Why Many OFWs Remain Poor Despite Working Abroad for Years
You would expect that Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) would be the image of financial success. But in reality, the opposite rings true. Most OFWs suffer financial problems even with their better earnings and years of hard work. This is because they have inefficient money management.
Commission on Filipino Overseas (CFO) states that the main cause of the problem is the over-dependency of the families and relatives.
The common misconception of most Filipinos is going abroad is the solution to all their money problems, that is why workers abroad struggle despite their higher incomes.
Another source of the problem might be because even before being abroad, the family might have accumulated debts already due to loans and over-borrowing in the belief that the money would be returned once hired overseas.
There is also the unrealistic expectations of both the family and the migrant expecting automatic improvement in the quality of life and finances. They also have less restraint and easily give in to requests from their families and remittances and gifts from abroad.
The worst thing is that they don’t save or plan for long term. They don’t have specific goals and are easily distracted by commercial things.
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) states that eight out of ten Filipinos don’t have bank accounts which support the statement of CFO that financial literacy among Filipinos are very low. Filipinos simply lack the will to save and most think that remittances last forever.
There is no law that states that you shouldn’t do all those things mentioned above but experts advise that you save for the future rainy days and follow that golden rule, to save more than they spend and not to live beyond their means.
OFW families feel little sympathy
Filipinos fly abroad to work as migrant workers abroad mainly do so because of their families back home.
They send money on a regular basis, become more frugal in expenses abroad or monitor the movement of currency exchange just to get the best value for their fixed income.
However, many family members in the Philippines do not see these sacrifices. Many of them afford themselves with expensive gadgets, make unnecessary trips to shopping malls and posting on social media photos of high-end dining experiences. Because OFWs feel obligated to send money regularly, failure to do so may earn them scorn or mockery. “May kabit ka na ba dyang inaalagaan kaya hindi ka na nakapagpadala?”
OFWs are too generous
Filipinos abroad often find time to pick “pasalubongs” for family members, friends, neighbors, classmates, ex-colleagues and whoever may cross their paths when they go home for vacation.
Someone may ask for a petty cash for cigars, bottles of beer or burgers, it becomes a taboo not to be generous. Family reunions are often filled with happy experiences but not without heavy burden among OFWs pockets. Whether trying to impress as a one-day millionaire or simply forced to do so by overeager family out to prove that they have finally got over the poverty hump.
As a consequence, OFWs may loan money before going on vacation, digging themselves to debt.
OFWs fail to communicate properly about savings
While OFWs abroad work hard, they also are bound to honor commitments to family. They send money regularly, often not asking how is the family’s financial status. On the other hand, receiving wives — or husbands tend to get whatever they want but not what they need, assuming that their spouse’s coy approach is interpreted as tolerance over their newly-embraced lifestyle.
Once OFWs return home and fail to get a sense of family savings, empty bank accounts and mounting credit card bills and expenses, they feel cheated. However, OFWs also get their share of the blame by not being open and transparent.
“Hindi kita tinanong kung ano ginawa mo sa pera kasi takot ako na baka sabihin mo na wala akong tiwala sa iyo.”
OFWs or spouses in the Philippines get involved in illicit relationships
When infidelity starts to creep in as a result of long distance husband-wife relationship, money matters is a topic that gets unraveled first.
More relationships mean additional expenses. And as the evil of this unwanted relationship continues, the future of the family relationship could get destroyed irreparably.
OFWs become target of scams
As earners of fixed income much higher than those in the Philippines, OFWs are target of scammers preying on cash-rich individuals seeking to invest their earnings abroad.
Many of these scams involve get-rich-quick schemes like multilevel marketing or Ponzi-like business models. When they invest money, the only way they could get it back, if ever, is to recruit more people who will in turn recruit others.
Other scams involve investment in properties that are onerous or non-existent or businesses that are not well managed and end up shutting down.
OFWs need to be very careful when it comes to managing their hard-earned money. It is possible that many other people in the guise of helping them, end up running away with their money.
Educating the family on money management and fiscal discipline is one step towards more productive years abroad and do not require extending careers overseas. As a result, OFWs go home just in time to enjoy the fruits of their labor and enjoying time with the family.
Unfortunately, many are unable to meet such ideal scenario and toil hard abroad even after years of retirement.