Hi Arnel, I am an OFW here in Dubai. I’ve been working here for more than 10 years already. I have five kids and I have not been able to look after them as the grow-up. My job here abroad is hard but it’s nothing compares to the agony of being away from the family. I am looking forward to that day that I can be with them. – Jaime Reyes
Going overseas to work is not easy. Working away from home is a pain for mothers who can’t even attend to a son’s graduation. There are countless untold stories from our OFW kakababayan who chose to sacrifice the comfort of living at home and work in the opposite side of the world. What it takes to go back home for good? What are the things to consider to finally be with the family and retire early without the need of going away anymore. Here’s my take on this…
May ipon ka na ba? Big question that could create a deep silence, a sigh of repentance. Most OFW failed to save efficiently so even though they want to stay, they always go back because they don’t have much options. Especially when the finances are draining. I spoke to lot of couples for the past few months and I discovered a common denominator. Most of them doesn’t save. Many people don’t have an emergency fund, some even don’t know the idea exists. Some Filipinos are still immature in terms of managing their own finances. Many even equate investments to appliances they bought, and stuffs which they don’t know are all liabilities.
Start by deciding to save for the future. Build your emergency fund. Practice and make it a habit. Set a goal for yourself when are you going to retire and from there you can gauge the strategy you can do to manage your finances. Increase your income or lessen your expenses. Ask yourself before you buy if it is a “need” or just a “want”. You would realize that there are lot of unnecessary expenses you are doing all your life.
Classic strategy that we are doing is 70-30 principle. Any income you will receive, set aside 30% before anything else to pay yourself first. That should automatically goes to your savings account. Another thing is the 52-weeks challenge. That equates to 1 year. Decide for yourself what amount are you willing to save weekly that you can do consistently. For example, 50 pesos increments. That means that if you start today for 50 pesos, the next week it will be 100 pesos, then 150, so on and so forth. Once you will be consistent on it, you could have around 70-80 thousand that you can save up by following the strategy.
The key to financial freedom is financial education. Many failed to do so and a lot of OFW are still broke until today. Teach your kids and other family members the value of money. Invest in books or ask a professional advise specific on personal finance. Benjamin Franklin says ” An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”. When I was broke few years ago, I invested in books and visited bookstores to read any finance books available. Without noticing, it changed me from the inside out. I even realized now that my success today always goes back to that time I was reading and attending personal finance seminars. We need to change our mindset first (starting from us) then our entire family to move forward.
This is very important since many people are still slaves to their lenders and to their credit cards. I don’t want you to wake up one morning to have somebody knock on your door asking you to pay your debt “immediately”. It can be your worst nightmare during broad daylight. A debt-free life is a sign of a healthy financial life. For me, it is a big deal. Before you retire, make sure that everything is cleared. It will just give you future problem if you will not take it seriously. You can also read my previous blog: LIFE AFTER DEBT: SHOULD I SETTLE MY DEBTS BEFORE INVESTING?
Other sources of income
Most of the things I observed with the family members left home, that they are just very dependent to the breadwinner working abroad. It even made them “lazy” waiting for the main source. I can say this because half of my relatives are working abroad while their kids are studying. I was also living with relatives who their parents are OFW’s. Start to involve your kids for a family challenge. Teach them how to make a living out of small things. Challenge their minds to think of ideas that they can earn. I really admire parents who were able to make their kids do something for themselves while they are not in the country. I knew people who are running online businesses funded by their parents abroad. They are doing well now and very profitable.
For an OFW to go home seems a very expensive decision. That means that you have to turn back a very lucrative salary. A choice between life and death. For many, it is a paradise. Being together with the family is a great relief. While you are still earning, put your money to an investment vehicles that can grow your money over time. I’m very inspired by the story of Mr. Lambert Aquino, a retired baker in Saudi. He’s unique became viral. You can check it here: A FORMER OFW TO A MULTI-MILLIONAIRE..
After retiring, he was able to build his own bakery shop to continue the cash flow as a retired OFW. He knows that he needs to create a good cash flow so that he can keep supporting the family. He has 500,000 left from his retirement. That was the only amount left for everything he has spent. What he did since he wants to keep the capital and at least to grow it a little somehow, he invested it in stocks. He bought shares Jollibee and URC. The amount of the stocks of these companies few years ago were just so cheap. He bought it one time and forgot about it. Not being surprise after 10 years, the value of his shares grew to close to 5 Million paper assets.
As much as possible an OFW should plan a good business concept before going back. There are lot of seminars for entrepreneurship offered overseas nowadays. I have a friend who was working in Dubai as a fitness instructor, who was getting a very enticing salary. After few years, she turns her back on it because she was able to build her own fitness business here in Manila and now it is growing. She’s wise enough to keep what she earns there and builds-up something here.
“We see people leaving their families in search of greener pastures without noticing that they are trading quality of life for standard of living.” – Willy W. Chua
I’m excited to see you going home. God bless you!