Friday, February 8, 2019

Tips for OFW Families

My mother was an OFW for around ten years before she went home to stay with the family. My brother in law, on the other hand, is currently as seafarer who is gone for months at a time for work. I guess you can say that in that sense we are an OFW family. It's not easy. I don't think it ever is. It has its ups and its downs. Based on our experiences I think that there are lessons that can be learned and should be shared with other OFW families like ours.

Photo credit: skeeze on Pixabay

Save for a Rainy Day 


I know that it seems difficult. For the OFWs themselves, it feels difficult because the reason you are away from your family is to earn enough money for everything they need on a daily basis, so saving can seem to be a challenge but it is very important. You never know if you need to go home out of schedule due to some unforeseen circumstance. For the families being sent the money to, saving is also important for the same reason. Something needs to put away every month. That small thing monthly will be bigger later and will come in handy when you need it the most. 

Never forget your PAGIBIG, PhilHealth and SSS Contributions 


This is very important. We've had experience with this. My brother in law had an agency that did not pay for his contributions. When my sister had to go to the hospital, she didn't get to use her husband's PhilHealth because apparently the agency did not pay for his share.  

My mother, on the other hand, was not able to pay for her contributions as well. She retired without getting anything from PAGIBIG and SSS because she did not have enough contributions to satisfy the requirements for retirement benefits. No matter how big or small those benefits would have been, just the thought of a regular pension would have been a big deal for my mother since she's no longer working. After working overseas for years, it would be a good reward to have something during your retirement years to look forward to.  

Have a Budget/Don't Live Beyond Your Means 


This again goes for both the OFW and his/her family. Remember to have a budget so that you don't overspend with anything that you don't actually need. The thing that seems to be a problem with the OFW life is there always seems to never be enough money because there's too much you need to pay for. With a budget you can limit that because you identify your priorities. It will help you to not live beyond your means.   

Be Careful with Loans 


That being said, there are times when you cannot afford but to take on a loan (especially if you did not follow my first advice). It happens. But you have to be careful. As much as possible do not borrow from loan sharks because you will be paying so much more than you actually took on. Always remember to pay for your loans on time and include it in your budget. It might be difficult but you'll be thanking yourself in the end for making sure you do it right.  

Learn How to Say No 


It's not a big surprise that it's the OFWs who get a lot of requests from other people. Since they earn dollars, people seem to think that it won't be a big deal to borrow money from them. The OFWs, on the other hand, might feel guilty and not want to say no. 

Thing is, you have to learn how to say no. You are working overseas for a reason, to provide for your family. The reason you are overseas is to do that. You cannot stretch yourself thin to help other people to the point that what you provide to your family is sacrificed in the end. Unless you can fit it into your budget, just don’t do it. 

Don't Be a "One-Day Millionaire" Whenever You're Home 


This is something that a lot of OFWs have a tendency to do. To make up for not being home for a long time, they spend their money on gifts, parties, etc. It’s all to the point of where these people no longer have enough money for when they need to go back overseas and they end up borrowing money just so they have enough for their expenses to go back. It all goes back to proper budgeting and learning to say no. After all, you don’t want to be an OFW forever. 


Final Words

I know that all these things are easier said than done but if we want to make sure that all that time away from our family was worth it, it would be good to do all we can to make that time worth it in the end.


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