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3 Tips to Save Money While Living in Korea

Posted on Tue, Jul 21, 2015 @ 02:04 PM

I just returned from a magical seven week sojourn back to the homeland and tour of a bit Asia and now my bank accounts are, to put it lightly, a bit…light. No matter how frugal you are, international flights and the other travel expenses put a dent in anyone’s bank account. Now that I am back from vacation and living in Korea again, I am in the process of enacting a few austerity measures to save money. Intensives at ChungDahm are coming up, a God-send to my bank account, but that alone will not fix the bank account dent. Here are three tips that can help you forget the sting of a post-vacation account balance and save money while living in Korea.


1. Food Deals

While eating out in Korea can be relatively inexpensive, cooking for yourself is a great way to save some cash. Go to Home Plus late at night to take advantage of the drastically reduced prices on meat, as they want to sell their perishable foods by closing time before they have to throw it out. If I am on the hunt for Home Plus pork or beef, I never go before 11 P.M, so a quick trip after works out perfectly for me. 

Home Plus in Korea

Notice I said nothing about chicken. I refuse to buy chicken  from Home Plus because there are much better deals on chicken at the  Costco in Korea. I have probably mentioned the Costco chicken breast bags in a blog before, as they are one of the best values you can find, especially with the individually wrapped pieces. Unfortunately, by some twisted work of the devil, Costco elected to do away with this magical meat deal. However, E-Mart Traders has a similar deal on chicken, so that is another money-saving option.

If you are feeling a bit lazy and are shopping at Home-Plus, pick up something pre-made and already warm. At night they sell a variety of meals at dramatically lowered prices. I am a simple man with simple tastes, so I will snag the two hot-dogs for 3900 won. Since this is Korea, they put some weird cabbage type vegetables at the bottom of the hot dogs, but I am not picky so I still enjoy them nonetheless.

2. Membership Deals

Gyms can be a deceptively large expense for any Korean expat, but if you keep your eyes open, there are deals that can help you get your workout-fix at drastically reduced prices. During lulls in business or early morning hours, gyms will offer some pretty attractive discounts. I just snagged a membership for 25,000 won a month, which is about as good as it gets in this country.

Another pearl of saving wisdom I just stumbled across the other day is the Olleh membership app. The major Korean phone companies all have some type of membership app that offers discounts on everyday purchases, ranging from GS25 to Megabox to Paris Baguette to E-Mart. I know its not much but saving 1,000 won here and theres can start to fill that dent in your bank account. 


3. Miscellaneous Tips

I know these are tiny little things, but we all prefer to keep money if it is not necessary to spend it.  With summertime approaching, utility bills will start to rise with air conditioner usage. To limit my air con time, I simply turn it off right as I fall asleep. I also try to keep my lamps, chargers and Wi-Fi router unplugged whenever I leave my apartment. 
Finally, when you return to Korea after traveling, you may have a bunch of foreign currency to exchange. In my case, I had a ton of Japanese Yen to turn back into won. Again, this is not a particularly large savings, but keep an eye on the exchange rate, and try to make the switch when the exchange rate is in your favor. Maybe it only saves you a few bucks, but why not?
Remember every won you save while living in Korea can be used for more fun activities like traveling and going out with friends! 
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