The MOST Important Lesson Every OFW MUST Learn

A few articles came out from different news sources about Suze Orman’s advice to OFWs about not sending too much money to relatives in The Philippines. She reasoned out that they can never be sure that their jobs overseas or their ability to do work would last as long as they need it to. She said that they should learn to save money instead of making sacrifices for other people by being too generous to them which would only make them lazy and develop a culture of mendicancy.

This has actually been going on for so long already. An OFW would work abroad, earn a lot more than he could in The Philippines which he would then send to his relatives, friends and anyone who could fool him to part with his money. People in The Philippines would give a lot of BS reasons as to why the OFW should give to them. We shall dispel these BS reasons in this article so you as an OFW can have the resolve to hold on to your money which you earn and you rightfully deserves to have. You also need to learn to make that money grow rather than put it in the hands of consumerists back in The Philippines who would merely make it vanish in thin air.

I. DON’T LET THEM TELL YOU THAT YOU ARE “LUCKY”

People in The Philippines would try to make you feel guilty and imply that you are “lucky” to be working abroad, therefore you have the obligation to “share” your “blessings” with the “less fortunate”. Unless you benefit from something like a lottery win, I believe that everyone’s situation in life was brought about by his conscious decisions and actions. If the OFW did not develop his or her skills, invest in whatever monetary considerations are needed to make working abroad possible and bravely go to a strange land adapting to a different culture then he or she would not succeed. Luck has little or nothing to do with it.

I am an OFW and I could say that my decisions led me to where I am, not a ball landing on the right number on a roulette table. To be able to qualify for a position in the Middle East, I developled my computer skills to a high level to the point of getting an MCP certification along with a myriad of other technical knowledge that could go along with it. That took a lot of hard work and patience in reading thick books and practicing on the computer for long hours. Those who preferred to party on a frequent basis, hang out uselessly for hours and value inanities instead of knowledge would of course not develop the skills to be anything so I do not see why I would give them even a single penny.

II. ALWAYS THINK THAT YOU NEED TO SAVE FOR YOUR OWN FUTURE

When I started working in the Middle East, I noticed that my co-workers were sending almost all their money to their relatives in The Philippines and leaving next to nothing for themselves. They also keep on buying the latest gadgets, clothing and jewelry they could get their hands on that they seem to not be able to save anything. I asked them why they keep doing those things and they said that they just wanted to be generous and happy.

As for me, I just live a simple life. I just  buy the basics such as my food, low priced (but decent) clothing and other necessities. The only major thing I bought was a computer so I could be entertained and be able to do some extra work. At the end of my contract, I had $17,000 in my bank account and I used to immigrate to the United States where I believe I wanted to live permanently. The investment paid off as I have become a permanent resident in the US and have successfully established myself to live here for the rest of my life. I have been here for over nine years now yet I have heard that most of my former co-workers are still in the Middle East, with no savings and uncertain about their future.

They would not be able to work in the Middle East forever so when they already grow old and weak and they do not have an investment that would make their future secure then they would be back to where they started once their OFW status fades into oblivion. They just keep on throwing away money by giving heaps of it to their relatives (who are devoid of wisdom and discipline) instead of investing their money into something they could rely on when they get older such as immigrating to a first world country or putting up a thriving business (ran by themselves, not by relatives who would just screw it up and steal their money).

III. DO NOT GET AFFECTED BY GUILT

The most common tactic of Filipinos who want to sucker an OFW into giving money to them is to use guilt. I am OK with giving to people who have genuine medical emergencies that are matters of life and death but for other reasons, I really would not give anything even if they cry an ocean of tears. They would imply (or even say explicitly) that you are greedy and self-centered if you don’t “help” them. I know a case of an elderly OFW nurse in the USA who owned property in The Philippines and she rented it out to her relatives. These relatives stopped paying rent and told the OFW that life is hard and they really do not have any money to spend on anything. The OFW, feeling sorry, allowed them to live rent free for a few years and still paid her mortgage. One day, another relative of the OFW who is in the USA had his Facebook page open. He happily showed pictures of their relatives in The Philippines and she saw the ones living in her house. On the timeline, during the years that they were not paying rent she saw that they were going on vacation to Boracay, Pearl Farm, Palawan and having a great time. She then immediately demanded that they pay rent realizing that they were really not having a hard time since they kept going on vacations. What did she get in return? The relatives in her house told all their other relatives that she is “nothing but a greedy, self centered and selfish old woman”.

Another friend of mine who is a nurse confided in me that she married this uneducated Filipino guy who had no ambition or drive in life at all. She then heard that the guy’s family were saying that they “hit the jackpot” so I told her she has to brace herself for all the palms that would be facing up in front of her face waiting eagerly for her to drop them some greenbacks.

IV. NEVER BELIEVE IN PEOPLE WHO SAY YOU CAN GIVE THEM MONEY TO START A BUSINESS FOR YOU IN ‘DA ‘PINAS WHILE YOU ARE AWAY

A lot of OFWs have cases wherein relatives, friends or even random people would give them an idea that they would put up a business in Da Pinas using the OFW’s hard earned dollars only to find out that those people do not have a clue about running a business and screwed up their auto shop, carinderia, repair shop or other cockamamie scheme they were sold into participating in. By the time they find out, their dollars were already squandered. It is better to run your own business and know what you are doing by getting advice from people in the industry your business is in than have relatives swindle you out of your money.

