The Numbers: A Summary of Month 4

Month 4 baby! 🙂 And we are going to celebrate but starting to include less detail in this monthly report. This is because it really feels like we have a handle on our spending culture by now so we no longer need so much detail. If you would like to see the details of this month then please check out Week 14, Week 15, Week 16, Week 17 and our Malaysia trip. If you are new to The Brat Experiment and want to see monthly summaries in more detail then feel free to check out Month 1, Month 2 and Month 3.

Week 14

Week 15

Week 16

Week 17

Groceries

27%

432 340 won

35 030 won

 

129 980 won

 

225 310 won

42 020 won

Eat out

16%

263 420 won

137 820 won

69 600 won

56 000 won

n/a

Clothes

0%

0 won

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Alcohol

2%

36 450 won

n/a

10 250 won

20 100 won

6 100 won

Once-off

13%

210 100 won

13 000 won

n/a

188 100 won

(phone)

9 000 won

Bills & Fees

16%

268 084 won

11 860 won

1 020 won

104 204 won

151 000 won

Transport

2%

29 300 won

20 000 won

3 300 won

6 000 won

n/a

Gifts

7%

110 320 won

3 000 won

9 820 won

37 500 won

60 000 won

Medical

1%

7 000 won

n/a

7 000 won

n/a

n/a

Travel

16%

267 050

219 350 won

(Seoul on way to Malaysia)

47 700 won

(bus home from Seoul)

n/a

n/a

Travel (spending money in Malaysia)

 RM 4472 or about 1 350 000 won

 Week 14 Total: 440 060 won

Necessary: 364 230 won (83%)

Indulgent: 75 830 won (17%)

Week 15 total: 278 670 won

Necessary: 215 320 won (77%)

Indulgence: 63 350 won (23%)

Week 16 total: 637 214 won

Necessary: 577 314 won (91%)

Indulgence: 59 900 won (9%)

Week 17 total: 268 120 won

Necessary: 253 020 won (94%)

Indulgence: 15 100 won (6%)

Malaysia: 1 350 000 won

 MONTH 4 TOTAL: 1 624 064 won (+ 1 350 000 won for Malaysia)

Total necessary: 1 409 884 won (87%)

Total indulgent: 214 180 won (13%)

Ignoring our spending money for Malaysia (because that came out of what we normally would have saved rather than our day-to-day budget), we actually came in 275 936 won under budget 🙂 And that was with a trip to Seoul, eating out a LOT and spending quite a bit on gifts. Super stoked 🙂 I have no doubt that not being in South Korea for 10 days helped a lot though. Either way, our current budget is treating us well and we have some extra money from Month 4 so we are going to up our savings for Month 5. The send-it-to-savings-the-moment-you-get-your-salary-and-maak-‘n-plan (translation: make a plan) for the rest of the month approach is working really well for us so that’s what we will do again in Month 5 too. So wish us luck, especially given that I’d like to try and be more of a tourist in South Korea this coming month 🙂

                            Xxx

 

Week 17: A Short Week

This is a short week because today is payday (yay!) and so marks the beginning of a new month for us 🙂 So these are the numbers for Monday to Wednesday this week. As usual for the last week of the month, a big chunk of money is going to bills. Until we started tracking ourselves so diligently I had no idea how much money we actually spent on bills. It’s easy to think “40 000 won on a phone contract isn’t bad” but you forget that if you take into consideration that there are two phone contracts, internet, gas bills, electricity bills etc it all quickly adds up. Not sure what the solution is though other than to get seriously cheap when researching for a new phone or internet contract…

Groceries

42 020 won

8 900 won Groceries Necessary
33 120 won Groceries Necessary

Eat Out

n/a

Clothes

n/a

Alcohol

6 100 won

6 100 won Beer Indulgence

Once-off

9 000 won

9 000 won Haircut for Husband Indulgence because I usually cut it for free but you can really tell the difference between me and a professional!

