The Numbers: A Summary of Month 2

I cannot believe that we are only 2 months into our Brat Experiment. I feel like we have been doing this for so much longer… It has become so much a part of us and how we view the world… Still amazes me how quickly that happened.

Anyway, here we are at the end of Month 2. As with last month’s summary I have kept a lot of detail because we are still new at this Brat Experiment and the detail gives us a better idea of our spending culture (and maybe fellow Korean dwellers will find it useful too).

Day to day lives:



240 580 won

3850 won Groceries
11 280 won Groceries
700 won Soft drink
46 860 won Groceries
850 won Water at beach
2400 won Chocolate biscuits
13 440 won Groceries
14 600 won Groceries
8800 won Groceries
2650 won Milk
3000 won Sweets
2 650 won Milk
6 950 won Bus snacks
4 500 won Juice
1 700 won Small milk
40 450 won Groceries
51 000 won My school lunches
8 500 won Soup mix
8 270 won Groceries
3 150 won Groceries
4 980 won Groceries

Eat out


130 300 won


18 000 won Dinner out
9000 won School juice
22 000 won Dinner out
1800 won Ice cream
10 000 won Coffee out
14 000 won Lunch out
20 000 won Dinner out
35 500 won Burger dinner out



64 800 won

19 800 won Clothes
45 000 won Bag



64 570 won


3500 won Beer
5300 won Beers and chocolate milk
3550 won Soju & Mix
8800 won Beer
2 900 won Beer at the beach
1 400 won Soju
3 800 won Tonic water
8 400 won Beach beer and chips
11 600 won Beer, milk and chocolate biscuits
3 720 won Beer
4 150 won Beer and chocolate biscuits
7 450 won Gin



64 450 won

26 400 won Brewing pot
8300 won Flower pots and soil
2750 won Plug
10 000 won Book
15 000 won Haircut
2 000 won Preserve jar

Bills & Fees


421 705 won


121 500 won School union fee
500 won ATM withdrawal fee
1000 won ATM withdrawal fee
500 won ATM withdrawal fee
540 won SMS fee from bank
30 000 won Deposit to join a health shop
3000 won Fee to join the health shop
21 515 won Bank international transfer fees
104 260 won Building management fee
39 600 won My phone bill
43 560 won Internet bill
39 600 won Husband’s phone
16 130 won Gas bill



39 700 won


2800 won Taxi
3600 won Taxi
3300 won Taxi
30 000 won Bus from Seoul



155 460 won


15 000 won Gifts
10 000 won Gifts
10 000 won Gifts
45 000 won Gifts
7000 won Gifts
10 000 won Gifts
18 000 won Gifts
20 000 won Gifts
12 460 won Gifts
8000 won Gifts



26 600 won

7800 won Acupuncture
5300 won Acupuncture
6000 won Acupuncture
7500 won Medicine

 Week 5 grand total: 341 540 won

Necessary: 273 490 won (80%)

Indulgence: 68 050 won (20%)

Week 6 grand total: 229 300 won

Necessary: 187 650 (82%)

Indulgence: 41 650 won (18%)

Week 7 grand total: 95 590 won

Necessary: 52 590 won (55%)

Indulgence: 43 000 won (45%)

Week 8 grand total: 276 125 won

Necessary: 209 525 won (76%)

Indulgence: 66 600 won (24%)

Week 9 grand total: 265 610 won

Necessary: 214 790 won (81%)

Indulgence: 50 820 won (19%)

 TOTAL: 1 208 165 won (technically over budget by 208 167 won)

Total necessary: 938 045 won (78%)

Total indulgent: 270 120 won (22%)   

Firstly, what a massive improvement on last month! Last month we were 505 910 won over budget and we have more than halved that this month 🙂 Our ratio of necessity vs indulgence isn’t as good as last month though (78% vs 86% last month) but I’m ok with that given that we spent so much less money this month and that in the last week we aimed to enjoy life a bit more (by spending a bit more). Overall our ratio of necessity vs indulgence seems to hover around 80% vs 20% which is wonderful – we’re being frugal but are still making room to enjoy life (by spending more) from time to time 🙂