V. WHAT I TELL MYSELF

Whenever someone from The Philippines tries to ask me for money, what I say is that all this money I have are earned by me and I would only give this money to someone who would give me something that I deem of equal value to it.

As an OFW, I have this money now because:

1. I saved
– While others were throwing their money away, I sacrificed useless “pleasures” so I would have something more concrete in the future.

2. I invested
– I invested time into developing my skills needed and getting education.
– I invested my savings into immigrating to a better country so I could be in a better and more permanent situation.

3. I risked
– I risked my savings into my immigration into the US never certain that it would succeed.

Those who are NOT willing to sacrifice in order to save, NOT smart enough to invest and NOT brave enough to risk do not deserve my money or anything they did not earn for that matter. They want what I have? They have to give me something of equal value or they have to also save, invest and risk so they can have money of their own.

VI. GIVING MONEY ON A REGULAR BASIS DEVELOPS A CULTURE OF MENDICANCY

You would always find a lot of unemployed OFW relatives who just do things like play basketball, hang out and sleep the whole day because (as one American with a Filipina wife told me) Filipinos are great enablers. As long as you keep giving to the Filipinos, they would never learn to stand on their own two feet or use their brains in order to make themselves productive. They would also develop a sense of entitlement over time that when you stop giving them money they would think that you are reneging on your “obligations”.

As an OFW, it is time for you to think about yourself. You need to have a stable future so you need to save money so you can invest it. Giving money to people in The Philippines does more harm than good when you look at the grand scheme of things. Think about it.

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  • Chi Din

    I severed by ties with my family because they’ve abused my generosity for years. Like the author, I saved all my earnings. I don’t want to go back home later without a penny in my pocket.

    • Alvin Lawrence

      You are smart then.

  • wow,
    This post is definitely a must read for every OFW. I am also an OFW and I have been struggling to save. but that’s the best option to make, we have to do this otherwise, all our plans will still be a plan and all our dreams will always be our dreams.

  • sly

    My apologies to the editor and administrator, it is not my intent to hijack your article

    Magkaisa Po Tayong Tulungan Ang Ating Bayan

    kung ang lahat po ng OFW na nagpapadala ng pera sa Pilipinas ay oobligahin ang kanilang mga pinadadalhan na magbukas ng account at gamitin ang banko ng mga marangal na pamilya na matagal ng tunay na pilantropo at hindi lamang pang PR, na itinuring ang sarili nila na mga tunay na pilipino na lahat ng empleyado sa ibat iba nilang kompanya ay maligaya dahil sila ay pinapasweldo ng maayos with full benefits, hindi tulad ng iba na puro casual employees habang buhay. mayroon din dyan na ang ibang kompanya ay ilang beses ng na-bail out ng gobyernong pilipinas sa pagkalugi pero yung iilan-ilang empleyado na natitira ay ninakawan pa ng retirement na kanilang inaasahan by way of corporate manipulation.

    mayroon ba kayong kilala na pinautang ng banko ng malaking halaga? sila sila lang ang nagpapautangan at sila lang ang gumagamit ng pera nyo pangpatayo ng high rise condos, office bldgs and malls. worse iniinvest ang pera nyo sa ibang bansa. magising tayo mga kababayan. sila lang ang umuunlad samantalang tayo ay nakalugmok o tulog. kung gusto nyo ay maginvest kayo sa stocks ng bankong marangal habang mababa ang presyo ang pass along my message to each and everyone you meet. para ng sa ganoon man lamang ay matulungan natin ang mga libo libong filipino na patuloy pa ring casual pagkatapos ng maraming taon habang ang mayari ay isa na sa pinakamayaman sa buong mundo. check nyo sa forbes.com kung gaano sila kayaman. kung wala po tayong unity tulad nila ay malabo tayong umunlad. maliit na aksyon lang po ito, pero umpisa ng pagkakaisa.
    God Speed.
    P.S.
    please pass along this mesage

  • sly

    Thank you for your well thought out article.

  • As an OFW myself …. Financial literacy is a must in order for us to handle our finances wisely. We are not properly trained in school how to do this so education thru readings using various media such as internet and books helps us understand and manage our finances.
    We must also educate our family back home on how to handle their finances for doing so they’ll appreciate the value of our money that sent to them.

  • Ed

    I have also learned a lot of lessons for being an OFW. For six years I have been working to earn money para lang mapadala sa family ko without realizing na katagalan ako din mawawalan.

    Pasalamat ako sa isang kaibigan na nagconvince sa akin na mag partner para sa isang online business at iyon ay blogging.

    On my six years as an OFW, nag-ipon ako para magkaroon ng puhunan, in short nag invest ako ng capital at sa ngayon kung ano man ang kinikita ko previously abroad natugunan naman with a total of 4 domains in my account, enjoy ko magtrabaho kahit dito sa pinas.

    Para sa akin nasa internet ang pera wala sa ibang bansa.

    • Working hard as an OFW doesn’t end in just working on our way for promotions or salary increase. The most important part is to save for our future.

      Kahit anong mangyari babalik at babalik tayo sa Pinas. Seven years akong nagwork sa Saudi, pag-uwi ko ng Pinas yong 20% sa sahod ko na naitabi nagtayo ako ng online business, so far so good. Talagang ang pera wala sa ibang bansa kundi nasa internet.

      • cleo

        I WANT INFO RE INTERNET BUSINESS.I WANT TO GO HOME NOW.THANKS