A Week In South Korea On A $90,000 Salary

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Today: an Air Force officer who makes $90,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Monster.
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Occupation: Air Force Officer
Industry: Active-Duty Military
Age: 33
Location: South Korea
Salary: $90,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,750
Monthly Expenses
Rent: ~$1,700 (We pay in Korean won, so the exact amount fluctuates depending on the exchange rate. My husband is very kindly covering the rent while we are here to allow me to build up my savings/investments. He is also in the military and we are both the same rank, so his pay is the same as mine, but he has also gotten his mom's pension since she passed away a few years ago. We were long-distance for the first three years of our relationship, including two years of marriage, so we have always kept all our money separate.)
Mortgage: $1,300 (This is covered by renters. I have a house at my last duty station that I was unable to sell before I left.)
Student Loans: $0 (I paid off my student loans in December 2017, and it was a momentous occasion.)
Utilities: ~$400-ish (I pay these as part of the rent deal with my husband.)
Hulu: $12
Netflix: $0 (My husband pays.)
Pet Wellness Plan: $40 (I need to cancel this because there are no PetSmarts here, but making phone calls to the States is exhausting and I haven't gotten around to it yet.)
Cell Phone: $40-ish (Paid in won.)
Savings: $250 each to my trip fund and expensive-purchase fund and $2,000 to my Get Out of the Air Force Fund. I am building a CD ladder and buy $2,000 per month in 18-month CDs. Investments: $1,250 into my taxable investment account
Retirement: $1,588 out of my paycheck pretax into my TSP account (military version of a 401(k)), and $500 to my Roth IRA

Day One

4 a.m. — Alarm goes off, and I hate everything. It's Sunday, and I signed up to work since my husband is also working, but this seems like a really stupid idea at 4 a.m. I drag myself into the shower and get ready. I don't usually eat breakfast, but I grab some rice cakes, a Clif bar, a can of pistachios, and a Diet Mountain Dew out of the pantry, since my shift is eight hours and I won't have an opportunity to take a break.
1:40 p.m. — Meet with my husband at Taco Bell after we both get off work. He had to go in at midnight and is operating on almost no sleep, so we decide to get some trash food, since we feel like trash people. $5.73
8 p.m. — Go home and let the dog out, which is easier said than done when you're on the 16th floor of a high-rise apartment. He was home alone for ten hours and was a very good boy and used the potty pads we left for him. After that, it's NAP TIME, a.k.a. the best time. When we wake up, it's time for dinner. We haven't gone shopping in a while, so the food in our house is mostly leftovers and random frozen shit. I heat up some frozen dumplings and add a tofu sausage. I bought these without realizing they weren't meat, but they taste good, so I'm not complaining. After dinner, we cuddle on the sofa with dog for a while and watch The Fellowship of the Ring on Netflix before heading to bed early. Tomorrow is the Super Bowl, and it starts early in the morning on this side of the world.
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Daily Total: $5.73

Day Two

8 a.m. — Hit up the shoppette before heading to my work for the Super Bowl party. We have the day off today and tomorrow for the Lunar New Year, and the fact that it just happens to coincide with the Super Bowl means we are gonna get LIT, because tomorrow can be a recovery day. Since it's the morning and mimosas are a breakfast drink, I pick up three bottles of Champagne, some orange juice, and a six-pack of some weird tangerine IPA my husband likes. The military spouse club is providing food, and I make a breakfast burrito with eggs, bacon, tater tots, and queso while we settle in to watch the game. Fortunately, there are only three or four Pats fans in the group. By halftime, all the Champagne is gone and I am more than a little buzzed. $57.13
12:30 p.m. — Seven mimosas and a nearly unwatchable game later, a group of us decides to head to one of the bars off-base and continue the party. I'm pretty drunk by this point, and my husband is engaged in deep conversation with the commander's wife about work shit, so I leave him behind and pile in a taxi with six other people. Someone pays. One of my friends orders two more bottles of Champagne, and he and I are the only ones still sticking with bubbly at this point, so I have four or five glasses. Someone orders lumpia and fries for the table, and I have a little bit. I am ready to tap out, but the rest of the group wants to move to another bar and I let them talk me into staying. Apparently, I decided to pick up the tab for the whole group, but I don't really remember making that decision. $320.46
4 p.m. — Since I was so generous at the last establishment, my friends insist on buying me a drink at this one. A lime margarita and glass of raspberry beer appear next to me, but a couple sips in I can tell things are going to get ugly if I keep going. My husband meets me at the bar and we head home. Fortunately, taxis are super cheap here. We stumble down the street and flag one. We are pretty unusual in that we don't live in an apartment right outside the main gate. We picked a place two or three miles away, and we might as well live on another planet, as far as our friends are concerned. $2.73
9 p.m. — We get home and have sloppy-drunk sex and pass out. I wake up at 9, still pretty drunk, but am now starting to feel the hangover, too. So glad tomorrow is a recovery day. My husband is still passed out and looks like he has no intention of waking up, so I drink some water and take some ibuprofen before heading to the kitchen to think about dinner. Nothing looks easy enough for my current mental condition, so I just go back to bed.
Daily Total: $380.32

