Year Finances 2012

24 September 2012. Filed under category Nomad.
Where is my money going?

Where is my money going?

View money values in British Pounds, US dollars or Swedish Kroner.

Is a nomadic lifestyle economically possible? That is the most common question I get when I tell people that I am a nomad. To help answer it, I’ve analysed my finances down to the last red penny. Just remember that these are my numbers. You should expect your mileage to vary!

I set the starting date of my financial analysis to August 1, 2011. That is shortly after I received my last paycheck from my old job. The end date is the last day of July, exactly a year later. This is my new financial year. After each such year, I’ll share with you how I’m doing. (Hopefully, next year will be a brighter report than today’s!)


Expenditures vs. Income

Expenditures vs. Income

Let’s first look at my expenditures. In one year, I’ve spent £12,129$19,707129 279 kr. That breaks down to £33$54352 kr per day or £1,011$1,64310 776 kr per month. This is everything that I’ve spent, including food, rent, travel cost and a sliver of fun. (OK, I’ve had tons of fun this year!)

Flights account for 11% of my total expenditures at £1,348$2,19014 368 kr. This number would be a lot higher if it wasn’t for my airline patron allowing me to fly on cheap stand-by tickets.

Rent accounts for 19% at £2,363$3,83925 187 kr. This would be a lot more if it wasn’t for the many generous people hosting me rent-free, sometimes for several weeks. (See the Thank You page to see who these saints are.)

Discounting rent and flights and my daily expenditures are £23$37245 kr/day, which I think is pretty good. I’ve cut back on things like the cinema, eating out and buying crap I don’t need and can’t carry. Eventually, I’d like to raise my living standards, but it’s not like I’ve been suffering this year.


Net Money

Net Money

I figured that the life of a nomad would take some getting used to, and I was correct. There were several physical, mental and emotional problems to solve in this first nomadic year of mine. In order to focus on these issues, I gave myself permission to live off my savings and wait with establishing ways to earn money. I’ve done a few simply web-design jobs, but my earnings have been modest indeed.

My total income for the year was £2,980$4,84231 763 kr, which breaks down to £8$1385 kr per day or £248$4032 643 kr per month. Actual money earned through jobs done was £2,061$3,34921 968 kr or 69%. The rest, £917$1,4909 774 kr or 31%, is passive income from interest and donations.

Bottom Line

My net money flow for the year was a negative £9,149$14,86597 516 kr (£25$41266 kr/day or £762$1,2388 122 kr/month). I am bleeding money, but the blood flow is slow enough that I can go on for a while longer. However, in order to make my nomadic life sustainable, I will have to start earning money. Starting today, my next focus is to establish a new geo-independent career! Stay tuned!


Could you make a nomadic life work financially?

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  1. ZenPresence says:

    Very cool. I admire what you are doing. Good luck with the geo-independent career.

    Dan Garner

  2. Well, I am about to do the same! Wish me luck! xo

  3. Crys Klier-Hoffman says:

    The answer to your question is a loud,NO. Trying to maintain a household budget is a hellish job, planning for ‘ what ifs ‘ and unexpected jabs to the financial gut is a royal pain in the you know what. I cannot imagine, IF I could even start to purge myself of my THINGS, and actually took the leap of faith to start on the Nomadic journey, not constantly NEEDING that little something which you so gleefully walk right past.
    By the way, could you, please, do the translation for those of us who use dollars and cents, archaic system as it is. I don’t know what all those pretty little squiggles in your accounts mean. 🙂

    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      Didn’t the ‘View money amounts in US Dollars’ link at the top work? It translates all amounts into dollars, with the exception of the graphs.

      1. Crys Klier-Hoffman says:

        yes, the view money connection does work. What can I say? I’m OLD 🙂

        1. Brother Henrik says:

          maby in you mind but you look yuong 😉

  4. Maya says:

    Wow I love how organized you are, thanks for breaking it down. It’s not as expensive as I thought it would be, granted you do have lots of saints and lucky charms in your life. Hope that each year gets better for you. Check out for funding ideas.

  5. If you’ve got web skills you should absolutely be able to find good freelance work. I set up a bunch of scrapers to hit me with relevant job requests on elance, odesk and various job boards, fire off some boilerplate pitches, invoice via Freshbooks. Work ~15hrs per week, traveling 9 months now with net positive cashflow. Trying to now to switch to passive income (the golden goose of nomads). Hit me up if you want to collaborate/swap tips.

  6. Val says:

    Thanks for your post, Gustav.

    I am about to embark on a nomadic journey of my own, photographing, writing and collaborating with other artists as I go. Passive income has been my main source of dollars for the last ten years, and now I am working on incorporating the passive income model into my expanding artistic life. Your article is interesting to me on a variety of levels, I appreciate you sharing the real numbers. It seems to me that for the most part people blog about their travels in ways that seem magical, as though they have all the money in the world and never have to work for their travel funding. Speaking as one who has been gifted with a stay in a San Francisco penthouse for a couple of weeks, this morning enjoying a swim, hot tub, and expensive glass of wine for lunch, I am regularly blessed with huge generosity and I STILL wonder how people make their travels possible. I enjoy your authentic way of sharing your experiences. I encourage you to continue.

