Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Overseas Filipino Workers Why They Fail

It has been written several time and stories and proofs has been shown for many financial institution about why the Filipino Overseas Workers remains to be poor despite working so hard in a foreign land.

Thank God we have Chat Apps nowadays like Viber and WECHAT as they are popularly known to OFW's in communicating with their loved ones back home (in the Philippines). These Apps definitely makes the world smaller as Filipino's abroad can send messages to their loved ones by simply logging into these social media. It has been a strategic moved as it cuts down their phone call expenses dramatically.

One hundred percent of my virtual friends says that using these apps definitely lowered their phone bills to as much as 50% since they shift from regular phone calls to voice calls using these apps as they are totally dependent on data services.

Also, in one occasion I asked them why they left Philippines despite being a degree holder and of course most of their response revert back to the old reason: "they aren't compensated well" sort of things.

When you ask an OFW as to their life abroad is, they'd definitely tell you their stories on how much they squeeze their budget to ensure they have a penny to send to their love one's way back home. OFW's are always a one day millionaire so to speak. During payday you'd probably see an OFW in remittance centers and or shopping malls sending money or a box full of goodies for their family way back home.

There was this one instance when a friend says he's cooking food for his dinner. I asked him what it would be and he simply says noodles, the following morning a canned good for his breakfast and lunch. So jokingly I said: "WOW, super tipid so supper kapal na ng bank account mo!" He answered me with a frowning smiley and said he had sent almost 85 to 90% of his salary for his child's education, families food allowance and to pay utility bill, a portion of his salary also goes to other relatives who are asking for a support or a gadget for his niece or nephews or a birthday party for his grandchild, etc. This is the same answer I got when I asked my other virtual friends. I've asked if they have savings and most would answer they either have with but too little.

Recently, I have this neighbor who is processing her papers to go abroad as a nanny and so considering my conversation with my virtual friends who are already working abroad, I asked her how she would divide her salary. She said that with her 15,000 peso salary she'll give 10,000 pesos to her family in the province to spend for their daily needs.

In my own personal point of view, Overseas Filipino Workers struggle because of many various reason and here's a summary of what I think an OFW needs to understand:

Spending Habit plays a very important role in everyone's daily life. OFW for example compensate their not being with their kids and spouse by giving everything what they ask.from the latest gadgets to the most expensive appliances. Plus a "help" to their extended family. I told my neighbor that it is ok to give the best gadgets to their loved ones but it is also more important to save something for her future.

Compromised Savings - Savings is really the list of most OFW they normally send everything and cross fingers that their wife or husband would do the savings for them and in most cases it is not always the fact. Savings should always be 2 way. The mentality that an OFW is a saving grace for the whole family should actually change. You can hear people saying, "buti pa kayo, may kaanak kayo sa ibang bansa (good for you, you have a relative abroad)" or you would hear people say, ask for a money to your family member who is working abroad sort of things. An OFW should always keep 10% of his salary to his/her dollar account before dividing the salary for his/her personal expenses and to his/her immediate family in the Philippines. That savings should not be used in buying expensive gifts during Christmas and when during their vacation in their hometown. 

Goal - Financial goal in most OFW is only short term. The mind set of going abroad to make ends meet is the main goal as to why most Filipinos work abroad. Of course, if there is a chance for anyone to work a little more than what you are currently earning is definitely OK. However, the tendency is you'd end up spending more because you are earning more. Which is not suppose to be the case. OFW would somehow need to have a goal so they could use it when they retire or when they can no longer abroad.

BAD DEBTS - I heard stories of OFW that in order for them to have something more extra to send to their love ones is to resort to credit from their colleagues with higher interest. Also, some OFW would have the latest gadgets not only for their loved ones in the Philippines but also for themselves. They change their phones every time there's a new release for example. Credit card also is a financial suicide for most OFW. The idea of easy access to credits plus having a higher credit limit tends for an OFW to buy more. CREDIT CARD plus MALL SALES equals MORE shopping.

Somehow credit has always been a escape goat for every OFW thus granting them more buying power which means more balikbayan box to come.

Long Term Plan - the problem may be is what we call the long term plan. What happens to the OFW after OFW? This must be the question I have been asking my friends who are working abroad. Most of the time, they will answer me with either looking for a job locally or having a business of their own. However, the most answer would definitely come with after my child's education or after investing into my new home. It is evident however in most of their response that savings is not at their top priority because according to my friends who works abroad most of their money is being deposited for their families daily consumption. Going abroad is definitely helpful alleviate the families financial status but it shouldn't stop from having the best gadget and appliances or fancied house with fancy stuff in it but it should also be about preparing what it brings on your table after OFW life. Going abroad is definitely not one way. What actually happens here is one is working abroad and the other one stays at home. It shouldn't be the case. One should be abroad and saving all the money she/he gets and the other one working for the families daily needs. That could be a better plan rather than having it one way. Worst is, the person working abroad supports up to his/her extended family.

Get RICH QUICK Schemes. OFW is the easy target for the "get rich quickly" schemes. The OFW are the easy targets for scams and "get rich quickly" schemes because of the fact that people tends to go the easy way and take the short cut. There is no short cuts. I would say that first we need to save at least 10% of our earnings to our bank accounts. Second, we must say learn how to say NO to our children, spouse, and relatives when they ask for money. Third, we need to talk to a financial adviser for them to recommend us the best investment. It is a good thing that we aim to have a business after OFW but we should also have to ensure that the business is only a fraction of our earnings and to have the best investment that can take care of our investment. We tend to invest to something that it is not moving and or it is not giving us a profit. Dont fall on the SALES talks of people who tries to sell you more than 20% returns in few months because tendency is... "YOU GOT SCAMMED!"

Unwanted Relationship. The way I look at it is OFW gets involved in extra marital affairs because they could not urge themselves to get lonely and definitely homesickness could be that reason. These is true in some OFW and this is the worst decision they could ever go through. Being in a foreign land without the support of the families pushes the OFW to engage in such activities. To avoid this from happening, an OFW should know how to properly manage her emotion and should build a group of support group abroad. People whom they could share their problems and frustration. The family member should also be part of the support group, a message of good morning and how are you is definitely helpful but to follow it up with "please send me $ for the latest iphone is definitely not working".

Bottom line is... help your family member who works abroad by educating them on how to properly invest their hard earned money and not by simply asking more MONEY from them for your own and personal expenses for your latest gadgets.

Leave a comment if you wanted to share an insights on how you could help the OFW or anyone who might want to understand proper investing or if you have financial management tips for everyone I encourage you to leave a comment too. Lets help each other.

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