Friday, August 19, 2022

OFW Career: 6 Ways to Avoid Over-Extending It

More OFW Updates

Pardon the redundancy: over-extending. An OFW career planned for a few years gets extended sometimes beyond control.

It’s intentional because that’s what is happening to millions of overseas Filipino workers (OFW). The initial plan of working abroad for five years becomes seven years, then ten — and before we know it, it’s been twenty or thirty years. Many OFWs spend their whole adult life alone in a foreign country.

Decades of overseas work have made them miss birthdays, graduations, weddings, funerals, and Christmases. Long years of absence have alienated them from the very people they have worked hard for. This is tragic and unfair.

How not to over-extend your OFW career

As an OFW, how can you prevent this over-extension?

Come up with a realistic goal.

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It is essential that you and your family set an achievable target. Maybe, it’s saving up for the college education of two kids or siblings, or building a simple house, or putting up a small business. Choose just one, or at most, two goals — depending on your salary. Then, go home for good when you have reached those goals. Do not bite more than you can chew.

Do not sacrifice twenty or thirty years of your life trying to achieve so many things. Let other members of your family take care of the different economic goals. The sharing of responsibilities is better for everyone.

Make sure your plan is clear to your loved ones — even to young children. Communicating with your family members is, therefore, very important. However, “money” is a sensitive issue to discuss. Miscommunication and misinterpretation usually happen. Many times, the intention is positive — but the message is received as unfavorable.

If you carelessly blurt out words about proper budgeting, your family would likely feel hurt. They may think that you are telling them that they are a burden to you, or that you are suspicious of the way they spend the remittance. Therefore, plan your words and rehearse your tone.

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Contrary to what most of us believe, practicing what you want to say is not only for public speaking. It’s also for intimate and personal communication. Using kind and gentle words and tone — tell your family what you intend to accomplish and for how long. Tell them that you don’t want the separation to be indefinite. Explain clearly how each family member can help to achieve the goal at the allotted time.

Have financial wisdom and discipline.

After you have narrowed down your goal, start crunching some numbers. How long will it take you to save for the college education of your kids? How long will it take you to build that house or to put up the restaurant you’re dreaming of?

How much should you keep every month for that goal? You may need to seek the advice of someone who is more knowledgeable about financial matters, or you can get tips from the internet.

Now, when you have done your math, stick to the game plan. You and your family should not get distracted by the worldly temptations around you. Do not buy unnecessary things — even if they are cheap, more so if they are expensive. Keep a low-key lifestyle. As any expert will tell you, it is the most uncomplicated people who can achieve great things.

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A caveat at this point. Don’t fall into the trap of so many investment schemes being peddled these days. You have to be vigilant. Many scammers are eyeing OFWs like you.

If you don’t have enough knowledge yet on investing and business, it’s better to hold on to your money and stick to the basics: be thrifty. In these times of “get-rich-quick” media hype, the proverb “A peso saved is a peso earned.” may sound so stale and simplistic — but it certainly goes a long way. It always will.

Do not promote overdependence.

The third point is somewhat complicated: make all healthy and able adult members of your family work or earn their income — no matter how small. Do not encourage dependence. More importantly, do not tolerate laziness. It’s terrible for you, and it’s awful for your family.

Your wife or husband should be able to help earn money. If your spouse can not leave the house because there are small children to be taken care of, a small home-based business is okay. The profit may seem like a pittance, but if that accumulates over time, it can be a big help.

Family members can sell small items like cell phone loads, merienda, or pastries. Instead of buying expensive furniture and gadgets, you should purchase income-generating appliances like a good cooking range or a sewing machine.

Filipinos waiting to start a new OFW career prepare for their flight.
Filipinos waiting to start a new OFW career prepare for their flight.

It must be emphasized that going into business is something that needs planning, training, and re-orientation of the mind. It should not be rushed. Many people have wasted hard-earned money by hastily putting up a business that eventually failed because they did not make adequate preparations first. Even if it’s just a small venture, like baking and selling pastries — or making and selling goods in a sari-sari store, a business has to be carefully planned and executed.

