At the end of every month, I publish a financial report stating my income and expenses for that month. I do this to help show what it’s like living the lifestyle of a digital nomad and to keep myself accountable for my spending. If these reports don't interest you, you can safely read the first and last sections and skip the rest.
The sun warmed my skin and the wind challenged my face. My feet pedaled at a leisurely pace as I looked around: metal boxes with rubber wheels transporting seemingly lifeless figures.
The weight from the bag on my back -- filled with food from the supermarket -- seemed to tug me back to reality, reminding me of the moment and pulling me into the present. Everything felt so raw, so authentic. A sense of awareness permeated every passing moment.
It was my first day exploring the neighborhood in Florida where I will be living for at least the next month. My roommate let me borrow his bicycle to get around and I had gone out to buy groceries at the supermarket.
Never before had I used a bicycle to transport groceries. For my entire life, groceries purchased at the supermarket were always transported using a vehicle, a lifeless hunk of metal on wheels that assisted us in movement, taking away a piece of reality.
Is that why we so often feel disconnected from the moment? Have the machines and routines that make up our daily lives ripped away our connection to the present?
As the following report will reflect, I spent most of March bouncing between places, riding machines with wings and wheels, watching machines with rockets and boosters, and otherwise not being very mindful of the present.
Using my feet for transportation and spending a lot more time in one place, my lifestyle for the month of April will be much different as I settle into a new apartment in Florida. I'm looking forward to a less machine-dependent lifestyle and a more mindful existence. I'm looking forward to more living.
At the beginning of the month, I shared a house in Florida with several friends who were there for the NASA Tweetup. When they left, I decided to stay for an extra 10 days to watch the Space Shuttle Endeavor roll out to the launch pad and see an Atlas 5 and Delta 4 rocket launch. I was fortunate enough to have my new friend Chris offer me a place to crash while I was here.
I spent about two weeks at my parents house when I got back from Florida and instead of paying rent I helped them out with a few house bills. At the end of March, I flew back down to Florida and now I'm renting a room in my friend Chris' house for the month of April.
Food expenses this month are the highest they've been all year. That is largely due to all the socializing and eating out I did with my house members during the NASA Tweetup. Our house did some grocery shopping, but we definitely ate more meals in restaurants.
The "cafes" category only contains expenses incurred while sitting in a cafe using my laptop and the groceries are a combination of shared expenses during the NASA Tweetup and food shopping I did while working at the office in Boston.
For the month of April, I'm setting my budget at $250. Now that I'm renting an apartment and have access to a kitchen, preparing my own meals will be easy.
I was in Florida at the beginning of the month for the completion of the STS-133 NASA Tweetup and the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery. Several members of the house I was staying in split a minivan rental to save on car costs (expensed last month) but when everyone left and I decided to stay longer, I needed to rent my own car.
Changing my return flight at the last minute so that I could stay and watch the roll out of Space Shuttle Endeavor meant paying almost a hundred dollars more for the ticket. But it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so a no-brainer as far as I was concerned.
Once I was back in Boston, I took public transportation (train and subway) to and from Boston and my parents house. When you look at the cost to distance traveled ratio, it's amazing how expensive public transportation can be.
The auto gas expense is a combination of the 10-day rental in Florida and borrowing my parents car to run errands. Car expenses can add up really fast: I spent $570 between the auto rental in Florida, the auto gas for the rental and my parents car, and parking meters, parking tickets, and tolls (see Other Expenses below).
I also try to track the number of miles I traveled for free, through friends and family giving me rides. By subtracting the expensed distances from the total distance traveled, we're left with 165 "free miles".
For the month of April, I will be using my feet and my roommates beach cruiser bicycle to get around.
I always try to keep the Other Expenses category to a minimum, but this month a lot of little things added up rather quickly.
When I rented a car in Florida, I needed to stop at an Internet cafe to print out proof of a return flight so that the rental car agency would allow me to use a debit card.
Late in the month I decided to buy a travel charger for my camera to reduce the weight in my bag and eliminate wires. I also picked up a remote shutter to use for when I watch the next shuttle launch.
When I got back from Florida, my old boss bought everyone at the company skiing tickets and he invited me along. I sold my snowboard last year, so I needed to rent one for $20.
I received the parking ticket in Florida when I went down to the beach for 30 minutes. Ironically, I had a dozen quarters sitting in the cup holder. Lesson learned.
I accidentally left behind my headphones when I returned the rental car. After going through my backpack a dozen times, I picked up the cheapest pair of Sony earbuds I could find at the airport. It was an impulse purchase and definitely unnecessary, as they turned out to be very uncomfortable and I later ordered a new pair of Apple earbuds from China for $3.
The dentist appointment was a huge expense this month but I'm really happy with my dentist and I'm hesitant to switch solely based on cost. I'd rather just work harder at taking care of my teeth!
