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October 2015 Finance Report

Well hello there o’ legendary email subscriber. This is my October finance report, prepared and delivered to you from the fine city of Amsterdam.

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.

Diving in…

October Expenses

Food & Drink

Eating out € 165 $ 182
Groceries € 194 $ 214
Total € 360
$ 396

Way down from €445/$498 the previous month. My ideal is to keep my total food and drink expenses around the €400 mark each month. Didn’t think I did anything super-special in October but it shook out nicely.

Housing & Utilities

Total € 0
$ 0

Way down from last month’s total of €2,300/$2,576, which was expected since I choose to pay rent every two months instead of every month. As such, my rent for October was pre-paid.

Travel & Transport

 Flights: Amsterdam to Cork round-trip (December) € 144 $ 159
 OV-chipkaart (Dutch travel card) € 70 $ 77
 Buses in Utrecht € 3 $ 3
Total € 217
$ 239

Way up from the nothing I spent on travel and transport in September. I loaded a good bit of credit onto my travel card so that should keep me going for a while.

Business Expenses

Accountant € 254 $ 280
Kindle Station: Book cover and formatting (for The Cargo Ship Diaries) € 244 $ 269
Professional photos € 50 $ 55
AWeber email marketing € 27 $ 30
Edgar social media management € 45 $ 49
Dreamhost domains € 22 $ 24
MemberMouse € 18 $ 20
Postage € 21 $ 23
Currency conversion fee for AWeber affiliate payment € 12 $ 13
Printing, scanning, photocopying € 6 $ 7
Stationary € 4 $ 4
Google Drive storage (100GB) € 2 $ 2
PayPal fees € 2 $ 2
Gumroad fees € 1 $ 1
Total € 708
$ 779

Up a good bit from the €479/$536 I spent on business in September. Some notes on the above:

  • I pay my accountant in Ireland approximately €80 per week. For that he takes care of essentially everything so I need not worried about it. My business is now officially registered but not yet trading, as I still need to get my business bank accounts sorted.
  • Edgar is a service I started using recently to push more content out to my Facebook page. It’s pretty cool in that it allows you to automatically recycle content, so you can put a lot of evergreen stuff in there (like many of my old blog posts) and let it keep posting on your behalf. The $49/month price tag is a bit hefty, but once I have a few things set up to make the most of the extra traffic Edgar generates, it should easily pay for itself.
  • I’m using MemberMouse to create an online course for people who want to get started working online (more on that in due time).
  • Gumroad is the payment processor I used to sell Travel The World + Work Online.

Gifts & Donations

Philip Reeves donation € 18 $ 20
Wikipedia donation € 11 $ 12
Church candle € 1 $ 1
Total € 30
$ 33

About half of last month’s donation total of $66/$74. I’m not big on donating to religious organizations but I like going into an old church and lighting a candle for my grandmother every now and then.


Factotum € 11 $ 12
Outliers € 10 $ 11
The Checklist Manifesto € 9 $ 10
The Autobiography of Malcom X € 9 $ 10
Email Marketing Blueprint € 3 $ 3
Is $.99 The New Free? € 1 $ 1
Alice In Wonderland € 1 $ 1
Total € 44
$ 48

Up a bit from the €32/$36 I spent on books in September. You can see all my book recommendations and what I’m currently reading over on Goodreads.


Coat € 129 $ 142
Gloves € 7 $ 8
Total € 136
$ 150

Way up from last month’s total of €44/$50. I have a clothing budget of €150/month but roll over anything unspent to the next month. For October I had €293 to play with, so now in November I’ll have €457. I very much doubt I’ll spend that much on clothing though. My wardrobe is fine for now.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Dutch museum card € 60 $ 66
Bank transfer/currency conversion fees € 60 $ 66
Phone credit € 40 $ 44
Apple earbuds € 35 $ 38
Toiletries € 18 $ 20
Storytelling event at Pllek € 15 $ 17
Friday night entertainment at Mezrab (pay what you want) € 10 $ 11
Buddhist meditation class € 8 $ 9
Netflix subscription € 8 $ 9
Frying pan € 8 $ 9
Laundry € 7 $ 8
Sex Museum entry € 4 $ 4
Mug € 3 $ 3
Pub quiz € 3 $ 3
Printing € 2 $ 2
Kitchen cleaning supplies € 1 $ 1
Postcard and stamp € 1 $ 1
Total € 283
$ 311

Not far off last month’s total of €299/$337. Some notes:

  • The museum card gives me access to pretty much every museum in the Netherlands. As long as I use it three times in twelve months, I get my money’s worth. (Unfortunately I couldn’t use it at the Sex Museum though.)
  • The big bank transfer fee was on account of sending a few thousand dollars from my American bank account to my new Dutch bank account.

Expense Summary

Business Expenses € 708 $ 779
Food & Drink € 360 $ 396
Miscellaneous expenses € 283 $ 311
Travel & Transport € 217 $ 239
Clothing € 136 $ 150
Books € 44 $ 48
Gifts & Donations € 30 $ 33
Housing & Utilities € 0 $ 0
Total Expenses € 1,777
$ 1,956

Less than half last month’s expense total of €3,638/$4,075. I was aiming to keep expenses under $2k, so mission accomplished.

October Income

Away from the minuses and on to the pluses…

Freelance web design € 2,530 $ 2,785
Affiliate income: AWeber € 195 $ 215
Affiliate income: Danny’s Elance/Upwork course € 54 $ 59
Sales of Travel The World + Work Online € 16 $ 18
Book sales (via Amazon) € 13 $ 14
Total Income € 2,808
$ 3,091

A nice chunk better than the €1,952/$2,186 I pulled in the previous month. My income goal for October was $3.5k though so I feel a little shy of that mark.

