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November 2013 Finance Report

Sawadee to all you legendary email subscribers. This is my November finance report, as prepared from several spots in Chiang Mai. I’ll be leaving Thailand this weekend and beginning the next big chapter of my trip around the world without flying: overland to South Korea and then hopping a cargo ship to South America.

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 entire month living in Thailand, save a day in Laos. Diving in…

November Expenses

Food and Drink

Pubs, Coffee Shops, Restaurants, Take-aways € 209 $ 284
Groceries € 90 $ 123
Total € 299
$ 407

Knowing I’d have big expenses in other areas this month, I made a conscious effort to save on food. This was the least I spent on food and drink all year, down from €447/$603 in October. I either bought groceries and prepped food myself or else ate a lot of street food, rather than hitting up restaurants/coffee shops three times a day.

Housing and Utilities

3 weeks at VIP House, Chiang Mai € 110 $ 149
3 nights At Changpuak Boutique House, Chiang Mai € 62 $ 84
Total € 172 $ 233

Also big savings here compared to normal, and down from last month’s total of €247/$333. Helped a lot that I spent three weeks living in Chiang Mai, which is nice and cheap, and the legendary Anthony from Man Vs. Clock let me crash at his snazzy apartment while in Bangkok for a week.


Cargo ship from South Korea to Peru (January departure) € 2,605 $ 3,540
PayPal currency exchange fees € 179 $ 244
PayPal transfer fee for cargo ship payment € 130 $ 177
4-week scooter rental in Chiang Mai € 81 $ 110
6-day scooter rental in Bangkok € 28 $ 38
Bus: Bangkok to Chiang Mai € 13 $ 18
Bus: Chiang Mai to Bangkok € 10 $ 13
Scooter fuel € 8 $ 11
Bangkok BTS and metro fares € 5 $ 7
Tuktuk ride in Chiang Mai € 2 $ 3
Taxi fare in Bangkok € 2 $ 3
Bangkok highway toll € 1 $ 2
Laos exit stamp € 1 $ 2
Canal boat ride in Bangkok € 1 $ 1
Bicycle rental in Vientiane € 1 $ 1
Total € 3,068 $ 4,170


Way way up from €517/$697 last month. The cargo ship across the Pacific was the major expense. I’ll be hopping on that at the end of January, to continue my trip around the world without flying. Yes, I know it’s very expensive, but that’s about as cheap as it gets for 26 days of travel by cargo ship. I also looked into repositioning cruises and yachts/sailboats, but didn’t find anything quite as suitable for the crossing as that cargo ship.

I should also note that the $3,540 price tag wasn’t quite the extent of that expense. PayPal screwed me with the currency exchange fees, and they also added a 5% charge for the transfer of funds to the cargo ship company. So really the whole thing cost me €2,914/$3,961.

Yes, I know, flying from South Korea to Peru would have been a lot cheaper. I must be nuts 😛

Business Expenses

Sigma 6 Personal Assistant € 913 $ 1,241
The Foundation (monthly payment) € 441 $ 599
AWeber email marketing € 37 $ 50
PayPal fees € 26 $ 36
Dreamhost web hosting € 18 $ 24
Ecwid shopping cart € 13 $ 17
oDesk virtual assistant € 10 $ 14
Day pass for Pun Space in Chiang Mai € 4 $ 6
Amazon Web Services (ebizfacts.com CDN) € 3 $ 4
Total € 1,465 $ 1,991

Up from €868/$1,170 spent in October. I’ll tell you more about the Sigma 6 project further down. Other notes…

The Foundation
This is an online course teaching people how to build a software business. I’d been following their free content for more than a year and was eager to join the program, despite the steep price. I’m liking the content in there so far, but I’ve got a lot of learning and work ahead of me before I can tell you if the investment is worth it.

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

Gifts for friends € 26 $ 35
Busker in Chiang Mai € 23 $ 32
Food for a beggar in Chiang Mai € 3 $ 4
Total € 52 $ 71

Way down from last months’ donation total of €380/$512, and a far short of the goal to donate 15% of my income each month. It was hard for me to justify giving away hundreds of dollars in November when my savings were running dry. To date this year I’ve now given away €5,300/$7,149, which works out to 13.8% of my 2013 income.


Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got € 7 $ 9
How To Win Friends And Influence People € 7 $ 9
11/22/63 € 2 $ 3
Total € 16 $ 21

Down from the €56/75 I spent on books in October. I haven’t read enough of any of the above to recommend them.

