How to save automate money in south korea

How to Save & Automate Money in South Korea

Learn how to earn money in South Korea by automating your income, saving, and eliminating debt

This is a series of articles based on content from Sekki Deul YouTube. Be sure to check the channel for great content on personal finance, making and saving money, small business, investing & banking in South Korea.

Personal Finance for Foreigners in South Korea

As a foreigner living in South Korean long-term, you have the following bills and expenses:

  • Apartment rent (if not paid by your hagwon or job)
  • Apartment maintenance fee (관리비)
  • Phone bill
  • Internet bill
  • Utilities (electric/gas)
  • National Health Insurance System (if not paid by your hagwon or job)
  • Private health insurance (See our recommended insurance provider)
  • Trash bags
  • Food
  • Entertainment/Social/Online subscriptions

Now, let’s assess a foreigner’s typical income and asset sources:

  • Job (for many, this is 2.1 – 2.8 M KRW from their English academy or hagwon)
  • English tutoring or private classes

Your primary job-related income is necessary and should be your primary focus. For many foreigners, their job status is legally connected to their visa sponsorship. Whatever your job is, make sure that your money earned per hour is sufficient to meet your financial goals in Korea.

Moving beyond time-constricted income streams is a key part of financial freedom

How to Achieve Financial Freedom in South Korea

Let’s move beyond simple time-based income sources towards automating our income in South Korea. This is a key part of achieving financial freedom.

Foreigners or expats living in South Korea face unique challenges. From not speaking the language to cultural barriers and misplaced expectations, many foreigners in Korea struggle to become fully aware of available financial opportunities.

There’s also the issue of inconsistency. Every foreigner knows from their experience at the bank or immigration office, whatever the “law” says is not always what the person in front of you actually knows or is willing to do. One person might say “No” while a different person the next day might rubber stamp your credit card application instantly.

That’s why you need to start making moves towards achieving financial freedom and passive income in South Korea.

HAN GANG MAGAZINE in partnership with Sekki Deul YouTube wants to bring you the best and most comprehensive content about earning and saving money in South Korea. If you’re looking for real long-term personal finance content beyond typical travel blog tips–“Be sure to check the sale cart at Face Shop!“–then you’ve come to the right place.

How to Save & Automate Money in South Korea


Now that it’s a new year, many new year resolutions involve financial planning, personal finance, saving money, and investing goals. This is more important than ever in the time of COVID-19, as financial hardships are accompanied by many negative externalities and effects, such as health complications and job loss.

Governments worldwide are dictating the closure of small businesses. For foreigners living in Korea, closures of hagwons and English schools has been a disaster, with many foreign English teachers losing their jobs and school owners petitioning the government to reopen.

A key and vital method for shielding yourself from the variance of financial disasters is to automate your money and income system in 2021.

Back to Basics – Savings on Easy Mode

To start off 2021, we want to focus on our savings. There are far too many leaks in our daily spending habits, so the first step is to get back to basics regarding how we approach the balance between spending and savings.

Save Money in Korea screenshot of Sekki Deul Youtube
Automate your Savings in 2021

Saving money is like getting in shape. Everyone knows what they’re supposed to do and how to do it. But for one reason or another, not everybody does. To get fit, you need to limit your calories, exercise more, quit smoking, and maintain a regular sleep schedule.

To save money, some key tasks are cutting back on your expenses, increasing your emergency savings, not eating at restaurants or buying takeout, and contributing to your mutual or index funds (or other investments) regularly.

Easier said than done.

If the main reason people struggle to lose weight is they don’t know how to properly assess their caloric intake, then it stands to reason that the main reason people struggle with their personal financial planning is they don’t know the tools or methods available to them.

This is especially true in South Korea. Not knowing the language can be a big obstacle that prevents foreigners from looking into finance at all. Even if they are interested in investing in Korea, anxiety sets in as many don’t know where to start.

Four Steps to Automating Money in South Korea

While we’re still a long way off from automating our diets and exercise, there are already plenty of financial resources, tools, and robots that can automate our money and income.

