Tuesday, 14 April 2009

My own Korean credit crunch

The gravy train appeared to be coming to a stop last week as we received an email informing us that our company credits were coming to an end at the end of this month. I've been expecting this to happen pretty much from the time we first got them so it didn't come as much of a surprise to me. It's no big deal as they were a completely unforeseen bonus at the time. It looks like they're stopping for tax reasons, presumably also the reason why they started up in the first place.

Every foreigner (not Korean - unfair eh?) at my company was given a credit card allowance. Mine now is up to 300,000₩, which is approximately £150 to use on whatever we wanted. I've varied what I've used it on, from airplane tickets to clothes, groceries, gifts for my girlfriend, impulse purchases and nights out. By and large usually things I didn't necessarily need.

The silver lining to all this is that instead of losing the 300,000₩ it will be added to all of my future monthly wages. So although that money will now be taxed it's more likely that I won't be buying too many non-essential things, giving me the chance to save more money. Which, lets be honest is the primary reason I'm here right now.

Much has changed during my time in Korea including my salary. When I first arrived in October 2005 I was working six days a week for what I thought at the time was an OK salary, especially when you consider the very low taxes we pay here. From next month I'll be earning exactly 50% more than what I initially started on and working only five days a week. Could I have feasibly earned a 50% wage rise in three years in the UK? I'd find that hard to believe.

Naturally the exchange rate between the UK and Korea had fluctuated during my time here and it's not as good as in 2005, but it's still OK and enough to stay here and save. It's hard to say money doesn't matter in the current climate. Even in an English teacher's darkest moments in Korea solace can always be found in the amount of money us teachers can make either legally or illegally. It's a great place to save for your future and/or pay off your debts as well as explore a new countries culture and meet some amazing people too.

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