Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I've taken a pay cut of 25%

The numbers on the left of the graph show how many won are needed to "buy" a US Dollar.

It just keeps getting worse and worse and worse. Our salaries have become worth fully a quarter less since we signed our contracts at the end of July.

When the exchange rate was bouncing around near 1,100 a few weeks ago, I wasn't really worried. I figure there's some volatility in these things, but they tend to be cyclic, and there must be psychological ties to the 1,000-to-1 exchange (there certainly are for those of us who live here, many of whom quote prices in dollars; eg. a 3,500 won bus fare is spoken of as $3.50 (though it's now more like $2.50)). But now, this is starting to freak me out. The ROI from a year in Korea is a lot less with the exchange rate at 1,350:1 than at 900:1 (where it was last time I traded won for dollars). I still think I'm right about the psychological ties to 1,000-to-1, I think it will return to that neighborhood... the questions is, will I be here long enough to see that return, and if not, how long can I wait before "cashing out" my won?

I just saw that the Dow lost 500 points yesterday and is now below 9,500. And unemployment in the U.S. is over 6%. I still have a job, and I haven't lost any value in savings. To those who have lost jobs or are nearing retirement and wondering if it will be possible, I'm sorry. There's always a job teaching English in South Korea waiting for you.


Alice said...

Yep, it's very, very scary. I am holding out hope that with a new President things will begin to change. I spoke to a 77 year old woman last night (she was working as an usher at the Udall-Shaffer debate at DU) and just yesterday afternoon she cashed in a mutual fund that was worth $77,000 a few weeks ago and was only worth $50,000 yesterday when she sold it. How SAD!

I hope things improve for you over there. Korea is my 'fail-safe' reassurance. When things are not going right here I always think "well maybe I could move to Korea and teach English."

Anjole said...

Hi Mike,
You are not the only one starting to freak out. Unfortunately for you and Mel, there probably won't be much improvement over the next 6months, and will probably still get a bit worse before it gets better. However, history tells us that economics is cyclical and it will get healthier world wide over the next 10 years, especially with a new administration in Washington.
So, your future is bright.
Hang in there!