 94 900 won

4200 won Taxi to bus station
29 200 won Bus to Seoul
20 000 won Money on T-money card
5000 won Money on T-money card
10 000 won Money on T-money card
21 500 won Bus home
5000 won Taxi home



10 000 won


4000 won Bag locker (instead of accommodation)
6000 won Bag locker



83 400 won


3700 won Breakfast
7000 won Coffee out
12 400 won Subway Lunch
1500 won Doughnut
24 000 won Beer & Pudding
9400 won Juices
12 000 won Lunch out
6500 won Ice coffees
4000 won Groceries
1900 won Lunch out
1000 won Water



32 500 won

21 500 won Craft beer
11 000 won Wine



44 000 won

10 000 won 2 shirts
21 000 won Gifts
13 000 won Three scarves

Tourist Things


11 000 won

2000 won Deer food
9000 won Traditional Korean tea

 Seoul Travel Total: 275 800 won

Necessary: 192 900 (70%)

Indulgence: 82 900 won (30%)

 Travelling TOTAL: 275 800 won – well under budget J

 Which means:

MONTH 2 TOTAL (day to day & travel): 1 483 965 won (516 035 won UNDER budget)

This is incredible because it means that we have gone from being 318 210 won OVER budget last month to 516 035 won UNDER budget this month! 🙂 Yaaaaaaaaay! Why exactly I’m not actually sure yet… but I’m starting to feel the need for graphs to track the differences from month to month… look at my financial nerd coming out!! 😉

Anyway, because we knew that we were under budget for the month and because we had thought long and hard about these purchases (more than 30 days as is recommended by Get Rich Slowly) and because we had researched them extensively we bought:

  • Travel backpack for Husband: 93 000 won (on a 50% sale too!)
  • Waterproof camera: 355 110 won (a dream for YEARS)
  • Camera bags for my polaroid camera and waterproof: 13 500 won

For a grand total of 461 610 won (still under budget for the month at 1 945 575 won total). In other words, because we came in under budget we were able to buy things that we had thought long and hard about without it impacting on our savings rate. Just brilliant 🙂



How grief shaped my relationship with money


Cherry blossoms in the rain (South Korea, 2016)

Last night I lay in bed, unable to sleep, trying to decide if I should write this post or not. I was torn between it being either too personal or coming across as unfeeling and callous. But the truth is that while this blog is primarily focused on the money, money and particularly The Brat Experiment are inherently about much more than just money. They are about life, and more specifically my life. Our financial decisions are so intertwined in personal choice, personal values and personal experience that only a crazy person would try to pretend that they are not. And so this blog post is a recognition of that: a recognition of the messy, overlapping, wonderful highs and unthinkable lows of life (whether it’s financial or personal) and how they shape us.

Today I am sad. I am sad because today marks 16 years since my Mom died. For those of my dear Readers who struggle with Maths or aren’t familiar with the intricacies of psychosocial development, this basically means that my Mom died at one of the worst possible times in my development that she could have. To say that her death has had a profound impact on my life is a mammoth understatement. Her death has impacted on me and my identity more deeply than most parent deaths do. Unsurprisingly then, her death has also had a profound impact on how I view money. And so, today, I thought that I would voice those lessons that impact on how I deal with money:

  1. People die. Rather obvious I know, dear Reader. But I state it because most of us ignore the next logical step from this statement. And this step, the real bugger, is that, dear Reader, you will die too. How kak is that?! And we have very little control over when or how this happens. The implication of all of this is that plans sometimes get cut short and so we shouldn’t leave our happiness and dreams for the end of our lives (traditional retirement) because the reality is that we just might not get there. This means that I am happy to take slightly longer to reach Early Retirement/Financial Independence because I want to have a good quality of life and tick things off my dream list while getting there.
  2. Always ensure you have an updated Will and Testament. My Mom didn’t. She updated it after she got married but never updated it after she had kids. Thank goodness this wasn’t too much of an issue financially as my Dad was the main breadwinner. But even my 13 year old brain could see the potential financial disaster at the time. Planning is key. Chatting about what you want to happen should something happen to you is key. And giving yourself the opportunity of being heard when you no longer have a voice is vital (especially if you have a lot of money that could make things complicated for those left behind!).
  3. Perspective. Your relationship with your loved ones and your relationship with yourself are without a doubt the two most important things in life. Spending time with and making time for your loved ones is important. Looking after yourself is important. Making memories is important. Going on holidays together should be a priority. Money is not. Money is simply and only a means to an end. If something goes wrong financially I know that in the scheme of things it’s ok, it’s only money. It can be replaced. But this perspective is also why I want to retire early: I want the freedom of being able to prioritise my life around my loved ones rather than around the need to make money.
  4. Bad things will happen. Horrific, unimaginable fuck-ups will occur from time to time (both financially and personally). But you will survive. Even when you have NO clue how and NOTHING more to give, that damn sun will keep coming up. And somehow things will start to shift, you will start to adapt to the new order of things and somehow, miraculously, you will find your way out. Even if our finances were in a complete disaster and miles from where we wanted them to be. Even if we have a horrible, miles-over-budget week in The Brat Experiment. Even if today is unredeemable. I know that tomorrow is another day. And I can try again. What a privilege.    

