Each year, I publish my cost of full-time travel, as well as my income for the year. I don’t do this to set the bar for what you should earn or what you should spend in order to maintain a financially sustainable travel lifestyle; rather – as the years go by and my own income and expenses vary – to demonstrate that there is no bar.
2013 Income Sources
Note: I earned income in British Pounds, US Dollars, Canadian Dollars, and other currencies. All has been converted to US Dollars for ease of comparison.
Freelance Writing: $30,675
My freelance writing career has been growing in leaps and bounds over the last few years, 2013 being another 50% increase over the year prior. However there are two hefty payments in here that aren’t normal: One was an editor buying out the rights for a large portfolio of articles I had with them, and the other was payment for a sponsored trip I took through Europe. These two payments alone more than make up for the increase in income for the year.
Affiliate Sales: $8,160
Surprisingly my affiliate sales are down almost $2,000 from last year, despite a big increase in Amazon affiliate sales.
Advertising revenue is down almost 50% from 2012. When Google changed their algorithms yet again, advertisers scrambled to find ways to integrate. I don’t accept guest posts outside of my week-in-the-life series, which puts me out of the market for sponsored guest posts – which currently seem to be the advertising vehicle of choice.
Book Sales & Coaching: $565
This is a new category for me; in November I launched my first e-book (How to Get Free Accommodation Around the World), and sold a whack of copies at a huge preview discount. I also (quietly) dipped my toes into the world of Skype coaching, providing resources and planning tools/suggestions to help people embrace their travel dreams and arrange their finances and careers to do it. I tested the water with a few discounted clients at the end of 2013.
This is an accumulation of small things like royalty payments or commissioned photos/reprints.
…which is about $4,000 more than 2012.
It’s funny. Looking at the above breakdown, I realize certain aspects of my business weren’t so good (despite an overall income increase). If I hadn’t have received those two large lump sum payments through my freelance writing, 2013 would have looked very different overall – especially given that my expenses for 2013 were out of control.
It was a year of ups and downs – including my income. Just when one contract was walking out the door, another two walked in. And just when I was about to have to dip into my savings to pay the bills, a big payment or freelance gig would land in my lap. Despite the struggles of 2013, there was also a lot of serendipity.
Financially Sustainable Travel: 2013 Income Versus Expenses
My 2013 expenses were just above my 2013 income. I barely kept afloat, during a year that held so many unexpected expenses, I had trouble balancing it all.
Then again, is it the chicken or the egg?
Although I had about $20,000 in ridiculous expenses/losses in 2013, somehow the income came through in the end – despite big drops in advertising and affiliate sales. I made just enough money.
Could I have stemmed some of my expenses in 2013, had my income not been as flush? You bet. Most of my expenses in Europe could have been drastically cut down on, and I wouldn’t have bought a car in Grenada.
But I did have the money, and life had thrown me some nasty curve balls.
I’m a pretty frugal gal (almost to a fault), and splashing out in Europe was a treat I’ve rarely ever afforded myself. It’s difficult for me to spend money – even if I have it – and I think I did a pretty good job of it in 2013, without going so far overboard that my full-time travels ceased to be financially sustainable.
What’s on for 2014?
2013 involved a delicate balancing act of income versus expenses. 2014 has stabled out a bit; what I might lose in one area, I expect to gain in others. (This is the art of financially sustainable travel.)
I released a new e-book in 2014 (Tales of Trains: Where the Journey is the Destination), and I’m producing a guide in collaboration with Chris Guillebeau’s Unconventional Guides, due for a November release.
Do you review your annual income and expenses? How have the last few years treated you? Any surprises? Any new plans for 2014 and beyond?