Swagatam to all you legendary email subscribers. Welcome to my September finance report, as prepared from a cool little 2-room home stay in Kochi, India.

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

  • Syed in Chennai. He brought me to visit Marina Beach and a really cool temple, bought me bus tickets and sugar cane juice, shared a bunch of interesting stories, helped me have a bit of a breakthrough about why I’m not very good at being mentored… Legend of a chap.
  • Everyone I spoke to on the phone and in person who tried to help me out with the whole getting to Sri Lanka without flying thing. Especially the sailing club people, namely Jose, George and Jolly.
  • Porter dude at my hotel in Chennai who helped me solve my mosquito problem (“You just need to close the bathroom door, sir!”).
  • Madhu in Chennai for meeting up with me at a coffee shop for a good, rabble-rousing chat, and for bringing me some local desserty things.
  • Dhiwakar in Chennai for calling me on my bullshit numerous times, picking me up at the bus station, driving me around, recording one of my videos, sharing some great business ideas, helping me contact a heap of shipping companies, inviting me to his home, feeding me lunch, bringing me out for filter coffee… just a great guy.
  • Taxi driver in Chennai who helped me find an Internet early one morning. And all the other millions of people who helped me with directions throughout the month.
  • Indian dude in the bunk below me on the train to Chennai, who was cool with me plugging in my laptop and charging it up.
  • Gaurab on the bus to the Indian border who let me know when I should get off. He added me on Facebook after and sent me a “nice to meet you” message.
  • Connie for being a cool travel companion from Kathmandu to Chennai, filming one of my videos, offering me heaps of snacks, and splitting the cost of accommodation on two occasions.
  • Dude at the reception desk at the hotel I stayed at in Gorakhpur, who let me use the staff computer for a half hour to get some important client work done.
  • My good friend Niraj in Kathmandu for the going away gift and then making sure I got to the bus station and hopped on the right bus out of town.
  • Jen and Marta and the rest of the great team I’m working with on a big web project at the moment.
  • My buddy Spyros for receiving my new Kindle in the US and then mailing it along to Chennai, where a cool Couchsurfer named Prasad received it and made sure it got to me. Prasad also showed me to a nice restaurant for dinner afterwards.
  • Anthony of Man Vs. Clock fame for perking me up something fantastic via a Skype chat when I was having a tough week.
  • All the legendary Couchsurfing folks in Chennai for helping me out with tips for getting to Sri Lanka without flying. I’m also grateful to a bunch of people on Twitter for the same.
  • Gupta, the travela agent in Thamel, for going through another travel agent on my behalf to secure a train ticket to Chennai, without even asking for a commission.
  • My buddy Enwil in Kathmandu, for inviting me to his house for dinner and introducing me to his family. That was really cool.
  • Justin and Dawn for offering to help me out with an Illustrator file for a client. And especially Amit, who’s offer I accepted.
  • Rajeef at the print shop in Thamel who recognized me from my morning runs and gave me eight passport photos for the price of six.
  • The cop at that traffic checkpoint about thirty minutes outside of Pokhara who let me go without checking my non-motorbike license 😉
  • And thanks to everyone who read, commented, and shared my writing during the month of September. 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 about half the month in Nepal, and the other half in India. Diving in…

September Expenses

Food and Drink

Groceries € 17
Pubs, Coffee Shops, Restaurants, Take-aways € 272
Total € 299

Down from €365 last month. I’ve been using USB Internet instead of working so much from coffee shops and the like, works out much cheaper.

Housing and Utilities

15 days rent for Sunrise Cottage, Kathmandu € 106
Six nights at Hotel Pandian, Chennai € 68
Two nights at the Global Inn, Pokhara € 15
One night at Royal Residency, Gorakhpur € 13
One night at Hotel Chandra Park, Chennai € 11
One night at the Regal Hotel, Chennai € 6
Total € 219

A little up from the €182 I spent on accommodation in August.


Freighter booking (Sri Lanka to Malaysia) € 976
3 months of World Nomads travel insurance € 174
Vaccinations € 145
Train ticket from Gorakhpur to Chennai € 53
3-month Indian visa € 35
1-month Sri Lankan visa € 16
Autos in Chennai € 7
Bus from Kathmandu to the Indian border € 5
Passport photos € 5
Currency exchange fee € 3
Taxis in Kathmandu € 2
Taxi to Gorakhpur train station € 2
Local bus trips in Chennai € 2
Bus from Nepal-India border to Gorakhpur € 1
Total € 1,426

Ouch! Way way way up from the €150 I spent on travel last month. Booking passage aboard that cargo ship from Sri Lanka to Malaysia was the big killer, and as you’ll see further down there were other associated costs that made the whole thing even more expensive.

