Aug 2018: Travel and Income Report from Odessa and Los Angeles!

This was the first time in almost three years since I've been writing my monthly income reports that I'm this late and almost considered skipping it all together. Honestly for the past year or so I haven't been that focused on how much money I make, or even tracking my expenses as I'm focused on building up bigger long term projects like bringing the Nomad Summit to the USA even though I knew it would be a ton of work and might not make any money the first year. However, I keep getting messages from people telling me how much my monthly reports inspire them to keep going and how grateful they are that someone out there is being as transparent as I am showing real numbers. It's funny that I just talked about this over dinner with a friend a few days ago in Las Vegas, someone who I assume is super rich as she's always flying first or business class everywhere and staying in 5 star hotels. She said that she doesn't want to come across as bragging ever so she never talks about or shares numbers, and just shows the lifestyle instead.

This sparked a conversation as I mentioned that I wished everyone would just share their numbers as without it, I always either assume someone has or makes way more than I thought, or way less. It's honestly really difficult to tell. With her I'd be willing to bet it's a lot as she didn't even blink an eye paying $57.99 to join as us at the Wynn Buffet to to say hi and catch up, even though she had just got back from a labor day BBQ and had eaten already and only had room for dessert. But even then, I have no idea if she makes $10,000 a month or $100,000. Or if it's every month, sometimes, or even if it's half of that and she just lives above her means as many people do. That's why I will continue to share my income and expense reports as I really wish others will start doing the same, and so everyone following along in the journey of entrepreneurship as a location independent digital nomad can have a realistic expectation of how much it actually costs and what people are actually earning in net profit each and every month compared to what they are spending. But as a spoiler, this month's expenses are going to be pretty high as California and Vegas is way more expensive than Chiang Mai or even Odessa, Ukraine.

August Travel Updates

It was always a funny conversation when I told people in Ukraine that my time in Odessa was ending soon and I was sad I was leaving for California. In their minds they were so excited at the chance to go to LA and SF, but for me, I was dreading the long flight home. I'd mention to them that Odessa in the Summer was just as nice as anywhere, including California but they wouldn't believe me. They dream of what they've seen on TV, where everyone is happy, healthy, worry free, and wealthy. I'd mention that that Ocean in Odessa is similar to the one in Southern California and they'd immediately laugh and say, "We don't have an Ocean, this is just a sea."

Honestly, I still don't know the difference, but clearly, in their minds at least, there's a huge one. Landing at LAX after my grueling 15 hour flight from Odessa Airport, through Warsaw and finally to LA, I was glad to be back. The flight itself although long wasn't actually that bad. LOT which is Polish airlines sets up a cart with unlimited free water, soft drinks and snacks during the flight which is a really nice perk and an excuse to get up and walk around a bit to stretch your legs. It was my first time in years flying 10+ hours internationally in economy, but I couldn't justify paying for business class out of pocket.

I used to rack up about half a million points a year from running my dropshipping stores through my travel rewards cards, but now that I've sold those businesses, I'm stuck paying for flights in cash. Luckily this flight was during the day, so I stayed up and watched 3 movies, took a short nap, and saved $3,000 not flying business class, easiest money I've ever made. My time in LA was actually really nice. I stayed with my friend Austin, drove around in his new Tesla Model 3, tried out the new self driving autopilot, flew around on electric bird scooters that I unlocked with my phone's app, got a new 6 month multiple entry tourist visa for Thailand, ate at some great restaurants, walked around Melrose and drank at some cool bars, all before heading over to Las Vegas to do even more of the same.

Honestly, I'd be lying if I said Southern California isn't a great place. Coming back again after another year of traveling I realize how amazing advancements, entrepreneurship and freedom is here compared to the rest of the world especially when it comes to personal freedom, the you can do it attitude and startups. The easiest example is the fact that overnight startup companies like Bird dropped thousands of electric scooters all over the city without asking for prior permission, only to deal with regulation afterwards instead of the other way around.

Bird Scooter
Riding around on a Bird Electric Scooter in LA

Grabbing Coffees and Walking Dogs

Squading Around Fairfax Village

Dozens in Line to Shop and Buy

Expenses and Costs of Living

It's a bit strange as it seems like no one in LA actually works. Walking around the middle of the day in the middle of the workweek, people are carrying around yoga mats, walking their dogs, having conversations over coffee, and walking around with shopping bags. When you think of the word village in places like Ukraine, it's something really different than the trendy neighborhoods like Atwater Village or the new shopping area of Fairfax Village in LA.

