We’ve heard many rather pitiful stories about overseas foreign workers who, after years of working abroad, are living very sorry lives.
I have worked overseas myself, so I know a bit of that story first hand. I wish I had been a bit smarter back then, but as they say, there’s no use dwelling in the past.
In my own humble opinion, every OFW should be smart especially with money matters from the very start. I had some people who told me that, too, enough times actually. I guess, I just didn’t listen to them. I hope you read what I am going to say below and really keep those in mind.
Make savings the first item right after your fixed monthly expenses. Cover all the necessary bills to pay and then set aside money for savings. Deposit it in a separate bank account if necessary, then LEAVE it there.
Start investing the soonest you can. The best bet is always buying a piece of land or a house and lot for yourself. There are properties that you can pay in monthly installments of less than 10k, on your own or with Pag-ibig. Having a land of your own should be your very first investment. It’s a sound investment for many reasons. The value of land always appreciates. It is also more affordable. When you no longer have money, you can build a nipa hut on it and grow vegetables, and you’ll still survive.
There are many other investing options for OFW’s now, and I’m gonna write about them in my next post. But the very first real estate properties you start looking for should be land.
While treating ourselves to a nice dress, some pampering, and a nice meal once in a while is also encouraged, when you’re overseas and starting to earn a lot more money all of a sudden, it’s actually very easy for your strong resolve to go bust. Suddenly, you may feel the urge to try posh restaurants and shop till you drop. The very moment you start feeling this kind of dizzy, you should give yourself a real good shake.
DON’T SPOIL THE FAMILY
It’s normal to want to make our family happy all the time. Apart from the monthly remittance that we send to them, we can also get extra generous on every birthday, anniversary, and fiesta. There’s nothing wrong with giving, but the sad thing is sometimes because they get so used to comfort and not having to earn for their own things, they don’t get the concept of hard work. Worse, they won’t even see the value of what you’ve given them. Worst, they totally don’t realize the sacrifice you’re making for them. So, when you’re old and can no longer give them things, you’ll be the very first one to be let out the door. And this is really sad: Sometimes, you will be shooed out of the very house you helped build. By your very own family. So, the lesson here is to set limits and set proper expectations for them.
NO CREDIT CARDS, PLEASE
It’s good to have extra cash in case of emergencies. The sad thing though is many struggle against themselves with credit cards. Not many have an unwieldy self-control. Speaking from experience? Yes. The stories of those who get ridden with debt they can’t possibly repay is real. It’s best not to have them at all.
Undertake one realistic project at a time. My story, as with those of many others’, was I was too impatient to see improvement in my family’s life. In short, I took life improvement projects left and right, which led to my financial ruin. So, if you’re already investing in a land or a house and lot while providing for your family’s needs and sending some family members to school, etc., check your finances and see if there’s still enough money for another life improvement project. It is more likely that your other life projects will have to wait. Temper your impatience.
BE WITH THRIFTY, RESPONSIBLE PEOPLE
Don’t underestimate the pull of peer pressure. It can get really strong. These are people who forget that their good fortune may not last forever.
Medical costs are rising now anywhere in the world. Minimize the drinking and the eating. Eat healthy and manage everyday stress. Exercise. Meditate. Listen to your favorite music. Read. These are healthier pastimes.
I didn’t realize how helpful Philhealth and SSS were before a brother got sick. Thanks to his Philhealth coverage, a part of the cost of his dialysis for a reasonable number of sessions is covered, and thanks to his previous SSS contributions, he’s now receiving a monthly pension. Not so big but definitely better than nothing.