Overall, March has been the most expensive month this year. I spent $290.20 more on housing, $95.07 more on food, and $634.71 more on travel than I did in February. Other expenses is the only category that was less, with a difference of $176.40. Housing would have been similar to February, except that I didn't help my parents with the bills that month.
At the start of the year I made a note to remind myself that my spending throughout this year should reflect a focus on two things: travel and fitness. I'm happy the biggest increase in expenses this month came from travel and not in anything unrelated to my goals.
For the month of April, I will be aiming to keep my total expenses under $1,000.
While my income was lower this month than last, I worked on a greater number of small projects with several new clients. The big projects that I was doing for my previous job are largely complete, so moving forward I will be relying more heavily on an increase in smaller projects.
The smaller projects in March included several blog migrations from WordPress.com to self-hosted domains using WordPress.org. I've also had a few requests for making adjustments to WordPress themes and enhancing WordPress security.
If I can help you with any WordPress-related work, please contact me.
Towards the end of the month I sold a hiking backpack for $75 that had been sitting at my parents house.
As I mentioned briefly at the beginning of this post, I've decided to move to Florida for the month of April so that I can be here to watch the Space Shuttle Endeavor launch. It very well could be the last launch of the shuttle program (NASA may not have enough funding for the launch in July).
While I'm here, I will be living as frugally as possible, using a bicycle for transportation, and spending a lot of time working from my new apartment. I will also be heavily focused on fitness and I've already begun running every day (you can follow my runs on RunKeeper).
Happy that you’re running, Raam! I’m doing a 14-mile shirtless beach run tomorrow – supposed to be 82-degrees! Peace and Love!
That sounds awesome, Ricky! Is this for an event or just a long training day? 😉
Just a long training day. I’ve moved my miles up to 60 a week, so I put in a couple of long runs, then I can go with some shorter ones. You should have good running weather in Florida – can work on that tan! Loving the blog posts as always – you really inspire me and help me to keep in touch with what’s what!
That’s awesome… you’re way ahead of me; I’ll probably make 20 miles this week! I’ve got to let my feet, ankles, and knees adjust to running in the huaraches, but I’ll be slowly increasing my miles over the next few months. I’m absolutely loving running here in Florida with all the sun and wind! 🙂
Can you highlight the specific expenses you can deduct as business expenses from doing business online? That would be helpful as I’m doing my taxes now pro forma.
I’m not sure what expenses can be deducted from taxes. Last year was the first year I did my own taxes (prior to that I was using a tax accountant because my taxes were a lot more complicated with investment properties and then the bankruptcy) and since I made so little money in 2010, I didn’t worry about “getting it right”. I’d suggest consulting a tax professional or doing a lot of research on Google.
BTW Raam, why not advertise?
At the Yakezie Network, we leverage our relationships to help introduce new ad opportunities with each other. It becomes very easy as a result to make an extra thousand a month in ad rev.
I’ve already decided not to monetize my blog, regardless of how much money I could earn. Doing so would go against the reason I write here. I’m working on building a separate business, SustainableGuides.com, where I will focus on providing products for value exchange.
Hi Ramdev, forgot to ask… given March expenses is greater than income, I assume you used your savings to make up the difference?
May I ask how much you have saved and what is your target savings?
The difference came from income from previous months this year when my expenses were lower. I actually have no savings at the moment and I’m living month-to-month on a shoestring as I work on building a sustainable income stream. Meanwhile, I’m taking on as much freelance work as I can find (web development, WordPress consulting) to cover my living expenses while also focusing on lowering my expenses as much as possible.
Earlier this year I had planned to move somewhere inexpensive like India but I decided to spend the past few months in the United States so that I could be here to watch the last three space shuttle launches. It has certainly been a challenge to live frugally!
Well, when our backs are against the wall, we do everything to survive and thrive!
It’s one of the main reasons why I flush 90% of my money out of my bank account, so I can get the feeling of having nothing all the time. It keeps me honest!
I spent many years going back and forth in buses with my children doing groceries. Only a few times did I cycle with a backpack of food which never sits like my hiking pack on my back and I always end up squashing some of the fruits into juice in the pack.
On the weekend I went for a hour cycle with one of my children that finished with a cold water sea swim and then after a rest back on the bike. Fortunately, I had no groceries on my back this time!
I mentioned before I would start a weekly posting of how to save money on the cost of organic food and that has happened. So far I have posted I believe 6 articles. I have linked the articles together. If any of your readers are interested they start with
Enjoy a wonderful day,
The bag was definitely tough to balance on my bag with all the food inside, but I thought it made for good exercise. 🙂
By the way Raam,
Great photo of you on the bike with groceries!
Thanks! That was a fun photo to get.
