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October 2012 Finance Report

Aapka swaagat hai to all you legendary email subscribers. Welcome to my October finance report, as prepared from the lounge of a cool hostel in the heart of Delhi named the Smyle Inn.

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

  • Naveen at the printing place near my hostel in Delhi, gave me a few photocopies for free, then didn’t sell my passport to terrorists when I left it overnight in the photocopier.
  • Wandering Earl, for showing me a better side of Delhi, inviting me to hang out with his tour group, and gifting me an XShot. Legend!
  • American Andy, one of the guys on Earl’s tour, who helped me out big-time with an Illustrator file for a client that I couldn’t open on my laptop.
  • The Irish Embassy in Delhi, for typing up a letter of introduction for me to present to the Pakistan Embassy, in the hopes it would help me get a visa from them.
  • The Pakistan Embassy in Delhi, for absolutely nothing. Congratulations on your messed up visa application process, guys. Way to represent.
  • Swedes Fia and Lisa who accompanied me for dinner in Delhi one evening. Good hanging out.
  • Rasmus in Kathmandu, helping me out big-time there with a money transfer. Thank you!
  • Dude at the Everest Restaurant in Delhi who found the headphones I dropped on the way out and held them for me.
  • Indian lady I sat next to on the train to Delhi. She helped me check my ticket, chatted for a while, and let me snap a pic of the two of us.
Temporary Indian momma
  • American Nate for inviting me over to a pool party in Ernakulam and letting me crash at his place. Great guy.
  • Caroline Leon for sending me useful tips for Gmail and Flickr.
  • All those folks who emailed to tell me the links were broken in the book launch email I sent out. D’oh!
  • Graham Hughes! Legend of a man I got to meet in Kochi. He’s about to become the first person ever to visit every country in the world without flying, just one to go. He gave me lots of advice and contacts to help me on my own journey. Oh, and I have him to thank for letting me know about the Costa Cruises ship that will soon be taking me from India to Thailand 🙂
  • Vipin and Alex, two Indian guys I met via Graham and hung out with for two evenings. Really nice fellas.
  • All the Indian chaps I met while on a waterfall tour who wanted their photo taken with me.
  • Cool tourists I met while at the elephant bath, especially that Lithuanian couple who I had lunch with.
  • Aisyah, Raf and Tom at Oy’s Cafe, inviting me to join them and proving to be great company. We ended up hanging out another couple of times, and Aisyah and Raf made me feel important with an impromptu photoshoot one afternoon. (Still waiting to see those photos, Raf!)
  • Rajith in Sri Lanka, helped me out by calling the immigration office there to see if I could arrive by fishing boat.
Hanging with Graham Hughes and fellow odyssey appreciators
  • Vikas, the Nepalese waiter at my favorite restaurant in Kochi (the Elite). He was always nice to me, never seemed to take a break, and was even cool with me paying another time when I forgot to bring cash along one day.
  • Rosie from Australia, hung out multiple times in Kochi, great conversation, bought me a sandwich 🙂
  • Irish couple Orla and Ger who sat and chatted with me at a coffee shop one afternoon. Cool people. Orla was telling me how freaked out Indian people were by her freckles, thinking she had some kind of disease.
  • Random Indian dude who told me I dropped my headphones while I was recording a video in Kochi. Wicked sound.
  • French Nick and Welsh Jason for inviting me to join them for breakfast in Kochi one morning. Cool chaps.
  • Pete the cool Finnish guy who started chatting to me randomly one day while walking through Kochi, ended up having dinner and a good chat with him.
  • Kai, Spyros and Ian for the great Masterminding as usual.
  • Elderly Indian chap named Thomas I met while exercising down at the beach in Kochi one morning. He told me a bit about the history of one of the buildings there, and would say hello to me every other morning I saw him.
Making friends with drunk Indian dudes on a waterfall tour
  • Heather from South Africa. Met her at a restaurant and she gave me a bunch of recommendations for Varkala. Never did make it there, but still.
  • Jose at the marina in Kochi. Legend of a man, gave me lots of info about sailing in and out of India, plus contact details for a few people who could possibly bring me to Sri Lanka by sail boat.
  • Casey for recommending I stay at the Bell House in Kochi. Loved that place. The two brothers who run it (Fredrick and Disheen) also gave me a good deal on the room.
  • Saray and Sol for inviting me to join them and an Israeli couple for dinner at a restaurant in Kochi. Ended up hanging out with them multiple times. Very cool people.
  • Niraj and Enwil in Kathmandu for recording a “we miss you Niall” video and sending it along to me. Put a big, stupid smile on my face. And even more thanks to Enwil for providing feedback on my book.
  • Random travelers Cat, Lewis and Jim for inviting me to join them at a restaurant my first night in Kochi.
  • And thanks to everyone who read, commented, and shared my writing during the month of October. 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 the entire month in India, mostly down in Kochi. Diving in…

October Expenses

Food and Drink

Groceries € 9
Pubs, Coffee Shops, Restaurants, Take-aways € 280
Total € 289

About the same as last month. I believe I ate out at least twice a day, every day during October. The food in India is pretty cheap in general, but in Kochi even more so.