1. Address Your Debt

Automate Money in South Korea | Address your debt
Lower your debt

The top priority to achieving financial freedom and saving money in South Korea must be resolving any outstanding debt. This should come before anything else–it also differs from reducing costs in Korea or limiting spending in Korea.

Many foreigners in Korea fall into the trap of bringing their student debt with them and forgetting all about it once they get into the party Seoul nightlife.

This would be a huge mistake.

As that debt interest accumulates, the value of your earned income decreases along with it. So eliminating your prior debt such as student loans and avoiding opportunities for further debt is very important to earning money in Korea. Your interest payments must not cut into your income or returns.

Examples of debt typical of expats living in Korea:

  • Having many credit cards and not paying them off monthly
  • Using credit cards for 할부 (monthly installments)
  • Student loans

2. Address Your Fixed Payments

The second step to securing your personal financial status and saving money in Korea would be to take stock of your fixed payments or repeating expenses.

  • Car payments and taxes
  • Monthly payments
  • Rent
  • Phone bills
  • Entertainment subscriptions
  • Medications
  • National Health Insurance System (Article)
  • Elective health insurance (see insurance partner here)
Automate Money in South Korea | Fixed Payments
Is every subscription you have necessary?

These are living expenses you cannot avoid. If you want to save money in Korea, you must start by auto-deducting these from your paycheck every month without any pretense or consideration.

Here’s a quick example of reducing your expenses while living in Korea. Get a check card such as Kookmin Bank Easy On 국민카드 check card, which gives you 5% discounts on your phone bill. Set up automatic payment of your phone bill using this check card. Easy automation of your money.

Automate Money in South Korea | KB Easy On card
Not only a check card with benefits but it looks pretty too!

For things like car tax payments (자동차세), be sure to check out the video at around 6:00.

3. Save Money

Another challenge for foreigners in Korea is simply saving money. Especially for newbie English teachers fresh out of college or post-COVID-19, saving money is hard. Moreover, hagwon or English teaching jobs in Korea are not exactly the highest paying gigs.

Automate Money in South Korea | Save Money
Mr Piggy says YES to saving money

So what are some solid steps to saving money in Korea as a foreigner?

The goal is to save enough money so that you could lose your job and still have enough to live on frugally for 3-6 months. Unfortunately, many foreigners in Korea suffered this fate in 2020–a personal friend of this author working as an English teacher actually lost his job and never recovered it. Hard reality.

A solid step towards this goal of accumulating savings is to open a Home Buyer’s Synthesized Savings Account (주택청약종합저축), which is for future home buyers and has implciations for your tax burden and mortage loan eligibility.

  • Check out post here

Another key thing you can do to automate your savings potential in Korea is to open a regular-depositing (적금) account, which will automatically deposit a set amount the day after you get paid.

Check out the video at 7:30 for details as well as the Sekki Deul video on Bank Accounts in Korea.

4. Investing

Once you have taken care of your debt and fixed payments and set up automated methods for money, you can start exploring investment options in Korea. Here’s a great video by Sekki Deul on Investing in Korea.

Investment advice is beyond the scope of this article and publication, but there are several types of options:

  • Robotic/automated picking algorithms
  • Index or Mutual Funds (Passive Investing)
  • Managed Funds (Professional Advisors)
  • Active Investing (picking your own)

The current video at 9:00 explains how any expat in Korea can start investing by opening a KOSPI Index Fund via your bank app.

Open an Investing Account in Korea

How to Use the Naver Stocks Page

Automate Your Korean Money Systems in 2021

So between paying down your debt, reducing recurring fixed payments, increasing your savings opportunities, and slowly investing, you can achieve measurable progress in automating your financial position in Korea.

Sekki Deul Youtube Korea

Be sure to check out the official Sekki Deul YouTube channel for the best video content on personal finance in Korea, and check out the HAN GANG MAGAZINE Money Page for the latest written article content.

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