    Road tripping to see my brother (South Africa, 2016)


Week 9

This was a short week because the new month starts for us on the 25th (which was Saturday). So technically we should have spent well below 200 000 won (according to the old plan) but because we revaluated The Brat Experiment the weekend before we were a little more free this week…

51 000 won My school lunches Necessary
3 720 won Beer Indulgence
39 600 won My phone bill Necessary
43 560 won Internet bill Necessary
39 600 won Husband’s phone Necessary
8 500 won Soup mix Necessary. Multiple Korean soup base mixes i.e. a source of multiple cheap (local) meals
8 270 won Groceries Necessary
3 150 won Groceries Necessary
16 130 won Gas bill Necessary. And MASSIVELY reduced from last month. Amazing how quickly the seasons changed (the gas does the underfloor heating).
35 500 won Burger dinner out Indulgence. And AMAZING. Hands down the best burger in Korea to date 🙂
4 150 won Beer and chocolate biscuits Indulgence. And drunk/eaten on the beach with a view 🙂
4 980 won Groceries Necessary
7 450 won Gin Indulgence

 Week’s total: 265 610 won

Necessary: 214 790 won (81%)

Indulgence: 50 820 won (19%)

Once again our bills (school lunches, phone bills, internet and gas bill) all add up to a hefty sum… What’s interesting though is that despite our increased freedom, which resulted in splurging on burgers, beers and chocolate biscuits on Thursday night, our ratio of necessary vs indulgent actually improved from last week. Not too shabby 🙂


This isn’t working…

On Saturday morning I did a quick calculation of how our weekly spend was going. It didn’t fill us with joy. According to Plan 1 (which was carried over into Plan 2) we should have had a combined 80 000 won to enjoy our weekend with (20 000 won each for each day of the weekend). Instead we had about 5000 won. Combined. To put that in perspective for people not living in Korea that is about 1 and a half beers from the grocery store or 2 litres of milk. In short: not a lot.

We felt dejectedly disappointed. We already knew that our bills were screwing us (and to be fair we would have come out under budget last week if it hadn’t been for that building management fee) but it’s just plain demoralizing to constantly be struggling with the budget. A revaluation was in order.


View from our bench 🙂

It was a beautiful day with gorgeous sunshine so after hanging up a load of washing we took ourselves for a (free!) cycle to the beach. We went a new route this time: the first half wove idyllically past vibrant green rice paddies and lush green trees and the second half… nearly killed us with cars (our cycle lane disappeared and suddenly we found ourselves navigating a near highway armed with nothing but our anxiety!). Anyway, we arrived safely at the beach, found a gorgeous wooden swinging bench (a new thing added to my wish list), bought a beer each, opened a packet of chips and took a good look at The Brat Experiment.

Fact: Our current budget plan is not working (see The Numbers for proof). But there are a number of options available to us:

  1. Save less (so we have a bigger monthly budget to spend).
  2. Spend less on our day to day living. Like super frugal. No beer. No chips. No bus snacks. No school lunches. No clothes ever. No eating out. Nothing except the absolute necessities.
  3. Travel less. Make the travel budget smaller so that our day to day budget can be bigger.
  4. Maybe The Brat Experiment just isn’t for us.

