In 2017, OFWs sent home $31.29 billion in remittances, with nearly $3 billion in December alone. Known as the modern heroes of the Philippines, OFWs contribute 10% of the Philippines total gross domestic product (GDP).
Just from these numbers alone, no one can deny how much OFWs help the Philippine economy.
However, OFWs not only have to help support their families, they also need to keep themselves alive at their place of work.
Sure, OFWs sacrifice energy, time with their family, and the comfort of living in their home country, but at the very least, they should not have to sacrifice their well-being to send money home.
If you’re an OFW, here are some tips to help you balance your personal budget and the remittances you send home:
Budget, budget, budget. The budget always comes first.
Create a budget for yourself and ask your family to send you a copy of their budget at home. Decide together (through Skype, FaceTime, etc…) what your responsibilities are and how to divide your wage for your needs.
Ask yourself relevant questions like: Am I in charge of paying for my kid’s tuition, the house bills, and lolo’s medical bills? Am I responsible for all their utility expenses? Is there someone at home who can help, or am I on my own? Make sure you add those considerations when you plan.
Get a good feel of the situation at home and send money accordingly. Send enough to pay for your family’s needs and to improve their quality of life but avoid sending extra unless it’s a special occasion. This keeps the people back at home from treating you like an ATM machine.
Pay attention to the season
There are certain times in the year when your family will need a large amount of money, notably school enrollment season. It can be difficult to balance both your needs and your family’s when these times come.
Of course you want your kid to go to a good school, but you’ve already used up all of your wages for the month. Where are you going to get their tuition?
One way of making sure you can send money home whenever your family needs it is by saving throughout the year. Instead of looking for a plan to pay your kid’s tuition every time the need pops up, you can put aside a little bit of money every cut-off and let it accumulate over time. If you make space for savings when you create your personal budget, the shock of needing a large amount of money at any given time will not affect you as much.
Consider online bills payment
It’s not easy to admit, but some families have members that just don’t value hard work. If you know anyone like that in your family, then maybe consider looking for online bills payment options. This lets you help your family without the risk of that one person using your hard-earned cash on frivolous things.
If you have a family member asking for some expensive gadget for school, confirm it with a mature member of your household first. After receiving confirmation, don’t just buy the first thing you see that looks okay. Make sure to canvass for brands and models to see what would fit the requester’s needs without breaking your budget. Then compare the prices in your work country and in the Philippines to see where it is more cost-efficient to buy.
Plan ahead when filling your balikbayan boxes
When you fill up your balikbayan boxes, make sure you ask your family what they need first. Prioritize those over anything else. Then fill your boxes with things you think will be useful at home, like laundry detergent, cooking oil and the like. This will lessen grocery expenses at home and hopefully give you a little breathing room as well.
Control your gift-giving
This may be the hardest tip in the list.
As an OFW, it’s more than likely you went abroad because you want to give your family a better life. You want them to have nice things and experience what you’ve never experienced. However, sometimes, too much misplaced love can only lead to hurt.
You probably want to show your love by sending your family gifts, and that’s fine! But keep it to special occasions. Bombarding them with frivolous things will do nothing but spoil them and hurt your budget.
Instead of sending gifts to show your love, it’s better to try to spend time with them through phone calls and/or Skype. Be present in their lives by engaging with them in social media. Sending them a “Congratulations on passing your exam!” or “I miss you!” costs less but infinitely means more.
With all that in mind, you may have decided the perfect amount to send back at home. With Cebuana Lhuillier’s Pera Padala Service, you are ensured an easy, quick, and safe way to send and receive money. With close to 2,500 branches nationwide and accredited international partners, this money transfer service is made available to clients within and outside the Philippines. So our beloved OFW patrons, visit any of our international partners – we assure a fast, easy and secure transaction.