Income and Expenses Report: March 2020 - Quarantined in Sri Lanka

I am grateful everyday that we live in an age where even during a worldwide pandemic and recession that I am able to work online and continue living and building even while stuck in quarantine here in Sri Lanka. The first half of the month started amazingly, I was surfing every day, going on side trips around the country every weekend, and out to dinner in neighboring towns every night. I along with the rest of the island have now been in quarantine for twelve days. Luckily there's decent wifi here, and I've had plenty of free time to work, exercise at home, as well as watch the entire seasons of Tiger King and Love is blind on Netflix.

But all joking aside, the great thing about working online while in mandatory stay at home quarantine is having super low expenses while still being able to work and earn money online. To make things even cheaper, I've been sharing an apartment, taxis and other costs of living with the girl who came with me from Chiang Mai, Daniela, and being German and insisting on paying her fair share, it's cut my monthly expenses in half for April. Things will be more now that we've split and she's left back  home to Germany, but it's been awesome having her here during this first month. Keep reading for this month's travel, income, expenses, fitness, and goals report.

Watch the Video

Here's the video version of this month's income and expenses report. Watch it for all the details, and backstory, then read the blog post for the numbers and breakdowns. 

Where I Traveled

No where. I've been stuck in quarantine at home this month. But actually even though it feels like a century ago, at the start of the month I was actually as free as a bird here in Sri Lanka. Every weekday we'd go for a surf here in Weligama, Beach and on weekends we'd plan a group trip with the other digital nomads in town to different parts of the island. The last trip we went on was to the quaint mountain town of Ella which reminded me of a mix between Pai in Thailand and Ubud in Bali. There are nature hikes all around the town to different viewpoints, tea plantations, waterfalls, and the famous Nine Arches Bridge where it's a must to take a photo of the train as it crosses it.

Since there were 7 of us, we were able to book a van through Eco Taxi Ella from Weligama to Ella for 14,500 LKR ($77.22) and split the costs. We all stayed at a place called Holiday Homes Ella for $56.16 in total for 3 nights and really loved it. All the hikes and activities there were free, which means that the entire 4 day trip with private drivers round trip ended up being less than $60 per person. The next weekend we went to visit a local Snake Farm which actually isn't a farm at all but some guy who gets called whenever a snake wanders into a villager's house. Instead of killing the snake, this guy comes over, catches it, then brings it back to his house to keep there until he makes his monthly trip deep into the jungle to release them back into the wild.

The Sri Lanka Nomad Crew in Ella

On top of the Nine Arches Bridge

At the Sri Lankan Snake Farm

Life in Weligama

It's been a really nice routine surfing and coworking weekdays in Weligama then traveling around Sri Lanka on weekends, but it all came to an end March 20th when the country issued an island wide mandatory curfew. Unlike the U.S. and many other countries where shelter in place has meant you can still go to the grocery store, or go for a walk, here we've had to stay locked in our homes most days. It's a strange system as every 3 days so far they have been letting us out from 6am-2pm which has been enough time to grocery shop, and even go for a walk and surf. The Sri Lankan government has also automatically extended everyone's visa until May 12th, 2020 which has been a blessing. It makes it really easy to stay here and wait out the global pandemic without being forced to move or do a visa run.

My plan is to stay here until everything clears up in Europe or Ukraine where I was actually supposed to be flying to today. Daniela took the last flight out of Sri Lanka back home to Germany last night to be with her parents which I supported and understood. I'm now one of the last digital nomads from the original crew who hasn't traveled ahead or moved on and am also the only one living in the entire building I'm staying in. It's kind of strange to say this, and i'll probably regret it in a week out of boredom or insanity, but I'm actually looking forward to self-isolating for a while. It's the only way I can get myself to take the time to study languages, each day, and I think it'll cause me to be more productive as well.

Being forced to stay home for 3-4 days at a time is a bit numbing but luckily there are three floors to my building including a workout area, kitchen and living room to keep me from going insane. The only thing I'm missing is a TV, but luckily I have my laptop and iPhone, both of which i'm scared to death of accidently dropping or otherwise breaking right now. The good news is that on my days off, twice a week, I'm able to live a relatively normal life, walk on the beach and even go surfing which has been incredible. Here's a video that I filmed literally the day before quarantine started which shows what daily life in Weligama was like before curfew.

