I’m writing this from a café on the west coast of Koh Samui. This is my view:
I’ve been in Thailand since the 30th December and so far it’s been amazing, everything I was hoping for. There are less savoury aspects – mainly the lack of sleep from so much travelling around, and I’m struggling a little trying to be a vegetarian here – but all in all I’m very happy. I haven’t once been propositioned by a prostitute – I’m not sure what everyone’s talking about – maybe I just don’t look the type.
On New Year’s Eve I met a couple of Canadian loonies in my hostel and we ended up, after a couple of life-threatening tuktuk rides, in the centre of Bangkok to see out the New Year. The day after I experienced the conspicuous consumerism of a country seemingly in thrall with western culture:
But it’s quite telling that it’s a country still in development. The sky train and metro trains in Bangkok are excellent, cheap, air conditioned, quick, and they’re building more. The main train station on the other hand is an absolute dive, smells of urine, and you have to wait half an hour just to get to the front of the ticket queue.
You can get some things very cheaply – taxi rides for example, if they’ve got their meter switched on. I do wonder how they make a living after all overheads are considered. And food is very reasonably priced, depending where you go. I get the impression if you’re a local then you can get by very cheaply, but for touristy mugs like me we get fleeced in every way possible. It’s most explicit at the actual tourist sites, where Thais can go in free whereas ‘foreigners’ have to pay 500 baht (about £12.50 to enter).
It turns out Thais really love Buddhas. I went to their main religious temple, called Wat Pho. Here’s a sample:
Last night I took a sleeper train from Bangkok (an overnight train with beds on it) down to Surat Thani. This cost about £20, which is very cheap considering the distance, and when you consider that I didn’t have to pay accommodation costs for the night it’s a double win. I’m suffering now though, trying to sleep on a rickety train isn’t ideal. I took a ferry out this morning to Koh Samui and have discovered the beach for the first time.
On Saturday I’m going on a day long kayaking tour which will take me past the lagoon as featured in the film The Beach:
Needless to say I’m very excited about this. I still have 3 more weeks in Thailand before I head home on the 26th Jan, only to head out on the 27th Jan for a week of skiing with my sister and baby nephew in the Alpes. It’s a hard life hey.
Anyway, enough trying to make you all jealous. How did my spending figures for December stack up?
- Mobile phone– £19.40
- Rent– £550 – I own my house (with a mortgage) but I pay myself rent. I don’t actually move any money around, but for the purposes of my spreadsheet and my savings rate I treat my house as though it were a rental property and I am a tenant in it.
- Food, drinks, toiletries– £201.61
- Eating/drinking out, takeaways– £221.18 (I ate and drank way too much before Christmas. I regret nothing!)
- Petrol/travel– £247.07 – A fair bit of driving to see family for Christmas. This figure also includes £71.40 spent on trains to and from the airport for my Thailand trip.
- Car expenses (insurance, repairs etc)– £610 – Aaargh! I had the usual £280 annual car tax this month (I think my next car will be a more fuel efficient one so I can avoid this). But that at least was totally expected. I also had a problem with my car’s brakes and the garage charged me £330 to fix it. I hate unexpected expenses. Eeugh.
- Gym/Sports– £30
- Music/gigs/cinema– £190.35 – So I bought a couple of Pearl Jam tickets for next year for £148.65. Ahem. Definitely worth it, possibly.
- Cash Withdrawals– £315.73 – So most of this is actually money I got out for my Thailand trip, £245.73 to be exact, which bought me 10,000 baht. 10,000, I’m rich!
- Miscellaneous– £398.25 – Christmas decorations, presents, the first 4 nights of accommodation in Thailand, and a few other bits.
- Bank charge– Negative £9.01 (ie they paid me).
I split out my income into active and passive – passive is basically my rental income, active is everything else.
- Salary(after pension/sharesave removed) – £2176.34
- Birthday and Christmas money – £342 (thanks Mum and Dad!)
- Pension payment –£877.50 – I put in 6%, my employer puts in 20%
- Sharesave– £250
- Matched betting– £0
- Rental Income (after bills, expenses, council tax, income tax and mortgage interest removed) – negative 470.64 – So I paid my self assessment income tax for the tax year 2016-17 this month. £1952.60. This is in addition to the tax I already pay through my workplace salary. That’s a lot of dosh from me to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, maybe they could charge the big corporations and rich tax avoiders a similar proportion of their earnings.
Total Active Income = £3646.04
Total Passive Income = negative £470.64 (this would have been a positive £1481.96 without the income tax hit, so it’s actually not too bad, sort of)
My Savings Rate
Here is my usual spiel, with December’s figures put in:
Most people looking at my stats above might see an income of £3646.04 and spending of £2774.58 and say, aha, your savings rate is 1-spending/income which equals 0.239, or 24%.
Others might add the active and passive income together for a total income of £3175.40 and use the same calculation above to get a savings rate of 13%.
Other bloggers might consider the mortgage repayments as an expense also (I’ve only considered the mortage interest above) but that’s a different topic altogether.
My method is to use passive income as an expense reducer. That is, my spending is £2774.58 minus negative £470.64 which equals £3245.22. As my active income is £3646.04 and my spending is £3245.22 then my savings rate is 11%.
See my earlier post here if you want a bit more explanation on this. I do think it is an accurate way of measuring the savings rate (until someone tells me otherwise).
My Net Worth Tracker
My net worth actually decreased a little in December from £199,775.70 to £ 199,361.56 , a £414.14 decrease. My net worth is based on the estimated values of my properties minus my debts (mortgage/loans etc), plus my savings, plus my investment accounts (including pension) and the total of my bank balances.
According to Zoopla my houses reduced in value a little in December, and with the astronomical spending and income tax hit my net worth reduced. I’m okay with it, a lot of the expenses are once a year expenses, and I’m set up well going into January and the new year.
I did consider doing a bit of creative accounting to get myself above the £200k for the end of the year. For example I usually pay my self assessment income tax in January – the only reason I paid it in December this year was because I was going to be away in January. But really, it’s not that big a deal, I’ll only be kidding myself. And I got a big tax rebate back in July so, swings and roundabouts I guess. As I say, it means January should look a little better (though given I’m taking some unpaid leave for this Thailand holiday that may not be the case after all!)
Since this time last year I estimate my net worth has increased by £51,745.72. Here’s a lovely graph to show how my net worth has increased since September 2012:
At some point in the next couple of weeks I’m going to do a roundup of 2017, the month by month highs and lows, big purchases, average spend and such. I’m thinking about looking at where all the money I saved went in 2017 – it’s not so clear cut when you’re paying mortgages off so it would be interesting (to me at least) to see. And then I might look ahead to 2018. I’m not really one for setting targets but maybe I’ll set one or two for myself.
Anyhow, peace out, and catch up soon!