Nowadays, there are many sources of information about the company: the internet, educational TV shows, and government-sponsored training. Avail yourself of these resources. You and your family members should be equipped with the right knowledge and attitude before starting a business.

If an able adult family member has no valuable skill, invest in the training of that person. There are many organizations and government agencies (such as TESDA) that offer affordable or even free vocational training.

People can learn useful occupational skills from this training and get connections for a possible job. There are also a lot of online jobs available these days: encoding, writing, research. People just have to be resourceful. If you can lead someone to gainful employment, then you have extended the highest form of charity: giving someone the chance to work for himself and thus avoiding the shame of a lifetime of dependence.

Moreover, if your teenage children or siblings can work a few hours a week at a portion of fast food, or in some other companies — that’s fine. Don’t feel guilty. They can gain a lot from those experiences. Aside from earning money, they learn the value of hard work and self-reliance.

As much as you love your children, you don’t have to provide everything for them. If they have healthy food to eat if they have decent clothes on their backs and a safe roof over their heads, and if they are in school — that’s already fine. Grant them pleasures or luxuries — but not to the expense of your own life.  If your children ask for so much, remind them of your goals. Allow them to see your hard work and develop your OFW career abroad, and the objective behind the sacrifices both of you make.

Make your grown-up children work for the other things they need and want. You don’t need to finance their master’s degrees. You don’t need to buy a separate unit of real estate for them, or a different car.

Providing everything to your children on a silver platter is a sure way to handicap them. They won’t survive in the real world once you’re gone. Leave out something your children will struggle for, and that would make them sturdy enough to survive during hard times. This way, you also give yourself a much-needed rest from financial obligations. Your purpose in life is so much more just paying bills.

Limit your “charity” work.

It sounds selfish, right? Well, if you feel guilty — go ahead. Help every person who asks for tuition fee assistance, help every student who needs a new bag, helps every neighbor who needs to be checked up, helps your brother-in-law who needs to be bailed out of jail every six months. Then, you wake up one morning: you’re already 65 years old, sick and broke — and still far from achieving your goal.

But if you want to reach your goal at the intended time, you have to be selective with your charity work. You should differentiate between people who need help and people who simply want help. Some people really try, who work their fingers to the bones — but are just down on their luck. They should be given a helping hand. Just a little push and these people will be on their way to economic independence — because they have the right attitude.

Old and sick family members — especially parents — should receive help. As for the others with genuine needs, you can give a little amount and then help them to get help from government institutions, politicians, and NGOs. If people are resourceful and persistent enough, they can squeeze help from other sources. Don’t try to be a superhero. Your income derived from your OFW career can’t help everybody.

Being kind is different from being gullible. Giving a helping hand is different from allowing yourself to be taken advantage of. This is not to advise people to be cynical of others. But sometimes, we need to be.

No matter how much we believe in the good nature of humanity, there will always be some people who will find an excuse not to work, who will try to scam you, who will pretend to be helpless, who will spend on vices and vanity, who will never pay you back. You have to turn a deaf ear to the requests of these people. People should be accountable for their actions. If they are suffering due to their misdeeds, it’s their fault — not yours.

Keep money matters a secret — even from your own family.

For example, have a secret bank account. This account should not be touched for regular expenses. It’s where you keep your spare money and the money for your goal. A secret account is immune to social pressure. Unfortunately, many times, we can not trust our own family to protect the money we are trying to save for them.

Many times, the OFWs’ husbands, wives, parents, or children pressure them into shelling out cash for trivial reasons. So, it may be necessary to lie about money. You have to teach yourself how to do this. (Are you feeling guilty again? Go ahead, tell your family that you have already saved a hundred thousand pesos. Let’s see what happens next.)

When money matters are kept the secret, the OFW can simply say, “I don’t have it.” No outside pressure. Just personal guilt, if ever. But should you feel guilty when you are just protecting your money?

Remember, your family’s future is at stake.

Make your spare time productive.

Ask your colleagues and the locals if they can recommend you for part-time work. However, you should only do a part-time job if your health allows it. Otherwise, you would only lose more money if you get sick.