Some notes:

  • Most of that freelance income was for work on a big client project I’d been chipping away at for a couple of months.
  • I believe that affiliate payment from AWeber is the first I’ve ever received from them, despite being an affiliate of theirs for about four years now. It’s a nice chunk of change, but not exactly sustainable.

Biggest regret?

I could have done without buying two books: Outliers and Alice In Wonderland. The former I just needed for a reference that I realized later I could have done without, while I just plain didn’t enjoy the latter (not sure why that book has the reputation it does).

Where that leaves me

I had €9,304/$10,421 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 shifted a little to €9,451/$10,403. Taking into account all my October income and expenditure, my total bank and cash balances now work out to €10,222/$11,252.

Here’s how I’m doing so far this year in terms of profit and loss:

  • €174/$196 in January
  • €2,170/$2,355 in February
  • €608/$655 in March
  • €1,366/$1,526 in April
  • €389/$425 in May
  • €1,422/$1,576 in June
  • €2,945/$3,236 in July
  • €689/$777 in August
  • €1,686/$1,889 in September
  • €1,031/$1,135 in October
  • €6,264/$6,840 overall

Outlook for November

Expenses will jump this month as I’ll have another rent payment, though just paying for a single month this time. I don’t foresee any other big expenses, so keeping it under $2.5k total should be doable.

As for income, I’ve been cutting back on freelance work and clearing my schedule so I can focus on creating products, so I’m unlikely to earn a lot in November. Even a goal of $1k might be pushing it. I can afford not to earn much for a couple of months, but the psychology of being in the red is tough to deal with.

Feedback welcome

Thoughts? Questions? Speak up in the comments below.

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  1. €80 per week for an accountant sounds like a LOT!! I went to one of the most expensive accountants’ firms in my town when I needed to set up a limited company & they were talking about £1000 per year in fees.

  2. Now that you are stationary have you considered going back to the course that you signed up for just before your cargo ship cruise? Sorry I can’t remember the program but I recall you paid for it and could do it at anytime. just curious

    1. Hey Nancy,

      That course was The Foundation. Yeah, I still have access to it, but not going to dive back in just yet. I think there are some better opportunities that I can pursue first.

  3. I’m not sure if you already do or can get a Charles Schwab checking account. They reimburse all foreign transaction fees and ATM fees. I use it exclusively while traveling.

    1. Yeah man, great tip. I’ve had a Schwab account for years. I had to transfer money to my European accounts though to pay for insurance and business setup stuff. Schwab is still my go-to travel bank.

  4. re: books

    Have you gotten a local library card? Even my library in Wrocław has a large selection of English language books by well known authors. I’d expect Amsterdam to be even better with that.

    It’s obviously not a huge savings, but there’s a bonus: library reading/work rooms are a great place to get distraction free work done. Ours don’t have internet so it’s an extra bonus.

    1. Hey Karol,

      Thanks for the comments. No, haven’t gotten a library card here and don’t intend to. I like owning the books and having them on my Kindle. I go back and reference books quite often, and re-read some. I quit doing Kindle Unlimited for the same reason, as you never really own the books with that program.

      As for the distraction free work environment, I have a nice quiet spot at home and don’t have any problems getting work done there. There are some great public libraries in Amsterdam though.

      1. Hi Niall,
        You can visit the libraries in Amsterdam without a library card. Only if you want to take a book with you, you’ll need a card.

  5. Speaking of finances, have you read Tony Robbins book “Money: Master The Game”? It’s an enlightening read on investing for the average investor. I’m on the last hundred pages and I have the confidence now to invest better than 99% of the population. He interviews the most successful investors in the world (e.g. Ray Dalio) and distills their strategies and principles down into 7 steps. It has only been out for a year but is truly a game changer for the average person. Thought you might be interested.

    1. Hey Mitchell,

      You might be interested in this: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tony-robbins-doesnt-quite-master-the-game-of-money-in-his-new-book-2014-11-25

      Basically, don’t use the companies that Robbins recommends since a 1.5% management fee is absurd.

      Also, you might be into https://www.reddit.com/r/personalfinance and https://www.reddit.com/r/financialindependence/ Both often have good discussions about money and investing.

      And two non-Robbins articles that are quite good (oddly, from Firefox co-founder Blake Ross): https://medium.com/@blakeross/wealthfront-silicon-valley-tech-at-wall-street-prices-fdd2e5f54905 and https://li.st/l/39323635-3100-0000-0000-000000000000

      1. Thanks for the comment with links, Karol. It’s good to get another perspective on the book. I’d be surprised if the companies he recommends charge 1.5% annual management fees, as a major common thread throughout the book warns against just that. I just finished it tonight and I plan on rereading it in 2-4 weeks and apply what I’ve learned, and actually take a look into those companies. All in all though, it was a great read in my case — as I am reluctant to invest any time and energy into wrapping my head around the financial industry and the minutia of investing — because the knowledge in the book gives me the confidence to begin and do just enough to have a solid foundation with minimal effort.

    2. Started reading the book 2 months ago, and went to Tony’s event to LA this October.
      Boosting my confidence, doing savings and wanna invest by the end of the book

  6. Re: the psychology of being in the red is tough to deal with

    It’s good that you are prepared for this – that is half the battle the other half will be just toughing it out

    Good luck !