Overseas Filipino Workers Big no to Financial Illiteracy

Illiterate – described by Meriem-Webster dictionary as a person who are unable to write or read.

For sure there are no OFW’s who are literally illiterate. And also we don’t want other people to describe us with that word.

But sadly there are lots of smart Filipino workers around the globe who are illiterate in one aspect of their life. I know that you got what I meant. This a common topic that spread in the internet and social media of many financial and investments adviser. They called it “Financial Illiteracy”

They described OFW as financial illiterate as some of them are not knowledgeable in handling their finances well. Some are prone to making financial errors such as bad debts, not having emergency funds and even financial goals.

For sure there are lots of reasons behind why some OFW cant save. Top of it is their love for their families. Their desire to support and provide material needs for their loved ones are stronger than to the idea of saving. There is nothing wrong with that, in the first place that is the reason why many Filipino chose to work abroad.

But, realistically we need to balance our savings and spending habits. OFW needs to be cautious and wise in their hard earned money.

In my case, I am not considering myself as the “New hero” that working abroad to support my families. First, we don’t have yet kids to support their studies, living, etc. Secondly, the financial support we are giving to our parents is minimal comparing to other Filipino workers. Thankfully we have siblings working abroad as well that we can share the expenses in supporting our parents, so this part is not that hard.

Bud, sadly I will admit that we were once a financial illiterate. Here you go our quick story.

We were young, enthusiastic and excited for our future. That time we are nearly 30 years old some says still young but hubby and I sees our selves as a matured couple. Our vision was to reach stability as early as possible, we knew that time will fly very fast and soon we will be old and retired.

Our positive attitude supposed to head us in success, unfortunately, it leads us to trap. We are rushing everything and let our emotions control our decisions. When we decided to acquire a big purchase our emotions dictate us that we can do it, we are confident back then.

Nothing wrong with that, instead of wasting our income in nothing we invested it in a land property. Our dream house will be built there soon, it was very clear in our imagination and plan. The only problem was we didn’t take it one at a time. Just a few months after, we saw ourselves getting into another big project. We felt that our income can still sustain it, so we took different loans.

At first, everything was under control and smooth sailing. But life is really unpredictable especially for OFW’s. There are tons of unexpected things happens such as sickness, loss of jobs, etc which became a hindrance for us to pay our loans regularly.

Till we reach the point that our expenses are more than in our earnings. The huge penalties of late payment, reaching the maximum limit seems buried us alive. We felt we fell in the trap of bad debt.

When one is drowning because of tons of dues, financial management is at risk. And that what exactly happened to us.

That moment was tiring, depressing and we really felt hopeless. I don’t know how we will start and continue again to build our dreams.

I remembered clearly in my head, my father once told me to take it easy. That there was nothing wrong to hurry things but still the best way is to take one step at a time.

But back then, as much as I value his advise our eagerness to start making our dream to reality was stronger. And I don’t want to waste time and procrastinate things.

It takes me a lot of courage to understand our risky situations, we need to act fast and realign our goals. We did a lot of adjustment in our expenses until we fully paid the three big expenses we had. And, gradually we manage to close a few loans and we are still on our closer way to clear up everything.

I just manage to regularize paying the bills but the savings account still not moving.

Every time I am managing to keep a few bucks, the unexpected matter will happen. Dipping our hands in the savings bowl seems so easy for us. If we will keep doing the same thing I know nothing will improve.

Sadly, the experience we had are not an extraordinary scenario in UAE. There are tons of Filipino workers here having the same financial issues. We are just thankful that we acknowledge it a bit early.

I’ve seen many channels of financial advisers and even read a few books. Noticeably their number one suggestion to attain financial freedom and stability is to learn the value of segregating your income.

Some sites worth to visit are: vincerapisura / chinkeetan

In our case following the steps fully is not yet doable. But step by step I will try as much as I can their suggestions. For start up I decided to create a separate savings and emergency funds.

By reading they’re financial advice, I acknowledge that I am really illiterate when it comes to saving matters. And I was able to see as well my weakness point of not understanding the concept of savings. Going back to the Philippines should be an exciting part of the OFW’s journey. Able to see your hard earned money is really a delight, so instead of worrying that we might go with empty hands let us start doing something now.

We don’t want to see ourselves someday like other OFW’s who aged and retired unready. It would be sad if days will come and we will think the words how I wish I save!

Now, we are in our mid 30’s hard to say but we don’t have yet a savings account in the Philippines. So before everything will be too late I finally open a savings account. Unreachable from my hands and different from the emergency funds I am building.

Tons of payable is still under my head but with a matter of discipline, sacrifices and mostly faith we can achieve to totally get out from this trap.

So if there is any OFW out there who don’t have yet the savings and emergency fund, do as much as you can to start now. We will not forever work here, let’s admit the fact that once we retired money will matters.

If you want to open your Philippines savings account from UAE there are many bank options available, one of it is the BPI (Bank of the Philippines Island)

Location: Al Mankhool Rd-Dubai near Satwa (same lane of Baqer Mohebi) Contact No. 971 4 354 2977 Requirements: Original passport or Emirates ID Instruction: Simply bring the requirements above, fill up the form and ready at least AED 100.00 for the initial deposit. After 3-4 weeks they will call you for the card collection.

Practicality, save and financial literacy should be the trend for many OFW’s all over the globe! and let us always remember -Time is ticking, before we regret it let us start saving.

Featured image credit to owner

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