    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      Thank you for the comment, Val. Would you mind sharing what form your passive income takes?

      1. Val says:

        I have an ever increasing following of my photo experiences. My intention is to continue traveling and photographing and prospering as I go.

        I took your suggestion for the 4 Hour Work Week and have started reading that on my iPad. Thank you very much for that. Another friend of mine read the same book and went on to create a solid $2500’ish a month selling information about how to heal tendon injuries. He also found an airline angel and is leaving for Europe this weekend.

        To answer your question, about 10 years ago I worked my butt off for a couple years and acquired about 800 customers who buy all their household consumables through my database. Through hard work and planning I made $360,000 over the course of time which has made big difference on top of the transactional income I make month to month. This established, passive stream supported me last year while I couldn’t work as I recovered from a rattlesnake bite and spine surgery. It’s also paid me while I went to Hong Kong, took a month preparing for Burning Man, etc. etc.

        Now I am focused on my art and travels and many doors are opening, for which I am deeply appreciative. Having had the direct experience of passive income I am focused on creating a solid, reliable income in my new career. It’s important I enjoy the freedom to always be creating beautiful work and be of service to others.

        Thanks for the blog and for setting the example. If not before, I look forward to seeing you next year at Burning Man. We’ll take your picture. 😉

  7. Mike says:

    Great article Gustav. Take a look at this site ( He’s been living around the world and makes money by selling advice, e-books, even sweatshirts. He’s got quite a following now!

  8. jeremy says:

    I am always amazed at the life you lead. Living vicariously through you is fun. I believe you have a commodity in what you do from where ever you do it from. You’ve found your passion. and they say: Find your passion – do it – money will follow.

    There comes a point when we realize that what we do is worth a good chunk of money. It is time to start finding ways to translate what we do into an ongoing stream of income.

    I’ve networked your blog and publicized in over the last year or so. Maybe we need to start a campaign of support and try to link you up with more “angels” that can hook you up, so to speak.


    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      Maybe I’m short on imagination, but I can’t see how my nomadic life and blogging would be monetizable. (it is a word now…)

      I guess I could throw some adds into the site, but I have far too few readers to make it worth the loss of aesthetics.

      Many thanks for networking my blog. Maybe one day, it will somehow start earning me money.

      Got any ideas for what such a campaign would look like? And angels are always welcome!

      1. jeremy says:

        A friend of mine who did the same thing you did, traveling the world, ebooked his blog and is set to put it on the web. Monetizing skills is something that I think about for myself as well. I have put your blog on my header list and talked to my readers to see what they may have to offer.

        it isn’t aesthetically pleasing to put ads up on the site, because it would detract from the essence of the blog. Maybe you could add a post of “what you do best,” market yourself to the readers of the blog. And since many of us network the blog, you get more coverage.

        What ever you do best can be translated into marketable skills. It is just finding the right people to put that plan in action. travel sites are always looking for people to add articles from writers around the world. Maybe find tourism offices where you are and see what you could do for them to drum up business and make a little money writing what you know. I am just pulling at straws here but you get the idea.

        I will continue to brainstorm and see what I can add to this.


  9. DanNation says:

    Will we see you soon. You always have a couch at our house.

  10. Melissa says:

    I´m returning to Amsterdam from Girona-Barcelona, where I attended TBEX 2012, this year´s travel blogger exchange. Nearly 400 bloggers attended, including many who DO make money from their blogs + online presence.

    Many, including myself, also enjoy huge travel benefits, e.g. blogger trips, free hotel stays + more from sponsoring establishments that understand the benefit of unbiased editorial endorsement. We were treated like royalty at TBEX, thanks to sponsors like the local tourism bureau, local hotels + restaurants + other local gigs who see the value of bloggers’ words.

    Author Chris Guillebeau, a nomad like yourself, gave away 400 copies of his book, “The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future,” at the conference. I urge you to read it and think about attending TBEX 2013 in Toronto and other blogger events where you can gain inspiration + ideas about how to earn as you go. Many people besides you seem to be doing it these days!

  11. Mike says:

    Hi Gustav,

    I have really enjoyed reading about your nomadic adventures! A few years ago I had a similar epiphany after reading that “4 Hour Work Week” book and it got me thinking about ways to re-invent my work style so I could travel more (permanently).

    I have acquired some strong skills over the years and so I took them, incorporated myself into a consultancy, and went online. I write grants for a living so I work with clients in different cities anyway. I am sure you could leverage your IT/coding skills the same way. I also use freelance sites which provide new ways to find clients and jobs. They also handle all the payment processing and that rocks! I don’t even have to invoice!

    I leave for the south of France Friday and will take some work with me to do on the plane. The work will at least earn me enough to pay for the damage I do shopping and eating in Lyon – lol!

    Keep on keepin’ on! I really appreciate your honesty and sense of humor. I have bookmarked your blog to plan to visit you often.

    – Mike
    Chicago, USA

    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      I love The 4-Hour Workweek and really recommend anyone interested in alternative work to read it. It is also a study in pure ballsy attitude!

