Week 29

img_3520We really tried to not spend too much money last week. But apparently, we can’t seem to stop buying clothes…. We were good during the week but while we were away over the weekend we couldn’t help ourselves. Sigh.

The big costs last week were that Husband had to go to Seoul for the night to get some documents certified at the South African embassy (the joys of having to get things certified in English while not living in an English speaking country!) and we went away to Gyeongju for the weekend to see friends of ours – happy, happy days 🙂 Also, Gyeongju is awesome. Well worth the visit for anyone in Korea. My favourite was renting bikes and cycling around the park and tombs (which actually look like hills).

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The Numbers: A Summary of Month 5

Month 5. It has been a REALLY busy month. Week 18 a friend came to stay with us for the weekend and we paid for most things (reflected in the eating out number for Week 18!), Week 19 saw us travel to Seoul to see family friends and do touristy things and Week 20 was Chuseok. It was a tight month (and my jacket didn’t help!) but I’m very pleasantly surprised it wasn’t tighter given how much we did. (Also, I’m trying out a new thing where I bold the week we spent the most money in each category, just to see if it highlights any more patterns in our spending):    Continue reading

Week 21

This was a short week because the month ended, or rather we were paid, on Friday. However, I’m still expecting it to be an expensive week because experience has taught me that the bills really knock us at the end of each month. We really tried to live super cheaply though (still compensating for the jacket!) and to be honest, it really wasn’t that hard 🙂   Continue reading

Week 19

I feel like we did quite well last week. Like during the actual week. During the weekend we spent a lot of money for sure but it was worth it. We went to Seoul for the weekend to meet up with family friends who are visiting Korea from South Africa. It was great to see them and surprisingly fun to play tourist-tourist with them 🙂 It confirmed that I shouldn’t wait for visitors to be a tourist.


Walking from Myeongdong to near Insadong


Samgypsal in Insadong (the tourist pozzie in Seoul)


The toilet from the top of Seoul Tower (over looking the lights of Seoul). Talk about a loo with a view! Was just brilliant 🙂 🙂

So the week’s spend went like this:

To new readers of The Brat Experiment: I basically report on our weekly spending and then write up a summary of our spending for each month. You can check out other weekly spends and the monthly summaries in The Numbers section.


11 120 won

10 120 won Groceries Necessary
1 000 won Gum Necessary
Eat Out

60 500 won

49 000 won Dinner and drinks with work Necessary but we did indulge in beer tastings etc 🙂
11 500 won Order in Indulgence but cheap
Clothes n/a

12 750 won

3 000 won CU beer Indulgence
3 750 won CU beer Indulgence
6 000 won Drinks before dinner Indulgence but lekker (South African for “really nice”)
Once-off n/a
Bills & Fees n/a


10 200 won

5 300 won Taxi to work dinner Necessary. It was super far.
4 900 won Taxi home after dinner Necessary
Gifts n/a
Medical n/a
Travel n/a

 Day to day total: 94 570 won

So basically, I was right and we were amazing with how little we spent during the week last week. Now for the tiny matter of Seoul…


95 200 won

4 400 won Taxi to bus station Necessary
43 000 won Bus to Seoul Necessary
43 000 won Bus home Necessary
4 800 won Taxi home Necessary

60 000 won

60 000 won Motel Necessary

116 830 won

5 600 won Bus snacks Necessary
73 000 won Lunch out for 5 Necessary
2 500 won Cool drinks Necessary
5 000 won Gimbap Necessary
13 000 won Breakfast Necessary
17 730 won Lunch out Necessary. AND it involved steak – a REAL treat here

3 500 won

3 500 won Beer after Seoul Tower Indulgence
Tourist Activities

36 000 won

16 000 won Palace secret garden Necessary.
20 000 won Seoul Tower Necessary and awesome

49 600 won

3 500 won Socks Necessary. Been looking for ages
5 000 won Scarf Indulgence but so pretty 🙂
41 100 won Harry Potter book and a puzzle Indulgence

5 200 won

5 200 won Postcards sent from Seoul Tower Necessary

 Seoul travel: 366 330 won


Check how pretty my scarf is! AND it’s practical colours that I will use often – at least I felt responsible in my indulgence 🙂

We did Seoul a little differently to usual in that we only travelled up on the Saturday morning and so didn’t to pay for accommodation on Friday night – this was a big saver. Accommodation really does nail the travel budget… so long term we definitely need a camper van or something…

Week’s total: 460 900 won

Necessary: 387 050 won (84%)

Indulgence: 73 850 won (16%)

Overall I am very pleasantly surprised by our spending last week. We only have one more weekend before payday and we feel like we are actually going to make it without having to eat nothing but ramien (Korean noodles) for a week 🙂 And this is even with this weekend coming lasting FIVE days. Yip, it’s Chusok (Korean thanksgiving) and so today is the last day of work for the week (yaaaaaaaay!). And I’m very excited because we are going to play tourist-tourist again 🙂


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?


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.




