Costs of Living, Expenses, and Income Report - Kabalana, Sri Lanka, May 2020

This has been an insane month. After 3 months of stay at home quarantine, the streets in every major city in America are now flooded with thousands of protestors, rioters and looters. Just when you thought 2020 couldn't get any weirder or more dystopian, it has, and America is literally burning to the ground as you are reading this. However, on the very same note, I've literally sat these past 7 months out, as I haven't been back to the USA since. I woke up to the local Sri Lankan guys asking me what was happening in America and I honestly had no idea. It wasn't until I was laying in a hammock scrolling through Twitter that I had even heard what was going on. I stated reading and retweeting like crazy, realizing that there is no easy solution and this isn't just about the murder of George Floyd by a police officer, but a pent up anger and injustice for decades brewing.

Protests started brewing all across America, breaking up the stay at home isolation of the past 2-3 months overnight. The peace turned into riots, the riots turned into looting, and now cities, police cars, businesses, and buildings are literally burning to the ground. All while i'm laying in a hammock half the across the world in Sri Lanka reading and watching videos about the madness in complete isolation. Black people in America really are treated unfairly, and I support and agree that Black Lives Matter, but I can tell you right now that the rioting and looting is not helping their cause and no one's going to come out on top or win from all of this. I feel bad for saying this, but by opting out of normal society, being completely location independent, owning no physical property, and having all of my businesses by completely online, I'm the one winning and coming out of this unscathed and on top even during these past 4 insane months.  I go where I am treated best, my money goes the furthest, and where i'm away from all of the stress, anxiety, fear, and hatred. Here's my monthly recap and report, from a quiet island town called Kabalana, where it seems life is completely normal even while the rest of the world is in destruction.

The Premise Video

Watch this video before you read the blog post. It'll give some context around it all. 

Travel and Life Update

I want to thank you for taking the time to follow my journey and read this far down. A lot of people just read the headlines, scroll down to the numbers and make up some excuse in their minds on why their situation is unique or different and that none of this is possible. I wish I could magically fix all of the crime, poverty, and eliminate racism and unfair treatment in the world, but I can't, and honestly, I wouldn't even take that job for all the money in the world if I was offered it. Instead, I've chosen to opt out of normal 9-5 living, the rat race, and the stress that comes with the standard issued life. Some of you may consider it cheating, and it is, but it's a loophole that I discovered over 10 years ago when I first read the 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss and have been living ever since.

I recognize the privilege that I have for even being able to choose to opt out of normal life and travel full time as a digital nomad. But what many people don't see are the sacrifices that I've made along the way to get here, and the ones I continue to make on a daily basis to continue living this way. I wrote about both in detail in my two books, 12 Weeks in Thailand: The Good Life on the Cheap as well as the follow up, Life Changes Quick. If you haven't read both of the books, you don't know the whole story. If you think my life is today is easy, that's because it is. But it wasn't easy getting here.

My goal for these monthly reports are both to force myself to sit down and reflect back each month while I write and research this, but also to share the journey as I have my entire life on what I've been doing so if you choose to do so, you can follow along as well. Three months ago I had the option to panic fly back home to the USA and get the flight paid for by my travel insurance as emergency evacuation, but I chose instead to stay here in Sri Lanka as I knew it would be both running away/giving up as well selfish for me to do so if I did.

Instead of going back to California, I took the risk of staying here in Sri Lanka as I didn't want to  spread the risk by traveling or give up by going "home." It paid off. but if it didn't, I would have also accepted that fate as either way, staying put instead of panic flying was the prudent thing to do. Here's what my daily life has looked like for this past month, quite different than if I went home and was back in America right now.

Expenses: Costs of Living

A huge side benefit of staying in low cost countries such as Sri Lanka where I currently am right now is the ultra low costs of living here. As one of the few remaining tourists left here, the locals have been really grateful for me staying here and spending money. Even though a lot of things are discounted, and I've been paying more of a local rate when it comes to things like taxi's and tuk-tuks instead of the normal high reason tourist rates, they are still extremely grateful for the business and income. When I went to go to yoga 15 minutes away from where I'm staying, the driver was more than happy to come pick me up when I was done so he could get the 500lkr ($2.68) fare both ways. The coworking space and shared villa i'm staying at is happy just not to be empty and is grateful that I'm featuring them in my videos and promoting the area, even though their current rates are deeply discounted at just $241 a month instead of $30-$40 a day, plus $100 a month for the coworking space.