Expenses for March

The best news is that being forced to stay home saves a ton of money. Not that going out in Sri Lanka was expensive or anything, but not being able to take weekend trips or go anywhere has ended up costing me even less than expected. If you're ever curious why I keep my expenses down so low even when I'm earning a lot of money, it's because of three main reasons. The first is that as of 3 years ago, I helped my parents retire and have been paying their property tax every year as well as sending them an extra $1,000 a month to help cover their costs of living. Secondly I'm trying to grow my own networth and put more money into investments so I can retire myself one day and to prepare for any thing that may come up. And lastly, I honestly don't enjoy wasting money and spending on things I don't need anymore. For a while when I was living in LA I thought I needed a fancy car, house and clothes to be cool and to be somebody. Then I thought I needed to stay in nice hotels, luxury apartments or rent villas to enjoy life and be somebody.

I'm really fortunate that at least since a few years ago, I've become truly content with my relatively simple lifestyle and with minimalist. I still enjoy being able to go to a nice restaurant once in a while, stay a nice place if the other options are terrible, or to be able to buy the latest iphone every couple of years. But I no longer need to top of the line model each year when it comes out just to show it off, nor do I need all the luxuries that I used to think were necessary. Sure I'd rather be staying at the Marriott in Weligama right now and have a big 50" TV instead of watching Netflix on my laptop. But I'm also 100% content right now knowing that even though it would be a nice to have, i'm okay without it. But it's also really nice to know that in case I need to stay there, even for the entire month, I could technically afford it.

It's not something I would do every single month or for no reason, but when things with COVID-19 started getting uncertain here in Sri Lanka last week and we weren't sure if we would get kicked out of out apartment as a lot of places were closed or afraid of foreigners, moving into the Marriott for $110 a night was actually my backup plan. Having that option is why it was such a relief saving up my first $30,000 and fulfilling the Gold Watch Challenge, as ever since then, I knew I could weather any storm and get through anything. That's why I keep my budget low and love going to places that have low costs of living. Here's what I spent for the month, the first half was normal, and the second half since curfew kicked in eliminated a lot of the costs such as taxis, smoothie bowls and other nice to haves that were no longer available.

Rent: 1 Month, Beachfront Apartment: $500 ($250 each)
Weekly Room Cleaning: $0 included
SIM Card: 20GB of 4G data: $7.19 (1 month)
Electric/Water/Utilities: $0 (included)
Wifi: $5 (extra 10gb of dedicated wifi)
Breakfast: Local Egg Roti (17 cents)
Lunch: Rice and Curry (.66 cents for Vegetarian/$1.27 for chicken)
Coconuts: 39-89 cents (street vs. cafe)
Bananas/Mangos/Watermelon/Papaya: $1-2 a kilo. (2.2lbs)
Smoothie Bowls: $4.98 (hipster cafes)
Coffee: $2.76 (hipster cafes)
Bottled Water: 39 cents (1.5L)
Dinner: $2.21 (vegetarian) or $3.32 (chicken/fish/beef)
Tuk-Tuks Local: 55 cents (100 lkr)
Tuk-Tuks to Mirissa or Midigama: $1.66 (300 lkr)
Laundry Service: $1.94 per kilo
Surfing: $1.38 per hour surf board rental
Trip to Ella: $58

Total Expenses for March: $562.23

*decrease from $871.85 last month here in Weligama. 

Daniela's expenses spreadsheet for March 2020

Income for March

The best thing about working online has been being able to continue earning money even while 1/3 of Americans have now lost their jobs due to the economy shutting down. I personally know a lot of friends back home that have been furloughed which basically means being forced to take an unpaid leave of absence by their company. I'm really glad that most of my friends were financially savvy enough to get them through the crisis, even though less than 50% of Americans have 3-6 months of savings to fall back on. A lot of people have found it hard to earn enough or to save money, but with the F.I.R.E. movement principles, entrepreneurship, online business and location arbitrage all being possibilities I'm really glad that I had taken the path I did.

It's ironic that people who had steady jobs back home always used stability and certainty of getting a steady paycheck as their reason for not to try to start an online business, and now many of those same jobs have been cut. The only good thing that has come out of this crisis is that many companies have been forced to start allowing employees to work remotely, which may have made it that much easier to become a digital nomad and work online for everyone. Both as an affiliate but also a customer, it's been really amazing this month having all the deals company's have put out during this month including 33 cent Wordpress Hosting through Siteground and also the extended 90 day free trial of Shopify. Deals like this have made it really easy for people who have suddenly found themselves with a lot of free time to start the online business, ecommerce store or website they've always thought about but never had the time to get it going.

