Both of these bills are worth 10,000. One is 10,000 South Korean Won and the other is 10,000 Japanese Yen. I'd have liked to add an American bill in there, but I'm fresh out of $10,000 bills...
One of these is worth about $8.50 (the green Korean won on top) and the other is worth about $120. Funny how things that look so similar can be so different.
International finance is never really something I've looked into. I've seen the infomercials on TV...the little flashing ads next to the newspapers I read online. I never thought I'd be foolish enough to waste my money gambling it on the random fluctuation of currencies. Well, that was before I started getting paid in won.
A lifetime ago, say two years, the 1000 won was worth more that a US dollar. As the world economy tanked, so did the won. So my fellow English teachers that had to move all their money at the end of 2008...watched all their hard earned money money lose 30 cents on the dollar. (and probably get no sympathy from those that had money in the stock market...) However, those people that started out as English teachers here (such as your humble author) have seen any money they didn't send home...have seen their money increase in value by 20 cents on the dollar.
You might ask, what the difference is between those who saw a 30% drop in their savings and a (so far) 20% increase...the answer is time. They got out at a bad time...and I got in at a good time. No amount of luck or research meant anything. It was what year your happened to come over here.
Fate, it seems, is a fickle mistress.
And as the the Won can buy the most Dollars in something like 16 months, I've decided to start officially saving my money.
Now, I've been saving (or attempting to anyways) a portion of my paycheck each month. But even with all those millions of Won in my Korean bank account...it just doesn't feel the same as having it back home in my American bank account. Like the great American said, "A penny saved is a penny earned." Well, until I turn it into pennies, I don't feel as if I've earned it.
The transferring process itself is as easy as paying a bill in Korea. I just log onto my bank account and make a transfer to my remittance account (an international transfer account that is tied directly to my American bank accounts). Three days later, money appears in my account back home.
There are 2 frustrating things about sending money home are the Korean laws and the fees. (and for the record, if these are the BIGGEST problems I have with sending money home...I've got it GOOD)
First, the maximum amount of money I can send home is equal to my monthly paycheck. So, while I want to send home 9 months worth of savings all as once...I've got to send it home in installments.
Second, both banks want a slice. Due to the beauty of the internet, I know how much each transfer should be worth and I know how much goes into my account. There's a $50 dollar difference. I don't like using a random ATM in order to avoid a $2 fee. So the $50 fee comes with a bit of sticker shock.
But my Korean bank wants a little bit of the action and so does my American bank, so there's not much that I can do.