June 2020: Expenses, Income, and Travel Report - Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka

It's been another strange month for both Americans and for many people around the world. But for me, it was another month stuck here in paradise. This month was the first time since mid March that life seemed normal again, with restaurants being open, bars, parties and meetups happening, and people walking around again without masks or fears. People outside of this bubble of paradise look in and think that we're being irresponsible and carefree. But what they don't realize is that the entire country started strict stay at home quarantine two months before the US and much of the rest of the world. I won't lie, I was envious of other nomads who took emergency flights home and seemed to be living carefree going to grocery stores, parks, and runs whenever this wished while I was locked inside my hotel room.

But I told myself that I wouldn't let that time go to waste, so during those months I spent the days learning new skills, building up my business, and working out at home. It's all paid off, as now Sri Lanka is open and pretty much COVID free. Here on the East Coast of Sri Lanka where they had zero cases, we're allowed to go out whenever we want, eat at restaurants, surf, take yoga classes, hang out in cafes, and enjoy a normal life. Everyday I wake up glad that I'm not living in America and dealing with all of the craziness, headache, hate, and drama going on there. I'm glad I spent the past 7 years building up online income, saving 80% of it to have a cushy emergency fund, and now get to enjoy and live in paradise freely. If this sounds rude, it's because it's intended to be a reality check. For over 10 years now I've been telling everyone on my blog that the comfortable life of safety and security back home is an illusion and that getting used to overspending, not saving, and spending money on expensive drinks, nights out, car payments, mortgages, and buying things you don't need wasn't the answer. Keep reading for what is.

Travel and Business

I decided to move to the east coast of Sri Lanka, to a small surf town called Arugam Bay. There wasn't much info about it online, and from everything I read or heard, it was a tiny surf town with little to no infrastructure. I wasn't sure how the wifi or even cell phone data situation would be here, so I decided to spend all of the month prior to building up all of my online businesses, so I could just relax and not work here if it wouldn't be possible. During that month I created, filmed, edited, and uploaded an entire 14 part dropshipping course called Dropship Lab that I gave away completely for free. The reason I decided to make this course was because I was tired of people having the excuse on why they couldn't build an online business, and why nothing works, why we should have pity on their situation, give them money, or treat them like a charity case. 

Since I first discovered how to build a real business online back in 2013, and after testing the concept with my own time and money and saw that it really worked, I've been telling people to sign up for Anton's Dropshipping Method so they could do it themselves, as that's who I learned from. But people always had the excuse on not having enough time or money to learn how to do it, and instead, either put it off for years or instead looked for quicker methods like dropshipping from Aliexpress or China as they were too lazy to build a real business and get actual manufactures or call suppliers to get them on board. I got so tired of hearing the excuses that I figured, I have a month free, let me just put down everything I know into a 4 and a half hour course, create a private group so people can work together, and put it all out there completely for free. 

With that course finished and out of the way, I got on a van, and moved to Arugam Bay where I was pleasantly surprised with. Not only is the infrastructure here really good, both the WIFI and 4G are good enough for me to have continued working if I wanted to. But since I had already closed that chapter and didn't need the money, I decided instead to do what I loved instead. That's why I've been in the water surfing 6 days a week for the past month, and why I now make fun, travel videos on my Youtube channel instead of just business ones.

Life in Arugam Bay

I had heard that things are more expensive on the East Coast as there's no railroad here or direct highway to bring in goods from Colombo and the other parts of the country. Overall it's been somewhat true, as some things are a bit higher, but overall it's still an amazing value here. During normal high seasons prices of accomidation, motorbike rentals, and everything else are sold at a premium, but this year during the travel ban, rooms have been selling for half off or even less normal prices. Right now both the streets and surf lineups often feel empty. Restaurants always have a few people sitting inside, but there's always a table free and hotels are at 50% capacity. 

I honestly can't even imagine what it's like during normal high seasons as right now Arugam Bay feels like the perfect little sleepy expat and surf town. I think this experience may have completely spoiled me as I enjoy both the peace and quiet as well as the serenity of having so few people on the beach and in the ocean. Whenever I see more than a dozen people at the surf break in the water, I take a fruit shake or a coffee and wait for a few people to finish before getting in the water. However, I've heard that this is a unique year and never to expect it again. 

