South Korea’s “no-spend challenge” trend has citizens saving more, with some boasting of their zero-expenditures on social media.
One user, @jjeon_bu, dedicates their entire account to posting what appears to be weekly updates on their ledgers.
Their bio reads, “a new employee in their 20s who dreams of financial freedom.”
Each post is broken down into “income” and “expenditures,” with an explanation of some of the costs, including “books,” “appointment with friend” and “former savings.”
For their report on Wednesday, which was payday, they start their day by gaining 63 won ($0.048) from their bank in interest before taking out a 22,000 won ($16.77) expense for a date with a friend and 14,320 won ($10.92) for books.
“I couldn’t do ‘no-spending’ but I only bought what was absolutely necessary! My best friend left for language training so I met with him for a farewell meal. I also bought Ramkun’s book after only borrowing it and so I can finally underline it.”
They noted that they bought their book at a discounted price before concluding that, “the farewell was an unavoidable expense.”
Koreans, especially Millennials and Generation Z, are making an effort to cut out what they deem to be “unnecessary costs.”
Kim Ji-yeon, a 29-year-old elementary school teacher, restricts herself to only eating out on the weekends and, instead of going to cafes after lunch, she limits herself to the free instant coffees available in her office.
“I first heard about the ‘no-spend challenge’ on Instagram,” she told The Korea Herald. “[I] thought it was a good way to save money. I was able to save around 200,000 won ($153) in two weeks.”
While experts such as Inha University consumer science professor Lee Eun-hee warn that extreme saving habits can be harmful if conducive to “cutting off friends and isolating yourself,” inflation and high costs of living are leaving many people with no choice.
According to a report from Korea Statistics, the consumer price index has surged by 6 percent to 108.22 as of June this year, the highest point in the last 23 years and seven months.
The misery index was also reported to be the highest in seven years, relaying the economic distress citizens have been facing with rising unemployment and inflation rates.
The Korean won hit its 13-year low in June, making 1,300 won equal to a mere U.S. dollar. This especially affected students studying abroad, whose parents are experiencing firsthand the brunt of the weakening home currency.