Tomorrow I'm taking a 6 hour trip to the other side of Sri Lanka to the East Coast where the surfing season has just started, and the taxi driver has been extremely happy to have the business and has been texting me once a day promising he'll be on time and to confirm I haven't changed my mind or went with another driver. The strange situation is that even though I'm extremely happy to be paying these ultra low discounted rates, I'm also mindful not to bargain below what would be a fair wage for them and have them only accept out of desperation. On one hand, I hate getting overcharged for tourist prices, especially since I know that by doing so, they are ultimately losing future business and missing out on good stable income by doing so. By having a fair set price and providing good value to tourists, it encourages us to come back and spend more money as well as tell our friends.

But right now, even though I can get away with paying even lower rates for things like accommodation, taxis, clothing and even food, as long as it's a fair price, I don't bargain even if I know I could. An example is when I found out the girls staying at my shared villa were paying just $5 a night here for an airconditioned room that normally goes for 7 times that amount, at first I was tempted to ask for the same rate. However, I realized that just because I can, doesn't mean I should. I was already 100% happy paying $241 a month ($8 a night) and knew it was a fair price since normally during high season and non-covid times the price to stay at Cafe Ceylon Villas are much more. Especially since I could afford it, I didn't see any reason to ask for the lower rate as I knew they were probably losing money or barely breaking even with the A/C usage. I was also the only one allowed to use the coworking space, which ended up being my personal office for the month which was nice and productive.

Here's how much spent this month in total:

Accommodation: $241(covid discount)
Electricity and Utilities: $0 (included)
House Cleaning: $0 (included)
WIFI: $0 (included)
Coworking Space: $0 (included)
Gym Membership: $0 (home workouts)
Surfboard Rentals: $43 ($2.15/ hour x 20 days)
Mobile Data: $20 (40gb of 4G)
Taxi/Transport: $32.20 (tuk-tuks)
Laundry: $0 (board shorts daily)
Groceries: $77
Restaurants: $85
Massage: $26.83
Netflix: $12.99

The above doesn't include business expenses, giving my parent's $1,000 a month, as well as the the charities I donate to monthly and locally, but I leave those out as the total expenses are just costs of living expenses to make it easy to compare the costs of one city to another. 

Total Expenses for May: $525.03

*Decrease from $858.94 last month here in South Sri Lanka.

Income for May 

It feels a bit strange to have made more money this month during the world wide lock down than I normally would, especially since it seems like 1/3 of the world right now is unemployed. This was also the month where I randomly got a $1,200 stimulus check from the government, which was nice to have, but i'm luckily I didn't actually need it as the pandemic started back in April and I would have been screwed by now. This just reminds me yet again why it's so important to keep your expenses low, have a high savings rate, and to be in control of your own finances. 

For me, I always keep 12 months of expenses in a savings account just in case I need it. That's also including the $1,000 a month I give my parents each month to help with their retirement. By having a total spend of less than $2.5k a month, that allows me to save 75% or more of my income and invest it so it grows and grows, earning me more and more each month. The actual amount of money to hit my bank account so far this month has been $7,840.04 as we're still waiting for invoices to calculate the profit from the two dropshipping stores. But with 30% margins we're expecting the total profit to be quite high even after paying for advertising, fulfilling the orders and the costs of shipping. 

This has been the best month ever for sales even though America is on a complete lockdown. Both of my stores were built following Anton's method of dropshipping which you can learn through his free webinar. It's the only course I recomend, and there's a reason why 7 years later I still follow his method when building my own stores. It's not just me either, I got a message today on my instagram from a guy from the UK named Curtis saying he listens to the Travel Like a Boss Podcast and thanked me for introducing him to the Drop Ship Lifestyle course saying it changed his life. Literally a few minutes later a guy from the USA replies saying the same thing and that he's ready to quit his job now because of it! This is why I push Anton's course so hard, it's seriously the only one that has worked constantly for the past 7 years. 

Total Profit for May: $15,432.34
*estimated net profit after all advertising and fulfillment expenses. 

Chris from the UK, then Curtis from the US! Both members of Anton's Course!

A great month for one of my stores.

This is the highest monthly revenue ever in 7 years!

Best month ever for my Youtube Channel

Lessons Learned and Thoughts

This has been a seriously strange month for the entire world, but myself included. As the world is burning around me, I'm safe and secure living an incredible stress free life by the beach here in Sri Lanka. I'm making more money now than I have in years, and there's not even anywhere to spend it. I'm not yet Rich, but i'm getting there. The good news is that I have plenty of free time and resources, which is why I decided to create a 100% free dropshipping course that won't be as detailed as Anton's but will contain everything someone needs to build a successful store. I understand that a lot of people simply can't afford a $2,000 course, even though it works and the ROI is there 100x. My course is designed for for who just want to learn the overview and don't mind spending the time to research and learn on their own. 