Day Three

6:30 a.m. — Wake up early, feeling mostly human. My husband has a terrible hangover since he skipped the all-important water and ibuprofen step. For breakfast I have toast with butter and some random cheese from my cheese drawer, fried eggs, and strawberries. I drink a Diet Mountain Dew and my husband makes coffee. We decide today is not going to be productive and head to the sofa to watch Netflix and not move.
12 p.m. — Since the fridge is still empty, our lunch options are limited. I make some ramen and throw in frozen veggies, a couple of quail eggs, and seaweed sheets. My husband scrounges up old leftovers and eats...something. That man has an iron stomach. There is nothing too old for him to eat. Once he left a burrito in the center console of his car in the middle of summer for four days and still ate it. Right now he is trying to convince me that some moldy raspberries I forgot about aren't all the way bad. I tell him no way, but he says he will still eat them. We often joke that he is my pilot fish, trawling in my wake and eating whatever I don't get to.
2 p.m. — After lunch, we tidy up a bit around the house and sit down to play some video games. We recently got a Switch, and my husband loves it. We take turns beating each other at Mario Party before I have enough and go get a book to read. I love sci-fi, and my collection is far too large for my two meager bookcases to handle. Someday I will finish organizing our hobby room and find a place for all my books, but for now they are kind of just piled willy-nilly. At least they aren't still in boxes.
7:30 p.m. — Dinner is fake sushi. I make rice in the rice cooker and mix canned tuna with Japanese mayo, mustard, a bunch of rando spices, and sesame dressing. Then I spread the rice and tuna on seaweed sheets and add sprouts, pickled quail eggs, cream cheese, and crab sticks. It sounds pretty lame, but I like it. My husband eats something similar but adds a bunch of spicy stuff to his. We rarely eat together and instead both just make whatever we want at approximately the same time. The biggest difference is it usually takes him about two hours to eat while I am done in five minutes or less. We are weird roommates. After dinner, we cuddle with the dog on the couch for a while and head to bed by 9.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

4:30 a.m. — Up early for work. No time for breakfast. I'll try to meet my husband for lunch, but we'll see how that goes.
10 a.m. — Too hungry to wait for lunch, so I buy some crackers from the unit snack bar. Our mission today was fairly easy, but getting up so early always drains me. The rest of the week is going to be the same way. $0.50
12:30 p.m. — Head off base for lunch at a local Thai restaurant. I always order the pad thai — it's divine. The sauce is peanut-y and lime-y, and I love it. My husband orders green curry and rice but ends up wanting a few bites of mine. The total is 22,000 won (about $21), and my husband pays. Our general arrangement is that he pays for restaurants and I pay for groceries, but we don't always stick to that.
7 p.m. — I was going to try to leave work at a reasonable time since I went in so early, but I get hit with a bunch of tasks and we had some disciplinary issues that popped up in my shop, so I end up leaving late yet again. When I get home, I just want something easy and comforting, so I make some pasta with Ragú cheese sauce and frozen meatballs. Sometimes I eat like a picky five-year-old — usually when I'm stressed out. I plop in front of the TV, and we watch The Two Towers until bedtime.
Daily Total: $0.50

Day Five

3:30 a.m. — Alarm goes off. No breakfast, as usual. My show time today is just stupid — we have a mission brief at 4:45 a.m.
12:30 p.m. — Everything went pretty well, so that's a relief. Now I'm starving. I go to the food court at the base exchange with some coworkers and get a turkey-and-Swiss sandwich from Arby's with curly fries. I usually eat lunch with my husband, unless one or both of us is on a mission. Mine ended a little later than expected today and he had a meeting, so we weren't able to sync up, but it happens. Back to work to deal with admin. I would really love it if my job was just my job, but I spend way more time on paperwork and admin than on anything else. I used to be tactical before I got here, but this place is just draining the life out of me. $10.65
6 p.m. — The grocery situation at home is getting critical. I can't find any real food, so I settle for Triscuits and hummus for dinner. My afternoon was incredibly shitty, and I can feel myself starting to get sick. I realize my diet is terrible and I have very little time to work out (I did get an excellent score on my fitness assessment two weeks ago, but I sort of took that as an opportunity to stop going to the gym for a little while), but I am usually pretty healthy until I start getting burned out. My husband is unhappy that I am spending so much time at work, and we get into an argument about how he is doing all the emotional labor in our relationship. He's not wrong, but there's not much I can do to change my work situation. We agree that I will make plans for us for this upcoming weekend, since he is tired of making all the decisions.
Daily Total: $10.65

