April Expenses – $1413.09

Here is a breakdown of my expenses for April.


April’s expenses were a little higher than normal.

Entertainment expense was for one month Amazon Prime subscription, one month Hulu, and one month Netflix.

Rent was $115 for our apartment in Chiang Mai.

My transportation expense consisted of $5.40 for gas, $5.45 for local transportation, and $8.14 to get a dead motorbike battery charged.

My food expense was $298.86. That is divided between $112.62 for groceries and $186.24 for restaurants. That is about normal for when I’m staying in Thailand. I’m for food for 2 people plus my wife buys a lot of non-food items at the grocery store which I usually don’t bother separating out to their correct category.

I paid $49 for the annual fee on my IHG credit card. The card gives me one free night a year, so it is a good value. I spent $22.83 on taxis and Ubers getting to and from various airports.

Utilities came in at $96.93. This was for electric in the U.S. I didn’t get around to paying my internet bill until this month. Next month’s total will include 2 months internet.

The household expense was for a haircut, new shoes, postage, and various other items.

I provided $92.44 of support to my wife.

I spent $587.57 on visa related expenses. The biggest part of this was $307.28 for the required medical examination for the visa. The only approved facilities for the medical examination are in Bangkok. Thus, it was necessary to pay for roundtrip airfare from Chiang Mai to Bangkok and 2 nights hotel.

This month’s expenses will probably be a little lower since I am back from Thailand. How was your month?

Building investment knowledge: from first steps to retirement

From the UK to Australia, the desire to build a comfortable financial future is a pretty common goal. But navigating the world of investing can feel daunting, especially when you’re just starting out or making the big shift to retirement.

This short guide takes a look the fundamentals of investing, explains some of the jargon and hopefully, takes away some of the confusion that often prevents people from taking the first step.

What types of investments are there?

Investment assets come in all shapes and sizes – the most common of which include shares, bonds, managed funds and property. What’s more, in Australia, pension funds (aka superannuation funds) can also be considered as an investment platform with many funds letting their members choose how their super is invested, even after they’ve retired. More detail is here.

Deciding on the type of investment can seem tricky at first, but a good initial step is to ask three key questions:

  • How comfortable am I with taking risks?
  • How much money do I have to invest?
  • How quickly would I want to sell (i.e. ‘liquidate’) my investments?

Understanding risk appetite

Everyone’s risk appetite is different and, in fact, can change as we get older. That’s why it’s important to work out whether you’re comfortable with short-term fluctuations for potentially higher returns (high-risk), or you prefer steadier growth with lower risk? This will determine the investment mix that best suits you.

If investing for the long-term, we may feel quite at ease with higher-risk and growth potential when we’re younger, as we have more time to make up for occasional losses. However, as we get older, we can typically drift towards lower-risk ‘conservative’ options, accepting that the growth may not be as dynamic, but our investments may be more secure.

Knowing your risk appetite will help you decide what type of investments are best for you.

The investment landscape

So, let’s explore the mainstays of the investment world:

  • Shares (Stocks): Basically owning a piece of a company. Shares are generally traded on a stock exchange and bought through a human or digital broker. They can potentially offer high returns but can also be volatile, so are regarded as higher-risk.
  • Exchange-traded funds (ETFs): These are a popular, low-fee way of investing, where you buy shares in a pre-determined basket of securities (like shares or bonds), instead of a single company. There is huge array of categories you can invest in and their risk depends on the category.

Like stocks and shares, they’re known as ‘liquid assets’ because they’re usually fairly easy to sell (aka ‘liquidate’) if you need quick access to cash.

  • Managed funds: Offered by investment firms and other financial institutions, these individual funds are monitored and managed by experts. They’ll make adjustments to the funds’ investments to try and maximise returns. Depending on what the fund invests in, they can be lower, moderate or higher-risk.
  • Property: Focusing on real estate for rental income or capital appreciation, property investment in the UK and Australia is generally regarded as a safer option. However, it requires significant capital, carries maintenance and statutory costs, and can take longer to sell than shares for example.
  • Bonds: Essentially, lending money to a government or company. Their return is often fixed for a period, and because of who your lending to, they may provide lower risk and a more predictable income.
  • Cash and term deposits: Keeping your money in a bank or other financial institution is generally considered relatively safe, though returns can be lower or slower than other investments, because they depend on the current interest rates.
  • Pensions and superannuation: Employer-sponsored retirement plans and superannuation funds are common. This is particularly so in Australia where all employees have super paid by their employer, and can often choose how their money is invested – for example in growth assets, stable investments or in sustainable industries.

An investment journey: from starter to retiree

Your investment approach will probably evolve alongside your life stages. Here’s a general roadmap:

  • Starting out: If you’re young, you might have a higher risk tolerance, and may consider a mix of growth-oriented investments like shares and ETFs, with a few safer options like term deposits for stability.
  • Building wealth: As your income grows, it can be smart to focus on diversification. This could mean investing in different asset classes (like shares and property) and sectors (like technology and healthcare).
  • Nearing retirement: As we enter our retirement years, most people shift focus towards income-generating and lower-risk investments like bonds, cash and income-producing property. This can help secure a steady stream of income in your golden years.

The power of diversification (and not putting all your eggs in one basket!)

The golden rule of investing is diversification. This means spreading your investments across different asset classes and sectors if you can, to help soften the impact of a downturn in one particular asset. For example, a dip in the share market might not significantly impact your overall portfolio if you have a variety of investment types such as shares, cash and bonds.

Common ways to diversify include:

  • Investing in a combination of shares, bonds, property, and cash (or term deposits).
  • Buying both local and overseas shares, ETFs etc.
  • Including a mix of large, established companies (aka large-cap and ‘blue chip’) and smaller, high-potential companies (small-cap).
  • Spreading investments across different sectors such as tech, healthcare, retail or property trusts.

Taking the next step

This is just a general guide, and it’s necessary to think about your individual circumstances. Consulting a financial advisor can help you create an investment strategy aligned with your goals, risk tolerance, financial situation and stage in life.

March Income – $1937.13

Here is a breakdown of my income for March.

Bank Bonus$94
Amazon Merch/KDP$6.52
Stock Sale$77.33
Door Dash$80.92

March was a decent month for income.

Dividend income came in at $19.12.

Interest income was $200.46. Moving my money to a higher earning account paid off. I will try to keep my spare cash invested in T-bills or similar earning accounts to keep my interest earning high.

I received $25 in cash back.

I made $80.92 from Door Dash. It isn’t a big earner in my area. This summer I will try driving in the tourist area that isn’t too far from me and see if that makes doing Door Dash worth it.

My earnings from Amazon Merch and Amazon KDP totaled $6.52.

My job income was $1296.43. Unfortunately, my job ended at the beginning of the month, and I didn’t get any more work. When I get back from Thailand, I will look for more reliable work.

I made $32.13 from eBay sales and $105.22 from surveys.

I made $94 from some small bank bonuses.

Lastly, I made $77.33 from a stock sale. I was going to do an odd lot tender but chickened out. I would have made a lot more money if I had finished the deal.

I would have liked to make more money, but at least it was a little more than I spent for the month. This month I’ll be in Thailand, so I won’t have much income.

How was your month?

March Expenses – $1101.12

Here is a breakdown of my expenses for March.


March’s expenses were quite reasonable.

Entertainment expense was for one month Amazon Prime subscription, one month Hulu, and one month Max.

Rent was $115 for our apartment in Chiang Mai.

My transportation expense consisted of $97.25 for gas.

My food expense was $110.71. That is divided between $33.82 for groceries and $76.89 for restaurants. This is a very low total considering I ate out almost every day. I used the fast-food apps and discounted gift cards to keep my average meal cost low. All but one of my meals during the month cost $3.52 or under.

I paid $46 for a ticket from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and $84.10 in taxes and fees on a ticket from Thailand to Springfield, MO. I’ll probably change the award ticket next month which might result in slightly lower fees. I spent $41 on travel insurance, $40 on a Thai Visa, and $49 for a Motley Fool subscription. I’m considering the subscription a travel expense because I only purchased it for the AA miles and loyalty points I received with the subscription.

Utilities came in at $189.60. This was for electric, trash and internet in the U.S.

The household expense was for one item from Dollar Tree and a gift for my stepdaughter.

I provided $115 of support to my wife.

I spent $94.04 so my wife could fly round-trip from Chiang Mai to Bangkok to get her police certificate. The certificate was needed for her visa application so this is counted as a visa expense.

This month’s expenses will probably be a little higher since I will be traveling to Thailand and I will have some more expenses associated with getting my wife’s visa. How was your month?

February 2024 Goal Review

I have set three goals to achieve in 2024. I’ll review my progress towards the goals monthly. This is the second review.

My first goal is to add $10,000 to my savings. I made a little progress on this last month. I intend to eventually use most of these savings to max out my IRA for the year. For now, I’m keeping the money in a cash account in case I have unexpected large expenses with my wife’s visa and bringing her to the U.S.

My second goal is to lose weight. I did manage to lose six pounds in January, but I gained it all back in February. I have gained even more weight since then. It is easy for me to lose weight in Thailand, but I can’t seem to lose weight in the U.S. I have made some small changes to my diet and exercise. They haven’t been enough. I need to make some big changes. Unfortunately, I am having some anxiety over getting my wife’s visa and that makes me want to eat. I need to get in a better mindset before I can make big changes to my diet.

My third goal is to run a half marathon or marathon. I made only a tiny bit of progress on this goal. I have been having trouble sleeping, which leads to me being too tired to run. I’m hoping I can get on track and start running regularly this month.

I’m off to a slow start on meeting my goals. Last month, I did better on my financial goal and poorly on my other two goals. For the first two months, I am only making progress on one goal a month. I’m off to a poor start this month as well. I will try to make these goals more of a priority and make progress on at least two of my goals this month.