The story of overseas Filipino workers are always divided into two: on one hand, there are those who worked hard from the bottom of the pyramid and amassed a great fortune after years or decades; on the other hand, there are people who went overseas and toiled the land for so long, only to come back home empty-handed. While it’s good to hear success stories of the former, tragic tales about the latter are more prevalent, and it seems like an endless cycle of tragedy among OFWs.
While it is easy to point out the problems faced by OFWs especially when it comes to ways on how they handle their finances, why not point out instead how they can make themselves more practical when it comes to managing their hard-earned money? Here are some tips on how OFWs can become savvy when it comes to their money.
Avoid the “balikbayan box” mentality
Families of OFWs love receiving balikbayan boxes: a small box brimming with items from other countries that represent their frustration and hopes, thinking they can have at least a taste of something novel for a while. Clothes, shoes, canned goods, toys, shampoo bottles, soap bars—the balikbayan box is the perfect amalgamation of what families cannot have here.
Unfortunately, it is also the perfect representation of what is wrong with the way OFWs handle their money. While there is nothing wrong with sending goods to your families, balikbayan boxes are a product of a consumption-oriented mentality, and the money used to buy those goods can instead be put into something more profitable. Balikbayan boxes are not bad per se, but sending them on a regular basis is merely a waste of good money.
Come home only if you need to
We can all agree that working away from your family can take a toll, and the damage is more in the form of isolation and deprivation. To alleviate this, some of them regularly come home, staying at least a month or two with their family every year. While it is definitely worth the money, coming home regularly is only a financial disaster waiting for you to happen.
The cost of coming home is more than just buying roundtrip tickets; you also have to prepare money for vacations, feasts, and expenses left and right. Instead of coming home on a regular basis, come home only if you need to. Save the money your money instead and invest it in something more meaningful, something that will make the lives of your families more comfortable and secure.
Put aside a bit of your salary for savings
It is understandable that OFWs go to other countries to work hard give their families a comfortable and decent lifestyle. With that in mind, some OFWs send everything to their loved ones in the country and leave little to nothing with them. While this move may be good for their families since they have more purchasing power, it can be bad for their future since there is nothing left for them.
While it is tempting so send almost all of your income to your family to cover their expenses, you need to also put aside a significant portion of your savings for the future. Whether you put it in a savings account or something that gives more yields, you also need to invest in your future even if you do it brick by brick. Remember, you are not just working for your family now, you are also building for your future.
Attend financial literacy programs
A lot of OFWs board the planes headed overseas equipped only with the courage to face a brave the world and the skills to make it happen. While this is more than enough to succeed outside the country, they still need to have the necessary knowledge on how to make their hard-earned money reach its full potential.
To make you savvier when it comes to money, try to find some financial literacy programs in your area to know more about how money works and other things that you can do to make your money work for you. Fortunately, there are non-profit groups that look out for the financial welfare of OFWs, and they do it for free because they know that earning money thousand miles away from home is difficult.
Being an overseas worker is tough; you have to fight loneliness, isolation, and alienation in a foreign land just to give your family the life they deserve. By becoming wiser when it comes to your money, you can make your stay out of the country to work more worthwhile, especially that there’s a sunny financial future waiting for you when you come home.