Aside from surfing, it's been a great community of friends here as everyone is in the same situation of being here for months already, and had chosen to stay. You see familiar faces whenever you go out and it's almost impossible to sit at a restaurant or cafe without saying hello to someone you know. However, just a 5 minute scooter ride away is the town of Pottuvil where only locals live. It's a great local experience to eat, shop, and buy fruits and vegetables in as it feels like authentic Sri Lanka compared to the built for tourist places here in Abay. For me having a scooter and being able to drive into the local town everyday to grab a quick breakfast, lunch, or kilo of fruit has really added to my experience here aside from surfing, which has been my favorite thing to do.

Travel and Side Trips

Although I've been in just Arugam Bay for the entire month, everyday I make the 20 minute journey through the town and rice fields to my favorite surf break in Whisky Point. I've also done the incredibly beautiful sunset beach walk from Whisky Point to Pottuvil Beach a few times as well as a bunch of side trips to places like Kumana National Park and Panama Crocodile Lake.

On just my scooter I've seen wild pigs, peacocks, water buffalo, mongoose, monkeys, monitor lizards, and even wild elephants. I had no idea how beautiful and liveable Arugam Bay was for expats and travelers. The only problem is that the off season lasts for half the year in which pretty much all restaurants, surf breaks, and hotels aren't working. It's a big enough change where there are some restaurants like Mama's who actually operate in the South, Midigama for November-March, then move their entire staff and lives to the East Coach, Arugam Bay from April-October. But during those months, it's an amazing time to be here, not only just for the surf, but also for beach and wildlife.

I didn't film my trip to the national park, but imagine a longer even more epic drive than the one to crocodile lake, and even more animals along the way!

Expenses in Arugam Bay

It's a bit unfair to judge my expenses this month as normal high season rates are at least 25-50% higher, but either way, food, drinks, surfboard rentals, and going out in Sri Lanka are all relatively cheap and affordable anyways regardless of what's going on in the world. It's a strange world that I live in as even though I can afford to live in more expensive countries, I really hate the feeling of overpaying for things when I know that I can get a better value elsewhere. Maybe it's growing up with frugal parents that never made more than $3,000 a month combined and often just $20,000 the entire year for the household, but I've always been a saver. So whenever I find myself in a place like Chiang Mai or Sri Lanka where things are cheap but good quality and life is enjoyable, it makes me really happy. On the opposite side, whenever I'm in Australia, London, California, or other expensive places, I find myself not enjoying life as things are always so expensive.

Maybe it's my reward for sticking it out here in Sri Lanka instead of hoping on a free emergency evacuation flight or bothering my travel insurance to get me out of here on their dime, but things here have been an amazing value this month. It's strange though as I feel like if things were "normal" high season price, I would think that Arugam Bay would be overpriced for what it is. Paying 2,000lkr a night, which is $323.10 a month for a nice room is an excellent value, but paying double that during normal years would actually feel like it wasn't that great of a value after all. I'm really curious what will happen with prices in 2021 when things hopefully get back to normal again, but I also wonder if I'll even like a busier and more expensive Arugam Bay if it does.

Aside from rent, my biggest expensive was my scooter rental which was 700lkr a day which is $113.10 month. My friends actually got theirs for as low as 500lkr a day as right now there is a lot of competition, but I chose not to negotiate and save the extra $33 a month as the bike I rented was newish and in really good condition and still a decent value. Surfboard rentals are 300lkr ($1.61) an hour and coconuts on the beach, right in front of the surf point are 150lkr. The funny thing is how many people refuse to buy them there as it's double the price that it normally is in town for the convenience. But for me, it's a daily treat as for 81 cents, I love supporting a guy sitting on a beach chair under an umbrella opening up a fresh coconut for me in the middle of my surf session whenever I need a quick break and rehydrate. It's insane to me how many surfers will forgo drinking water for 3 hours in the sun just to save 40 cents.

Rent: $321(A/C Room on the Beach)
Electricity and Utilities: $0 (included)
WIFI: $10 (for extra data)
Netflix: $12.99
Cell Phone: $15 (for 4G)
Scooter Rental: $113.10 (Automatic Honda)
Gas for Motorbike: $11.30
Surf Boards: $41.98 (daily rentals)
Groceries and Fruit: $65
Restaurants: $242.52
Drinking Water: $8
Coffee and Cakes: $47.10
Coconuts: $20 (daily coconut)

Total Living Expenses: $846.20

Other expenses include $22 for new board shorts and a rashguard, $44 for new linen shirts, business expenses, software, $1,000 gift to my parents and other money donated to charity. 

