I have been here a month. I haven’t been able to record my costs to see how much I am spending. I have this new budget program called YouNeedABudget. It includes a whole system for budgeting. It is really great. The idea is you live off of funds you already have. This is called your buffer. For the funds in your buffer, you give each dollar a job. You no longer refer to your checking account balance. It has a way to roll with the punches, unexpected expenses. I have had several punches here with problems with my home. I am also renovating the bathroom.
I estimate I can live here on ¢200,000 colones or $350 dollars a week. This comes out to ¢800,000 colones or $1400 dollars each month. The currency exchange value changes every month. Maybe I should try living on ¢1,000,000 colones each month ($1750). Alright, let’s make it a cool million! I can tell people I live on a million each month.
A month is a long time to be consistent at anything. I am going to try really hard to keep up with the budget. I have the YouNeedABudget app on my phone. The app allows you to use currencies from different countries. It has colones for Costa Rica. Bonus.
Here is how it will work living in Costa Rica. The first thing I have to determine, is how frequently will I receive my million colones salary to start living the life of a millionaire. Here is the plan. Every Friday, I will use my ATM Debit card to retrieve ¢250,000 colones. I can only go to the ATM every Friday. Friday only. Discipline. Control. I have to live on cash during the week. No credit cards. Cash is king.
I discovered the bank near my home Banco Nacional doesn’t have an ATM fee for banks in the United States. No cover charge. My bank also doesn’t charge an ATM fee for out of network ATMs. This is the only bank I have found that doesn’t have an ATM fee.
Are you with me so far. I receive my salary each week in cash. This will be all the funds I will have available.
Now I have the funds. The next step is to determine in advance how each dollar or colon in this case will be spent. This is how the budget program works. The app allows you to allocate your funds available to different categories. You can even have categories for future expenses. For example, my home maintenance fee is ¢50,000 colones each month. Each week, I can allocate ¢12,500 from my weekly salary to go into the home maintenance category. At the end of the month, the funds will be available. No stress. It really is a great app. You can find it at http://www.youneedabudget.com . They support the Costa Rican currency colones.
These are my categories for my expenses I have in the app:
- Home Maintenance Fee
- Dining Out
- Coffee Shop
- Stuff I forgot to Budget for
If you overspend in one category, the app has a way to move funds between categories quickly. They call this rolling with the punches. It is like you reallocate your funds dynamically from another category.
Note: I have paid a year in advance for my gym membership. It doesn’t need a category.
These are really my own expenses. I don’t buy clothes or anything. I already have clothes. No phone, no phone bill. No car. No gasoline. No car insurance. I don’t have home insurance. I live inside a gated community. No burglars to worry about. The only thing that could bring down the house is an earthquake. No fires here really.
I do eat out a lot. At this time, I am not able to use my kitchen much for personal reasons. Eating out varies by a wide margin just like any other place. If you stay with the locally owned places, these are cheapest. With my budget, I actually should have plenty to spend even for nice restaurants. I am going to really try this month to only spend the dining out category for me. This has been a problem in the past. See Put your Mask on First.
I will update this article weekly to include how much I am actually spending in each category. Discipline. Control. Record. I have always wanted to know how much I spend each month in Costa Rica.
The word budget in Spanish is presupuesto.
¡Voy a adelentarme a una vida mejor!