May was a busy month for us, with lots of tours and house guests. As a result, when not working, we spent most of our time at home. So, our groceries were on the high end of normal and just about everything else was on the low end, with one big exception.
Our Rent/Phone/Utilities category was much higher than normal because we bought two new cell phones. We wanted “smart phones” but we didn’t want to pay $400-$600 each for them. I guess we wanted “somewhat smart” phones. We thought about buying phones in the States and even had a friend offer to bring them down for us in his luggage. However, we decided against that, as phones purchased in the States are not under warranty outside of the country. It was worth it for us to spend a bit more for the phones in order to have them covered by a 1-year warranty.
We shopped locally in our town of San Ramón,and also checked out PriceSmart and Walmart in Alajuela for the best deals, mainly considering Samsung and Huawei brands which are readily available and serviced here. After lots of shopping and comparing, we ended up purchasing two Samsung Duos from Celulares Orlich, right in San Ramón. They had a great selection and really listened to us and helped us find what we were looking for.
Paul wanted a phone with a large screen and a better camera. I wanted a smaller phone, mostly just for calls. We both got a lot for our money. For our two smart phones and two cases, we paid a total of 173,000 colones (about $328.00). My phone ended up being much cheaper locally (54,000 colones/$102) than the same model at Walmart (68,000 colones/$129). They only had one left, in white, and while I was planning on a black phone, I jumped at the price.
Some of our favorite apps that we’ve downloaded on both phones for free include the Runtastic Altimeter & Compass which lets you measure altitude in meters or feet, and also gives you sunrise and sunset info, compass readings, and GPS coordinates; What’s App? so we can call our friends for free; and Google Translate. which lets you translate with your voice, camera, keyboard or handwriting.
Housekeeping, which also falls under this category, was 25% lower than normal because our housekeeper wasn’t able to come one week. Our agreement with her is that if she cancels (and so far, she has always given us advance notice), we don’t pay her. But if we need to cancel for any reason, we will pay her.
As usual, to help put things into perspective, here are our expenses for the previous two months. If you want more information about a particular month, just click on the graphic for that month below: