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November 2012 Finance Report

Yin dee dtôn ráp to all you legendary email subscribers. Welcome to my November finance report, as prepared after midnight from my apartment in Chiang Mai.

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

  • Wandering Earl, for letting me tag along with his tour group in Delhi. Had a great time dining with everyone on a rooftop, listening to some live Indian music and chatting with cool people.
  • English girls Jade and Claire who invited me and a friend to join them at a restaurant in Delhi. Cool chatting with them.
  • Everyone who helped me get aboard that Costa Cruise to Thailand. Thanks to Graham Hughes who first tipped me off about the ship and the possibility of catching a ride. Thanks to the literally hundreds of you fine readers helped share my open letter to Costa and thereby catch their attention. And massive thanks of course to Costa themselves, especially Buck Banks, their PR guy at Newman PR who made it happen in the end.
  • A bunch of friends on Facebook for providing me with info about Thai visa application.
  • Chap working at the Smyle Inn in Delhi who found that I left my key behind in the lounge and held it for me.
  • Kai and Spyros for the great Masterminding as usual.
  • Momekh, who had free accommodation lined up for me in Lahore if I ended up passing through Pakistan. Legend.
  • Elderly Norwegian couple at breakfast at the Smyle in who invited me to sit with them. Karin and Bruno I think their names were.
  • German folks at the Castle House Hotel in Goa, had a good chat with them over dinner. Also the people who run that hotel, for allowing me to leave my bag there for the day after checking out so I didn’t have to lug it around town until my train that evening.
  • Elderly Indian dude on the train to Goa who chatted with me for a while.
  • Nina in Kochi for offering me a place to stay for the night and meeting up for dinner and a good chat. Oh, and for recommending that I read Errol Flynn’s autobiography!
  • Alex for recommending a great place in Ernakulam for me to buy a few shirts.
  • Rajith in Sri Lanka, for good hanging out and showing me around Colombo.
  • The ladies at Happy Happy Massage in Phuket, who batted their eyelashes and helped me find the Southern Fried Rice guesthouse.
  • Terje at Southern Fried Rice in Phuket. Cool guy, helped me get to know the place.
  • Vincenzo, the first guy I met in Phuket. Cool Italian chap. We hung out for an evening.
  • Paras the Engllish/Czech guy I met in Phuket. Good hanging out with him for an evening and grabbing dinner together.
  • The three Thai people off the bus who I joined for dinner and had a broken Thai/English conversation with. They were cool with my butchering of their language.
  • The Russian/Italian couple on the bus to Chiang Mai who treated me to a heap of little desserty things. Wicked nice of them.
  • Kel, the manager of the apartment building here. Methinks he gave me a pretty good deal on the rent.
  • Everyone on Facebook who recommended cool things for me to see and do here in Chiang Mai.
  • Caroline Leon! Shit, I don’t even know where to start. She made my arrival in Chiang Mai soooo easy, picking me up from the bus station and getting me settled with an apartment and scooter in no time. We’ve also had some great chats over good food these past couple of weeks, and she’s introduced me to a bunch of cool people around town and let me borrow her scissors and sweeping brush.
  • Helen, Crystal and Meagan for letting me join them for dinner at a random restaurant in Chiang Mai one evening.
  • Cool trio (one Chinese dude, and a couple from Thailand) who let me join them in releasing a lantern down by Tha Phae Gate in Chiang Mai.
  • Garn the scooter guy at Bikky in Chiang Mai. Gave me a good deal on a hog, and gifted me a cardboard box to make hangars.
  • American Jamie, who invited me to join him and his buddies at Miguel’s Mexican restaurant in Chiang Mai so I didn’t have to eat alone. Sound.
  • Natasha, Christa and Simona for being lovely and inviting me to hang out with them at the Loi Khathong festival.
  • John, Danny and Cody for making me feel welcome when I ran into them at a Jazz bar in Chiang Mai. Danny later invited me out to lunch and shared with me all kinds of good info. Cody also introduced me to a bunch of cool people and invited me to hang out last Friday night.
  • Christa and Josie for inviting me out a bunch of evenings in Chiang Mai, and for dancing barefoot with me on the grass at the balloon festival.
  • Niraj in Kathmandu for all the good email convos.
  • Random dude at the stadium near my apartment who translated the “keep off the grass” sign for me after he saw me running sprints on the grass (oops).
  • And thanks to everyone who read, commented, and shared my writing during the month of November. You make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

(Note: The risk of listing out such kindnesses is that I may accidentally 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 about a third of the month in India, five days at sea, and then the final two weeks in Thailand. Diving in…

November Expenses

Food and Drink

Groceries € 36
Pubs, Coffee Shops, Restaurants, Take-aways € 266
Total € 302

Up a little from last month. Food is a little more expensive in Thailand than it was in India, but I’m happy to eat out regularly and not worry about cooking.