So weather you want to finally go through Anton's Dropshipping course or go through my Income Boss course, now there's really no excuses not to. I'm super thankful and fortunate that even though a few of my income streams have slowed down a bit, others have stepped up and continued to thrive. Even my investment accounts are in a strange place, as on paper I've lost over $120,000 in total net worth this month, but in reality I've made over $9,357 this month including the $1,007 in dividends that I got. If you want to learn more, watch the video below or listen to Ep 139 of the Invest Like a Boss Podcast for more info on investing.

Income for March: $9,357.02

*decrease from $14,199.59 last month.

My Vanguard Investments

Goals and Thoughts

My original plan for March was to enjoy a bit more of Sri Lanka my last month here while surfing five days a week both for exercise as well as to get better at the sport. The first half of the month had me on track as I had a great routine in place. I'd work for a few hours on my balcony in the morning, go for a midday surf, do a few sets of pullups at the park, come back for lunch, then do a bit of creative work such as record podcasts, edit videos, or other things I enjoyed online before going out to dinner with friends. If you read my monthly report from Feb 2020 you'll know that it was already my second month in Sri Lanka and it was basically a continuation of a great routine I had started the month prior. The reason why I really like staying in each place for a minimum of 2 months is because it allows you to get into a productive and healthy routine. Also the second and third months almost always end up costing less as you've figured things out, learned the local prices and ways to do things and you naturally do less touristy activities and more things locals do. 

Fitness wise I've been able to keep up on my goals of exercising 5+ days a week both BC (Before COVID) and AC (After COVID) by going surfing a few days a week, doing pull ups whenever I can, and now working out from home six days a week during curfew. Diet wise Sri Lankan food is very carb heavy with the primary meals being either roti based or rice and dal lentils. Because of that I've actually not lost any weight this month as I tend to stay big whenever I eat a lot of carbs, even while exercising a lot. It'd be easier to surf and I could ride a smaller board if I lost some weight, but to be honest, I don't see that happening during quarantine as I'm still eating rice and lentils everyday and looking forward to meals is one of the few things keeping me sane during lockdown. 

Part of me feels like i'm trapped in prison, not being able to go outside for days at a time, and having the whole world shut its borders. A side of me is disappointed as I've lost my freedom to move around, to travel, board a plane and be with friends. But at the same time, I feel grateful everyday for my health, being able to work and earn money online, and not having to stress about a lost job, or not being able to pay a high mortgage or rent payment. I'm so glad that I have zero debt, a lot of cash in savings, and a plan to get through the crisis on top. All of the sacrifices I've made over the past few years have helped prepare me for the tough times ahead, and I sincerely hope that this post as well as anything else I can teach or share can help others as well. 

Added to Savings: $7,794.79

*difference between total earned and saved this month. 

Taken in Ella, Sri Lanka

With love from Sri Lanka,

Johnny FD

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Income Report 3788763518480843666

Post a Comment

  1. What I do, is I have an old iPhone 5s (the oldest phone with a lightning port) that I set up and installed the basic apps (fb, ig, email, etc) so that if I lost my main phone (iphone 11), I can right away be up and running and not have to scramble for finding a backup somewhere in the middle of nowhere. This worked well when I dropped my main phone in a cenote in Cancun.

    On that same note, I have an older Macbook Air 11 2011 (oldest with the magnetic power plug) for the same reason. Sure, added weight but if we live off our backpacks, it's assurance for me to be always able to be up and running right away.

    1. I've actually thought about traveling with a cheap Chromebook for that exact reason, also to be able to lend out to friends if they ever needed it.

      The laptop is a bit heavy though, and i'm almost always in a city where I can just buy another iPhone and use iTunes to restore it. But it might not be a bad idea, especially since I can use the iPhone as a 2nd camera.

  2. Hello Mr. Johnny,
    I'm Sanjaya from colombo, Sri Lanka. I'm really interested in your videos. I have watched almost all of them. Also I'm interested in the online businesses you have mentioned. Could you please send me more details regarding them as I'm also looking forward to start a online business.

    1. Hey Sanjaya, I'm glad you enjoyed the blog. This is a good article on how to start an online business even on a budget:


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