Reaching the shores of America, Europe, Dubai – or any country for that matter – is no guarantee that you’d be filthy rich in no time. Chances are, there are many Pinoys who have graced the halls of countries near and far, worked their butt off and still end up broke. Needless to say, acquiring lots of wealth is never for the faint-hearted.
Countless stories abound how many of these OFW’s fall short abroad.Bringing tears to their loved ones, no doubt. No, don’t get me wrong. The reason’s not because they were duped or became the latest victim of a stick-em-up-or-you’re-dead thing. That would have made it more acceptable, actually. Fact is, many Pinoys end up empty-handed because of their own bad decisions: They have squandered their hard-earned cash. Yes, painful as it may sound, it’s true. In this corner, acquiring wealth is one thing; keeping it and making it grow is another.
Hear ye! Hear ye! Every Juan, beware: Here are 10 money pitfalls that have been the downfall for many OFW’s – causing a thousand tear drops to fall back home.
#1: Reckless Spending
For the most part, becoming an OFW is a blessing. However as not-before-experienced income become a reality, more and more of our “kababayans” get overwhelmed – easily. As things turn out, they develop a wrong sense of empowerment: They splurge.
Your highly-increased buying power is no license to spend on worthless things. Yes, eating in an expensive hotel is nice. But is it important? Always exercise restraint. Think: How much hours did Iwork my butt-off to get a thousand dollars or a thousand pounds or a thousand dinars?
#2: Lack of Financial Vision
Getting abroad is no walk in the park, that’s for certain. Not only do you get to work in a strange land, you are far from the most important people in your life.
The distance can work wonders for some as they set themselves to better the life they’ve left behind. That is financial vision. It could mean better education for your kids or sister or brother. If your goal in going abroad, however, is just to be the first in your barangay to own an iPad, then you have come to sacrifice a lot just to get a highly-volatile bragging right.
#3: Not Saving at All
It’s natural for you to want to spend. You can reason: Anyway, I worked hard for this. But focusing on what you can buy next is a dangerous precedent. Before you know it you’ve become a spendthrift.
Then when it’s time to go back to the Philippines, you end up with nothing – only the shirt on your back and money to go home. Saving your income is necessary if you want to build greater things in life: like not working forever, for instance.
In this regard, putting your money in the bank is a lot better than putting it where you can easily see it – and spend it.
#4: Not Budgeting
Budgeting is your financial map. If you don’t employ one, you’d be lost in the jungles or Wal-Mart in no time. Most Pinoy OFW’s do not take time to plan their expenses and savings. And the end result: They spend more than they should and end up with less money than they should have.
If going abroad is about the money, then isn’t it but right you handle it well by budgeting it. And the first question that should come up to your mind when you see a lot of money is not: How much should I spend?; but rather it’s: How much should I save?
#5:Putting All Their Faith on People Back Home
Many agonizing, true stories have come out of the woodwork about husbands or wives (mostly hubbies though) losing all the money spent by their OFW better half because of reckless spending. And horror of horrors, the OFW finds an empty lot where a house should have stood, or worse the husband’s with someone else.
Sending most of your money back home is OK. True. As long as you make your intentions clear and put all the necessary controls. Also, make sure you convey your financial footprint and teach your folks proper financial values. If not, you’re setting yourself up for a financial meltdown and throwing your money to the gutter.
#6:Not Planning Life After OFW
OFW life is not as well-cut as a most expensive diamond. Many people are so comfortable and confident about their lifestyle as an OFW that they are caught flat-footed when bad things happen (i.e., lost of employment or turmoil in the area).
Are you going to be an OFW forever? Apparently not. Remember you will have to stop working some time. Good if your contract is followed to the letter. What if your employee will expatriate you for no apparent reason. Keep yourself free of worries by factoring life after working as an OFW.
#7. Piling up Unnecessary Debt
You don’t have to go far to know this is happening. Just go near any POEA building premises and you’ll see the area teeming with loan sharks of every class and race.
Credit is good. As long as you limit it to what is necessary – if at all. Going to 5:6 loan sharks or to those Bombays just to finance your latest gadget-craze is not healthy. Chances are, you’re debt will balloon so big you’d have to find a second job to pay up.
8.Putting Money on Unproductive Assets
Unlike reckless spending, putting money on unproductive assets is more planned. Like buying classy furniture, nice laptop or a getting a brand new car.
True. You can use the car to carry your ailing grandmother to the hospital? But is it worth spending your whole life savings to buy one knowing cars won’t give you a return for your money.
Put your money where it can give you better results. Cars can give you a lot of headache and their resale value can be a lot lower. Find a better return for your money by looking into more productive assets like mutual funds and stocks for instance.
Acquiring assets that increase in value over time and not otherwise is the way to go.
#9: Not Investing At All
Many OFW hesitate when talking about investment. They’d rather keep their money close to their heart and put it in savings. However, if you do this you are in a losing proposition already.
Bear in mind that money in the bank is losing money by the minute. The reason: depreciation. Your PhP 1000 will buy less a year from now. So the only best alternative for you is to grow your money by investing it right.
#10. Investing in Get-Rick-Quick Scams
Many OFW’s have fallen prey to the sweet-talking mouths of wily scam professionals. Classic example: Aman Futures. To much sorrow. Stories of being duped and lost hard-earned cash accumulated over the years abound. And even to less apparent real estate investments: Globe Asiatique.
As may have been obvious, your large stash of cash is going to attract the best con men in Philippine history. Don’t be too naïve to think you’re just too smart to be outwitted.
Look before you leap. Do not part with money, unless you’ve done due diligence. Of you could just be consigning yourself once again to years of hard labor – if you still have the youth.
There you have it, folks. Another offering. Hope that gave you some tidbits to ponder.
A little closer, and you’ll realize these money tips apply even to non-OFW workers. However, what makes the OFW experience unique is they’ve sacrificed so much to attain financial freedom – or just a little of it.
If you will, do drop me a line or two if you’ve had something that you’d want to clear up. And yes, allow me to give you a parting shot:
You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.
Yes, nice quote. And it’s taken straight from one of the top 10 billionaires in the world, Warren Buffett. Of course, it’s referring to money and losing everything.