OFW Tips: How to save money and be financially free

Every year, millions of Filipinos seek work aboard. The temptation is overwhelming: a chance to earn a salary twice or thrice than what they’d normally receive in the Philippines.

But despite having huge salaries, many OFWs still feel about never having enough. Is it true that high salaries comes higher expenses? Most of the OFWs priority is to provide for their families’ daily needs because of this some of them loses their control of  finances because of “urgent/emergency” needs. We can also say that a few of them increase their lifestyle unknowingly.

Most want to set aside enough for a comfortable retirement but don’t know how to start.

If you’re an OFW, you might ask: how can I start saving for the future?

Just like anyone who wants to be financially independent, OFWs need to develop an investment mindset.

I am an Ex-OFW, and I know the hardships of being one. Here are some tips to get you started.

  1. Prioritize paying yourself first for the future

OFW families use remittances for the following top items (1st and 2nd quarter of 2013 from BSP):

bsp

Despite earning better, more OFWs are paying off debt rather than setting aside for  their savings. One wonders why most have huge debts when they are earning thrice their normal salary in the Philippines

They are spending more for the present and not preparing for the future.

OFWs should learn to save and invest for the future. It’s what learning to pay yourself first comes to place.

Money, just like your job overseas, will not last forever. Savings should be a top priority.

  1. Make a budget plan for Savings and Investments

Typical OFWs send most of their salary to their families and they are left with a small amount of money to survive for the month. I have experienced fellow OFW sent everything as per request of loved ones to increase the remittance for an Extravagant Birthday Party of his Kapatid. 

 So what happens to my fellow OFW in the middle of the month? He asked for someone to lend him money to survive till the next sweldo. I even heard some colleague saying “critical week” or “linggo de peligro” if it is a week before payday. He simply can’t say no to his family asking for higher padala for the party of his kapatid.

OFWs are affected by the pressure back home depending on their immediate need and the thinking that more money will come next month anyway.

I recommend to my fellow OFWs to actively learn how to allocate their hard-earned money. I suggest to open a separate savings account that cannot be touched at all.

  1. Learn how to Invest and atleast be familiarized with investment vehicles such as Mutual, Funds, UITF or Stocks

Many OFWs invest in fixed assets like real estate – Condos. Most will look forward to coming home to their dream house, or using the house as a passive source of income through rent.

On the otherside, investing in real estate also comes with years of paying mortgage, followed by amilyar annual taxes.

OFWs need to remember that every investment comes with risks. There are always risk but financial literacy will help you manage the risk.

Diversification is the “safest” or most advisable way to protect one’s earnings. Spread out your investments through different forms of investments.

  1. Use the technology to your advantage

The Internet is a blessing for overseas Filipinos. I remember ages ago when I can only do video chat with my loved ones using my computer, now anyone can chat or video call using their Mobile Phones. What an ease..

Today, OFWs can manage their finances online as local banks have facilities for online banking.

In the same light, you can open an investment account online as well. I opened a stock market account to COL Financial when I was overseas years ago. There’s a lot of ways to use the technology to your advantage.

  1. Set Goals

Returning to the Philippines is a common goal among OFWs, We all want to enjoy the fruits of our labor and to make up for lost time with our families and friends.

However, OFWs should to not be satisfied with simply sending money every month. Aside from having a savings, it is encouraged that they capitalize on creating other forms of income to help reach their targets.

Small sacrifices are more manageable once OFWs and their families understand that every day brings them one step closer to a better life.

Spending wisely becomes easier when there are bigger dreams to look forward to.

We need to turn OFWs to OFIs (Overseas Filipino Investors)

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3 Comments
  • Abner Federipe
    Posted at 10:52h, 05 November Reply

    Hi I would like to recieve email from your Blog. Thank you

    • nolanray
      Posted at 22:09h, 05 November Reply

      Hi Abner!

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  • Yakov Kofner
    Posted at 09:21h, 22 February Reply

    Nolan, congrats on such important blog!

    Based on my company experience with OFWs, just wanted to add one more area: being frugal when sending money home! Many of our users continue sending cash rather than linking their bank accounts and debit cards.

    With the USA-Philippines corridor being in the world’s top-10, there is the record level of competition among incumbent money transmitters plus newcomers like TransferWise entering the field. For USD-PHP transfers, the FX markup has been declining to the current 0-3% range among top-10 money transmitters, with Ria and TransferWise being currently on a low end. The fees are also starting at $0 – this is how much Western Union is currently charging for the bank-to-bank-USD-PHP transfer up to $2,999 with Ria charging only $3 for the same transaction. For USD-USD, both Western Union and MoneyGram are currently charging $2.99 for up to $2,999 transfers.

    For more comparison among top money transmitters in the USA-Philippines corridor, we built this free and simple analytic tool: https://www.saveonsend.com/ Every dollar saved on sending money adds up to both OFW’s family and to the Philippines economy.

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