Housing and Utilities

30 days rent for Chiang Mai apartment € 240
2 nights at Southern Fried Rice, Phuket € 46
4 nights at the Smyle Inn, New Delhi € 36
1 night at Castle House, Goa € 22
1 night at random guesthouse in Phuket € 20
2 nights at Tom’s Mansion, Kochi € 19
Total € 384

Up from €289 last month. The rent for the apartment has me covered until mid-December.


Costa Cruises port charges € 99
30-day scooter rental + fuel in Chiang Mai € 65
Bus ticket from Phuket to Chiang Mai € 49
Costa Cruises gratuities € 35
Taxis in Phuket € 26
Train ticket from Delhi to Goa € 22
Train ticket from Goa to Kochi € 20
Taxis in Goa € 15
1 day scooter rental in Phuket € 6
Auto in Colombo € 4
Autos in Delhi € 4
Autos + ferries in Kochi € 4
Taxis in Chiang Mai € 2
Cruise ticket printing € 1
Visa application printing € 1
Total € 353

Up from €238 last month. Would have been a whole lot more though if not for Costa Cruises offering me that free cabin. I only had to pay port and wifi charges, plus gratuities. Good deal 🙂

Business Expenses

Costa Cruises wifi charges (14 hours) € 112
Article translation: The Stockdale Paradox (Gracias, María!) € 42
AWeber email marketing € 23
Post Affiliate Pro (for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription) € 15
BrowserStack (monthly subscription) € 15
WooThemes Theme Club (monthly subscription) € 15
Ecwid shopping cart (for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription) € 14
PayPal fees € 11
myeCoverMaker.com (3D book cover) € 4
Socialoomph.com (monthly subscription) € 3
Amazon Web Services (ebizfacts.com CDN) € 3
Total € 257

Up from €104 last month. Notes…

Post Affiliate Pro
This is for the $50 Blogs affiliate program. If you’ve ever got a friend who needs a blog set up, send them my way. I’ll get them up and running good and fast, and you’ll get a 60% cut of whatever your friend pays. Win-win-win. You can sign up for the program here and grab your affiliate link.

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

Amazon Gift Certificates for Costa Cruises prize draw € 462
So Good They Can’t Ignore You giveaway € 56
Movember donation for Anthony € 26
Supporting Rogue Priest’s Lúnasa Days € 15
Tip for the bus driver at Chiang Mai Lantern Festival € 1
Total € 560

Up from €433 last month, and I again met my goal to donate at least 10% of my earnings.

I originally intended to raffle off just one Amazon voucher between all those legendary people who helped promote my open letter to Costa Cruises, but I was so happy with how everything turned out that I ended up tripling the prize and picking three winners.

Miscellaneous Expenses

3 shirts € 34
Adidas Hispana footwear € 32
Phone credit € 22
Entry to 2 muy thai events in Chiang Mai € 18
Laundry (several loads) € 13
Book: How to Read a Book € 12
Book: The Inner Game of Tennis € 12
Toiletries € 12
Book: So Good They Can’t Ignore You € 10
Book: Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives € 9
2 v-neck t-shirts € 9
Book: Early Retirement Extreme € 8
Book: My Wicked, Wicked Ways: The Autobiography of Errol Flynn € 8
Chase foreign transaction fees € 8
Book: Predictably Irrational € 7
Sunscreen € 6
Cinema: Skyfall € 5
Subscription to Raam Dev’s Journal € 5
Ticket for Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai € 5
Washing detergent € 5
Knife and chopping board € 4
Belt € 3
Sunglasses € 3
Thai SIM card € 3
Ticket for Balloon Festival in Chiang Mai € 3
Ethernet cable € 3
Hydration salts € 3
Festival games, lanterns, etc. € 3
Book: Fast Food Nation € 2
Book: The Mindful Carnivore: A Vegetarian’s Hunt for Sustenance € 2
Shorts € 2
Face painting at Balloon Festival € 2
Entry to Buddhist temple in Colombo € 1
Fireworks € 1
Total € 275

Way up from the €79 I spent on miscellaneous in October. Lots of books again. I only linked up those I’ve already read and which I recommend. Which amounts to pretty much every book I bought last month! Some seriously great reads in there. Put Errol Flynn’s autobiography on your Christmas wish list. What a remarkable life that man lived.

Expense Summary

Food and Drink € 302
Housing and Utilities € 384
Travel € 353
Business Expenses € 257
Gifts and Donations € 560
Miscellaneous expenses € 275
Total Expenses € 2,131

Up from the €1,432 total I spent in October.

November Income

Away from the minuses and on to the pluses…

Sigma 6 project € 2,757
Freelance web design € 1,494
$50 Blogs € 260
Irish Examiner article payment € 200
Reader donations (muchas gracias!) € 48
Amazon gift card € 37
Disrupting the Rabblement book sales (Amazon.com) € 31
How To Live A Life Of Travel affiliate payment € 23
Kindle insurance payout from World Nomads € 9
Total Income € 4,859

A new personal best for income, easily topping last month’s €3,967. Happy days!


