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September 2011 Finance Report

A big fancy hello to all you legendary email subscribers.

Welcome to my September finance report. 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. I’ve been on the road since the very end of September, so all these numbers pertain to my final month in Ireland.

Let’s dive in…

September Expenses

Food and Drink

Groceries € 209
Pubs, Coffee Shops, Restaurants, Take-aways € 80
Total € 289

Last month I spent just €221 here, but I’m okay with the increase since I spent the whole month in Ireland and food is generally more expensive there than in Spain or France (where I spent parts of August).

Housing and Utilities

Sheila’s Hostel in Cork € 164
Total € 164

Most of my time back in Ireland was spent living in my parents house (free rent, woohoo!). But I did spend some time in Cork as well, staying at Sheila’s hostel for about ten nights total. Nice place.


6 months of travel insurance from World Nomads € 242
Prepaid bus ticket, Dublin to Liverpool € 48
Total € 290

World Nomads
I went ahead and splashed out on travel insurance just to be on the safe side. I’d heard many people recommend World Nomads before, and my policy was a pretty good deal. That €242 price includes insurance for my laptop as well. I only paid for six months in advance because the policy doesn’t cover travel to Southeast Asia, and I plan to be there next year at some point. I will be able to modify and extend my insurance from the road though, so no worries.

Business Expenses

Check the notes below the table for more info on the items listed.

Sean Ogle’s Location Rebel € 220
AWeber email maketing (3 month subscription) € 36
MS Remote Desktop (monthly subscription) € 15
Ecwid shopping cart (for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription) € 13
Mobile phone credit € 10
One hour of slow wifi on Irish Ferries € 8
oDesk virtual assistants € 8
Newspapers (research for media pitches) € 7
Socialoomph.com (monthly subscription) € 3
Stamps and envelopes € 2
Printing € 2
Internet cafe € 1
Total € 325

I was pretty frugal on the business side of things in September, with one notable exception.

Location Rebel
This is the course Sean Ogle put together, which helps people achieve location independence and live life on their own terms. I haven’t put much time into it yet, but I’m very impressed with the resources Sean’s got in there (e.g. detailed blueprints for becoming a freelance web designer or copywriter), and the community is pretty nifty. I got some great feedback in the LR forum when I relaunched my $50 Blogs service.

oDesk Virtual Assistants
I’ve pretty much faded out the SEO experiment I was trying. No significant results to report.

MS Remote Desktop
I originally signed up for this so I could run some Windows software that I had purchased, but it’s proving more useful these days for checking how the websites I build display in Internet Explorer. Since the company running this service is based in NYC, it also means I have access to a machine with a US IP address, which comes in handy every now and then 😉

This is working out pretty good. Check the August site progress report for more details.

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.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Singing Nina (great show I saw in Cork on the 9th) € 32
Nissan badge for my aunt, replacing the one I broke (oops!) € 10
Donation to Jillian Cottle (for this) € 6
AIB quarterly bank fee € 5
Deodorant € 3
Attendance fee for Guardian Toastmasters in Cork € 3
Opera busker donation € 2
Homeless dude donation € 1
Love Drop subscription € 1
Total € 63

Expense Summary

Food and Drink € 289
Housing and Utilities € 164
Travel € 290
Business Expenses € 325
Miscellaneous expenses € 63
Total Expenses € 1,131

Down a nice bit from last month’s expense total of €1,596. I always aim to keep my monthly expenses under €1k, but I’m happy to have invested in such things as Location Rebel and travel insurance this past month.

September Income

Away from the minuses and on to the pluses…

Freelance web design € 327
Gifts from friends and family before leaving Ireland € 150
$50 Blogs € 106
Donations (muchas gracias!) € 7
Total Income € 590

I’m still falling short of my goal to earn at least €1k per month. And I should emphasize the word earn, because while donations and cash gifts are very welcome and much appreciated, I’d rather not rely on them to keep myself afloat.

The good news is that my earnings from freelance web design increased about 50% from the previous month, and I expect that trend will continue.

