It is a well-established fact that Filipinos working abroad send money to families in the Philippines. In fact, in March 2016, they sent home a record-high $2.7 billion.
However, in many cases, sending money to Filipinos has been a result of emotional guilt perpetrated by some relatives. Such was a revelation coming out of attendees of a financial literacy program to Filipino workers based in Hong Kong, in a report by Rappler.
One of them is Analyn Regulacion, who said it was guilt that prevented them from achieving financial success.
“My relatives would blackmail me emotionally, especially my siblings, to give them financial support. If I don’t give them money, they will make me feel guilty. I would cry by myself because I couldn’t help them,” Regulacion recalled.
“I left the Philippines when my child was only three months old to work abroad. I was able to send all my siblings to school, but I realized I was left behind. I wasn’t saving for myself,” she added.
But more than just guilt, overseas Filipino workers also feel fear, anger, envy, and shame as reasons that prevent OFWs from being financially independent, according to Vince Rapisura, president and CEO of Social Enterprise Development Partnerships Inc.
“Because of shame, for example, we tend to cover up reality with luxuries we cannot afford. We want to save our family name by tolerating bad financial habits and solving other members’ financial problems,” Rapisura said during a Financial Literacy, Leadership, and Social Entrepreneurship workshop for OFWs.
It is quite common for OFWs to feel envy as they tend to compare their achievements with other’s accomplishments.
To help counter bad financial habits, Rapisura encouraged OFWs to focus on positive emotions – courage, joy, and contentment.
“The financial life stages provide a guide for people to assess their financial health. It provides a framework for people to understand what to prepare financially to enjoy a full and meaningful life,” he said.
The framework illustrates that workers are encouraged to start saving as they enter the labor market, typically at 21 or 22 years old. The financial independence stage, when passive income is expected to increase to up to 10%, comes at 23 to 25 years old. Further growth of passive income is expected during growth age, as workers reach between 26 and 45 years old. The stabilization stage, when the highest salary is enjoyed, and expenses start to decrease, is from 46 to 60 years old.
The ultimate goal is to achieve financial freedom at the age of retirement or 60 years old. But to many of the 60 Filipino workers attending the workshop, disappointment is a familiar feeling.
“I was able to help my relatives while I was the one feeling miserable away from them. I realized I should be helping myself [attain financial independence] first,” said Regulacion, who admitted the workshop was an eye-opener.
“There are so many things I should have been doing in the past years. I did not have any financial plans before this session, but now I know how much I should be saving. I now have a target of when I will end my work here in Hong Kong and go back home,” she said.