Housing and Utilities

21 nights at Bell House, Kochi € 135
6 nights at Hotel Pandian, Chennai € 81
3 nights at Tag Und Nacht, Kochi € 27
5 nights at Smyle Inn, Delhi € 46
Total € 289

A bit up from the €219 I spent here in September. Still a great price though for comfortable accommodation throughout the month.


Freighter rebooking fee (Sri Lanka to Malaysia) € 141
Elephants and Waterfalls tour in Kerala € 40
Train ticket from Chennai to Kochi € 18
Train ticket from Kochi to Delhi € 9
1 day scooter rental + fuel in Kochi € 8
Autos in Kochi € 6
Ferries in Kochi € 5
Taxis in Delhi € 3
Taxis and autos in Chennai € 3
Metro tickets in Delhi € 2
Visa application printing € 2
Buses tickets in Chennai € 1
Total € 238

Way down from the €1,426 I spent last month. You may remember that the bulk of that went towards booking passage aboard a freighter from Sri Lanka to Malaysia. I paid a bit extra to change the date of that booking, and now that I’ll be taking a cruise ship to Southeast Asia, I’ll see if I can get a refund from the freighter company.

Business Expenses

AWeber email marketing € 23
Domain registrations/renewals € 23
Post Affiliate Pro (for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription) € 15
Tata Photon recharge (USB Internet connection) € 14
Ecwid shopping cart (for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription) € 14
myeCoverMaker.com (3D book cover) € 4
Internet cafes / wifi charges € 6
Socialoomph.com (monthly subscription) € 3
Amazon Web Services (ebizfacts.com CDN) € 2
Total € 104

Down from €398 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

Donation to help Matt Madeiro buy a school bus in Nepal € 155
Donation to Children’s Literacy Initiative (via Tim Gibney) € 151
Gift for a friend in Kathmandu € 109
Tip for my Elephants and Waterfalls tour driver € 8
Beer gift for Nate’s pool party € 7
Donation to a beggar on the train to Delhi € 2
Tip for porter at the Pandian Hotel € 1
Total € 433

Up from €131 last month, and I met my goal to donate at least 10% of my earnings.

Do check out what Matt’s trying to do for the school kids in Kopila Valley. I love supporting good causes with a focus on education, and Matt’s a great guy I’ve met in person who’s trying to make a huge difference in the lives of many children with this project.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Book: Loving What Is € 11
Book: Green to Gold € 10
Book: The Personal MBA € 9
Book: Brain Rules € 8
Book: Life of Pi € 6
Hydration salts € 6
Phone credit € 6
Subscription to Raam Dev’s Journal € 5
Laundry (several loads) € 5
Toiletries € 5
Haircut in Ernakulam € 2
Book: The Man in the High Castle € 2
Book: A Scanner Darkly € 2
Book: Wherever You Go, There You Are € 1
Book: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and It’s All Small Stuff € 1
Total € 79

Down from €499 last month. Lots of books. I only linked up those I’ve already read and which I recommend. The Personal MBA was my favorite of the lot. A must-read for anyone interested in business.

Expense Summary

Food and Drink € 289
Housing and Utilities € 289
Travel € 238
Business Expenses € 104
Gifts and Donations € 433
Miscellaneous expenses € 79
Total Expenses € 1,432

About half what I spent the previous month. Win!

October Income

Away from the minuses and on to the pluses…

Freelance web design € 3,051
Sigma 6 project € 393
$50 Blogs € 225
Reader donations (muchas gracias!) € 183
Aweber affiliate payment € 41
A Course In Courage € 25
How To Live A Life Of Travel affiliate payment € 12
Language Hacking Guide affiliate payment € 37
Total Income € 3,967

Yup, that’s almost double my previous personal best for income since quitting my day job. Hoo-rah!

I feel a few notes are in order…

Freelance Web Design
Much of the earnings here came from helping to relaunch Jen Gresham’s No Regrets Career Academy. A ton of work went into that course and I’m immensely proud to have my name attached to it. I’ve seen the content and read the feedback from past students. It works brilliantly for anyone willing to put in the time and effort. So if you’re interested in changing careers or just figuring out which career path to pursue in the first place, have a look at Jen’s course. You can sign up for free training here to get your feet wet.

Sigma 6 project
This will be one money-making endeavor that I won’t be able to tell you much about. 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 methinks the €393 I earned from it in October is just the tip of the iceberg.

Where that leaves me

I had €2,142 to my name at the end of September. After applying the most recent exchange rates (I have accounts in both Dollars and Euros), that had decreased slightly to €2,129. Taking into account all my October income and expenditure, my total bank and cash balances now work out to €4,663.

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
  • €419 overall

Back in the green 🙂

Outlook for November

Last month my prediction was somewhat accurate for once, but I’m not really sure what to expect over the coming weeks. Thinking I’ll likely earn more than I spend once again though, since I have a few well-paying projects lined up and I’m getting a free cabin aboard that Costa Cruise to Thailand. I may end up in Bangkok at the end of the month, which will probably be more expensive that all the Indian and Nepalese cities I’ve been in the past several months.

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. Great let me know when are you coming to Pakistan it will be great to meet you.(hopefully in Jan-2013 i will be in Pakistan also)

  2. I second Prasad about contributing in a variety of ways. Your contributions to society may be (relatively) small fiscally, Niall, but your intellectual contributions are probably in the top 30%. You’re helping to free people from pitfalls in thinking and society. That is value-adding if I’ve ever heard of it.

    Rhetorically speaking, did Thoreau not contribute much to society?

  3. Congrats on the big pay jump, and on the Costa Booking!

    I have a question though, that I’ve wondered for a long time, how do taxes work for you? do you pay them for Ireland, or is it all over wherever you go ( because thats a paperwork nightmare 😛 ), or do you not pay taxes because of where you’re living and travelling to?

    once again, congrats on a really good payday 😀

    1. Hey Kevin,

      I wrote a bit about me and taxes several months back, check out that post for info.

      I’d hope to increase my donation percentage by at least 5% every year, until I’m giving away at minimum half of everything I earn. Right now I’m giving away 10%, but since I don’t pay taxes I’m actually contributing a lot less to society than most regular people.

      1. My thoughts on here . Giving Ten percent ,called Tithing in all religious and other belief systems is perfectly ok and enough . Man, You dont need to increase and could have the rest of the bucks and save up for the rough times !!! For society , You could contribute intellectually and in some physical and other volunteer work though

  4. Hi Niall,

    Started reading “Disrupting the Rabblement”, really a good experience.. 🙂

    I never knew that you were at Kochi, I could have met you there 🙁

    Really enjoying your blog, all the very best and you are an inspiration for me as in how to follow my dreams..

    Thanks for a wonderful blog

  5. Hai Niall
    This is Prasad from Chennai . I was one of your kindness creditor last month ,happy the kindle is making a difference to you ha !!ha !I subscribed as well to your blog and enjoying it . . Isn’t your goal only to go around without flight . So Live a Indian saints life !!, you will definitely cut costs and save more ! Just kidding !! best of Luck anyway !!

  6. I second Russ’ comment. That exercise in gratitude must really shift your perspective. Hmmmm…

    I’m genuinely impressed about the sheer volume of books you go through, and while keeping such an active professional and social life!! Please tell me your secret (Kindle always with you; read every spare moment? Minimum of other reading? What) because I’ve been job-free since late June, and I’ve not finished more than a few books.

    I comfort myself with the words of Arnold Bennett: some men fly through the shires of literature like better men take to drink, their sole object being motion (paraphrase). But I think I’m kidding myself. Please point me in the right direction.

    1. Hey Scott,

      I’m averaging about a book a week this year, which is way more than I ever managed to read before. Here are a few things that have helped me get through more books…

      – As soon as it becomes apparent that you’re not enjoying a book or not getting what you want out of it, abandon it immediately. Most recently I did this with The Man In The High Castle.

      – Get a Kindle or some other eReader. Pretty much everyone who does ends up reading more. I carry it with me wherever I go. It’s perfect if you find yourself dining alone or waiting for an hour at a tourist office. A lot of my reading is done this way.

      – I don’t read blogs so much anymore, which I guess helps.

      – Spend lots of time on trains and buses with no Internet access 😛

      – Read more than one book at a time. I find some books quite dense and my motivation to finish them ebbs and flows. I find reading a light fiction book while also reading a dense info book give a good balance. Sometimes I’ll have as many as four books on the go, slutty reader that I am.