The crucial, super-tricky part of this all is that we want to prepare for the future while still enjoying the present. We aren’t interested in doing The Brat Experiment if we are only ever living for the future. Life is just too short for that. People die. Plans get cut short. So for this to work we need to be able to live in, and enjoy, the now. In other words, we need to be able to have a beer at the beach or socialize at lunch with our co-teachers from time to time. These things are important. All this means that option 2 is out. We aren’t interested in living more frugally than we already are.

So maybe The Brat Experiment just isn’t for us? It was a super scary question to ask and so I think I had been putting it off… but the problem was that the longer I put off asking it, the scarier it got. And so, finally (with beer in hand!), I pushed Husband with the obvious: We don’t have to do The Brat Experiment. It’s right there in the name: it’s an experiment. To see if it’s for us or not. And maybe it isn’t.

To my surprise (and relief!) the resounding answer to the question from both of us was No. Basically, now that we know that The Brat Life is a viable reality we now both really want it. Like REALLY want it. We want to have the freedom of time and travel and work hours that suit us. We want the privilege of being able to plan work around our kids and our family instead of planning family time around work. And we want the financial security (and financial buffer) that financial independence or early retirement provides. In short, we are both still very much on board with The Brat Experiment. We just need to find a different way of doing it…

So we are down to Option 1 (save less) or Option 3 (travel less). We quickly eradicated saving less. We saved 66% of our salaries (that arrived in our bank accounts after deductions) this month (or 64% of our total salaries before deductions) and it felt GREAT. Suddenly we have a very nice amount of money slowly starting to build up 🙂 And we’ve done the maths on how much we will have by the end of our contract in Korea if we keep this up and we like that number a whole big bunch. Which means that Option 1 is out and so what has to change is the travelling…

The original plan was: 1 million won a month for day to day expenses (for both of us combined) and 1 million won a month for travel (for both of us combined). This leaves us able to save 66% of our combined salaries. Wonderful. Except that the ratio isn’t working: we spend more than 1 million on day to day expenses and we spend less than 1 million on travel…

The challenge is that in theory our travel budget was supposed to pay for overseas trips as well (saving a little bit each month and finally putting it all together). In reality though this was never going to be how it worked because we had already planned our Malaysian trip before we started The Brat Experiment. And we had planned to finance it by simply halving how much we saved for two months (one month for the flight tickets and the next for our spending money). So we aren’t actually putting aside money each month for overseas travels. Which means that we don’t need a cool 1 million every month for travel. (This is also lucky because we have just started contributing to a family owned beach plot which is going to take 100 000 won out of our monthly budget).

We could play around with the ratios of day to day vs travel expenses but for what purpose? At this point it just feels knit-picky and like we’re complicating something that doesn’t need to be complicated. So here are the (current) facts:

  • We know that we want to keep our savings at our current rate.
  • We know that we need to send 100 000 won to South Africa each month for the beach plot.
  • We know that we have already bought our Malaysian flights and that in July our savings will halve because we will take spending money to Malaysia.
  • And so we know that we need to live and travel in Korea off 1.9 million won combined a month.

So screw the ratios. Instead we are going to focus on the big picture of how much we can spend in Korea per month (1.9 million) and balance our living and travel ratios as we see fit from month to month. Freedom within limits. Brilliant 🙂 (We will still keep track of how much our travel costs us though because of the daunting task of having to guestimate how much we need for travelling when we retire/reach financial independence).

We left the beach feeling much more comfortable with Our Brat Experiment. It feels like we are slowing making this way of life ours, molding it to exactly our needs and what we want from life. And it’s wonderfully liberating to be reminded that we are in charge of The Brat Experiment (not the other way around) and can change it as we see fit. So with that, and in the knowledge that we haven’t come close to exhausting our travel budget this month, we took ourselves out for a delicious dinner of Samgypsal (which just happened to come, in true Korean style, with free ice cream). Korea and loving life for the win 🙂


Samgypsal (pork deliciousness and sidedishes)


Week 8: Over budget. Again.