If you do manage to get part-time gigs, it’s better to keep it a secret from your family. Do the same thing for overtime pay. (Do I need to repeat the reason? Reread the fifth step!) Another right way to spend your free time is to learn new knowledge and skills that you can use in the future.

Time is of the essence. And time spent with your loved ones is priceless. Therefore, as you sail on into your OFW career journey overseas, keep in mind that you need to be reunited with your family at the soonest possible time. Focus on your goal, and stick to the strategy you have laid out to reach it. Best of luck, kabayan!

Marily Sasota Gayeta is currently an English lecturer in Salalah City, Oman. She has held this job since September 2013. Before coming to Oman, she was also an English lecturer in Sebha City, Libya, for three years. Marily studied Bachelor of Secondary Education major in English at Tomas Del Rosario College in Balanga, Bataan ( her hometown ), and earned her MA in English Language Teaching from the Philippine Normal University.

Her career, which spans more than 20 years, also includes teaching Vietnamese refugees in a training camp in Bataan and teaching collegiate English in three private colleges in the same province. She enjoys watching action movies, listening to rock songs, reading, and writing. Her articles are available on her blog at www.gardenerofthoughts.blogspot.com. Marily is married and has two children.

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44 COMMENTS

  1. Paano nga bang mabuhay ng marangal kung hirap kang magbayad ng mga bills sa korente, tubig, taxes ng bahay at lupa tirahan mo?, pagkain ng pamilia, at iba pa?..Plagay ko mahirap matulog kung iicipin mong mga bayarin para lang mabuhay dahil wala kana hanapbuhay. Paano nga bang mabuhay ng matino kung ang pinas ay wala din? at wala ibbigay sau trabaho? kaya maiicip mong ako nalang maghirap sa abroad wag lang madamay ang aking pamilia.Ang isang million pesos mo sa ngaun kung wala naman pumapasok kapalit ng gastusin ay wala pang isang taon ubos na. Okay ilagay mo sa business ang pera, isa o pangala bumagsak goodbye pinas balik uli sa abroad mag OFW ..Ano bang programa ng ating gobierno para sa mga balikbayan???…. Money talk both sides in our life that matters,seems to me living in the Philippines is only for the politicians doing politics on a daily basis,business profiteers, Illegal chinese doing illegal business in our country and many others. For me i still have one year contract before i return to my homeland Philippines for good thinking in advance to live a simple life…. ,Yan lang.

  2. As a human being, we should not talk about this matter, insulting long time OFW, it’s individual differences , actually this is for the future of the family better to received 20,000 pesos than 300,000 pesos per month, what is better, so mind your monkey business.

  3. It is easier said than done, depende yan sa sitwasyon na kinalalagyan ng bawat ofw. Not all ofw have the same level of working category. So there is really the possibility na hindi ma achieve ang goal at any rate the article is ideal van be used as a basis if you are starting to build your future as an ofw.

  4. Avoiding means you have to put yourself far from the situation which you don’t like it something which is not good for you…pero sa akin lang there’s a big mistake about this article kc ang daming ofw n gusto kung puede lang ay d2 n titira a ibang bansa. They prefer to live here than in our country. Sad to say but its true. I have a lot of friends here who really wants to spend their life here at gusto n lng nila n gawing bakasyonan ang ating bansa.

  5. The above article is idealistic but not practical and realistic. There a lot of contributing factors and things to consider before leaving your job abroad and going to the Philippines for good. It needs a long term planning before doing so. It is not enough having your own house, car, and investments in stocks, UITF, bonds, insurance, cash in bank etc. I am talking about a fix and sustainable income to pay your daily needs. It takes long time to accumulate those. The best an OFW to do while is to work while there is still the opportunity, live a healthy lifestyle in preparation of his retirement; advise your children to do good, complete their schooling explain to them the reason of working away from them, teach them to be a responsible individual till such time they become financially independent, as it goes budget your finances well, invest in stocks and try investing in real estate, build/buy townhouses or apartment for rent that would be your source of fix income in a long run. Plan for your career after retirement, have a small business to keep you busy. That’s all we could do as OFW. Going home is not an option considering the situation of our country, corrupt government and individuals, business monopoly, traffic, lack of job and business opportunity etc., People who have plenty of money, business tycoon would love living in the Philippines where money and power reigns.