Bills & Fees

151 000 won

11 000 won Residency tax for Husband Necessary. Have NO idea why we had to pay this… just know that we had to.
11 000 won Residency tax for me As above
6 240 won Gas bill Necessary and wonderfully low. I dread winter’s gas bill…
39 600 won My phone bill Necessary
39 600 won Husband’s phone bill Necessary
43 560 won Internet Necessary

Transport

n/a

Gifts

 60 000 won

60 000 won Postage for gifts Necessary. Even went with regular post (so cheaper). Didn’t go for the 3 month boat though…

Medical

n/a

Travel

n/a

Week’s total: 268 120 won

Necessary: 253 020 won (94%)

Indulgence: 15 100 won (6%)

Quite a lot for just 3 days…. But 150 000 won of that is bills and our ratio is great so I’m happy 🙂 Now to see what the numbers say about Month 4 as whole…

 Xxx

 

Week 16: Coasting Along

At the moment we are feeling pretty good about our spending. We’re managing to stay within out budget but don’t feel limited at all in our daily living. But I know that we could be spending less. And because of this I have been wondering lately if I’m perhaps too liberal in labelling things “necessary” as opposed to “indulgent”. The major area that I’m thinking about is our grocery shopping – this area really could use a more detailed analysis of necessity vs indulgence but the slips being in Korean make this quite a challenge… So for the moment our groceries are all just labeled “necessary”. We could also stop eating out, drinking alcohol, buying gifts and using taxis. That is the brutal, hard-core, ignore-our-values and retire-as-soon-as-possible truth. Which means that I cannot help but ask: Is our current (technically) indulgent spending worth the delay in reaching financial independence?

 Groceries

225 310 won

 

43 510 won Groceries Necessary
26 480 won Groceries Necessary
10 090 won Groceries Necessary
145 230 won Groceries Necessary. But it should be known that we don’t skimp when it comes to grocery shopping. For example we bought cheese, beef and cream despite them being VERY expensive in Korea.

 Eat Out

 56 000 won

24 000 won Samgypsal Indulgence
3 000 won Morning coffee Necessary. Bought coffee for myself and the lady giving me a lift to school.
24 000 won Dakgalbi Indulgence
5 000 won Fresh fruit juice Indulgence but SO good and a cheaper indulgence than most other drinks.

Clothes

n/a

Alcohol

 20 100 won

6 800 won Beer Necessary
2 500 won Beer Indulgence
4 850 won Beer at the beach Necessary
5 950 won Beer at the beach Necessary

Once-off

 188 100 won

18 100 won Postage for NZ visa Necessary and SUPER exciting 🙂
150 000 won Second-hand phone for Husband Necessary. His previous phone went to phone heaven. So after LOTS of research and thinking on his part he settled on this option: a phone that works that is cheap 🙂
20 000 won Phone cover for above Necessary. Could have shopped around for a cheaper option though…

Bills & Fees

104 204 won

104 204 won Building management fee Necessary

Transport

6 000 won

3 000 won Taxi to shops Indulgence
3 000 won Taxi home from shops Necessary (too much to carry)

Gifts

 37 500 won

1 400 won Boxes for posting Indulgence because they were too big and so weren’t used
20 000 won Gifts Necessary
1 600 won Cards Necessary
14 500 won Gifts Necessary

Medical

n/a

Travel

n/a

 Week’s total: 637 214 won

Necessary: 577 314 won (91%)

Indulgence: 59 900 won (9%)

First reaction: Holy shit we spent a lot last week. Second reaction: Wow – best necessary vs indulgence ratio ever I think! But to help me answer whether our indulgence is worth the delay in reaching financial independence I am going to crunch the numbers again but this time excluding anything vaguely indulgent (as in we could easily survive without it, namely: eating out, alcohol, transport and gifts):

 Necessary: 517 614 won (81%)

Indulgence: 119 600 won (19%)

I suddenly feel much less indulgent and generally more awesome than I thought we were 🙂 Our indulgence went from 59 900 won to 119 600 won so only about a 60 000 won increase! So the question is rather: Is our indulgence of spending 60 000 won extra a month worth the delay in reaching financial independence? And I think the answer’s a resounding YES. Especially when taking into account our values and the fact that we want a quality of life while getting to financial independence. Just need to remind myself that it’s not about spending as little as possible; rather it’s about spending intentionally. Just love it.

