Sep 25 2013

Rent, Phone, & Utilities: A Budget Breakdown

Revised April 3, 2015

Many people have asked us about our rent/phone/utilities category and how it breaks down. We are, on average, spending about $150 more per month in this category than we did while living at the cabinas. We may include expenses in this category that you normally wouldn’t but it works for us. So here is how it shakes out:

March 2015 Breakdown of Rent, Phone, & Utilities

March 2015 Breakdown of Rent, Phone, & Utilities

Rent and water are pretty self-explanatory. Our electricity bill varies with the seasons. We pay more in the rainy season because we run the ceiling fans to keep the air flow up and the mildew down. We also use the clothes dryer, albeit in the evenings and early mornings when the rates are lower (though Paul is always trying to time laundry days with hopefully sunny mornings so he can hang things out instead of using the dryer).

Our Internet is a fixed monthly fee for about $62/month, with the exact amount depending on the exchange rate. We have a standard wireless package through CR WiFi, which offers 2M down and 1M up. We’ve been pretty pleased and consider this a necessary expense because of our website.

We use propane gas for both cooking and hot water. I’d say we average about one and a half tanks per month at about $14/tank. We do laundry in cold water, so that keeps the expense down somewhat. In August, we bought two tanks.

Our home alarm service has two costs — the monthly monitoring fee of 15,000 colones (about $30) and, since we don’t have a land line, an additional “phone chip” to contact the alarm company in the event of the alarm being set off. The “chip” costs just under $7/month.

Our one splurge, and one for which we are extremely grateful, is having our house cleaned. Our housekeeper comes for four hour every week and cleans the floors, bathrooms, kitchen, and any any odd jobs we might have for her. She’s wonderful and well worth the 1,750 colones/$3.50 per hour. She originally charged 1500 colones per hour but we raised her salary after one year. You may wonder why we include housekeeping in this category. It’s because where we lived before at the cabinas, weekly housekeeping was included in the “all-inclusive” monthly rent. It makes it easier to compare by keeping this expense in this category.

The last item in this category is our phone service. It actually includes three things: Paul’s monthly phone plan which rises or falls based on the number of minutes he talks, my “pay as you go” sim card which costs about 1,000 colones/month (about $2), and our Vonage VOIP phone line which costs about $31/month.

We hope that clears up how we are tracking our household expenses. I’d be curious to know what you pay for these same expenses where you live. Drop us a line and let us know.

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