Day Six

6 a.m. — Thank God it's Friday. It's only been a three-day work week, but somehow those are the worst. I wake up with a cold sore, which usually happens when I am over-stressed. Fortunately my mission is at a more civilized hour today, so I get up, shower, and get dressed feeling more like a normal human. No breakfast.
11 a.m. — Yay, my mission is canceled. I hit up my husband to see if he wants to get lunch. He is off today, since he is working this weekend. He agrees to meet me off base for lunch. We decide to get kebabs.
11:15 a.m. — Just kidding, my mission is uncanceled. Husband is not happy, but there's nothing I can do about it. I have five minutes to grab my stuff and head to the ops floor. I get a sugar-free Monster and crackers from the snack bar to tide me over. $2.50
6 p.m. — One of my friends is leaving next week, so he is having a get-together after work. I leave work and meet my husband at home, and we head back out to the entertainment district off base. We agree not to have too much to drink, since the plan for tomorrow is to leave fairly early to go skiing. The first stop is a Korean barbecue restaurant for dinner. Everything is delicious. Our total is 24,000 won (about $22). Husband pays.
7:30 p.m. — Next stop is a rock-'n'-roll bar. One of my coworkers buys a round of fresh watermelon soju for everyone. I don't really like it, but I drink about half to be polite. We play darts and pool for a while. Eventually, just about everyone from my unit is there, and I'm starting to feel a bit claustrophobic, so we head home. At home we take the dog out and watch a couple episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine before going to bed.
Daily Total: $2.50

Day Seven

9 a.m. — Wake up a little later than we wanted to for the ski trip, but it's not the end of the world. We leave without breakfast but stop to gas up the car. It's about a two-and-a-half-hour drive to the ski resort. $37.24
10:30 a.m. — I stop at a rest stop after a few hours for some snacks, since skipping breakfast was a mistake. I get some Choco Pies, peanut trail mix, and a super delicious chocolate coffee-flavored milk. Koreans are the best at snack foods. My husband gets two hot dogs and some fried potatoes. The potatoes are amazing so I eat about half of them, much to his consternation. $9.79
12:30 p.m. — This resort has super expensive lift tickets. I offer to pay, since I was the one who picked it. My husband is way more into skiing than I am, but I go along with it since it makes him happy. He bought all my ski gear as a gift last winter and usually pays for all the tickets, but I feel like it's my turn this time. We buy eight-hour tickets — four hours in the afternoon and four in the evening, with a two-hour grooming break in the middle. $192
5:30 p.m. — The first half of the day destroyed my legs. The conditions were terrible — all the snow is artificial, and it's basically just straight ice right now. I started on one of the longer runs, since the lines for the bunny slopes were outrageous. I didn't have my boots configured correctly, so I crashed three times in the first 15 minutes or so. Blah. It's grooming time and the slopes are closed for a while, so hopefully the conditions will be better when we go back out. The ski resort is in the middle of a cute little village, so we wander around looking for food. We settle on an Irish-looking pub, but when we get inside, there are no customers and it's cold and all the food is overpriced. Oh, well. I am too tired to look for something else. We order cheesy potatoes, a sausage platter, and a couple of beers. It's not great food, but it fills me up and gives my legs a chance to rest. The total is outrageous: 73,000 won (about $65). Husband kindly pays.
6:30 p.m. — We get our gear back on ($0.94 for the lockers) and head back to the slopes. I highly doubt my legs can take much more, but I'm gonna try. My husband goes off to do all the hard runs. We agree to meet back at the entrance in two hours. $0.94
9:30 p.m. — I did better than I thought I would on the second part of the day. No more crashes, but I'm going to be super sore tomorrow. We get back in the car and drive home. I eat some more Choco Pies instead of dinner on the ride home. My husband has to work early, so he goes straight to bed, but I hang out and cuddle the dog for a while.
11:30 p.m. — Shame. I am sitting on the couch playing a game on my phone, and I succumb to the temptation of buying some of the stupid in-game currency. I do this every once in a while and always feel super guilty about it. I don't even like this game very much. I've almost deleted it a few times but decided against it, and now I am paying the price. I should go to bed before I do anything else I'll regret. Maybe tomorrow morning I will go to the gym. $19.99
Daily Total: $259.96
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