Going out to eat somehow went from being reasonably overpriced at $15-$20 per meal, to seeing $50 charges on my credit card for going out to eat pretty much anywhere after tax and tip, including places like sandwiches at Canter's Deli for lunch or a basic dinner and a drink at Mercado Mexican. Cocktails at noname bar were $18 each, and a plate of nachos at the farmer's market ended up costing me $22. It's crazy, but the most insane part of it is that none of my friends even batted an eyelid at the check. Everyone is just so used to renting costing $2,000 a month, houses costing over $1 million dollars, and dinner or drinks costing $50 that it's just become normal.

Coming from spending two months in Ukraine and the winter in Thailand where food, drinks, and Uber rides can all be had for $2, it was a huge sticker shock. The only thing that made my trip bearable in expenses was the fact that I have good friends who are kind enough for me to have a place for me to stay. Here is what I spend this month from August 1st-31st in Odessa, Ukraine then in Los Angeles and Orange County, California.

Airbnb in Odessa - $540 (3 weeks)
Food in Odessa - $200 (average meal $10)
Drinks in Odessa - $80 ($10 -$30 bottles of champagne)
Coworking Space - $29 (Odessa for Nomads)
Gym in Odessa - $19
Flight to LAX - $615.20
Massages and Spa - $80
Barber and Haircuts - $15
Uber and Taxi - $45 (average rides $2-3)
Food and Drinks in LA - $300 (average meal $20-$50)
Uber and Lyft in LA - $50 (average ride $20)
Bus to Las Vegas - $5

Total Expenses - $1,948 +/-
+$1,000 to my parents
= Net Expenses $2,948 +/-

This entire flight of beers (all 5) was $2.88

Holding a $10 bottle of champagne at a Beach Club 

Online Income for August

Being back in LA, I realize how huge of a benefit it is to be able to work online and be location independent. Going out to eat everyday and living in Southern California is expensive, and even though I have plenty of friends who do it, many are living at or above their means with little or no savings. It's difficult to not feel like you need to keep up with the Kardashians or even just your neighbor or friends you meet. On one hand, I realize how amazing Southern California actually is. We have great weather year round, really nice beaches, great food, drinks, nightlife, everything. However, it all comes at a huge cost.

If the choice came down to being broke in Ukraine or being broke in California, I'd obviously take the latter. However, since as digital nomads we have the choice to earn US dollars while living cheaply in places like Chiang Mai or Ukraine, it really is the ideal option. The sea in Odessa might not be as nice as the ocean in Southern California, but the difference is, everyone I met in Odessa, regardless of how much or little money they earned had gone to the beach a dozen times over the summer. My friends in LA? Exactly zero.

Even though most of my friends lived within 13 miles (20km) of the beach, having to sit for an hour in traffic then pay $25 for parking usually deters them from going more than once every one or two years. While in Odessa, it's normal for people to go every weekend, especially since it's an easy 20 minute walk from the city center. When it comes down to it, if money wasn't an issue, without a doubt I'd happily live in LA. I'd take $75 Ubers four times a day to meetup friends by the beach, go to lunch downtown, my $300 a month gym, then to a cocktail party in Bel Air. Once a month I'd fly private to Las Vegas to party, to San Francisco to see family, or to Hawaii or even down to San Diego to relax. I'd be a great life. It really would.

However, everything comes at a cost, and living in California, the cost is 4 to 8 times higher than other similar places in the world. I'm not going to lie to you or to myself and say that the beaches in Odessa are better than in Malibu, or that an $600 a month apartment in Chiang Mai is more comfortable than a $6,000 a month condo in LA because it's not. But the truth is, everything comes with a trade off, and having less financial stress, and being able to work less, save more, and have the freedom to travel makes it worth it.  As of this month, I the costs of running the Nomad Summit in Las Vegas are more than the revenue which means we're running at a loss until the last minute sales kick in, and because I've been so focused on running this event, my personal income has dropped significantly.

Total Income for August: $3,654.96

*decrease from $13,843.36 last month.

My Amazon Associates Earnings

Affiliate sales for August. More info in Income Boss

PeerStreet to the rescue with Interest Income

Earned "$4,831" on paper. $11.82 realized.

Getting paid 13% interest by Yieldstreet

Earnings from my Youtube Channel

Thoughts for August

I haven't seen my income that low in years. It's a scary feeling, a bit nerve wracking to be honest. This is the first month my net profit might actually be negative as I'm sure there were a ton of expenses like all of the things I ordered online this month to shipped to the US that I didn't include in my accounting. I also treated out a bunch of friends to meals, and have been generous going out. If you just looked at a these past 31 days as snapshot of my life and business, it'd be a failure. I barely made enough to cover my expenses, and since selling my final dropshipping store last month, I have no more eggs in the basket.

