Deductions From Happiness

In my previous post ‘Running Costs’, I asserted that Kris and I would not reduce our amount that we would put aside for our overall goal – a deposit on a decent house. Sadly, while doing the monthly budget yesterday, we came to a quick realization: if we didn’t reduce the amount we set aside this month, we simply would not have enough money for food. So, with a heavy heart and a more-than-slightly-childish sulky moment, we reduced our allocated amount for this month. We will have the means to make it up next month, luckily, but it was still disheartening to go against something that we had committed to doing in the second month of payment here.

Why did we have to do this? One word: deductions. While our salary may be stated at a certain amount, that is before a number of automatic deductions are performed on this amount. These include various taxes, life insurance, pension, rent, water, electricity, Internet costs, and a small number of other perfectly reasonable items to have come off of our paycheck.

What made this month particularly bad for us, however, is that the taxes that were placed on this month’s bill were not done last month. It’s almost as if the Korean banking institution does not want to start taxing you until they know that you are going to remain in the country. So, when our first paycheck arrived, we were told that there were some charges that were not applied to that paycheck, but which would be paid for in our next paycheck. We nodded, smiled, and got back to reveling in our first significant paycheck in months. A month passed, and those words came painfully true, crippling the small buffer between being able to get by on half of a salary and having to compromise one’s ideals.

It is these deductions that we did not factor into our calculations before we came to Korea. We expected to be paid a certain wage, chip in a little bit for rent and some necessities, and then have the rest to feed ourselves and shove under the metaphorical pillow for later. In essence, we thought we could get away with putting half of our gross salary aside every month in relative comfort. What we really should have considered would be what the difference between a gross and a net salary would be, and taken this into account.

However, we came with a plan, and we will still let nothing stop us from achieving our goal. It may be harder than we had previously expected, but it is far from impossible. Little changes in our lifestyle will help alleviate some financial pressure without taking too much happiness from us. Only having one snack per evening. Not going to the exorbitantly expensive movie-houses for a while. Not buying unnecessary trinkets. All of these little steps will make a big difference, and will one day help us make our first steps into our wonderful house.

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