      – And a final tip that I’ve yet to master: Don’t be afraid to skim through info books. If you find yourself reading a self-help book for example, and there’s a chapter focused on a concept you’re already very familiar with, either skip it completely or skim through it fast.

      Hope that helps!

    2. Oh, one more tip: Read really good books 🙂

      Sounds obvious, but worth mentioning I think. Last night I started a fresh book and found myself absolutely loving it. Twelve hours later I’m already halfway through and excited to read more.

      The more you read the more you get a feel for which books you’ll enjoy, and you also figure out after a while who’s recommendations are worth listening to.

      1. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Niall. I’ve saved your tips to my Notes, will take your advice with only a few changes*, and see if I, too, can start averaging a book a week 🙂

        *keep reading blogs, skipping content, not the medium
        *substitute the iPod touch 5th gen for an e-reader, as it’s supremely pocketable and thus, always with me
        *avoid fiction altogether, instead, seeking non-fiction of varying difficulties

        Thank you, again, for explaining how you leveled up your reading habit. Legend, as you say 🙂

  7. I’m amazed how you keep track off all the kindness, all the way down to the guy who told you you dropped your headphones. I imagine your days are filled with such things when moving around in a hectic city, so props on keeping track of all the kindness!

    1. Thanks, Russ. I have a little recurring reminder set in my to-do app (Things for Mac), and I think back every day and jot down any kindnesses I can think of. It’s become a habit now, so pretty easy to keep it up.

  8. Congratulations, Niall!!

    This past month (October), I also just reached my personal best for monthly income since I quit my day job. And I’m on track to do even better next month. It’s hard-earned, for sure, but it feels great. (You achieved it so much more quickly than I did … it took me two years to gain that kind of traction!) Congrats again.

  9. Hey Niall, I also just started reading “The Man in the High Castle” as well. So far so good. About Bangkok, unless you have something specific going on there, there’s little reason to stay more than a few days. One great little town to visit is Kanchanaburi, about an hour and a half west of Bangkok. Accommodation is super cheap, the atmosphere is relaxed, the air is clean, and there’s a lot to do. I recommend you stay at the Jolly Frog guest house.

    In Bangkok, the cheap accommodation is along Khaosan road (although it’s gone up a lot lately). If you search around, you can find a place for about $25USD. You can get a room for $10 if you don’t mind sharing the shower and having only a fan. Check around the Burger King for the cheapest places.

    Let me know if you need any more tips. I know Bangkok & Chiangmai pretty well.

  10. Hi Niall. Well done for getting back in the green. You had 21 nights at the lovely accommodation in Kochi. That was such a bargain. It is wonderful you will go on Costa Cruise to Thailand for free.

  11. Getting on the costa cruise ride was a brilliant stroke of ingenuity. Bravo!
    Also saw that you took advantage of kindle daily deal. I’m reading where you go, there you are, and finding it to be really inspirational

    1. Hey Eugene. Yeah, I check out those daily deals all the time, have found a few gems in there. Started Wherever You Go last week, reading that along with a couple of other books at the moment.

  12. Josh Lipovetsky

    NICE, dude! So great to hear that you worked on a really meaningful project this month. It’s a great feeling.

  13. Congratulations on getting back into the green and the Costa Cruise booking. I appreciate all the links to the side projects and people you ran into. So many inspiring people!!!

  14. Excited to see you’re reading The Man in the High Castle (and A Scanner Darkly, of course). I’d definitely recommend all of Dick’s short stories as well, and of course the great Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

    Congratulations on a great financial month!! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Gabriella.

      I have to admit, I abandoned The Man in the High Castle about halfway through. I just couldn’t get into it, found the book very disjointed. I’m a bit hesitant now to start A Scanner Darkly, but will probably get stuck into it in the coming weeks.

  15. Great progress. And congratulations on the cruise promotion.

    It’s cool that you got the book “Loving What Is” – it’s one of my favorites and I’ve read through it many times. Its message is so simple and yet easy to ignore or forget.

    1. Thanks, Jack. I haven’t even made it halfway through that book yet, but I’ve already gotten a lot out of it. Just that simple question — “Is it true?” — is incredibly powerful.

  16. Hey Niall, great to see all going so well. Detail in these reports is mad, but great. And Sigma 6 – man that is soooo James Bond! Are you lined up to be the next 007? That would be Super Cool!

  17. If you’re worried about the cost of living in Bangkok, try staying further north where it is a lot cheaper and more chilled out!