By: Gemma Lagasca
Overseas Filipino Workers are the Philippine’s current “living heroes” as they say. Generally, they leave their families to work very hard abroad – as “strangers and pilgrims” in a foreign land to earn money. This is to secure their family’s financial future. Based on the government data, there were estimated about 1.4 million Filipinos legally working abroad as migrant workers and continuously increasing each day. Their remittances are continuously boosting the economy for the national treasury. At the same time, they are the key for improving the living condition of their families.
Unfortunately, not all overseas workers have happy endings. It’s really heartbreaking to hear certain stories about hardworking Filipinos aiming to provide a comfortable life for the family but woke up empty-handed one day. The worst, some even lose their lives leaving their survivors picking up the broken pieces tearfully – to start all over again without the main provider. Despite the odds, many responsible workers will still push themselves to continue their journey abroad. It is not easy to survive in a foreign land but this article intended to remind those who are still going for greener pasture to learn from the mistakes of others. Here are the common issues with OFWs:
Marital problems top the list of OFW woes. The distance is the biggest threat in tearing apart a good relationship. Some overseas workers think that as long as their family is provided for, their duty ends up there. They probably forgot that the spouse who is left behind is assuming the responsibility of a father and a mother at the same time. The toughest situation is when they are neglected driving the affected to have an affair outside the marriage. If there are more than two children, it’s more likely that some of them will not be guided properly.
Open communication is vital for a long distance relationship. Make sure to set a constant schedule to reach out to your family and listen to their stories and experiences every day. We should be thankful enough that we are now in the technology era wherein we can talk, cry, laugh or giggle with our loved ones anytime we wanted through Skype or video call. For couples, texting simple messages sealed with love every day will keep help keeping their relationship intact.
Improper money management and having not enough financial knowledge are few reasons why OFWs go home with nothing. Here are some of the common money-related mistakes:
1. Uncontrolled spending. The family gets carried away with the concept of having a “dollar provider”. The lifestyle will suddenly change – having more leisure activities, updated gadgets, dining out and fabulous vacations out of town.
To avoid all of these, exercise a good discipline in spending. Don’t think that you’re earning big that your lifestyle will go along with it. Do not let your income catch up with your wants—it will gradually pull you down into a hole of depth if you will allow this to happen.
2. Depositing all your income to the family. Sending all the money will not be a problem at all if you have a budgeted plan with your partner. It should be clear to both where all these money will go. However, this is not the case for most families. It should have been better if you have your own savings account to set as aside at least 20% of your monthly pay or more if you can. Send the family’s regular budget but set aside a certain amount for emergency fund.
3. No long-term financial plans. Many OFWs and their families are enjoying life to the maximum level. They forget about the future especially when the contract ends. Take note that the future will not take care of itself alone. Don’t delay. Start preparing for it now! Set your dream for your family and begin saving and invest in mutual funds or retirement plans.
4. Involve and teach your family members in managing your finances. OFWs tend to compensate the loneliness of their loved ones with material things. The kids can possibly grow like spoiled brats without any sense of responsibility. This approach is definitely wrong. Proper budgeting goes to every family member. This way, they will realize the value of your hard work.
Remember that the money you are earning now is the time you spent away from your family – so make sure to have enough to live comfortably when you are back.
Image Source: Junaidghumman