Dropshipping has seriously changed my life, and this month I finally had time to sit down and record the 13 modules, which is over 4.5 hours worth of tutorials. I told myself that if I didn't get out of this quarantine with more knowledge, new skills, or a new business started, that it was never a lack of time but a lack of disciple. I'm glad that I followed my own advice, and this month I improved my surfing, Russian language skills, my handstands, got in better shape, grew my dropshipping stores, and created and uploaded all 13 modules of the dropshipping course, ready to be dripped out to those who signed up. I also created 7 other videos for my Youtube channel, which has tripled my earnings for the month. 

I also recorded a bunch of new episodes for the podcast, including a must listen to episode with Mike Chang, the founder of Six Pack Shortcuts. It's seriously been the most productive month of my entire life. I learned how to cook Sri Lankan food, read books cover to cover, hosted virtual meetups, spoke at online events, and said yes to pretty much everything. June however, will be my month of just chilling out, not focusing on business, and finally giving myself some time to relax. I'll be moving to Arugam bay tomorrow, which is on the East Coast of Sri Lanka to change it up a bit, and because the surf season is just getting started on that side and the waves will be better. I'm glad this was a productive month, and that I can rewatch this video from the start of lockdown and say that I didn't waste this precious time that we've been given.

The Wrap Up

I hope all of you are well wherever you are in the world. It's currently 8pm on June 1st as I write this and I'm moving across the country tomorrow morning. I have nothing packed, but as I've been traveling carry on only, I'm not stressed the least bit. But I do want to wrap this up, finish recording and uploading the video version of this month's update so I can finally get some rest and chill out a bit. It's been an amazing month here in Kabalana, but i'm glad I'm moving tomorrow. 

I'm a big fan of having a month or two of ultra productivity followed by a few weeks of complete chilling out. I wrote a blog post about peak performance after being inspired by a friend who does the same thing.  I have a feeling that I'll be traveling somewhere in the world again by mid or end of July, so next month is time to chill out, see a bit more of Sri Lanka, and hopefully catch some waves and level up my surf skills a tiny bit more. What are your goals for June? Comment below and let us know!

P.S. Here's the video version of my monthly report which goes into even more detail.

Warm Regards,

Johnny FD

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Post a Comment

  1. What has this past month and especially this past week looked like for everyone where you live?

  2. Congrats Johnny! Great month.

    I know being away from the US right now probably is the best option but can you see yourself every going back to your home country and living there in the future? Do you think you will nomad forever?

    1. Hey thanks! I'm really glad i'm out side of the US right now. Everytime I think about going back something like this happens and I remember why I left in the first place. I'm sure i'll "settle down" somewhere a bit longer term at some point, but it probably won't be back in the US.

  3. Hi Johnny, I have followed you for years - you have always been inspiring to do something new.

    I think I recall you are based out of California; I was wondering what you are doing for health insurance? Do you use covered California, or just take the hit for not having insurance and pay for what you need?

    1. I have a post for that. =) Here's what I do about insurance:

  4. Christina White WolfeJune 2, 2020 at 11:28 PM

    Always proud of you little bro. Damn you rocked it on the finance. And thx for the transparency on your finances. So awesome! And thx for giving Mom and dad money each month. Youre an awesome kid that they are so proud of. And I'm proud of you too! You're very kind putting together a free drop ship program for people. Love you. Your sister. Christina white Wolfe.

    1. Thanks sis! I appreciate the thoughts! But before you get too excited, the $22,865.85 wasn't all mine, some of it's paid out to the partners. =)

  5. How were you eligible for the 1200 dollar check if you're making so much money? Hmmm

    1. I didn't earn as much last year as I am now.

      But if you're genuinely curious. Last year my net take home profit after business and travel expenses was technically only $44,424. I gave my Mom the maximum of $15,000 last year, and paid the property tax for the house under my Dad's name. Then I wrote off all of my business travel and expenses, which as a digital nomad and entrepreneur, all the travel I do qualifies.

      Also conference wise, I actually lost almost $9,000 hosting the Nomad Summit Cancun last year.

  6. Hi Johnny,

    I believe that you would not have been bothered by $9,000. You would have proceeded with the hosting the Nomad Summit Cancun for the benefit of all.


    1. Yeah it wasn't a nice feeling knowing that I had spent 4 months planning and a lot of work that week hosting an event to lose money at the end, but the people who attended had such a great time, made so many new friends, and many were grateful because they've always wanted to come to Mexico but didn't want to do so alone, so this was their chance.

      So i'm glad I did the event, but obviously if I want to continue events like this we have to be profitable to keep going and to pay for all the staff, videographers, food, drinks, venue costs, etc.

  7. Love your videos and the article man, keep up the good work! ;)

    1. Thanks Leo! I'm glad you enjoy the videos and the blog!


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