Friday, December 31, 1999

my head is already in August

[Originally posted on Friday, January 23, 2015, at 7:10PM.]

I turn 46 on August 31st of this year. By that point, a couple things ought to have happened:

1. I will have saved W10,000,000 (almost $10,000). I'm 30% of the way there now.
2. I will have left Dongguk University for the Golden Goose.
3. I will have moved into the very nice housing provided by the Golden Goose.

The reason all of this is so wonderful is that, when I join the Golden Goose full-time, the company will be providing housing. My coworker there says that, at most, I'll pay W200,000 a month in building/admin fees—and that's it. No need to worry about utilities, and the apartment on offer will be bigger than the one I had in Front Royal, Virginia.

The immediate consequence of this state of affairs is that I'll have ten million won in the bank, but I won't need to dump it all into jeonsae because the Golden Goose will be taking care of housing. That means I can start paying down my various debts months earlier than I'd originally budgeted. It also means that, for my monthly budget, I'll have several hundred dollars automatically freed up for use on debts and discretionary expenses.

As always, the plan has been to pay down the smaller debts first, working my way up the ladder like a video-game hero who must eventually face the "boss" monster. In my case, the boss monster is my massive Navient scholastic debt, which still totals $54,000. The Navient debt and my other debts come out to around $80,000, which is, of course, crippling to me. But as I pay off the smaller debts, each pay-down will free up X number of dollars per month, allowing me (1) even more breathing room, and (2) an even greater ability to pay down subsequent debts. So the whole thing produces a snowball effect.

Personal debts:
Person A: $700 (a nice lady whose boyfriend loaned me $1000 back in the day; I paid back $300 of that money but still owe the remaining $700)
Person B: $250 (my best buddy)
Person C: $200 (a nice Korean lady who loaned me some money a couple years back)

Revolving debts:
Chase Amazon credit card: almost $800. Pay that off, and I'm free of a $25/month minimum-payment obligation.
OneMain Financial: $5,830. Pay that off, and I free up $253/month.
Capital One (car loan): $6,020. Pay that off, and I free up $214/month.
Wells Fargo "eMax": approx. $15,000. Pay that off, and that's another $245/month.
Navient: $54,000. Pay that off, and I'm debt-free. Everything I earn, I keep.

On the budget I made up for myself, I had planned to pay off the OneMain Financial debt in 2016. This assumed I'd be dumping $10,000 into jeonsae, thus setting my schedule back a year. With no more jeonsae to consider, I can move that pay-down forward a year and get it all done by winter. About four months later, in early 2016, I can have my Capital One debt paid off, which again puts me way ahead of schedule—almost two years ahead of schedule. With those two debts gone, I'll be $460/month richer, which means I can accumulate money even faster to pay off the remaining debts, like my Wells Fargo "eMax" education loan, on which I still owe the better part of $20,000. After taking care of eMax, all that will be left is the dragon—my Navient loan—$54,000. If I can be debt-free by the time I'm 50, that'll be fantastic. And the ball really gets rolling this coming August.

One more semester to get through, then a sweeping set of very positive life-changes. First and foremost: I'll be able to cook again. Second: I'll be in an apartment that's big enough to accommodate guests, including guests who might want to stay over. Third: vacation might be limited, but at least I'll be able to travel.

As for the problems with working an office job... well, there will be pluses and minuses. Among the minuses:

• I'll be living in the southeast part of Seoul, which is fairly flat. I won't be next to Namsan anymore, which will suck. On the other hand, the Golden Goose is housed in a complex that also has a gym not thirty yards from the Goose's doorstep.
• I'll be stuck in an office with two other guys: my boss and a coworker. And that'll be the arrangement for the foreseeable future. It's a bit Sartrean in a "hell is other people" sort of way. Luckily, I like both of these people, and they like me; we're all word nerds. So unless we get into a major fight that turns the work environment toxic, I think we'll get along fine.
• I'll be working 40 hours a week and losing vacation time. Fortunately, my boss at the Golden Goose is flexible; I'm going to see whether I can work 10 hours a day, four days a week, and have Fridays off. While that won't make up for a lack of university-style vacation time, it will mean a string of three-day weekends. And I won't mind spending ten hours in the office. Also, a 40-hour week seems much longer than teaching twelve hours a week at the uni, but keep in mind that teaching involves more than just in-class time: there's planning and prep to consider, which means we're all putting in closer to 30-some hours a week.
• This won't be nearly as exciting or interesting as teaching. True, but teaching has its pitfalls as well, as I recently wrote about re: over-privileged students and suck-ass evaluations.

Among the pluses:

• No responsibilities beyond what I do in the office. University teaching involves a ton of extra work—the aforementioned planning and prep. I'll be doing none of that when I punch out at the end of each day.
• No complicated goddamn forms and procedures. Dongguk University, in particular, is guilty of over-bureaucratizing its professors' lives. There's a procedure and a form for everything, and that's just maddening. Even when you're on vacation, you can't leave the country without first filling out a foreign-travel permission form, which is humiliating and infantilizing. I'll be happy to be done with all these fucking forms.
• No more goddamn email bombardments from the main office. God, it'll be a relief just to walk into my office and start working without having to keep track of announcements related to taxes, extra work, new duties, changes in this or that departmental policy, etc.
• No more whiny and/or lazy students. It might be nice to take a break from teaching and stretch my other creative muscles—see what else I can do.
• A new part of Seoul to explore. I'm already partly familiar with the southeastern section of Seoul; I have relatives in Garak-dong, and I'll be living and working only a few subway stops away from them. But there's still plenty to see and do in the southeastern quadrant—much to learn, and maybe even relearn. And being away from the center of town won't be a total loss: I'll be right next to Line 3 of the metro, which is the same line I have access to now.

So, yes: August. Big changes coming in August. I can hardly wait.



Charles said...

Wow, I didn't know that GG was going to take care of housing (I probably just wasn't paying attention). That's huge. Sounds like things are really starting to shape up.

Kevin Kim said...


Yeah—the housing frees up a lot of budgetary space for me: it's an extra $500/month right there, which has ramifications all the way through 2019 and beyond.

I redid the figures last night, sliding all my major debts forward by a year or two, and it seems now that, if everything goes according to plan, I can be debt-free in 2018, i.e., before I turn 50. That would be indescribably awesome.

I also didn't factor in income from KMA in the years after 2015; that's another couple million won per year. Perhaps balancing out KMA, though, are the large purchases I'll be making once I move—stuff like furniture, a decent TV, kitchen appliances, etc. And there's also the chance that, between now and 2019, I'll want to skip out to Europe at some point and spend a week there. Europe definitely drains the wallet.

I've budgeted only about $450/month for my discretionary expenditures, which isn't all that much, especially since most of that will go to food. But I'm not too worried: my cash buffer is going to be huge.

John (I'm not a robot) said...

Yep, sounds like the decision was ultimately easy to make. No question the housing benefit is huge.


Charles said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but did I read "a decent TV" up there? Is the Big Hominid finally planning on joining the idiot-box-entranced masses?