The Nomad Summit is at negative net profit, costing me more to run and pay all of the employees, their travel and hotel expenses, rent the venue, order t-shirts, banners, name tags, books, stickers, and hit the insane food and beverage minimums which are close to $100 per person. Next month I'll have to pay for videographers to film and edit the conference and start marketing the next one in hopes of making it all back. The good news is, since I'm writing this income report 6 days in the future, I already know that we actually ended out of the black after the last minute ticket and workshop sales came in. But as of August 31st, the first day of the event, we were still barely at break even.

As of this month, I can feel that I've hit rock bottom in terms of personal income growth. It may sound a bit insane, but it's kind of all part of the plan. Not that I don't wish I was still earning $200,000+ a year, but I'm okay with my income slowly dwindling down while I work on longer term projects. Launching the Nomad Summit in Vegas was a huge gamble, and even though finance wise it didn't pay off this year, being able to break even and pay my two team members and their travel is good enough as it sets the foundation for the future.

We could have hit a home run this year and made a ton of money, but we didn't. I'm just fortune to be in a position where I could self finance the endeavor and have enough money in the bank to not stress about paying bills until the event pays off. Right now I'm focused on building something that I really believe can change lives, and inspire people to make big things happen.  I'll be back in Chiang Mai next month where my expenses will drop and I'll have the time to focus once again on my own business and growing my income. Until then, fuck it. Lets be grateful for what we have, it's only money, we can always make more.

Warm Regards,

Johnny FD

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  1. If you ain't focusing on your online business, and growing, you're dying, is what I've heard. There's really no middle ground in keeping income at a nice little clip of $10 or even 20k, because 2-3 months of downturns can quickly bring that down to 2-4k which then borders could quickly dip into the $1k's.. I am almost speaking from personal experience lol. Even though I am trying different income streams (shopify, IG accounts, ecom apps) this story (and reminding me from my own income statements from even less than a year back), reminds me that I need to keep laser focus on bringing online income to $50k to 100k+/month and save up as much as I can, since we never know what the future will hold 3-4-10 years down the line when it come to online income. Capitalize on what you are making money on now, while keeping an eye out for future opportunities (which you seem to have with Nomad Summit).

    1. Hey Rio, I agree 100%. It's one of my main reasons why I sold my dropshipping stores. I knew that if I wasn't actively growing the business, they would slowly might be months or even years later, but either way, they'd be losing value. It's the same with my other income streams now. The only saving grace was that I was smart or at least diligent enough to have saved 75% of everything I earned the past few years, which now allows me to do what i'm doing today and not stress about it too much.

  2. You're still killing it Johnny. Props to you.

    1. Maybe not financially but in life, I'm enjoying the crap out of it! =D

  3. Hi Johnny,

    Congratulations on pulling off the Nomad Summit in LV, even though it didn't pay off. I'm sure it was a ton of work. I know what you mean about the sticker shock when going back to the USA. I was there almost a year ago and couldn't believe they wanted $11 for a simple sandwich at the SF airport. No one else seemed to mind. I'm sure it's even more expensive now.

    I'm from San Diego but you couldn't pay me to move back to California. It's become such a high-tax nanny state that seems hell-bent on driving away business. It's a nice place to visit once in a while and catch up with family and friends, but there are so many other options in the world to spend the majority of my time.

    1. My Sandwich at the airport ended up costing me closer to $20 after tax! And the lines were PACKED. It's like everyone just hands over their credit card without even looking at the price. Actually, the strangest thing is I noticed that board menus no longer have prices written on them and no one ever checks the price of drinks at bars before ordering. They kind of just expect it to be $18 now a days.

      I agree with the high-tax nanny state. California and San Diego is amazing, but there's no way I'm moving back here anytime soon.

  4. "This sparked a conversation as I mentioned that I wished everyone would just share their numbers as without it, I always either assume someone has or makes way more than I thought, or way less."

    Why do you care so much about how much money other people make? It's kinda sad.

    1. I care because it gives you an accurate picture of what money can buy and how the world works.

      If you see someone driving a BMW and you feel like you are failing in life, then learn they are leasing it and using their credit card to pay the lease, then you get some perspective and realize all that glitters isn't gold.