 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


 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


6 000 won

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


 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





 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.


Week 12

I cannot believe that I am reporting our numbers for WEEK 12 of Our Brat Experiment! When we first started this journey we promised ourselves that we would give it at least 3 months before we decided whether this life was for us or not… And suddenly, here we are. Reporting on Week 12. With the end of Month 3 only a week away…


 66 350 won

1 000 won Chocolate milk Necessary. My reward for going to the dentist.
5 450 won Groceries Necessary
2 000 won Ice cream Indulgence
1 450 won Chocolate milk Necessary. My reward for going to the dentist (bigger one than I had on Monday so more expensive).
42 680 won Groceries A lot of indulgence…
13 770 won Groceries Necessary

Eat Out

21 600 won

9 800 won Coffee at the beach Indulgence
11 800 won Mom’s Touch (burgers out) Indulgence




15 800 won

15 800 won Wine Necessary. Wine is right up there on our values.


9 000 won

9 000 won MicroLego Indulgence but awesome. Husband got Darth Vader and I got the Hulk 😀

Bills & Fees

64 570 won

720 won Bank sms fee Necessary
21 670 won Fee for sending money to NZ Necessary
42 180 won Internet fee Necessary


 17 900 won

4 000 won Taxi to dentist Necessary to get to the dentist before it closes after I finish work
3 400 won Taxi home after dentist Necessary. Not having a sore mouth AND walking home.
3 700 won Taxi to dentist Necessary to get to the dentist before it closes after I finish work
3 600 won Taxi home after dentist Necessary. Not having a sore mouth AND walking home.
3 200 won Taxi home after E-Mart Indulgence. But it was late and we were tired.


9 000 won

9 000 won Gifts Necessary.


 35 600 won

24 900 won Dentist Necessary. Plus I get extra points for going given how I feel about the dentist.
10 700 won Dentist As above.


 69 840 won

29 640 won Clothes, sheets, hat and slops for Malaysia Necessary
40 200 won Headlights, sun cream, insect repellent for Malaysia Necessary

 Week’s total: 309 660 won

Necessary: 231 180 won (75%)

Indulgence: 78 480 won (25%)

We did well this week – spent the least we have all month 🙂 Our ratio of necessary vs indulgence is not as good as last week though. But that’s all good. And unless we completely bugger up this next week, it looks like we are on track to stay within our new budget plan. Only problem is… that we might just totally bugger our budget up… cause this weekend we are travelling to Seoul to see The Red Hot Chili Peppers (hell yes!!!!!!!!!) and the tickets still aren’t paid for… Wish us luck, dear Reader!


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 5: I’m not so sure…

This week was a short week (Monday and Tuesday were part of Month 1) so our budget was technically 160 000 won for the both of us. But I already know that we blew that out of the water. These bloody bills, or in this case a school union fee, are killing us… Plan 1 definitely doesn’t take proper account of the bills…


18 000 won Dinner out Indulgence to celebrate payday. Problem was the meal was horrible so it didn’t feel like much of a celebration…
3850 won Groceries Milk and ice cream. Necessary. Well not the ice cream. But something needed to save the horrid meal we had just had…
7800 won Acupuncture Necessary. And really helpful for those of you who have never tried it 🙂
5300 won Acupuncture Necessary
2800 won Taxi Necessary so as not to undo what was achieved with acupuncture.
26 400 won Brewing pot Necessary for Husband to brew beer (and so live in line with what we think is valuable).
19 800 won Clothes Necessary. And on sale 🙂
3500 won Beer Indulgence. But from the grocery store so cheap.
6000 won Acupuncture Necessary
11 280 won Groceries Necessary
45 000 won Bag Indulgence. But thought about it for over a month and ultimately decided it was worth the money.
700 won Soft drink Indulgence
15 000 won Gifts Hats for our grandmothers. Necessary.
3600 won Taxi Necessary so as not to undo what was achieved with acupuncture.
3300 won Taxi Necessary so as not to undo what was achieved with acupuncture.
46 860 won Groceries Necessary
121 500 won School union fee Necessary. And 6 months’ worth of fees.
850 won Water at beach Indulgence


Week’s total: 341 542 won

Necessary: 273 490 won (80%)

Indulgence: 68 050 won (20%)


So… not great. But again, I am stoked with the necessary vs indulgent ratio. Although, to be honest, dear Reader, some things that I have labelled as “necessary” we could technically survive without…




Monday 23rd & Tuesday 24th May (week 4.1?)

So this is the part where I report the numbers for the awkward last two days of Month 1 that aren’t part of Week 4:


102 300 won Building management fee Necessary
75 400 won Husband school lunch Necessary
9 900 won Clothes Indulgent
39 710 won My phone bill Necessary
140 270 won Gas bill Necessary
36 000 won Husband’s phone bill Necessary
40 000 won Internet Necessary


Grand total: 443 580 won

Necessary: 433 680 won (98%)

Indulgent: 9 900 won (2%)


And with that, we completely blew our month’s budget.