Singapore-based financial blog that aims to educate people on personal finance, investments, retirement and their Central Provident Fund (CPF) matters.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Seoul Travel - $2.9k for 23days

I visited Seoul, South Korea with 2 other friends during the December period (20th December to 12th January).
It was a pretty interesting (budget yet fun) experience that I thought you might be interested to know.

Exchange rate: 822 won : $1 SGD
Travel size: 3
Travel period: 23 days

Total: $2,881.60 ($125.30 per day)

China Eastern Airline (transit at Pu Dong International Airport)
Cost: $700.65 ($2101.95 / 3)
Flight from Changi to Pu Dong was about 5 hours, transit about 2 hours, then another 2 hours flight to Seoul.
The return flight is about the same.
We booked a little late (less than 1 month before departure).
If you booked earlier, it might be a little cheaper.

Airbnb near Mapo Station (fairly central location)
Cost: $938.16 ($2814.50 / 3)
Staying near most of the popular area like Hongdae is pretty lit and convenient.

Sim Card:
Got a 30-day unlimited data-only plan at Seoul Airport.
Cost: $90.21 (71,500 won).
A little costly, apparently my friend told me it'll be cheaper if I bought online.
And, depending on which mobile operator you have in Singapore, it might also be cheaper to get from them than to buy a new sim card in South Korea.
But there is an advantage in having a Korea sim card - if you want to book a cab or food delivery, but don't want to pay for roaming charges (which can be insane), then this option of getting a sim card there is awesome.
Trust me: there will be times where you want to order food delivery (because it's good and convenient) and times where you want to get a cab.
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I spent a total of almost $140 on transport - which can be cut down
Cost: $138.20 (113,600 won)
There are 2 types of transport cards: Normal and Concession cards.

Normal Card
Used for train/bus/cab payment
4,000 won for the card
Top up additional money for additional use
Can refund the card at the Airport to get back the remaining funds in the card + 4,000 won - 500 won fee
Each train ride cost minimum 1,250 won
Each bus ride cost minimum 1,200 won
Purchase from convenience stores or vending machines

Concession Card
Used for train rides in Seoul
2,500 won for the card
Buy the concession at the value top up machine
Concession is 55,000 won for 60 rides
Each train ride cost minimum 1,250 won
So (55000 + 2500)/1250 = 46 rides
If you took more than 46 rides, you already made your money worth
Purchase from the train station's control station

I spent 1 week in Seoul before I discovered the availability of the concession card.
Hence I spent extra to get the concession but did not maximise the full 60 rides
I spent quite a bit topping up my normal card in the first week and used about 50 rides in the next 2 weeks.

If you are going to travel a lot, get the concession.
You probably won't need the normal card since most places are accessible by train.

K-BBQ, Skewer, Street Food, Cafes, Restaurants, Family Shops, etc.
Cost: $893.55 (734,500 won)
Meals are generally expensive there, but the portions are fairly huge.
An average meal can cost about $10 to $15 SGD.

If it costs 5,000 won or below, it is a snack.
If it costs above $5,000, it is a main course

We went Everland, Seoul Tower, and Demilitarised Zone (DMZ)
Cost: 120.81

Book the tickets online - it is a lot cheaper than buying on the spot

Others (Optional):
Nami Island, Souvenirs, Masks, Historical Korean Costume, Sauna, Dumb Stuff
Others: $463.26 (380,800 won)
Discretionary spending - really depends on what you want to buy.
I spent like 70% of the money on gifts and souvenirs.

Other Stuff to Note:

If it has an English menu, it's probably a tourist trap

If you speak Chinese there, you are probably going to get judged real bad

They will love you if you are a tourist but can speak their language.
It is not an English-friendly place. Most people there cannot speak English. Google Translate is your best friend there.

Reach the airport half hour earlier than check-in timing to do the GST refund process.
More details can be found HERE

The process is strange.
Your items get checked outside the custom (you need to still have them with you)
After they have verified, they will chop your receipts.
You then proceed to check-in your baggage.
You get your refund (in Korea won) after you passed the custom


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Fooding Places:
This is not a food blog, but there was some food that was really great that I thought it will be good to share

K-BBQ at Chungmuro Station
Chungmuro Station Exit 1, walk straight all the way. It's on the right
The beef is good, the pork is so-so.
More info can be found HERE.

Egg Drop
It's a good breakfast, and it's available in quite a lot of places
Must try breakfast!

Lamb Skewer
We ate at this place thrice - and spend $200 in just 3 visits
There's 2 types of lamb meat there, a 10,000 won and 12,000 won.
We recommend trying both and see which you prefer.
Address: Tojeong-ro 37-gil (nearest station: Mapo Station, exit 2)

Waffle University
Value for money - not the nicest, but extremely value for money
Decent waffle, huge servings of softy ice cream
Address: Majo-ro 1-gil (nearest station: Wangsimni station, exit 6)

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Friday, 11 January 2019

Paying for my HDB with CPF after 55 Years Old

We have got many readers asking us if they can utilise their CPF to pay for their homes after they reach the age of 55.
We have found the answer for you!

Answer: YES YOU CAN!

When you reach the age of 55, the money in your CPF Ordinary Account (OA) and Special Account (SA) gets transferred into a new CPF Retirement Account (RA).
2 points to note when using your CPF money to pay for your house after you reach age 55.

1) You may use the money in your Retirement Account in excess of your cohort's Basic Retirement Sum (BRS).
Eg; you turn 55 in the year 2018. Your cohort's BRS is $85,500.
This means you can withdraw your RA savings above $85,500 to pay for your house.

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2) You may use the money in your OA to pay for the remaining outstanding amount (or loan).
After setting aside money into your RA, if your OA still has money to cover your outstanding housing amount, it will be used to pay for it.
However, if there is an insufficient balance in your OA currently, your monthly OA contribution will then be used to pay for the monthly instalment for the housing loan.

However, you cannot touch the money in your RA to pay for your outstanding home loan.
Eg; you transferred $30k from OA and $40k from SA into your RA when you reach age 55. Now your RA has $70k, but the BRS for your cohort is $85k. In this case, you will not be able to use any of the $70k to pay for your home loan. Instead, the amount for your home loan will be deducted from your monthly CPF contribution.

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Thursday, 3 January 2019

1,000 yen more Expensive to Travel to Japan

It just became 1,000 yen more expensive to travel to Japan, but it sure is not going to deter us from visiting that beautiful country 😍
With the new departure tax being implemented, many are wondering how it will be charged.
So we did some research and tried to answer some possible questions below:

Q1. How will it be charged?
A1. It will be charged when you buy your air tickets. The tax is automatically included in the plane ticket you buy

Q2. Is it a tourist tax?
A2. It is not. It is charged on every passenger travelling out of Japan - tourists and Japanese are all charged that 1,000 yen tax

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S1. Buys a ticket now, fly to & from Japan before 7th.
A1. No need to pay the 1,000 yen departure tax

S2. Buys a ticket now, fly to Japan & returns on the 7th.
A2. Needs to pay the 1,000 yen departure tax

S3. Buys a ticket now, fly on/after 7th, & returns on the same day.
A3. No need to pay the 1,000 yen departure tax

S4. Buys a ticket now, fly on/after 7th, & returns on a different date.
A4. Needs to pay the 1,000 yen departure tax

Got any more burning questions you have about the new departure tax that you want to know?
Comment to us and we will try and help you find the answers.

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