      Same goes for business advice, if someone tells you they are doing $100k revenue, that sounds great, but if you then learn they aren't making a profit, you might not want to listen to them.

      In an ideal world, it wouldn't matter, but it can be useful to know.

    2. I think the problem there is feeling like a failure because someone has more money or a better car than you. That's a pretty toxic mindset and just screams insecure.

      Same with wanting to know what others make and telling people how much you make (when its not just a classic psychology hook to get them to buy your products) - IMO it comes from a place of deep insecurity.

      Fair enough, if you're going into business with someone and it's an important thing, but as some kind of 'worth' of a person or way to evaluate them (they make more/I make more, therefore I'm/they're better) it says a lot more about the type of person with that mindset than anything else.

    3. I agree with Joe, love it or hate it, money makes the world work.

      It sounds like whoever posted under Anonymous has their own reasons for being upset about it all.

    4. Not sure where 'upset' comes from, nobody is upset. It's an observation, and one that has been around since the dawn of capitalism. I guess you (unsurprisingly) assume I would be poor and bitter about people with money showing it of, when I'm literally talking about that type of person being insecure - if you read my comment that was my whole point, and ironically you just back it up with your reply.

      We all know money makes the world go around, the difference is between how people view it.

      Similar to old and new rich - there are two types of people. Those who use money as a judge of character or success in life (e.g feeling a failure in life seeing someone with money driving a new BMW), and those who know that money is no judge of a person but allows you to live your life well.

      Same how old rich (and the 'rich' in the rich and wealthy divide) don't need to go around telling people they are rich and consider it rude to talk about money while new rich and people with money for the first time tell people how much they have, buy things to show off etc.

  5. I grew up in Los Angeles and have no reason to go back for long trips but I wouldn't mind retiring in San Diego if I didn't care about paying outrageous taxes or being stuck in traffic.

    What's the benefit of knowing how much someone makes? That would just fuel judgement, jealousy and cause a rift in the friendship. It's already horrible nowadays with the need to post your best moments on social media which inadvertently makes others feel bad about their own lives. I'm guilty of doing the same on social media until I went cold turkey.

    My friends know that we are financially secure but if they actually knew that we made over 7 figures this year and am close to hitting 8 figures net-worth, I'm pretty sure things wouldn't be the same. Of course if you have friends of the same net-worth or above then that's a different story.

    1. I agree about the outrageous taxes and traffic being the reason not to move back.

      As for financial transparency, I think there are a ton of benefits including seeing what's actually possible, having inspirations and also seeing who's business and lifestyle and advice to listen and model to and who not to.

  6. I'm back home in Australia atm and prices here are similar to the ones you quote for California. I don't mind paying because if they didn't charge that much, they wouldn't be able to afford to run a business and their staff wouldn't be getting a living wage.

    Sometimes I wonder about the whole cost of living thing, especially as digital nomadism becomes more popular. Like if eventually the CoL in countries will level out. I've never staying in a nomad hub like Chiang Mai long enough to see how that pans out. Ie. when a place becomes popular with nomads, does that mean rents go up, which means prices go up across the board? I can imagine that businesses would rather aim at expats who are willing to pay more. Even if it's a small increase on what locals would pay at first, does that start spiralling?

    Btw I hate long flights with a passion. Friends laugh at me when I say I hate flying because I travel so much but if I could take the flying part out of it (and I do where possible), I would. Actually, I hate short flights too because of all the wasted time at the airport.

    1. As a Nomad one of the things we naturally do is move from place to place to help level out the costs of living and bring jobs or knowledge along with us. Eventually prices everywhere will regress towards the mean, but as digital nomads, we can take advantage of low costs of living in places until they rise, then go somewhere else. =)

  7. First of all Johnny your effort and passion you put into the Nomad Summit in Las Vegas was astronomical. I can't thank you enough for making this happen for me by having it in the states. Being able to meet people who have been on the exact same journey as me was absolutely surreal.

    I have been reading and referring my friends to your income reports for the last two years and they have been pivotal to my success so far.

    Also you the fuckin man for helping me with calling suppliers in front of everyone at the end of the last workshop, I owe you one big time.

    Keep up the great work this will all payoff exponentially in your near future.

    See you in Chiang Mai next April! Cheers.

    1. Always happy to help Christian! Best of luck with your calls and I hope to see your success soon!

  8. Hi Johnny,
    Thanks once again for sharing, and for your openness and insights, appreciated! Looking forward to see you next month here in Chiang Mai.

    1. I'm happy to be able to share Har! See you in Chiang Mai!


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