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October 2013 Finance Report

Sawadee to all you legendary email subscribers. This is my October finance report, as prepared from a VIP house in Chiang Mai. Apparently being a VIP in Thailand means ants in your bedroom :-/

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 most of the month living in Thailand. Diving in…

October Expenses

Food and Drink

Pubs, Coffee Shops, Restaurants, Take-aways € 427 $ 576
Groceries € 20 $ 27
Total € 447
$ 603

Last month was the lowest I spent on food/drink all year (€353/$477), as I was very careful with those expenses while living in Hong Kong. Back in Thailand though I wasn’t so disciplined and ended up spending quite a bit on food again. Too much, really. It’s cheap to eat out in Chiang Mai especially, but when you do so 2-3 times a day, it adds up quick.

Housing and Utilities

3.5 weeks at Baan Ouikum, Chiang Mai € 240 $ 324
1 night at Mixay Guesthouse, Vientiane € 4 $ 5
1 night at RD Guesthouse, Vientiane € 3 $ 4
Total € 247 $ 333

Way down from last month’s total of €429/$580. Gotta love Chiang Mai for cheap digs. I also spent a couple of nights on the move (trains, buses), so saved some money on accommodation that way.


New passport from Irish consulate in Bangkok € 181 $ 244
Chiang Mai scooter rental (2 weeks, 2 days) € 62 $ 84
Laos visas € 53 $ 72
Thai visa € 48 $ 65
Minibus: Chiang Mai to Vientiane (return) € 41 $ 55
Red Ride Thailand for border run to Mae Sa € 27 $ 36
Train: Vientiane to Bangkok € 24 $ 32
Bus: Bangkok to Chiang Mai € 21 $ 28
Bangkok BTS € 13 $ 18
Bangkok taxis € 10 $ 14
Myanmar border stamp € 7 $ 10
Nong Khai border taxi € 6 $ 8
Passport photos € 5 $ 7
Scooter fuel € 4 $ 6
Taxis Hanoi taxis € 4 $ 5
Tuk-tuks in Vientiane € 3 $ 4
Motorcycle taxi in Chiang Mai € 2 $ 3
Bangkok airport link € 2 $ 3
Tuk-tuk in Chiang Mai € 1 $ 2
Vietnam exit stamp € 1 $ 1
Total € 517 $ 697

Way up from €72/$97 last month. I just used up the last page in my current passport so ordered the new one just in time. I got screwed a little coming back to Thailand from Hong Kong early in the month, not realizing that the second entry on my Thai visa had to be before a certain date. As a result, I had to get a visa on arrival and then take subsequent trips to Myanmar and Laos to get fresh entries.

Business Expenses

Sigma 6 Personal Assistant € 784 $ 1,057
AWeber email marketing € 37 $ 50
PayPal fees € 22 $ 29
Ecwid shopping cart € 13 $ 17
Domain renewals € 9 $ 12
Amazon Web Services (ebizfacts.com CDN) € 4 $ 5
Total € 868 $ 1,170

Down from €1,040/$1,408 spent in September. I’ll tell you more about the Sigma 6 project 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

Hitching For Hope donation € 105 $ 142
Ikigai book giveaway (email list only) € 69 $ 93
Team Hourican donation € 62 $ 83
Skeptoid donation € 37 $ 50
Louis CK Facebook giveaway € 26 $ 35
Busker in Chiang Mai € 24 $ 32
Busker in Bangkok € 24 $ 32
Books for a friend € 16 $ 21
Amazon gift card for friend € 7 $ 10
Tip for Hanoi travel agency € 5 $ 6
Hanoi restaurant tips € 4 $ 6
Donation to kid at Burmese border € 1 $ 2
Total € 380 $ 512

Down from last months’ donation total of €571/$772, and a little shy of the goal to donate 15% of my income each month. So far this year I’ve given away €5,248/$7,078, which works out to 14.3% of my 2013 income.


The Power of Habit € 10 $ 14
Musashi € 9 $ 11
The Razor’s Edge € 8 $ 11
City of Thieves € 8 $ 11
No More Mr. Nice Guy € 7 $ 10
The Four Agreements € 5 $ 7
Practicing Radical Honesty € 5 $ 6
Immoderate Greatness € 4 $ 5
Total € 56 $ 75

Up from the €21/28 I spent on books in September. Top recommendations from the above:

  • The Power of Habit: Deserves the hype, will help transform your life.
  • City of Thieves: One of the best novels I’ve ever read. Kolya is my new literary hero.
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy: Essential reading for people-pleasing men, and the women who want to love them.
  • Immoderate Greatness: Scariest book I’ve ever read, quick read.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Shorts and shirt € 47 $ 64
Running shoes € 39 $ 52
Replacement iPhone headphones € 26 $ 35
Phone credit € 25 $ 34
Chiang Mai hospital blood test € 18 $ 24
Asia Scenic cooking class, Chiang Mai € 17 $ 23
T-shirt € 16 $ 21
Toiletries € 8 $ 11
Mystery expense from October 5th € 7 $ 10
Doi Suthep entry € 5 $ 7
Subscription to Raam Dev’s Journal € 5 $ 7
Hanoi Toastmasters € 5 $ 7
iTunes movie rental: The Cruise € 3 $ 4
Scala cinema in Bangkok: Gravity € 3 $ 4
Haricut € 2 $ 3
Chiang Mai waterfall entry € 1 $ 2
Incense sticks € 1 $ 1
Chiang Mai currency exchange € 1 $ 1
Total € 230 $ 310

Up from the €54/$73 I spent on miscellaneous last month. Gravity was the best movie I’d seen in the cinema in a long time, and The Cruise was pretty good, too.