Where that leaves me

I had €4,247 to my name at the end of August. After applying the most recent exchange rate (I have accounts in both Dollars and Euros), that had increased slightly to €4,346. Taking into account all my September expenses and earnings, my total bank and cash balances now work out to €3,717.

A quick summary of how I’m doing so far this year:

  • – €1,173 in January
  • – €292 in February
  • – €741 in March
  • – €22 in April
  • – €672 in May
  • – €872 in June
  • – €449 in July
  • – €1,070 in August
  • – €629 in September

Outlook for October

Since I quit my day job last November, I’ve been pretty confident that I could make a good income just by doing freelance web design. I have the skills, and there are sites like oDesk and Elance out there where I should be able to pick up regular clients.

For most of this year though, I’ve avoided doing freelance web design and experimented with other ways of generating income. I’ve dabbled in affiliate marketing, created my own online course, set up some niche sites, and launched a blog setup service. The idea with all of those projects was to separate my time from my income, so I’d have the potential to earn money pretty much on autopilot. Unfortunately, none of those projects have done very well financially.

And now I’m getting to the point where my savings are running low and I can no longer afford to experiment. I just need to earn. So I’m getting back into freelance web design. I already have some cool clients, and I’m going to try find a few more this month via the aforementioned marketplace sites.

I’m pricing my services at $30 per hour to start with. At that I really only need to work about ten hours per week to cover my expenses and stop eating into my savings.

My ultimate goal is still to build some systems that will put my earnings on autopilot, and I’ll be working away at such projects consistently. But for the most part these next few months I’ll be happily trading my time for money so I can continue my travels.

Income-wise, I’ve gotten off to a pretty great start so far in October, though I do expect my expenses to be higher this month as well, since I’ll be in not-so-cheap places like London, Amsterdam and Zurich. €1k is still the magic number. I’ll be aiming to keep my expenses under and my income over. We’ll see how it goes.

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. A quick update: I transferred a good chunk of money between my Irish and American bank accounts in September, expecting to be charged a €15 fee. I just found out though that the charge was more like €60, as it had to be routed through a third-party bank which also charged a fee. So that’s a bummer. I called my Irish bank today and they said there’s no way to avoid such a charge on future transfers. Hmm.

  2. Hi Niall,

    Nice to read your latest report. There are two things I’d like to comment on:

    1. Your 15 euro monthly subscription for a Windows machine seems a lot when you’re mainly using it to check sites in IE. Have you considered running Windows as a virtual machine on your Mac? (Parallels Desktop for example)

    2. I wish you the best of luck finding freelance Web design work on Elance & oDesk. One thing that’s been putting me off trying to do similar myself is the fact that instead of getting jobs from people you know, people that recommend you and people that you can pitch to face-to-face, you’re suddenly competing for work with everybody else on the planet. When I look at the competition, I see people that have about ten times my skills and charge half the amount! Have you any advice on getting work this way?

    Best of luck in your continuing travels!


    1. Thanks for the comment, Andrew.

      1. Trust me, that’s a solid investment. Having an American IP address also means I can buy software at American prices (much cheaper than European usually), and it will be very handy for logging into my banking and PayPal accounts online. I’ve heard some horror stories about people getting locked out of such accounts while traveling because accessing from so many different countries can trigger a red flag. €15 a month is really a small price to pay for avoiding all of that.

      2. I have yet to dive fully into this, so I can’t speak much from experience. However, I do think I’ll have a few advantages for getting consistent and high-paying work on those sites. First, I’m pretty damn good at this web design stuff, and I work fast. Second, I have a solid portfolio already. Third, I’ll take the time to fill out my profile, take the qualification tests, and make proper pitches for gigs. Fourth, I’m a native English speaker, and I can build rapport easier with Western clients than someone in Bangladesh or wherever. I tend to believe that people will pay a higher price to hire people they like and trust.

      I’ll be sure to report on my findings as I get deeper into it all.

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