The Gorila

This was the nickname of a 1994 Hyundai Accent I used to drive in Korea. It was a hand me down that my friend Graham used to drive. He was on the fast track to making quite a bit of money so he got a better car and sold it to me for 300,000 Korean Won, if that much. That translated to just under $300 at the time. Selling it after getting wealthy was a pattern with that car as the guy who sold it to Graham had upgraded. The guy who sold it to the guy who sold it to Graham had upgraded. And so on. So it goes. They all did so because they were comfortably making quite a bit more money and could easily afford a new car.

Was it chance or was the car a like a magic lamp?

It seemed that everyone who drove that car ended up making it pretty big. Now how can that be? Well, I don’t think it’s all chance. When I got it, the clutch pedal was loose, the muffler sounded like a box of marbles, the side was dented, the driver’s side window didn’t work, but it was a car and driving a car, heck, owning a car in a foreign country as an expat was pretty darn cool, so who was I to complain? The Gorila wasn’t going to score me any dates, but the dates I could score on my own sure appreciated the convenience. Suddenly I had access to Costco runs, the black market of garbage bags and drink draws (useful when running a bar), and day off drives out of Seoul and along the beautiful Han River. It was pretty awesome and barely cost me anything at all.

So what gives?

I think that the secret sauce to the thing was that everyone who had it was frugal. The car was a symbol of frugality. Owning and old junker was a choice. A smart choice. Each of us owners didn’t give a crap what it looked like on the outside but loved the freedom it gave us to get around while giving us the economic freedom to save our money for our businesses. Each of us ended up with his own profitable business: one in fashion, one in paper goods, and one in healthcare. I ended up doing well with the bar and now real estate investing.

This post is to remember the Gorila and the amazing jumpstart it gave me to save and grow a business. Being frugal with your expenses and spending way less than you earn is the easiest way to make it as an investor. Find your Gorila and let it be your magic lamp.

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