I already know that we went over the week’s budget. I know this for two reasons: we paid the building management fee last week (which effectively cuts our weekly budget in half) and I did a quick calculation of where we were at on Saturday morning and we were already about 5000 won shy of our 200 000 won week’s allowance. Not an awesome feeling to have at the beginning of your much anticipated weekend…

2 650 won Milk Necessary
30 000 won Bus from Seoul Necessary
6 950 won Bus snacks Necessary. Husband had just got off an international flight.
21 515 won Bank fees Necessary unfortunately. Cost of sending money to New Zealand.
4 500 won Juice Indulgence. But entertainment so awkward. We babysat my co-teacher’s kids and they wanted juice…
2 900 won Beer at the beach Indulgence. But cheap 🙂
1 400 won Soju Indulgence. Alcohol. But super cheap.
104 260 won Building management fee Necessary 😦
1 700 won Small milk Necessary. But expensive cause our regular (more cost effective) sized milk was out of stock.
3 800 won Tonic water Indulgence. For the gin 🙂
14 000 won Lunch out Indulgence. But with the school during an all day workshop…
2 000 won Preserve jar Necessary. I went apricot picking with my co-teachers (for free!) and came home with about 4kg of (FREE!) apricots 🙂
8 400 won Beach beer and chips Indulgence. And so good. You should have seen the view, dear Reader. And there are few things better than beer with a view 🙂
20 000 won Dinner out Indulgence
11 600 won Beer, milk and chocolate biscuits Mostly indulgence…


40 450 won Groceries Necessary

 Week’s total: 276 125 won

Necessary: 209 525 won (76%)

Indulgence: 66 600 won (24%)

So we seem to be back to the same pattern, dear Reader: over budget but a much better ratio of necessary vs indulgence than last week. This being over budget nonsense is getting old. Very old. And resulted in a discussion revaluating The Brat Experiment while sipping on our beers and looking at the view at the beach… But more on that in the next post, dear Reader.




The sparkle has dimmed…

It’s official. The sparkle has dimmed and the glitter has dulled. I’m no longer inhaling Early Retirement articles every moment I can. I no longer lie awake at night, too excited to sleep because I can’t help but write my next blog post in my head. I no longer feel like some brave pioneer-hero experimenting with the unknown. No longer am I entirely consumed. Instead, it has become just another hum-drum part of my life. The Brat Experiment has officially lost its novelty. It’s awful, I know, dear Reader.

I realized this last week. And proactively chose to ignore it. But I’ve decided to put on my grown-up pants and note some (obvious?) things:

  • It was inevitable. There was no way I was going to maintain my all-consuming enthusiasm for The Brat Experiment indefinitely.
  • The fact that it is no longer a “novelty” or “the unknown” is actually a good thing. It means that I’ve integrated the concept into my life and view of the world. It doesn’t mean that I have nothing left to learn. Because I do. A lot. But it does mean that the lessons I have learnt have now become a comfortable part of me.
  • Losing the initial enthusiasm and sparkle does not mean that we have given up on The Brat Experiment. (See point 2 above for starters). We are still working daily to reduce our spending and increase our savings. We are still tracking our money and reporting our figures here. We’re still doing what needs to be done. It just doesn’t consume our every thought anymore.

My weird dinner combination last week – trying to finish everything in the fridge so nothing is wasted 🙂

All this means that it is not the end of the world that the sparkle has dimmed. We still want the life that The Brat Experiment can offer us. And we’re still doing everything we can to make sure that it happens. We/I just happen to be less bouncy about it now.


Week 7: An experiment in no Husbands

I’m feeling optimistic about this week 🙂 Husband was away the whole week so the budget was only 100 000 won (instead of 200 000 won) but I think I came in under that 🙂

500 won ATM withdrawal fee Necessary
14 600 won Groceries Necessary
15 000 won Haircut Necessary. Last had one in February. That’s 4 months ago. Also Husband refused to cut my hair for me to save money.
10 000 won Coffee out Indulgent. But socially appropriate. Friends paid for dinner. I bought coffee.
540 won SMS fee from bank Necessary
30 000 won Deposit to join a health shop Indulgence. But we like to be healthy. And we will get the money back when we leave Korea so technically doesn’t count as an expense at all 🙂
3000 won Fee to join the health shop Necessary
8800 won Groceries Necessary
2650 won Milk Necessary
7500 won Medicine Necessary. I battled a cold all week.
3000 won Sweets Indulgence

Week’s total: 95 590 won

Necessary: 52 590 won (55%)

Indulgence: 43 000 won (45%)

 Under budget for the first time ever I think – whohooooooooooo! I’m just going to ignore the necessary vs. indulgence ratio though. Especially given that I will be getting the 30 000 won deposit back in 8 months.