I have to hand it to you for publishing your cash flow – good or bad. At least you know where you stand. I’m not so sure I could do as you do. Guess I take the out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach. Although I really do know where I stand in my mind – I need to make it more blatant and stick it in my face like you do. My hats off to you.
Thanks, Radman. Out-of-sight, out-of-mind definitely makes recognizing where our money is going a lot tougher! I love tracking my expenses on a daily basis. When I don’t spend a penny the entire day, it actually feels like I didn’t spend anything.
What website did you use to order your earbuds from China?
Btw, kudos to publishing your finances. I’ve been keeping an excel workbook for the past 1.5 years and it’s helped heaps with my budgeting.
I bought them on eBay using a Buy-It-Now transaction. Here’s the listing (there are more available for sale). I was mistaken on the price… it was $3.80 for shipping and $12.80 for the earbuds, but either way I’m extremely satisfied. I received them in just under a week.
I loved your beautiful description of riding the bike and being in the present moment… “A sense of awareness permeated every passing moment.” What an enticement!
I’ve been riding my bike almost every day since I moved to Florida and every single time I experience that same sense of awareness. Riding by small patches of grass with flowering plants blowing in the breeze, I take a deep breath and feel so grateful to be alive!
First of all, thank you for such an inspirational blog and videos. In a very strange way, I came across your videos on youtube a few months ago. I have been watching them ever since – especially the one where you talk about the contrasts and human mind after returning from India. I just returned from India this week. I go there every year and spend a few weeks exposing myself to raw experiences, harsh life style reminding me of my roots and where I came from. It also helps me put things in context and stop worrying about every little thing in life. Well, as you can see – it is not really about India. It is all about staying in touch with reality and truth.
I truly enjoy reading your posts on sustainable simple living. Having grown up in a lower middle class in India, I can totally understand how little one needs to live a decent life. I wish you all the best as I watch your journey with lots of admiration, astonishment and respect.
Thank you for the kind words.
I love what you said about the action of putting things in context not being about India or travel, but rather about staying in touch with reality and truth. Raw experiences and stepping outside of our boundaries opens our lives to reality; it forces us to to cut to our core and see the world for what it really is. That’s such a freeing experience!
WOW Raam this is awesome!… Parking ticket.. haha 😛
I just recently have started on an initiative to pay more attention to my finances. I’ve been using Mint.com to help me categorize although I’m a huge excel nerd and have started making some badass Pivot Charts to help me as well haha.
It’s great you’re so organized with this and really pay attention to it.. kind of sad what happens to many people who don’t look at it and just rely on their plastic card until its too late :/
So, on a final note, thank you for showing me how indepth I can get with this and how helpful it can be! In terms of achieving my travel goals in 6 months and getting a new computer to replace my dinosaur, I need to start getting on track!
– Lauren 🙂
Thanks, Lauren! 🙂
Mint.com is nice and I used that for a few years. However, I’ve discovered that it’s so much easier to be detailed when I track expenses as-they-happen instead of days-after-the-fact. With Mint.com, tracking cash expenses is a lot more difficult too (you need to recall what you spent the cash on).
I just make sure that not one day passes where I haven’t updated my Google Docs spreadsheet with the expenses for that day (usually I just add them using my iPhone right after I buy something). At the end of the month, I look through my bank account and see if there was anything automatic that came out without my noting it down (usually there is nothing).
I follow another digital nomad who posts her revenues and expenses each month and I love them! It really goes to show that the lifestyle is possible. Thanks for sharing. What are your travel plans for the summer?
Who’s the other digital nomad? I love reading expense reports and seeing how others live! 🙂
My travel style is very fluid and I rarely have anything set in stone more than a month or two out. Right now it looks like I’ll be in Florida for May, Mexico for June/July, and then possibly Costa Rica after that. How about you?
Kirsty at NerdyNomad.com. Check her posts out- they’re great and pretty detailed. She doesn’t go into personal expenses but talks about her expenses related to her sites. Loads of info.
I completely understand keeping your travel plans fluid. I’ll be in South Africa for 2 months for a short job and then doing a US road trip for 7 weeks. After that? Well who knows 🙂
That’s the way to live! 🙂
Thank you for the NerdyNomad.com link!
quick question raam. do you have like an app you use to track your expenses?
The only thing I use to track my expenses is a Google Docs Spreadsheet. I wrote about the tracking process in the previous financial report: https://raamdev.com/wordpress/nomad-financial-report-for-february-2011 (see the Expense Summary section).
I find that the key is to track daily… never letting a day go by without updating the expenses.
It looks like you double counted the $281 Dental expense from last month. Interesting way of keep tabs on expenses. I applaud your transparency!
I’m glad you enjoy the reports, Henry! I went back and checked — that wasn’t a double dental expense: I actually had two separate appointments, both of which cost $281 (I believe both were for cavities)!