I couldn’t do it. On December 16, my experiment to live on 180,000 Korean won ended — just eight day shy of my target date. I couldn’t make it, and I even bent the rules (i.e. didn’t count any of my Taiwan expenses, which totaled around 180,000 won for the weekend alone). Even then I didn’t really expect to succeed, and my stash of cash even lasted longer than I thought it would.
I might’ve made it a few more days if not for a few foolish five-day stretch. Two weekends ago, I spent 40,000+ won wandering around Hongdae, which isn’t that much for a night out — more than I really should’ve spent on this budget. The following Monday, I went out with my friend, who was looking for a cheap dinner, but those are hard to find in the tourist/ex-pat district of Itaewon. I ended up spending 10,000 won for an unsatisfying hamburger dinner. That Wednesday, I essentially committed financial suicide by going out for a quasi-fancy Thai dinner, dropping me another 16,000 won or so.
This three-week asceticism trip wasn’t all that tough, though. I had gone grocery shopping beforehand, and with the cold weather settling in, I didn’t have too much desire to be wandering away from my apartment’s cozy heated floors. Saturdays were dedicated to practices for Taipei, which usually left Sundays for my “See a New Thing Each Week” tour. Also, it was a good way to wean me away from the hazy, party-filled weekends.
I’ll probably end the month spending just under 400,000 won, meaning the future budgets of 600,000 won will be plenty. Even as strict as this budget was, I don’t feel like I was missing out on anything. I think I needed a chill month after the craziness of the first two. I feel like I’m really starting to settle into this town and living as an English teacher rather than a wide-eyed tourist.
I think I can chalk this one up as a victory.