I did feel like it was easier not to spend money with Husband not being here though… I was happier to make a plan with weird combinations of food for dinner (simply because that was what was in our fridge), not a single beer was bought all week and I didn’t pay for a meal out once. What’s strange about this though is that Husband is actually far happier and willing than me to eat weird combinations of food for dinner… and at default he’s much better at not spending money than I am… The only conclusion is that the already-noted phenomenon of spending more money when we’re in a social situation appears to play out even between just the two of us… Didn’t see that coming at all, dear Reader!


Week 6

As I write this I’m sitting at my desk feeling reasonably sorry for myself. Husband has gone off to South Africa for the week (one of his best friends is getting married) which is fine except that at precisely 10 pm last night I started feeling sick… Ear ache, really sore throat, sinus and a distinct uncomfortable warmth… My eyes are definitely not loving the computer screen… Despite this though I’m surprisingly optimistic about how we did with the Brat Experiment last week…

8300 won Flower pots and soil Necessary. We’re growing herbs from scratch 🙂
5300 won Beers and chocolate milk Indulgence
500 won ATM withdrawal fee Necessary
3550 won Soju & Mix Indulgence. But cheapest alcohol we could think of.
2750 Plug Necessary. And we were THRILLED – took us 3 months to find one that fitted our sink.
10 000 won Gifts Necessary
10 000 won Book Necessary. The Vegetarian. It’s a translated Korean book that just won a big fancy award.
8800 won Beer Necessary. Husband totally just got NZ residency – celebrations were in order 🙂
2400 won Chocolate biscuits Necessary. Part of the NZ celebrations 🙂
9000 won School juice Indulgence
22 000 won Dinner out Indulgence. But part of the NZ residency celebration
1800 won Ice cream Pudding from the grocery store after dinner out
13 440 won Groceries Necessary
1000 won ATM withdrawal fee Necessary. Although I am starting to feel that these fees are adding up…
10 000 won Gifts Necessary
45 000 won Gifts Necessary
7000 won Gifts Necessary
10 000 won Gifts Necessary
18 000 won Gifts Necessary
20 000 won Gifts Necessary
12 460 won Gifts Necessary and on sale
8000 won Gifts Necessary

Week’s total: 229 300 won

Necessary: 187 650 (82%)

Indulgence: 41 650 won (18%)

Much better (compared to last week)! Firstly out weekly total is much closer to what it should be i.e. 200 000 won 🙂 And this is despite the massive gift shop that we did (140 460 won – 61% of our week’s spend) – yay! Also our ratio of necessary vs indulgence has improved again 🙂

It was a long weekend (Monday was a public holiday here) so while Husband jetted off to South Africa I spent the weekend in Seoul seeing friends and generally doing the touristy thing 🙂

4200 won Taxi to bus station Necessary
29 200 won Bus to Seoul Necessary
20 000 won Money on T-money card Necessary to use the subway. And the cheapest way of getting around.
3700 won Breakfast Necessary (from grocery store)
7000 won Coffee out Indulgence
12 400 won Subway Lunch Indulgence. And not great 😦
21 500 won Craft beer Indulgence and delicious.
1500 won Doughnut Indulgence but SO good
24 000 won Beer & Pudding Necessary. My hosts bought dinner so it was the right thing to do.
4000 won Bag locker Necessary
5000 won Money on T-money card Necessary
9400 won Juices Necessary. Breakfast. And SO good.
2000 won Deer food Necessary and awesome
12 000 won Lunch out Necessary. And amazing.
6500 won Ice coffees Indulgence
10 000 won 2 shirts Necessary? Indulgence? They were cheap. But I wouldn’t have bought them if we weren’t travelling…
11 000 won Wine Indulgence
21 000 won Gifts Necessary
4000 won Groceries Nuts. And super cheap 🙂
6000 won Bag locker Necessary
10 000 won Money on T-money card Necessary
13 000 won Three scarves Indulgence. But cheap and felt wonderful to spoil myself a bit 🙂
9000 won Traditional Korean tea Necessary.
1900 won Lunch out Necessary. Also there was a special so SUPER cheap.
1000 won Water Necessary
21 500 won Bus home Necessary
5000 won Taxi home Necessary

