Hi there! How long you’ve been working as an Overseas Filipino Worker? 5 years? 10 years? 15 years? May be more than 20 years?
You may be a factory worker in South Korea, caregiver in Israel, accountant in Dubai, English teacher in Thailand, domestic helper in Hong Kong, engineer in Qatar, may be a nurse in Japan, and probably a seaman who constantly travels around Europe.
You see OFWs are everywhere.
There is no doubt you are a modern-day hero that drives our economy. However, many OFWs are living from paycheck to paycheck and don’t have savings. Or worse, they are using their passport as collateral when applying for loans. In fact, some OFWs are obliged to work to support their families despite of being old.
Why financial education is important?
Typical scenarios for OFWs
Imagine an employer inform you that your contract will not be renewed today. In other words, the company is downsizing due to poor economic condition and has to reduce its personnel. When you look at your wallet and bank account, how long will you be able to survive without receiving a salary? Are you financially stable?
What about this one: You received a phone call from your mother in the Philippines. She has informed you that your 50-year-old father had a stroke and you need to send 50K pesos so your father will be admitted in the hospital immediately. Again, would you be ready financially?
Or maybe your 7-year old son had an accident but you cannot afford to bring him to the hospital because of lack of money? It could happen to anyone. Friends, would you be ready for an emergency situation like this?
This doesn’t have to be your story.
If you have experienced these situations then you know how important it is to have an emergency fund and savings. The good news is we can learn lessons from the financial mistakes of others.
The problem is financially literacy is not being taught at school.
For me, proper financial management is a very sensitive issue. People don’t want to talk about money. However, the struggle is real for an OFW like you especially if you are in an extreme financial problem.
We’ve heard a lot of stories of OFWs who went back to the Philippines empty handed and some of them are in debts.
According to a 2011 study by Social Enterprise Development Partnerships Inc., one out of 10 OFWs is financially broke while 80 percent return to the Philippines with no savings at all. This alarming situation causes financial distress due to the lack of proper financial education for many OFWs.
Financial challenges for OFWs
Let me share with you a few reasons why OFWs are struggling financially:
No. 1: Most OFWs don’t treat savings as an expense. In fact, impulse buying is a common practice nowadays and many OFWs live like a one-day millionaire.
No. 2: Most OFWs failed to define asset versus liability. They bought properties without doing research or finding out if they have the capacity to pay for long-term.
No. 3: Most OFWs get involved into scam. My philosophy is that financial education is the best way to combat scams and other fraudulent investment schemes.
No. 4: Most OFWs have lack of financial knowledge on how to invest or where to put their hard-earned money.
No. 5: Most OFWs have no emergency fund and comprehensive health or life insurance
Now, it’s time to sharpen the saw
I believe the best way to approach the issue is through financial education.
Have you ever heard the phrase “sharpen the saw”? Well, the best way to sharpen the saw is to continue growing and never stop learning. When we talk about becoming financially literate, it’s imperative to invest in knowledge. It’s actually the first step before you make any financial decisions.
Investment in knowledge comes in the form of attending seminars and workshops, having great mentors, and reading a lot of books. But the question is: When was the last time you sharpened the saw? Remember, your greatest asset is not about money. Your greatest asset is YOU!
Don’t worry. I have good news for you!
I wrote a book about personal finance to enhance your financial knowledge and skills. The title is “OMG! OFW’s Money is Gone: Practical Tips on How to Be Wise with Your Hard-earned Money.” OMG is purely an acronym which stands for: OFWs Money is Gone. Now, let me tell you the reasons why you should read this book.
1. It is practical and easy to understand
I have included my financial journey to serve as an inspiration for you not to give up your dreams. The book teaches about setting clear financial plans and expectation between OFWs and your family members.
2. OMG book presents the life and challenges of many ordinary OFWs
It’s not easy to earn money. Most of the times, you feel homesick. In this book, I have discussed the challenges and financial condition of many OFWs such as not being prepared for emergency situations and other financial challenges.
3. It offers information about improving your finances
A couple of years ago, I started investing in the stock market and mutual funds. My personal experience has taught me that with commitment and discipline, it’s very very possible to save and invest.
For instance, rather than sending all the money to your loved ones, remember to pay yourself first. Save for your future. The book also teaches OFW to set an emergency fund and have comprehensive insurance especially if you are a sole breadwinner in the family.
4. It is highly recommended by best-selling authors in personal finance
For instance, well-known authors and personalities such as Bro. Bo Sanchez and Fitz Villafuerte are just a few examples who have recommended the book. Meaning to say, they were the first one who have read the manuscript.
5. OMG book presents a Christian approach to money management
What makes the OMG personal book unique compared with other books? The simple answer is: I have emphasized trusting God’s providence. Why? Because I believe God owns everything and it’s essential to recognize Him as our Provider. Without Him, we are nothing.
Now, are you sick and tired of having money problems? If you really want to sharpen the saw, especially in managing your finances, I encourage you to get a copy of my book. It is now available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Lulu.com. Just search or type “OMG: OFW’s Money is Gone.”
I believe God owns everything and He wants to bless your job. He sees your commitment, your hard work, and your sacrifice for your family. You just have to manage your financial resources wisely so you can be more generous and be a tremendous blessing to others.
If you’re having financial problem right now, seek God’s guidance for your financial plan. Let me share with you this inspiring passage in Philippians 4:19. It says: “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
JUN AMPARO is the author of OMG! OFW’s Money is Gone: Practical Tips on How to Be Wise with Your Hard-earned Money which was featured at GMA News Online. Being an OFW for over a decade, he’s aware about the common financial challenges of many Overseas Filipino Workers.