Miscellaneous Expenses

PayPal transfer fees € 59 $ 80
2 black t-shirts € 24 $ 32
Phone credit € 21 $ 29
Skype credit € 18 $ 25
Toiletries € 11 $ 15
Laundry € 10 $ 14
Subscription to Raam Dev’s Journal € 5 $ 7
Haircuts € 4 $ 5
Jim Thompson House tour in Bangkok € 2 $ 3
Lantern in Chiang Mai € 1 $ 1
Total € 155 $ 211

Down from the €230/$310 I spent on miscellaneous last month.

Expense Summary

Food and Drink € 299 $ 407
Housing and Utilities € 172 $ 233
Travel € 3,068 $ 4,170
Business Expenses € 1,465 $ 1,991
Gifts and Donations € 52 $ 71
Books € 16 $ 21
Miscellaneous expenses € 155 $ 211
Total Expenses € 5,227 $ 7,104

Almost double last month’s expense total of €2,744/$3,700, and easily the most expensive month I’ve had all year.

November Income

Away from the minuses and on to the pluses…

Sigma 6 project € 1,435 $ 1,951
Family gifts € 250 $ 339
Chase credit card points for cash € 35 $ 48
A Course In Courage € 32 $ 44
Aweber affiliate payment € 31 $ 42
Amazon book royalties € 20 $ 27
Reader donations (muchas gracias!) € 17 $ 23
Amazon affiliate payment € 15 $ 20
Total Income € 1,835 $ 2,494

Down from last month’s income total of €2,795/$3,768, and also my lowest earning month of 2013. No fun having my lowest earning and most expensive month happening at the same time :-/


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. Taking away the expense of my assistant, the profit here was €522/$710 for the month of October, way down from October’s profit of €1,855/$2,501.

Oh, and I’m leaving this income stream behind completely in January. More on that here.

Where that leaves me

I had €7,745/$10,446 to my name at the end of October. After applying the most recent exchange rates (I have accounts in EUR, HKD and USD), those totals had shifted slightly to €7,690/$10,452. Taking into account all my November income and expenditure, my total bank and cash balances now work out to €4,358/$5,924.

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
  • €126/$164 in June
  • €568/$728 in July
  • €917/$1,211 in August
  • €1,260/$1,706 in September
  • €51/$68 in October
  • €3,392/$4,610 in November
  • €4,814/$6,536 overall

Outlook for December

December should be a much cheaper month for me, but I still have a couple of big expenses coming up, such as the next payment for the Foundation and a bunch of travel expenses as I work my way overland to South Korea from Thailand. Other than that though, I’ll be tightening my belt and trying to keep my expenses as low as possible. It would be nice to end the year with a month in the green.

Income-wise in December, I’ll again be largely dependent on the Sigma 6 project to keep me going, the final month I’ll be able to lean on that income. I also just wrapped up a biggish freelance web dev project that may end up paying well (it’s commission based). We’ll see.

Feedback welcome

Thoughts? Questions? Speak up in the comments below.

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  1. Hi Niall. I like it that you are the northern area of Thailand because it has lower prices than the coastline. Well done finding and managing to pay loads from South Korea to Peru. I suggest divide the number by 26 since the it will seem not as bad as the total. You are going to adore South America. I spent a very happy second time there last year.

    1. Hi Maxine.

      Yeah, dividing by 26 does make it easier to digest. I have to keep in mind that I’ll have zero living expenses the entire time I’m on that ship, having paid for everything in advance.

  2. Hey Niall –

    I understand your persistence to travel the world without flying but I really hope the costs don’t end up killing your “free” lifestyle that you have set up for yourself.

    I’d be really interested to learn why you’re giving up the Sigma 6 with expenses increasing. I know you wrote that it’s holding you back from excelling in other places, but that’s a significant income source that could help pay the rest of the Foundation experiment and your travels.

    You are doing what I wish I could, but I just hope you are able to sustain it in 2014.

    Good luck and well wishes.

    David Damron

    1. I should be fine. I was getting by pretty good without Sigma 6 or a real job for two years. Worst case scenario, I can fall back to web design and keep the income flowing that way.

    1. Hopefully some web design/strategy consulting, but that’s more wishful thinking at the moment as I’m not actively pursuing that yet. I do plan to start a coaching business, taking on one client each month. I figure I can earn the same money doing that as I can doing web design, but I’d find the coaching work much more fulfilling and it should hopefully be much more impactful.

      Failing all that, I’ll marry rich 😛

  3. I’m still more curious about the cargo ship. How did you set that up? I would love to hear more about that and what it includes. I’m assuming you’ll have internet access the entire time so that you can work. I would love to cross the ocean on a cargo ship one day.

    1. No Internet access on board, unfortunately. I’ll be offline for most of February. Might be good for me though.

      As for setting it up, just google “cargo ship cruises”. They’re not hard to find. But they are expensive.