Travel total: 275 800 won

Necessary: 192 900 (70%)

Indulgence: 82 900 won (30%)

Granted most of this travel spend was just for me (cause Husband is in South Africa), but I still feel good about it. A massive difference to the budget is that there were no accommodation costs – I stayed with friends the whole time. Also, all the site seeing we did was free – the only costs involved were transport costs to get to places – bravo Korea! So definitely a lesson going forward: eating and drinking (our usual holiday activities) are expensive; but site-seeing seems to be generally free (in Korea at least!) – so here’s to doing more of that! 🙂



Seoul Forest

Getting Real

SUCH exciting news this week: I found a New Zealand Early Retirement Expert: Elizabeth Kerr 😀 I’ve been devouring her articles over the last few days and decided to do as she suggested in this post. The idea is that the non-negotiable list is what is absolutely necessary to survive (or cannot be avoided):

Non-Negotiable* Negotiable/Everything Else
  •  Gas, power & water
  • Food
  • Medical aid
  • School lunches
  • Teachers’ group
  • Cell phones
  • Internet

*A note on this: Husband and I are currently working awesome jobs that provide housing as part of our benefits (i.e. we don’t pay rent). Also, because we are South African we don’t pay tax. Lastly, we both walk to work and can easily walk to the shops so there are no non-negotiable transport costs. Pretty sweet deal hey?? And all the more reason that we should be saving significantly…

And, here’s the hardcore thing: everything else (i.e. everything that is not non-negotiable) is what is stopping us achieving Early Retirement/Financial Independence *gasp!

My problem is that a big part of the reason that we are overseas is to travel and explore the world. There isn’t any point to us being here if we aren’t going to travel and explore the country we are in. So I added another column (with an inbuilt limit though):

Non-Negotiable Non-Negotiable Want (limit to 20%** of our income) Everything Else (Negotiable)
  • Gas, power & water
  • Food
  • Medical aid
  • School lunches
  • Teachers’ group
  • Cell phones
  • Internet
  • Travel within South Korea
  • Eating South Korean food
  • Travel outside of South Korea
  • Clothes
  • Alcohol
  • Gadgets
  • Manicures
  • New bags
  • Taxi home
  • Bus home etc

**Where did I pluck this 20% for travelling from you ask, dear Reader? From this guy: Bucking the Trend. But more on that another time.

What an incredible mind shift. EVERYTHING that is not non-negotiable is what is delaying our Early Retirement. Obviously our travel costs will delay our retirement but I think that’s ok – the tradeoff is worth it for us. But everything else? That is not worth delaying our Early Retirement for… except for maybe that underwater camera that I really want for Malaysia?!? *Sigh



South Korea (May, 2016)

STOP bullying me!!

Something strange has subtly crept into our lives since starting this Brat Experiment. When Hubby and I were at the shops a few weeks ago we perplexingly found ourselves getting angrier and angrier the longer we walked around…

At first we thought that it was because we were angry with ourselves because we weren’t letting ourselves buy things that we normally would have. But after the millionth “sale” or “special deal” sign we realized that it was actually because we felt bullied into buying stuff that we didn’t really want. We felt like the shop was trying to coerce us into spending. And it properly pissed us off.

Of course businesses make money by getting people to buy stuff. So they are going to try to coerce us into spending our money. But I think that, for the most part, us shoppers have forgotten this. We are so completely surrounded by capitalist and consumerist culture that we don’t even see it anymore. And so we have become passive participants in our own spending. We’ve lost our agency and intentionality.

But since beginning the Brat Experiment Husband and I have started critically evaluating and tracking our spending. And an unintentional byproduct of this has been that suddenly we see the bullying consumerism all around us for what it is. And we are not ok with it.

Maybe this is why my Experts are spending less and claiming to be not only just as happy but actually happier? They’ve called bullshit on bullying consumerist culture and, in doing so, have reclaimed themselves. They are no longer passive spenders at the mercy of capitalism but are rather independent, active directors of their own lives. And that’s pretty cool and empowering 🙂