Expense Summary

Food and Drink € 447 $ 603
Housing and Utilities € 247 $ 333
Travel € 517 $ 697
Business Expenses € 868 $ 1,170
Gifts and Donations € 380 $ 512
Books € 56 $ 75
Miscellaneous expenses € 230 $ 310
Total Expenses € 2,744 $ 3,700

A slight increase from last month’s expense total of €2,538/$3,435.

October Income

Away from the minuses and on to the pluses…

Sigma 6 project € 2,639 $ 3,558
Family gifts € 88 $ 119
Amazon book royalties € 27 $ 36
Amazon affiliate payment € 24 $ 32
Reader donations (muchas gracias!) € 17 $ 23
Total Income € 2,795 $ 3,768

Down from last month’s income total of €3,798/$5,141, and also my lowest earning month of 2013. Leaning heavily on the Sigma 6 income.


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 €1,855/$2,501 for the month of October, up from September’s profit of €1,403/$1,899 and the first time in five months that those numbers have increased.

Where that leaves me

I had €7,703/$10,425 to my name at the end of September. After applying the most recent exchange rates (I have accounts in EUR, HKD and USD), those totals had shifted slightly to €7,731/$10,428. Taking into account all my October income and expenditure, my total bank and cash balances now work out to €7,745/$10,446.

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
  • €1,422/$1,926 overall

Outlook for November

I’m committed again to keeping my daily expenses in check, but this month will see me trying to arrange transport across the Pacific so I may have to drop some hefty payments for that. I’ve also applied to join The Foundation, and getting in there will mean an investment of at least $3k.

Income-wise, I have nothing major in the pipeline this coming month, so once again I’ll be largely dependent on the Sigma 6 project to keep me going. I have a big announcement coming up about that income stream this week though. Stay tuned.

Feedback welcome

Thoughts? Questions? Speak up in the comments below.

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  1. Hi Niall, It sounds like you have had a fantastic time in Asia. You haven’t spent much on accommodation and it is superb cheap places to stay are in Northern Thailand. Yes, sleeping on an overnight train or bus turned out a good idea for you budget wise. I am sure you filled your passport with lots of stamps so needed a new passport from the Irish Embassy. I hope that you will travel to South America. The long distance buses are great.

  2. Hi Niall,
    I loved reading through your expenses and remembering how much cheaper by our standards life in Thailand is. I’m impressed that you are keeping such close track of the airgead.

  3. Hi Nial. It was lovely that you were able to take a return minibus from Chang Mai to Vientiane. I know that it is possible to travel easily from Thailand into Malaysia and on to Indonesia. I hope you find a sea crossing to Australia from there. Good luck and please keep me on your email list.

  4. Hey Niall! Thanks for keeping us posted…

    I’m wavering a bit over my own Foundation membership. Deon and Dane are a great double-act, though, and their emails crack me up, as well as cracking the whip (hey – we all need a challenge from time to time, right?)

    The cost is kind of scary, especially for me, because, as well you know, all my projects have to wipe their own faces from day one.

    Okay. *Month* one, then.

    However, since I don’t actually have the cash in the bank right now (shh, don’t tell them!) _if_ I do get in, it will have to “work”.

    Now, there’s an incentive.

    Let me know if you get in (you have a better chance than me, granted) and let us know what details you can of the process…


    1. Hey Guy,

      I’ve started this week, already hired someone on oDesk to find leads for idea extraction. I should be making calls by the end of the week.

      And if I remember right, last year they offered a monthly payment option, so you may not have to pay everything up front.

      1. My impression was that they accept pretty much anyone and the ‘selection process’ is rather a marketing trick to give you a feeling of exclusivity..

        Still, I think the program should be good.

        1. Maybe. Although I doubt they could take in everyone who applied without sacrificing a lot of the quality. Given the hype around it I imagine they have at least a thousand applicants, and last year they only took in 300 students.

  5. Hey Niall, a bit of a slowdown in earnings but that’s the way it goes!

    I noticed you read Dr. Robert Glover’s book. I was reading Amazon reviews from your link, some of them describing his explanations on the origins of the nice guy syndrome as narrow-minded. Or said he just rebranded notions like low self-esteem and insecurity into something more catchy. I think his book at least puts a name on a certain category of modern men’s issues, instead of brushing them off with some generic terms. And it offers good advice about setting boundaries and putting your needs first again.

    It seems you got freed from a lot of Nice Guys’ problems by yourself if you had any, and are pretty much living your life on your own terms. That said, what was attracting you to this book? Are there still things you would like to deal with or write about regarding self-esteem, masculinity, relationships and personal success? I’d love to hear your own take on it, or any criticism you would have regarding Glover’s approach.

    1. Hey JB,

      I read those critical reviews on Amazon, too. I always try do that after I read a book I like a lot, to help balance things out a bit.

      I’ve overcome a lot of my own nice-guy, people-pleasing tendencies, but there are still times when I feel I’m not being very authentic and behaving in such a way as to please or not upset someone else, rather than being true to myself and my own needs/wants. I decided to check out Glover’s book after it was recommended in Models by Mark Manson, another book I liked a lot.

      As for the scientific validity of Glover’s book, the criticisms sound reasonable to me, but that’s not to discount all the helpful stuff in there. I found it shed a lot of light on the root causes of my own nice-guyness.

      But yeah, overall I think overcoming shyness and being more true to yourself is a never-ending journey. I’ll probably be reading books like that one for many years to come, if only to keep reminding myself to be more authentic and assertive.