Getting Finances in Order

February 27, 2011

A lot going on the weekend before the March 1st Movement holiday (삼일 운동) in my little South Korean town. Time to think and ponder my finances.

Usually, I’m working about seven hours a day at ECY Language School in Bugu. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I have extra kindergarten classes for my boss’ son and his friends. I’ve been able to strike a pretty good balance between work and play under this schedule, but recently, have been staying up absurd hours for absolutely no reason. As a result, I’ve had to sleep in and my running and gym workouts have been lacking. Couple that with the only track covered in snow (i.e. no speed workouts), and I’ve probably put on a few kilos.

And now, more work is set to come. Starting in April, I’ll be teaching adults at the nuclear power plant from 6:30 AM and more kindergardeners on Wednesdays. Why in the world would I agree to something like this? Well, the money is good. Usually, I’m pulling about 2.1 million Won after taxes. Starting in April, I’ll be getting 3.7 million. It’s just too good to pass up: not only would I be able to pay off my credit card debt in full, but I’d still have a decent nest egg on arrival in the US. For a moment, when my boss offered me a raise to stay on another year, I seriously considered it… but only for financial reasons.

Personally, professionally, and everything else is telling me to leave South Korea as soon as I complete my obligations. No doubt I’ll regret the money I left behind when I fly into a country with a failing economy and a terrible job market. But I can’t worry about that now: it’s home. It’s a place I can understand, and don’t have to worry about being gawked at on the streets.

I’ve been living off one million Won a month since I arrived, transferring the rest of my salary to my US bank account to slowly pay off my credit cards… and do a little online shopping. The exchange rate has been getting a lot better for me; before the North Korean attack, it was expected to go down to 1000 Won to the dollar. It’s now at 1126. I pay about $50 in fees just to make one electronic transfer. If my calculations are correct and no hidden expenses crop up, I should leave Korea debt free and with about $2000 in hand… we shall see.

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