      And Mike, you are welcome back time and time again! And remember you can always subscribe to new posts so you get notified when I publish a new article.

  12. Tyler says:

    Finally someone talks about the cost. Most of these people who claim to be nomads are living off trust funds or some other means of free money. It’s just ridiculous. I really want to live this life, but I am in the same situation with money.

  13. Lisa says:

    Hej Gustav,
    thanks for this interesting and well-organized blog!
    Maybe I can give you some tips about cutting down your spendings a bit. I also love to travel and I do it as often as possible while trying to finish university. I’m almost done though and soon ready to hit the road long-term. Almost one and a half years ago, I changed my mode of traveling completely and it enabled me to travel almost indefinitely… I now travel by hitchhiking only, use couchsurfing, bewelcome or just some camping gear. Also I do dumpster diving in rich countries (Europe & USA), whereas in cheap countries hospitality and food prices are low anyways.
    That way, I managed a 3 week-trip in Europe with only 15 € spent in total, and money I used mostly for wine and texting.
    So, maybe you’d be interested in these things too, because they are not only cheap and environmentally balanced, but you’ll have lots of great experience in meeting new people, improving language skills, being creative with food and adventurous encounters. Discovering these things is really the best that happened to me, ever.

    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      Thanks for a thought-worthy comment! I haven’t quite gotten that for when it comes to my cost-cutting methods.

      Do you think that you could go on living like this indefinitely? Whatever way I live, it would have to be sustainable for years upon years.

      1. Lisa says:

        As of now, I am renting an apartment in Berlin. It is only 50 sqm, but most of the time about ten people share it. Travellers come and go, some stay for one night, others for several months. I and my friend are the only ones paying the rent, cause we’ve been living there for about three years now, but since opening up the place like this about one year ago, we were able to feed sometimes up to over 20 people a night by dumpster diving only. No-one ever has to pay for food, and sometimes we manage to find beer as well…even found a computer and printer and some other useful stuff like a second fridge…we love living in this sort of community/family like environment and it changes you as a person. A great thing to learn, is not to get attached to things. By opening up the house like this we’ve met the most incredible, warm-hearted people, mostly fellow nomads or hitchhikers. Friends of mine are currently in Brazil, and made it there from Europe without money. Yes, hitching across the Atlantic is possible. Seriously, consider this way of travelling, it will change your life in the best way possible. I can picture myself doing it for several years; hitchhiking around, then settle somewhere for a few months and share your house with travellers, they will do the same for you. Hitchhiking can be really quick, you can go from Berlin to Istanbul in 2 days, and even for far destinations where it might be difficult to hitchhike to, hitching this sort of distance could reduce your flight ticket drastically. Besides, it’s so much fun. At first I thought I couldn’t get used to a certain lack of comfort. I have slept in gas stations before and sometimes the weather makes it unpleasant. Sometimes you wait for hours till you get picked up. But then, I would never go back to the normal way of travelling again, cause nothing makes you feel more alive and grateful and gives you more freedom…because you know you don’t have to do anything in order to get where you want, no train to catch, no security measurements at airport, it is an incredible feeling to know, hey, I’ve made 1000 km today completely for free. I know plenty of people who have been travelling like this for years…and sure, at some point you will run out of money, but only if you don’t work in between, either have a computer job or do seasonal things for example. There are plenty of ways to make enough money for that kind of life.

        I recommend you check out

        you can also check
        where we very irregularly upload posts if you’re interested.

        1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

          Wow, Lisa, thank you for these couple of comments! I am very much intrigued. I like the idea of dumpster-diving mainly as a way to point out the waste that we surround ourselves with. I see it mostly as a green issue to be honest, but it has so many facets to it.

          Berlin is on my list of must-go-to cities, and when I do, I would love to share that house with you and learn more about these ideas. I’ll e-mail you separately to catch up with you on this.

          But first, I am silently going to reflect on the awesome quality of commenters that my blog has been blessed with…

  14. John Oliver says:

    One way to make a nomadic lifestyle affordable is to work casually or part time ( even part time share e.g. You arrange with a coworker to each work 3 months on and then have 3 months off and so on – this way you have 6 months income for the year each) work in a country that pays higher wages and only live there while your working – don’t have a permanent liability of fixed accommodation costs. Just pay for the time you need to be there.
    The 2nd and very important other side to this economic model is that you need to relocate to country’s for your free time that are developing economies – places where your limited $ will go x3 further than where you sourced your income. Thus if you have 6 months income you can afford to live the other 6 months and also save some funds for the future – even nomadic people will retire at some stage. This is a simple model – but if applied with some discipline can work. The big cost may be returning to and from your work country and your other destinations – if your following the shared part time (3 months on 3 off) your dates of travel are set out and you can pre-book and save. If your purchasing last minute flights just be as flexible as you can – use Apps like “Sky-scanner” to find best deals going defer your travel for a day or two and save and or take the flights that leave or arrive at unsociable times- these flights are usually cheaper as others prefer more convenient times.

Could you make a nomadic life work financially?

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