Online Income Earned

My book sales for both 12 Weeks in Thailand: the Good Life on the Cheap as well as my second book, Life Changes Quick both surprisingly did well this month with 10x more sales than usual for some unknown reason. Maybe people just have more time right now to stay home and read, or because I finally switched those sites over to https. But either way, big thanks to everyone to bought and read the books and especially to those who took the time to leave a 5 star review on Amazon! Thanks to 30 And A Wake Up, Joshua, Aaron, Kia O, and whoever wrote the review titled Digital Nomad Required Reading!

Review of 12 Weeks in Thailand on Amazon

Dropshipping Stores

Even though most people assume i'm a full time podcaster and Youtuber as that's what I spend most of day working days actually doing, they are both actually a very small part of my actual income. I've been fortunate enough to earn, save, and invest enough money from building, running and selling dropshipping stores these past 7 years that I don't actually need to work anymore to earn income. I have to thank Anton Kraly for his dropshipping course as it's how I learned everything I know about ecommerce and building online businesses. 

This month my best store did $52.241.49 in sales which is 55% better than it did last year during this same period. My other store did $24,297.99 in sales this month. I'm only a 25% owner of these two as I have partners that run the day to day, but then again, that makes them both completely passive for me now as the bulk of the time came during those first couple of months to set everything up. Now I just sit back and do other passion projects that I enjoy while we let these stores run and hopefully sell after a couple of years for a 27x monthly profit for a bit payday.

Youtube Channel Revenue 

In my free time this month I started making travel, daily life, and even cooking videos on my Youtube channel just for fun. It's been a strange experiment as even though I've had a channel for years now, I never published consistently or that often, usually just twice a month. But after taking some advice from Harald Baldr a popular Youtuber I got to know while in Sri Lanka, I decided to try taking it seriously as an experiment. In total I earned $567.55 from my channel this month, including $42.23 from my most popular new video for the month, the Nicest Villa I've Seen in the World which is one that I filmed the day before I left Cafe Ceylon in Kabalana. 

On average, most of my videos only make $20-$50 over their lifetimes, but my goal is to grow my viewership over the next month or two, and see if I can break the $1,000 a month income mark and really do this full time. Making videos is something I really enjoy and have fun doing, and it also helps promote the local tourism market and economy here in Sri Lanka which I'm happy to be helping with. It's also a great way to have an excuse to go do cool things so I can share the experience, and it's something that I can do just with my phone which is kind of cool. I'm at 19,672 subscribers as of writing this and am looking forward to breaking the 20k subs mark! So check out and subscribe to my youtube channel if you haven't already! 

Other Income

This month I also earned $101.11 with my Udemy Courses with zero promotion or mentions from my side. I think it's because there are a lot of people stuck and home right now and want to learn things and shop online.

I earned $903.65 this month from my blog, and double dipped that by earning another $238.06 from my the course I created called Income Boss that teaches others how they can do the same. 

My investments paid me $2,528.07 in interest and dividends this month, not including the paper gains, and in total I earned $5,543.44 from my personal sources of online income, not including the partner dropshipping stores. So in total, if I estimate and combine all of my various businesses, this was another great month for everyone involved.

Below is a very long video, which was actually supposed to be interviewing Mike Vestil but ended up being him asking me about my life story and us talking about how we've learned, grew and changed as both men as well as entrepreneurs these past 5 years. 

Total Profit for June: $10,543.44

June Wrap Up

I can hardly believe that it's already July as I write this. I woke up this morning thinking it was still the end of the month and that I still had a few more days before i had to do my accounting and check in on everything. And honestly, this morning as I was writing this I had actually considered making this my final monthly update post as I was kind of dreading writing this. 

It's much more fun and easy for me to make travel videos on Youtube rather than breakdown what has worked for me in managing expenses, building online income, and investing money. But as I finished up this months blog post, I realize that it really is valuable, not only for all of you reading this, but also for me to sit down and go through my accounting, at least once a month. Even though I'm in a really privileged, or better put, created situation of not needing to worry about money anymore, I don't want to forget about all of the people who are still trying to figure things out and make it for themselves. That's why I created the free dropshipping course called Dropship Lab that is now 100% complete and available to anyone who signs up. 

For July my goal is to surf 6 days a week and improve my paddle fitness as well as my stand up and surf technique. I went from riding an 8'6 soft top foam board at the start of this month, to riding an 8'6 hardboard, and just this week i'm now down to an 8'2 hardboard. My technique is slowly improving and seeing photos like this below, as well as writing these blog posts each month give me a good snapshot of where I'm currently at in life, business, and surf, and what I need to both be grateful of and to improve on.  