  6. The above article is idealistic but not practical and realistic. There a lot of contributing factors and things to consider before leaving your job abroad and going to the Philippines for good. It needs a long term planning before doing so. It is not enough having your own house, car, and investments in stocks, UITF, bonds, insurance, cash in bank etc. I am talking about a fix and sustainable income to pay your daily needs. It takes long time to accumulate those. The best an OFW to do while is to work while there is still the opportunity, live a healthy lifestyle in preparation of his retirement; advise your children to do good, complete their schooling explain to them the reason of working away from them, teach them to be a responsible individual till such time they become financially independent, as it goes budget your finances well, invest in stocks and try investing in real estate, build/buy townhouses or apartment for rent that would be your source of fix income in a long run. Plan for your career after retirement, have a small business to keep you busy. That’s all we could do as OFW. Going home is not an option considering the situation of our country, corrupt government and individuals, business monopoly, traffic, lack of job and business opportunity etc., People who have plenty of money, business tycoon would love living in the Philippines where money and power reigns.

  7. thks for such an inspiring column marily, although not all Filipinos ofws are expeting to come home after several years of work overseas several choosed to settle in their foster country. but for me THERES NO PLACE LIKE HOME….finally returning to our native phils for good is what im preparing and looking forward to…

  8. MY TWO CHILDREN WILL be finishing their college education soon…and my wife is also working as a govt employee, as soon as my youngest daughter finishes her college education, Kalas!! goodbye Saudi Arabia.. I will closing my years of service here in the kingdom which had been my bread and butter feeding and supporting my family..for over these years .. hang on.. a little bit longer……. WELL THATS LIFE .. WILL ENDURE EVERYTHING JUST FOR THE SAKE OF THE FAMILY…

  9. I learned a lot.. goals, determination and positive mind might get you to a succeful life that your family will benefit from it on long term.. wag lang natin kalimutan I enjoy ang bawat oras, we wouldn’t know how long our life is so make every second worth spending for.. ive been more than 2 years in KSA and I have my gaols prepared..

  10. It is very easy for them to say and advise, but remember, this is a long range plan, things will really not happen the way we want it to be because of some unexpected things. So, my advise is, just to stay healthy, be strong and be insensitive sometimes. Don’t allow your mind, emotions and physical systems to break down. Just provide the financial needs and that’s it.

  11. Start your own business without leaving your work, do it full-time or part-time and earn extra income!

    Foreigners (any nationality) are also welcome to join.

    You can do Aim Global business online anywhere, anytime!

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  12. I wish every OFW will read this especially the new ones. This is a very good article to read and learn from it, I wish someone has done this during my early days as OFW, Pension plan should be taken into consediration as well and most banks are offering this services.

  13. I wish every OFW will read this especially the new ones. This is a very good article to read and learn from it, I wish someone has done this during my early days as OFW, Pension plan should be taken into consediration as well and most banks are offering this services.

  14. Nice one. Filipinos has the most unique culture on earth. I don’t feel guilty in helping my family even my extended family beacause of genuine love. God Bless the OFWS. Mapalad tayo dahil nagtutulungan tayo. Ang gobyerno natin ang dapat magbago. NAGPAPAKAHIRAP ANG MGA OFW PARA PAGTAPUSIN ANG MGA ANAK SA PAGAARAL PERO WALANG TRABAHONG MAIBIGAY ANG GOBYERNO NATIN SO OFW DIN MOSTLY ANG BAGSAK NILA.

  15. I have done all these, now I have bought my own house, my oldest just finished college, my 2nd child is now on 1st year college, and my youngest is grade 8. Planning to stop working abroad as soon as my 2nd child will finished college. Now, saving money for the college education of my youngest. I started working abroad since 2005.
    “Save First Before Spending”…Not Spend first before saving.

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