Sigma 6 project
As I mentioned last month, I can’t actually 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 before you go thinking it’s easy money that I’m making here, know that I’ve tracked my time investment on this project and so far the earnings work out to less than €40 per hour. Hopefully most of the hard work is behind me now though, and the project will continue to generate a tidy sum each month going forward.

Where that leaves me

I had €4,663 to my name at the end of October. After applying the most recent exchange rates (I have accounts in both Dollars and Euros), that had decreased slightly to €4,645. Taking into account all my November income and expenditure, my total bank and cash balances now work out to €7,374. Well on track to have €10k back in the bank by my 31st birthday in mid-March.

Here’s how I’m doing so far in 2012:

  • €24 in January
  • €554 in February
  • €947 in March
  • €1,289 in April
  • €86 in May
  • €542 in June
  • €16 in July
  • €518 in August
  • €1,540 in September
  • €2,535 in October
  • €2,728 in November
  • €3,147 overall

Outlook for December

Tough one to predict. I’ll be spending most of my time in Chiang Mai this month, but I will have to do a visa run around the 15th and I may end up ringing in the new year in Bangkok. Aiming to keep my total expenses down around the €1,500 mark. Then again I am considering buying some new electronics (my laptop, phone and camera could all do with an upgrade), so we’ll see what happens there. As for income, I’m pretty confident that I can crack the €3k mark again, but not without continuing to work pretty hard on several projects.

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. Yes! I’m about 2/3 of the way through it, and I really appreciate how thoughtful the author is. He does a great job of explaining the complexities and interdependencies of nature. And unlike The Vegetarian Myth, this book is in no way preachy. Just a guy sharing his story.

  1. Thank YOU Mister Legendary! 🙂

    And totally happy for you m’man… great to see your ad-selling gig paying off. Here’s to 10times more!

    Rockz Onz! 🙂

  2. Hey Aamir,

    I didn’t finish all those books. Only 5 of them fully to date, and I skimmed some parts of those. Check out How To Read A Book for some good tips on reading more effectively. One the big things I try do now is decide what I want to get out of a book and quickly skim the pages/chapters that don’t move me towards my goal.

    Also, never read just one book at a time. I find I’m just not in the right frame of mind for some books at a certain time, and so if I waited to finish them before starting others, I’d read much less. Mix it up with different types of books to keep it interesting.

    Hope that helps. Also wrote a bit on this topic in this comment last month.

  3. Hey niall,
    My only question is that how do you find so much time to read all those books man!! I finish 2 books in a month that too with strict timings.

  4. Hiya Niall, Just wondering how you track your expenses/earnings while you are travelling, is it a phone app or do you keep it on notepaper, etc. ?

    1. Hey Penny.

      My main tracking is done in a Google spreadsheet. I just update that a few times a day. If I’m away from my computer for a while I just jot down my expenses on a piece of paper so I won’t forget. Pretty simple really once you form the habit.

  5. Love these posts, as always. Congrats on your biggest month, evar!
    I always look at the services you use as a biz/website owner and how much they cost, to get ideas for myself.
    What did you ever decide about those two guys (from India, I think) you trained to do some of your web development work, and were planning to possibly subcontract to them? Is that a possible source of future income?

    1. Hey Laila. Those two guys were from Nepal. I still refer work to one of them, though no subcontracting last month. I will definitely be doing more of that in the future though.

  6. Man, is that an awesome way to crack the €3k barrier the first time!!

    Big congrats for you Niall, keep that up! 🙂

    This Sigma 6 suspense is killing me, with the secret-organization-like name. Hope you haven’t got into spying stuff!

    Even so, I understand the need for privacy on that part. I’m happy for you, and this report has got me even more motivated to reach my own targets asap. Thanks!

  7. I agree with Jen. A friend of mine went on Facebook ans wrote a letter to Santa asking for a new MacBook Pro and a mystery Santa sent her one a few days later. You never know what might happen. You are an inspiration!

  8. You finally read Early Retirement Extreme! Woohoo!! I’d love to see a video/read a post on your thoughts concerning ERE.

  9. Josh Lipovetsky


    I was also very excited to see “How to Read a Book” on your list. Definitely one of the ways that I started really getting into the classics, liberal arts education, and reading the great books!

    Good reads, man. Thanks for sharing, as always.

    1. I actually haven’t finished that book yet! Irony? Haha.

      But I’ve got a lot out of it already and it’s helped me up my reading speed without losing anything in terms of comprehension or enjoyment.

  10. Based on your success with Costa Cruises, I think you should look to have a travel business sponsor you and have them buy the laptop and camera for you. Congrats on the record month!

    1. Thanks, Jen. I have some hesitancy around the sponsorship idea, and I’m not sure why exactly. Something I should definitely explore though. Just posted in a travel bloggers group on Facebook to see if anyone has any advice about finding such sponsorship.

  11. Hey there dude! Great stuff this month. Jen’s comment about seeking sponsorship is a good one. Someone out there will be taken with what you are doing. Get on FB as you did re Costa Cruises and see what happens. All my best wishes as always, Stan.