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May 2015 Finance Report

Well hello there o’ legendary email subscriber. This is my May finance report, as prepared from the fine city of Amsterdam. I just moved into an apartment here and plan to stay for a year or two.

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. May saw me finish my trip around the world without flying, spending a couple of weeks traveling up through Spain and France and then a couple of weeks back home in Ireland.

Diving in…

May Expenses

Food & Drink

Eating out € 359 $ 392
Groceries € 122 $ 133
Total € 481
$ 525

Way up from the previous month, when I spent €272/$304. I didn’t have to spend much money on food in April because I was on a cruise for almost two weeks and all the food on there was paid for months in advance. In May I spent ten days in Barcelona and five days in Paris, so not many cheap eats to be had.

Housing & Utilities

Don Moustache Hostel, Barcelona (8 nights) € 133 $ 145
Arty Hostel, Paris (4 nights) € 102 $ 111
Euphemia Hostel, Amsterdam (4 nights deposit) € 15 $ 16
Total € 249
$ 272

Way up from €26/$29 last month (again I had most of my accommodation prepaid months in advance). This could have been way higher though. I was back home at my parents’ house for a couple of weeks so I was able to save on lodging there.

Travel & Transport

2 months of travel insurance from World Nomads € 101 $ 110
Bus: Barcelona To Paris € 60 $ 66
Ferry: Cherbourg To Rosslare € 56 $ 61
Train: Paris To Cherbourg € 53 $ 58
Bus: Waterford to Cork (round trip) € 30 $ 33
Metro fares in Paris € 14 $ 14
Parking in Waterford € 4 $ 4
Local bus fare in Cork € 2 $ 2
Total € 319
$ 348

Down a bit from last month’s total of €387/$432 spent on travel. I decided to buy more insurance from World Nomads to cover me while I figure out local insurance options in Amsterdam.

Business Expenses

Web design outsourcing € 96 $ 105
PayPal fees € 15 $ 16
AWeber email marketing € 9 $ 10
Stationary € 1 $ 1
oDesk withdrawal fee € 1 $ 1
Total € 122
$ 133

Down from the €175/$195 I spent on business in April.

Gifts & Donations

Donation to The Umbrella Foundation (for Nepalese earthquake relief) € 46 $ 50
Donations to Barcelona buskers and street performers € 6 $ 7
Total € 52
$ 57

Up from €9/$10 last month. I no longer have a specific goal for donations (I used to try give away 15% of my income), having decided to focus on building up a decent savings cushion before trying to save the world.


Odd Thomas € 7 $ 8
The Martian € 6 $ 7
The Fault In Our Stars € 3 $ 3
1916 And All That € 2 $ 2
Total € 18
$ 20

Down from the €90/$100 spent on books in April. The Martian was excellent, as was The Fault In Our Stars. You can see all my book recommendations over on Goodreads.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Phone credit € 31 $ 34
Skype credit € 23 $ 25
Orbit head shaver € 16 $ 17
iTunes TV show: The Tim Ferriss Experiment € 10 $ 11
Barcelona walking tour € 10 $ 11
Laundry € 10 $ 11
3 pairs of underwear € 9 $ 10
Sunglasses € 6 $ 7
Postcards and stamps € 6 $ 7
Toiletries € 5 $ 5
Amazon movie rental: The Mechanic € 3 $ 3
iPhone app: Mathemagics € 3 $ 3
Barcelona church entry € 2 $ 2
Toilet access at Paris train station € 1 $ 1
Total € 135
$ 147

Not far off last months miscellaneous total of €167/$187. I had to buy a new head shaver as the old one I bought in Colombia almost had a shit-fit when I plugged it into a European socket. Crazy how cheap those shavers are though. If I was to go to a barber in Europe and get my head buzzed, it would cost me at least €10, while the shaver cost me only €16 and will likely last me at least three months (I shave my head once every two weeks). Great deal!