Business Expenses

GoDaddy web hosting + domain renewals € 161
Project Shwatantra € 61
AWeber email marketing € 61
Web design outsourcing € 47
Tata Photon (USB Internet connection) € 22
Post Affiliate Pro (for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription) € 16
Ecwid shopping cart (for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription) € 14
ProXPN VPN € 8
Internet cafes / wifi charges € 5
Socialoomph.com (monthly subscription) € 3
Total € 398

Up from €268 last month. The GoDaddy payment was for two years, so I won’t have to worry about that again for a while. Needed the VPN software to connect to a site that was blocked in India. Other notes…

Project Shwatantra
This was me teaching a couple of Nepalese guys web design and paying them for helping me out on various projects. The project has officially ended now that I’ve left Nepal, though I’m still outsourcing some work to the guys.

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 One Girl € 100
Project Shwatantra bonuses € 27
Food for street kids in Kathmandu € 3
Tips for porters at Pandian Hotel in Chennai € 1
Total € 131

Down from the €221 I donated last month, but I’m still on track to donate ten percent of my total income this year.

Miscellaneous Expenses

FedEx shipping charges for new Kindle € 106
New Kindle and case € 101
PayPal fees for freighter booking € 71
Fee for international money transfer € 52
Doctor check up € 49
Customs charge for Kindle € 40
Album: The Essential Bob Dylan € 10
Laundry (several loads) € 10
AIB quarterly banking fee € 7
Gym sessions € 7
Printing, scanning, photocopying € 5
Subscription to Raam Dev’s Journal € 5
Chase credit card foreign transaction fee € 5
Book: Amsterdam € 4
Book: Little Princes € 4
Toiletries € 4
Postcard plan for Project Gonzo € 4
Chase credit card payment protector fee € 3
Mobile phone credit € 3
Pants stitching € 3
New socks € 3
Laundry detergent € 1
Sleeping bag rental for trekking € 1
Sleeping pills € 1
Total € 499

Up from €337 in August, which means that, apart from donations, I spent more in every category this month compared to last.

Some notes on the above…

New Kindle
This proved expensive. I broke my old Kindle so I went ahead and ordered a new one from Amazon.com and had it delivered to a friend’s address in the US. He then sent it along to a Couchsurfer in India via FedEx, and I picked it up while in Chennai. Unfortunately, the FedEx charge and the customs fee meant that instead of paying €101 for my Kindle, it ended up costing me €247. Nothing I could really do about the FedEx charge, but I could have avoided the customs fee if I’d thought to tell my buddy in the US to mark the package as a gift. Ah well, I still love my Kindle 🙂

Total cost for that freighter trip
Taking into account the health screening and vaccinations required by the shipping company, PayPal fees for the booking, and the printing/scanning of all the documentation they requested, that freighter trip actually ended up costing me something like €1,150. Yeah, not cheap. And I’ve had to pay extra since the end of September to rebook for a later date since I’m having difficulty finding a way to Sri Lanka without flying.

Expense Summary

Food and Drink € 299
Housing and Utilities € 219
Travel € 1,426
Business Expenses € 398
Gifts and Donations € 131
Miscellaneous expenses € 499
Total Expenses € 2,972

Almost double the €1,523 I spent in August, but it’s about what I expected. I knew I’d have to spend a good chunk of money trying to get from Nepal to SE Asia. Of course I could just book a cheap flight, but that would be just too easy 🙂

September Income

Away from the minuses and on to the pluses…

Freelance web design € 986
Reader donations (muchas gracias!) € 171
$50 Blogs € 154
Rewards credit from Chase credit card € 39
Web design referral bonus € 39
Invisible Shoes affiliate payment € 19
How To Live A Life Of Travel affiliate payment € 12
Amazon.com affiliate payment € 12
Total Income € 1,432

August saw me bring in a personal best of €2,041, and a few weeks back I announced my goal to start earning €3k per month. I fell well short of both marks in September.

Where that leaves me

I had €3,641 to my name at the end of August. After applying the most recent exchange rates (I have accounts in both Dollars and Euros), that had decreased slightly to €3,608. Taking into account all my September income and expenditure, my total bank and cash balances now work out to €2,142.

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
  • €2,116 overall

Outlook for October

Last month the outlook was bleak, but this month I’m more optimistic. No big expenses that I can foresee, and I’ve been working my ass off on several projects that I expect will see me good financially. If everything goes to plan, I’m thinking October could be the first month since quitting my day job where I come out €1k or more in the green. Fingers crossed!

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.