Xxx

My Beginner’s Understanding of Investing- Part 4: My Portfolio Baby

Ok, so now that we know:

  • what an investment is;
  • that you invest in assets; and
  • that people generally talk about 3 kinds of assets (equities, bonds and cash)

we are now at a place where we can start talking about those magical things called Portfolios that everyone talks about 🙂

(If you have no idea what I’m talking about, dear Reader, then please check out the previous post in this series before reading this post! And as always, please check out Financial Vocab 101  if any vocabulary/terminology is unfamiliar or needs refreshing.)

A person’s portfolio is the sum total of all their investments:

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It is often talked about in terms of what percentage of the portfolio is in which types of assets (typically: equities, bonds and cash) and represented as a pie graph:

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From what I gather about portfolios there are two fundamental things to know:

  • Diversification is important.

Basically the more diverse your portfolio is, the lower your risk. The old “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” scenario. This is because if one sector starts going badly (e.g. the stock market) then you have other sectors to pull you through (e.g. bonds). It does seem though that it’s possible to be too diverse… So this non-expert is not interested in trying to achieve the exact right balance of diversification on her own. I plan to leave that up to the experts when I select which specific equity products I buy (I will invest in products that are already diversified) – but more on that in a future post.

  • It is completely and UTTERLY up to you and what you are comfortable with 🙂

This is brilliant. Just like The Brat Experiment and anything else you want from life, your portfolio can be molded, adapted and changed to fit exactly you 🙂 How awesome is that, dear Reader? You can structure it to fit your timeline (age?), your risk comfort level, how actively you want to manage it, your personality etc. Check out Investopedia’s Knowing Yourself  for more on this.

This means that you can choose exactly what percentage of your portfolio you want to be in which assets. Investopedia explains it really well here. My bestest though is their pie charts at the bottom of this link which (a) show you the ratio of assets for different investing approaches and (b) let you play with different investment amounts in each investment approach. Unfortunately though you can’t look at all the percentages of each pie chart at the same time so I’m going to try and draw it so we can compare them easily 🙂

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As I’ve said, which investment approach you go for is ENTIRELY up to you 🙂

BUT I must admit to not loving the names of each investment strategy. This is because I think that they predispose people to think:

 “Very Conservative” is good and “Very Aggressive” is bad.

What bugs me is that the names seem to only focus on one type of risk: loss of capital. Which, don’t get me wrong, dear Reader, is HIGH on my list of things to avoid. But it totally ignores even greater (because they are sneakier and more likely to go under the radar) risks: not keeping up with inflation. And the loss of the opportunity to earn compound interest.

(I haven’t explained compound interest yet but in a nutshell: it’s your interest earning interest [in other words your money working so that you don’t have to and earning more money for you than you could ever hope to on your own], all it needs is time [so the earlier you start the better] and it’s AWESOME. The catch-22 seems to be that from my non-expert reading the only asset that really lets you earn interest on interest is equities/stocks/shares – but this is not a problem if you remember that there is a continuum of risk within equities but more on that in a future post… Check out this link for an awesome explanation and demonstration of the power of compound interest).

From my perspective: I’m 29 years old. At our current savings rate we are set to reach financial independence in just over 10 years (IF we use the power of compound interest) when I am in my early 40s. And that means that our money needs to keep up with inflation for FIFTY YEARS after that (three of my four grandparents have lived past 90 years old so I’m being optimistic!). This in turn means that I can’t be having a big percentage of cash that doesn’t grow at all or bonds that struggle to keep up with inflation. I need my money to work for me (so I don’t have to). Put another way: given my timeline, inflation is guaranteed and so my greatest risk is not loss of capital but rather inflation. Therefore, equities are actually the assets that offer me the lowest risk 🙂

So to demonstrate my rebelliousness and disregard for the names of the different portfolio strategies I have chosen colours for the different assets that represent their risk level for me. So for me: cash is red (because it provides no growth and so poses the greatest risk), bonds are blue and equities are green (because they pose the least risk to me) 🙂 But that’s just me. What’s your greatest risk or concern for your investment portfolio?