Expense Summary

Food & Drink € 481 $ 525
Travel & Transport € 319 $ 348
Housing & Utilities € 249 $ 272
Miscellaneous expenses € 135 $ 147
Business Expenses € 122 $ 133
Gifts & Donations € 52 $ 57
Books € 18 $ 20
Total Expenses € 1,377
$ 1,502

Up a bit from the €1,125/$1,257 total expenses in April. I was hoping to keep everything under $1.3k so I didn’t quite make it.

May Income

Away from the minuses and on to the pluses…

Family and friends cash gifts € 1,113 $ 1,214
Freelance web design € 473 $ 516
Speaking gigs € 103 $ 112
Reader donations (muchas gracias!) € 32 $ 35
Flight itinerary service € 18 $ 20
Book sales (via Amazon) € 13 $ 14
Amazon affiliate income € 9 $ 10
Amazon Ach/Cred € 6 $ 6
Total Income € 1,766
$ 1,927

Down quite a bit from my April income total of €2,491/$2,783, but far exceeding my stretch goal of $1.5k for the month. However, I can’t take credit for the majority of that income given the huge cash gifts that fell into my lap. I’m trying hard not to be too embarrassed by those gifts, reminding myself that they were freely given and that the world can’t be a more generous place unless people — myself included — are more willing to receive.

But still, wow. I’m a very lucky boy.

Biggest regret?

Nothing major I can point to. The iPhone app was a waste of money (I’ve barely used it) and there were some other small things I could have done without, some dining experiences included, but overall I feel I kept my expenses in line with my values and earned about as much as I could have given time and travel constraints.

Where that leaves me

I had €8,524/$9,522 to my name at the end of April. After applying the most recent exchange rates (I have accounts in EUR, HKD and USD), those totals shifted a little to €8,576/$9,358. Taking into account all my May income and expenditure, my total bank and cash balances now work out to €8,960/$9,776.

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

  • €174/$196 in January
  • €2,170/$2,355 in February
  • €608/$655 in March
  • €1,366/$1,526 in April
  • €389/$425 in May
  • €4,707/$5,157 overall

April was the sixth consecutive month that I finished in the green (i.e. I earned more than I spent), extending my best streak since quitting my day job in 2010.

Outlook for June

June will be interesting as I’ve made the move to Amsterdam and will be getting into a good work routine next week. Hopefully that will mean a nice income boost. I have a few projects lined up and a few payments due so I think $3k would be a reasonable amount to try pull in. We’ll say $3.5k as a stretch goal.

As for expenses, I doubt I’ll be able to keep them lower than my income. Just the cost of moving into an apartment will put me over the $2.5k mark, and I’ll have a bunch of other settling expenses to go along with that. If I keep it all under $4k it will be a minor miracle!

Feedback welcome

Thoughts? Questions? Speak up in the comments below.

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  1. Niall,
    How you organize your expenses and income, is it a spreadsheet, and do you write it down the same way when they occur!?
    I was always having question about global health insurance and i found the answer in this post, but how you organize that! Do you buy coverage before you move to new places, and how you determin for how long you are buying it or you have the ability to extended if you are staying for longer time in that country!( because when i checked their website, i found they need your distination, so are you going back and forth to the website whenever you are moving to new place? Or it is going by countries group( EU, Asia…)
    Thank you and very interesting post

    Yassir- USA

    1. I track all my income and expense with an app on my iPhone called MoneyWiz. It costs about $5. I love it.

      For insurance, I just buy a few months at a time, covering the countries I plan to travel to. You can get broad coverage if you’re not sure what countries you’ll be traveling to. And I sometimes buy in advance, sometimes buy it while traveling. It’s easy to extend an existing policy so you’re best bet is to buy just 2-3 months of coverage at a time and extend as needed.

  2. Niall, you’re hilarious! Loved the video! Do you already know how much of your income will go towards social security and taxes?

  3. I lived in Holland in the 70’s and those toilets had me puzzled too. When i asked a Dutch guy for the answer he tole me that it was so that you may inspect your poo for worms etc and take specimens for lab checks before flushing it away.

    1. I wonder if that’s the main reason. I mean, how often do people really have the urge to inspect their mess before flushing it away? Another possible use is that there’s less splash back when you have to drop off some teenagers at the pool.