How To Save Money Living in South Korea

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I’m exited to share this guest post from Scott and Megan, a couple from North America who came to South Korea in 2013. They will explain some of the things they have learned over the years that really help save money while living abroad and traveling. So whether your goal is to save for travel or get a new ride, this should give you plenty of ideas you can actually start doing today to reach your savings goal!


Hi there. We are Scott & Megan and if there is one thing we are pretty passionate it is about travel. Unfortunately, travel can eat up a lot of your money so we are constantly reading and planning on ways to save money.

Some of these tips will work better for couples as some things (like going on dates) can be a bit easier done together. But even if you’re single and not living in Korea you can still apply some of these tips.

Pay Yourself First

Megan and Scott wearing Hanbok

The idea is to pay yourself before you pay your bills. You can do this by making automatic payments into your savings account every-time you get paid. You need to treat your savings account like a bill that you have to pay! Make yourself do this today. Seriously.

We all know we should save money, but its soooo easy not to do because no one is making us. By making the mental shift to thinking it’s a bill you will be surprised how quickly your savings will increase.

The trick is knowing what you can afford to pay yourself and a lifestyle that you can live comfortably.

If you don’t know how much to pay yourself start with 10% of your paycheck and if that is easy try 15%. Do this until you reach a happy balance.


Write Down Every Penny You Spend

This isn’t sexy, but it’s extremely effective. After a month you can see where you are wasting your money and how it adds up. It may not seem like much to buy a $2 coffee here a $2 beer there, but if it’s a habit they add up and at the end of the month it may be $200 or more you can save.

We guarantee you there is a hidden budget killer in your routine!

Those two steps are huge not just for couples but anyone. But since we are a couple here’s our strategy for saving while still having romance in our lives. Because lets face it nothing kills romance like talking about ways to be cheap.

Start Creating Budgets

I know right! You’re thinking to yourself, how are budgets and dating related things, and like budgets are the effing worst.

Budgets get a bad rap. It’s time to think of budgets like a creative exercise. No one has a bad attitude towards getting a 50% discount on clothes so why do we turn our noses up on creating a way to get what you want at a 50% discount.

Megan and I give ourselves a budget of $150,000 KRW on the weekends. If we want to go on a trip then one weekend we get creative and do as many fun free things as we can. Then the next weekend we use the money we didn’t spend to go across the country on a weekend trip. We get around two trips a month (except for winter – and we save even more.)


Find Inexpensive Dates

Scott and Megan hiking

Whether it be hiking, visiting the palaces at a whopping 5,000 KRW, riding bikes along the Han, exploring Bukchon and Samcheon-dong. There are endless free ways to entertain yourself. Mix romance with budgets and pack a picnic.

I think the best thing we ever did last year was buy a season pass to Everland. Whenever we didn’t have a plan or were tight on money we would pack up some home made quesadillas or pb&j, load up on some soju and have the time of our lives for about an average of $18 total for the entire day every time we went to Everland.

These opportunities exist if you can get creative and think about them. Seriously budgets don’t restrict you. They liberate you from thinking you need to spend money to have a good time.


Establish a Date Night

Worrying about money typically isn’t a turn on. So it can be easy to think oh hey lets stay in tonight if we wan’t to afford that trip next week, month, year. That’s all fine and dandy but remember you are humans and need some fun in your life.

To stop that from happening we made Wednesdays our date night. Not only does this keep things fresh in our relationship. By having only one night during the week days to eat out makes the meal more special and keeps your wallet fatter.

These are just four of the things that we do that have the biggest effect on our savings. Once you have done these there are a few easy things you can also do.


Cook your meals Monday through Friday

This is a huge money saver for us. It’s also pretty damn sexy that your significant other knows how to whip up a mean dish. I mean it can be a lot of fun to learn new recipes and cook together. If you have a small kitchen though you may wanna take turns cooking for each other.

We will cook all of our meals and drink all of our coffee from home Monday through Friday (with exception of date night). If you are not used to cooking at home, it takes a little practice to get used to and planning so you use all of your ingredients before they go bad.

Our current favorite recipe is this delicious Lemon Caper Chicken



Burgers for date night

If you like to drink this can eat your savings. Luckily in Korea you have a huge advantage that Soju and Makgeolli are a dollar a bottle and can get you feeling good in the blink of an eye. So we tend to drink only these two drinks with the occasional craft beer (that’s what date nights are for.)

We tend to drink gator-ju (Gatorade and soju) or danger-ju (grapefruit sparkling water and soju) on the weekends when we are site-seeing or when we go out. No one ever seems to care that we have sparkling water bottles with us, whether we are at a restaurant, a bar, or a club. People just think were drinking Gatorade or sparkling water. It’s delicious, extremely effective, and super cost friendly. If you like hiking we cannot recommend Makgeolli enough. There is something magical about refreshing mountain are and makgeolli, especially with some pb&j.

Hey, when in Korea.

Drinking Makgeolli

So these are just a few of the habits/things we do to save money. It helped us save just over $32,000 last year working in Korea and hope it can help you save up for your goal.

We’d love to know what you do that helps you save money. We are always on the hunt on how to manage our savings more efficiently. Please share this information if you found it helpful. Maybe you know someone that could use a little extra nudge to get them saving some extra money.”



Scott Herder is obsessed with saving money for travel, traveling itself, and photography. Unsure of how to make his travel dreams come true he’s just going for it. He shares his unique hyper-lapse photography and his adventures with his girlfriend on his blog and invites you to come travel with him.

Website – boboandchichi.com

Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Snapchat: boboandchichi






Linda has been living in Asia since 2012 and loves sharing her travel and life experiences on her website. She currently works remotely in Online Marketing and also teaches various English classes in South Korea.


  1. Rafiqua on September 30, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    These tips are SO useful! I haven’t thought of any of these myself! 🙂

    • Linda on October 1, 2015 at 11:47 pm

      right? So many great and effective ideas!

    • Scott Herder on October 2, 2015 at 8:45 pm

      Thanks Rafiqua. They definitely help us lay down the foundation for our goals.

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