My First Financial Mentor is a Welder



It was the peak of winter during February last year, I was with my Korean pal having a session of soju when we saw the newsflash in the television…Greece is in a big mess due to sovereign debt.

My Korean friend prefer to eat simple meals at home
Chasal hajima!(it means “don’t kill yourself” in Korean)”, I jokingly blurted. He had invested heavily in German stocks during that time and I’m quite sure that the entire European Union are affected. He just laughed and say that this is what he is waiting for and explained about the opportunity he saw in this crisis.

This is our typical bonding nights. Our discussions are often about KOSPI, DAX (German Index), Philippine stocks, Chinese policy and etc. We both share the common love of making money through investments. I first met this extraordinary guy in my company where he works as a welder.

Though a blue-collar worker, I’m very surprised by his financial know-hows which he started sharing with me since 2008. He learned about investments during his short stint in Woori Bank as a clerk. Though his temporary position was not renewed, his passion for money-making grew and he started reading books and blogs about personal finances. He teaches me about how not investing is a way to lose money because of the inflation rate which I just ignored before. His investment potfolio consists of bancassurance, exchange traded funds or ETF, German and Korean Stocks and time deposit. I feel ashamed when I first learned about these because he is younger than me and works in a 3D job(dirty, dangerous and difficult) while I work as a design engineer in the same company and my finances are in deep shit(sorry for the word but I can’t find the right adjective).

The following are the things that I've learned from him:

1. Everyone start from scratch.
He said that he also started with huge debt and jobless but this doesn’t prevent him from dreaming big and acting to reach his goal.

2. Education is the key to wealth.
He loves reading books and very passionate about learning (this is one of the common strength of a Korean….I wish all Filipino students are like that as well). Even with scarcity of money, everyone can learn for free if one wants to seek knowledge.

3. Be frugal and save money.
He believes that joy can be derived from simple and inexpensive things (and sometimes free). Sometimes I get criticized by him whenever I became too extravagant.

4. Invest even with a little amount and do it consistently.
He told me a proverb that says “small stones can build churches and tall buildings”. The same holds true for wealth-building. No matter how small, it will grow big overtime.

5. Invest wisely and rationally.
He always research about the companies and he often ignore some market dips which often times are baseless.
Seung while checking stocks in my pc. 

6. Be positive.
“Brother, smile!”. This is his regular words to me. He said that positive aura begets money since when you are happy you feel less needy.

7. Opportunities co-exist with crisis.
This is my most important learnings from him. He encourage me to invest in Philippine stocks in 2009 which I get a juicy profit. He always keeps separate cash which he calls as “crisis reserve fund”. He profit from the panic in Korean market during the sinking of Chonan submarine after North Korea assaulted it, the Middle East and Aftrican Revolution, and he also bought some Japanese ETF after the tsunami incident. He saw the potential in all those calamities and profit from it handsomely.

8. Think long term. 
He believes that even stocks which were bought at expensive price currently can be relatively cheap as the company grow in the future. Some of his stocks were bought 5 years ago and appreciated greatly now but he still keep it.

All of these became an eye-opener to me of the possibilities in creating wealth. He encourage me to invest in Korean stocks as well but I said that I will focus first my investment in the Philippines. In that way I can help our country at the same time. He responded with "Itaas mo!" as we toast our soju glasses. ("Itaas mo" is the only Filipino words that he learned from me in return for his mentoring).

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