Xxx

Malaysia in 10 Days (12 days with travel time)

In a Nutshell:

  • SUPER cheap once you’re there 🙂
  • Fantastic, reliable, easy to use public transport (just avoid taxis in KL – rather use the trains). Also amazing public health care 🙂
  • Great people – very friendly, helpful and most people speak English. It is a Muslim country though and so just remember to wear respectful clothing (especially when seeing temples etc).
  • Go to Sabah and try to see orangutans in the wild – TOTALLY worth the trip.
  • Our highlights: the melting pot of cultures, orangutans, Batu Caves, street food and general vibrancy (chaos?), Kek Lok Si Temple, the beach (truly incredible beaches!) and the Petronas Towers
  • July and August is the peak tourist season so if you going then and plan to spend some time at the beach book your accommodation at least 2 months in advance

Day 1:

  • Flew to Kuala Lumpur arriving about 10pm
  • Slept in the Capsule Container Hotel at the airport. This was awesome and SO convenient.
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Capsule Container Hotel

Day 2:

  • First flight to Sandakan arriving about 9:30am (3 hour flight)
  • Taxi from airport to Sepilok and dropped off at the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (caught the feeding just in time). I don’t know if it’s because we’re from South Africa (and so used to seeing animals in the wild) but this bummed all 3 of us out… Just felt like orangutans are too intelligent to be gawked at by crowds with cameras…
  • Accommodation picked us up and took us to the Sukau Greenview Bed and Breakfast on the Kinabatangan River (about 1.5 hours drive). Accommodation was basic but clean, right on the river and very helpful.
  • Went on an afternoon boat cruise and totally saw an orangutan IN THE WILD 😀 (this was very lucky so don’t count on it for your trip)
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At the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

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Boat cruise where we saw the wild orangutan

Day 3:

  • First accommodation bus back to Sepilok and dropped off at the Rainforest Discovery Centre. This was brilliant. Walked around, took in the jungle and by complete luck saw a mother and baby orangutan!! 😀
  • Got a taxi to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. We were impressed with this and it was well worth the visit.
  • Got a taxi to the airport and caught a 5:40pm flight back to Kuala Lumpur
  • Stayed at Submarine Guesthouse. Basic accommodation but couldn’t be better situated and is run by the most helpful, wonderful guy.
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At the Rainforest Discovery Centre

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Spot the Sun Bear in the top of the tree 🙂

Day 4:

  • Batu Caves. Fantastic. Top of the list 🙂 Just hide your food because the monkeys will jump on your back and forcibly remove it from you if they can see it.
  • Islamic Arts Museum. I loved this. This boys not so much. Exquisite stuff though.
  • Caught a 4:15pm bus to Malacca (2 hour drive)
  • Got a taxi from the bus station to River View Guesthouse
  • Explored Chinatown and found dinner
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Batu Caves

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Islamic Arts Museum

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Malacca

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Malacca Town Square

Day 5:

  • Explored Malacca (Chinatown, Town Square and St Paul’s Hill)
  • Caught a 2:30pm flight to Georgetown (1 hour 20 minute flight)
  • Found accommodation at the Red Inn Court
  • Walked to the Red Garden Night Market for dinner
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Some Georgetown food

Day 6:

  • Walked and explored Georgetown (Little India, Chinatown, Fort Cornwallis and Around)
  • Indian Curry for lunch at Kapitan
  • Beer with locals
  • Dragon Mountain House
  • Kek Lok Si Temple for sunset (Penang Hill unfortunately wasn’t not open). Brilliant – really recommend this. Just know (contrary to what our guidebook said!) it closes at 6pm so get there by 5pm at the latest.
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Dragon Mountain House

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Kek Lok Si Temple

Day 7:

  • Technically caught the first bus (9am!) to Jerteh (again, contrary to what our guidebook said, there are only 2 buses a day: 9am and 9pm). But when our bus reached Kota Bharu our bus driver organized for another bus to take us directly to Kuala Besut (where we needed to catch the ferry from). This seemed like a bit of a deal on the sly but it only cost us RM10 and it was SUPER convenient so we were happy chaps.
  • Stayed at a ‘hotel’ right on the water and 3 minutes from the ferry terminal. Found street food for dinner
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At the ferry terminal in Koala Besut

Day 8:

  • 11am boat to Palau Perhentian Kecil to our booked accommodation at Rainforest Camping. It was rustic (camping with reed showers with a stunning, if exposed, view of the jungle) but fantastic vibe, private beach and just generally magical.
  • Relaxed on the beach
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Arriving at Rainforest Camping

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Our tents

Day 9:

  • Did a short snorkel trip to see turtles, fish, coral and sharks
  • Relaxed on the beach
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View from the deck of Rainforest Camping

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Turtle 🙂

Day 10:

  • Relaxed on beach
  • Got last boat (4pm) back to mainland
  • Caught the 8:30pm night bus to Kuala Lumpur
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So many fish!

