Thailand! Those must be some outrageously premium seats.

    1. Haha, yeah. Wanted to try the premium seating once but won’t be doing that again. You get a two-person couch type seat, which is fine. I had heard that it was more like a bed and you got blankets and everything, but that wasn’t the case.

      Worst of all was that I thought Iron Man 3 was quite terrible.

  8. You have two large expenses, that you have categorized as expenses, which really aren’t.. roughly 700 euro’s in deposits. Hard to count them or justify them as expenses.. as you’re going to get this money back.. barring an accident of course.
    Your expenses are really high… but hey, you’re living the life so why not.

    1. True. It will be nice to get that money back. It’s not mine to do anything with at the moment though, so I’ll keep it listed under expenses.

      And yeah, I don’t mind spending a lot of money every now and then, especially on things I value. Life is good 🙂

  9. Your reports are very surprising for me, considering that I always read about how living in Thailand is cheap. Do you think you could get your expenses under $3,000? Would it be very hard?

    Anyway, thanks for these reports! It’s very useful, as I’m planning to live in Southeast Asia for some time too.

    1. Hi Jan,

      You can definitely live much cheaper here. In February I spent less than €2000, but that was with all my rent paid in advance. I’m spending more on food and accommodation than I need to to be comfortable. The biggest challenge for me right now though is business expenses. Those are too high considering how much money I’m pulling in.

      Also, Bangkok is more expensive than other places in Thailand. I lived much more cheaply up in Chiang Mai for 6 weeks. Check out my December finance report, and keep in mind that quite a lot of my expenses that month were on account of donations.

      Thanks for reading!

  10. Adam - Tropical Nomad

    Hey Niall,
    Good to get an idea of the cost of running an online business from you here.. I will say that you must live in a nice place in BKK, that rent is a bit pricey.. And electricity? Didn’t expect it to be that much!

    Mastermind penalty sounds like a good idea, is that for not achieving goals set out in a session or something?

    Cop bribe.. Driving related no doubt?

    Random one – What insurance company do you use and did you purchase it in Ireland before you left and just renew? I find it very difficult to find anyone apart from WorldNomads who will insure when you are not ‘IN’ your country of residence when you buy it. Just a thought.

    Good to see you embracing the outsourcing side of things, sounds like a good business model 🙂

    Hope everything works out

    1. Hey Adam,

      The electricity bill was excessive because it hadn’t been paid the two months previous. Rent isn’t actually too bad of a one-bed modern apartment on the BTS line. With the scooter though I should have been looking at places away from public transport, would have saved me quite a bit.

      Yeah, mastermind penalty is for failing to reach goals we set for ourselves. I donate money to charities nominated by the others.

      Cop bribe was bullshit really. He pulled me over at the traffic lights because I was a white guy, then made out that having photocopies of my passport and driver’s license wasn’t good enough, and that I’d have to go to the station. I bribed him to save time.

      I use World Nomads for insurance as well.

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