With love from Sri Lanka,

Johnny FD

Please Leave a Comment so I know people are actually reading this! 

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Income Report 6296739212106310765

Post a Comment

  1. Did you read the blog post? Please reply with a comment if you did, as I seriously considered not writing these anymore if people aren't getting benefit from them.

    1. Been following you for countless years. ALWAYS read your posts. Your a huge inspiration. Sadly I am tied up in America right now. Trying to break free but it takes time to sell all the stuff, the home etc. One day hope you meet you and shake your hand. Living the life you are man. Great job on all you do. Thanks for sharing

    2. I love how detailed and real your posts are. As successful as you are, you don’t seem to brag - you just share. You are my favorite example of what’s possible in the effort to break with the “normal” way of life. I got sidetracked for awhile and haven’t checked in. I’m glad to see you are still out there doing this —and proving the sustainability!
      Don’t stop sharing!

  2. These blog posts are very practical and are a huge motivator! I don't read them every single month but every once in a while I read through one of them and I find them very insightful. I picture myself going to Sri Lanka for a couple of months, how much would this cost me to live there? As for the income breakdown, this is just very motivational. I like that you don't just talk about lifestyle but also the real stuff and how you achieved this lifestyle. This is pretty high-level and if I want to dig deeper into dropshipping or your other sources of income, I can use the search function (but you provided all the links already!)

    1. Thanks Ralph! I'm glad you enjoy the monthly posts and that it inspires you. Also good job using the search feature, it's under utilized by most people! As for Sri Lanka, you can spend anywhere from $850-$1,500 a month here, a bit more info;

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Hello , if you wish to contribute to charity, then I request you to help any charity working for the welfare of Sri Lankan street dogs , you may google to find some of them . I'm requesting you because the population of street dogs in Sri Lanka is increasing every day and unless some of them are neutered,the situation of dogs would worsen as there won't be food for every dog.Thank you

    1. Thanks! I'll take a look into it! I do love the street dogs here, and although most look like they are well fed and taken care of, there are a few that are too skinny and would need help. Neutering them would be a great option.

  5. I find these blog posts useful! Like you say I am on the way of being financially independent (not there yet) and I do need help. I've actually gone through DropShipLab (Thank you for that), but I'm looking to invest in Index Funds instead with my next income- with help from your blog posts. But these breakdowns are useful for me, it's something I actually look forward to reading.

    1. Thanks for letting me know Baoz! I'm glad you enjoyed the course and are starting to invest as well!

  6. Helpful as always. You've been such a great motivation. Thank you for all you do!

  7. Great to follow your story and financials. Keep going...;)

  8. Great article as always Johnny! keep em coming.

    btw, how are your BJJ skills nowdays?

    1. It's been a while since i did jiu-jitsu, but ironically enough the surfing has probably kept me in good BJJ shape for when I return to the mat. =)

  9. I look forward to your income reports and read them every month! They inspire me to keep moving forward in my projects. I hope you keep them coming!

    1. Thanks for letting me know you read and look forward to them!

  10. Great post! Keep them coming for sure!

  11. Thanks Johnny, really appreciate you for sharing tons of details of your life in Sri Lanka. Initially Sri Lanka wasn't really on my radar but I've learned a lot from your channel and posts now it's one of my top destinations for my nomadic journey. Also your blog posts resonate with me well since both of us seems to appreciate good value. I like getting a good value in both traveling and investing. Keep up the good work!

    1. Awesome! I hope you like Sri Lanka if you end up coming here. Glad you enjoy the posts!

  12. Hi Johnny,

    On the coconut, I believe that this could be due to different people due to different perspective. This makes people different and makes the world more interesting with people of different characteristics.

    My two cents worth of views.


  13. Hello Jhonny,
    Happy with your income report. How much have you earned from this blog? Have you monetize this?

    1. I've made on average $1,000-$5,000 a month from this blog since 2013. I wrote about it here and showed everything inside my Income Boss Course:

  14. Hi Johnny,
    My family and I are looking to return to the nomad lifestyle after the quarantine... traveling with a kid is a bit tougher than back in the day by myself.

    I looked around a bit and maybe I missed it, but what do you do about travel insurance, I did not see it in your income/expense report.

    Love the drive back to keeping life simple and turning away from the mental stress of “stuff”.



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