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Chilling on the beach

Day 11:

  • Arrived in Kuala Lumpur 4:30am and hung around the bus terminal
  • At 7am emailed Submarine Backpackers and were told we were welcome to check in early (seriously, the guy who runs that place is a saint!)
  • Went to Betel Leaf for awesome Indian Curry for lunch
  • Wandered Chinatown
  • Went to Strato Skydining Restaurant next to the Petronas Towers for dinner
  • Saw the Petronas Towers at night
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Betel Leaf Lunch

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Petronas Towers

Day 12:

  • Submarine Backpackers personally walked us to the airport bus stop at 4am
  • Caught our out flight at 8am

The Money

I really did try to keep track of all our spending but with three of us travelling together (my brother adventured with us) it all got a bit complicated. But this is what I can tell you, dear Reader:

  • We took RM4472 (about US$1000 for Husband and I) with the idea that we’d each spend about RM200 a day. We didn’t. We came in WAY under budget (hence our fancy dinner on our last night next to the Petronas Towers plus a massive shopping spree in Chinatown).
  • We had already booked and paid for our domestic flights within Malaysia (all super cheap) and 2 nights of accommodation before we arrived though.
  • Accommodation (dorms or private room in backpackers): RM25 – RM80 a night
  • Domestic flights: Less than RM150 per person per flight (booked in advance)
  • Two hour public bus: RM10 per person
  • Eight hour public bus: RM45 per person
  • Taxis: RM10 (short trip) to about RM40 for a 30 minute trip. Always agree on a price before getting in.
  • Restaurant or street food: RM1 – RM25
  • Alcohol: Expensive. RM10 for cheapest beer.

Ok. I think that’s it 🙂 Please feel free to comment or ask if you have any questions that you think I might be able to help with 🙂 Happy travels!

Xxx

 

Week 15: A pleasant surprise

And just like that, with this post I will be all caught up on our Korean spending 🙂 This week is from when we landed back in Korea last week Wednesday until Sunday. It felt like we were quite loose and free with the cash last week… probably something to do with how tired we were and maybe still being in a bit of a holiday mode? Anyway, let’s see how we shaped up:

 

Groceries

129 980 won

 

2 650 won Milk Necessary
1 000 won Water Necessary
49 600 won Groceries Necessary
76 730 won Groceries and a fan Necessary. We tried to survive this heat and humidity without buying a fan but on Saturday we cracked. Just. Too. Hot.

Eat Out

69 600 won

17 200 won Burger King Indulgence. But necessary because we hadn’t eaten all day with all our flights (CANNOT believe it’s not a legal requirement to feed people on a 6 hour flight!)
1 200 won Cool drink Indulgence
6 000 won Husband lunch Necessary. School isn’t feeding us during the holidays. Although… since this first day we have been bringing our own lunch to school…
5 500 won My lunch As above
1 700 won Milkshake Indulgence and so good 🙂
29 500 won Beach burgers Indulgence and SO good 🙂
8 500 won Beer and sweets Indulgence

Clothes

n/a

Alcohol

10 250 won

5 000 won Beach beers Necessary (and from convenience store)
5 250 won Beach beers These were probably indulgence…

Once-off

n/a

Bills & Fees

1 020 won

1 020 won Bank sms fee Necessary. I thought. But these do seem to be adding up and increasing as each month goes by…

Transport

3 300 won

3 300 won Taxi home from big shop Necessary. Too much to carry or cycle.

Gifts

9 820 won

3 500 won Gift Necessary
6 320 won Gift Necessary

Medical

7 000 won

4 300 won Fee to see ENT Necessary and soooooo cheap! Love the Korean medical system 🙂
2 700 won Meds from ENT As above 🙂

Travel

(Back from Seoul)

47 700 won

43 000 won Bus home Necessary
4 700 won Taxi home Necessary.

Week’s total: 278 670 won

Necessary: 215 320 won (77%)

Indulgence: 63 350 won (23%)

Not too shabby 🙂 Even with buying a fan (for the record possibly one of the best investments we have ever made!). And eating out a lot. And beach beers 🙂 Yay! Makes me wonder if we could possibly up our savings percentage with our next paycheck…

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The Beach: Korean Style

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Samgypsal (pork, kimchi, veges, tofu etc)

 Xxx

Week 14

 

Hello, dear Reader! How are you?? It’s weird, but I really missed you while we were away. We got back to our apartment 10pm on Wednesday night, absolutely shattered, and started work again bright and early Thursday morning. I naively thought I’d spend the first day of work sorting our holiday pictures and catching up on The Brat Experiment (there are no kids to teach at the moment and so no actual work-work to be done) but I was too exhausted… instead I spent the day watching movies and trying to sleep (my co-teachers sleep at their desks no problem but my innate sense that one-should-not-sleep-at-work ensures that I don’t). Anyhow now that I’ve had the weekend to relax and catch up on sleep I’m going to slowly-slowly start posting all the posts I have in my head (there are quite a few!!) – starting with a report on our numbers in Korea 🙂

I have NO sense of how we have done so far this month… This Week 14 is from Monday 25th of July – Saturday 30th July when we flew out to Malaysia. It wasn’t a typical week at all. Firstly because my brother (Bro) stayed with us for two days (so of course we ran around like mad things, not caring about the money so much, showing him everything we could about our lives over here) and secondly because we travelled to Seoul so that we could fly out to Malaysia on the Saturday.

Groceries

35 030 won

6 500 won Groceries Necessary
12 900 won Facewash Necessary
2 700 won Milk Necessary
11 930 won Groceries Necessary
1 000 won Gum Necessary

Eat Out

137 820 won

5 500 won Pizza Indulgence
9 830 won Beer, choc milk, snacks etc Indulgence
39 000 won Dakgalbi Necessary. To show Bro some of our favourite food.
990 won Ice cream for pudding Necessary.
5 000 won Gimbap As above. To show Bro.
12 000 won Kakguksu & Mandoo As above.
35 000 won Kamjatang As above.
11 000 won Gimbap As above
19 500 won Budnamu As above. But this time it was a beer brewery 😀

Clothes

n/a    

Alcohol

n/a    

Once-Off

13 000 won

13 000 won Haircut Necessary

Bills & Fees

11 860 won

11 360 won Gas fee Necessary
500 won ATM withdrawal fee Necessary

Transport

20 000 won

3 500 won Taxi to beach Necessary. It was dark and late and we wanted to show Bro the beach
3 500 won Taxi home from beach As above
4 500 won Taxi home Necessary. It was late and we walked there.
5 300 won Taxi to hairdresser Indulgence
3 200 won Taxi home Indulgence

Gifts

3 000 won

3 000 won Rice cakes for Bro Necessary

Medical

n/a    

Travel

(Seoul before flying to Malaysia)

219 350 won

20 000 won Japanese beer Indulgence and WAY overpriced
10 800 won Fast food burgers Necessary
32 000 won Nachos and beer Indulgence and overpriced L
24 500 won Breakfast out Necessary and catching up with old family friends so very in-line with our values (food and people) 🙂
7 000 won Bapbinsu Necessary so Bro could taste it.
3 150 won Choc biscuits Necessary so Bro could taste the best biscuits ever.
65 000 won Motel Necessary
4 000 won Taxi to bus station Necessary
4 900 won Taxi to bus station Necessary
43 000 won Bus to Seoul Necessary
5 000 won T-money card Necessary

Week’s Total: 440 060 won

Necessary: 364 230 won (83%)

Indulgent: 75 830 won (17%)

All in all, not too shabby 🙂 Definitely spent more than usual but I’m totally ok with that given that we were showing my brother everything. And given that we were out of the country for 10 days and so spent the next 10 days not spending anything out of our Korean budget 🙂

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Dakgalbi (spicy chicken) 

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And dakgalbi is often had with soju 🙂 

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Our beach

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View of our town 

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Kamjatang (pork spine stew)

Xxx