MANILA - This week, we celebrated National Heroes' Day and remembered men and women who gave their lives for our country's independence.
Today, we have another kind of hero fighting around the world to secure a brighter future for Filipinos - the overseas Filipino workers or OFWs. It's time we also paid tribute to these unsung heroes who toil and work thousands of miles away from home, for a better life for their loved ones.
All OFWs leave the Philippines with one goal – to earn money that they can send back home to help their families. Almost all OFWs look forward to that day when they can finally come home for good. The question that most OFWs want to know, though, is when they will be financially ready to do so.
There is, of course, no single answer to this, since each OFW has different considerations. The OFW with young children will have different circumstances from an OFW whose children are already working.
If you’re an OFW thinking about finances before going home, you will need to start thinking about your own family’s situation, studying all aspects before deciding. Definitely, this is not a simple decision to make, given the many things you have to look into – some known, some unknown. Certainly, you will be making another leap of faith, just as you did when you first packed your bags and decided to leave your homeland.
In all this, careful planning is necessary. Here’s a list of 7 questions you need to ask before you make the decision to come home for good.
1. Do you already have enough for your daily needs? You wouldn’t want to go home without having anything to cover your living expenses. Try to estimate how much your needs will total in a month, and make sure you have at least 6 months’ worth or more before finally deciding to head for home. This will include food, shelter, transportation, entertainment, and the like.
2. Can you continue to support your dependents? If you have school-age kids or sick parents, you have to be able to cover for their needs as well. You want to have enough to cover your children’s tuition for the next school year, to ensure that there is no disruption. If you’re renting, you should have enough to cover at least 6 months’ worth of rent. If you’re paying for a car, then you should have enough to cover at least 6 months as well. The larger your buffer, the better.
3. Do you have a new job lined up at home? Let’s face it, much as we’d all like to be able to just relax and do nothing, the fact is that we will continue to need a regular income source when we get back home. Try to scout for a new job before heading home by using online searches or by using your personal network to know what’s out there.
4. Have you saved enough capital for a business? If your plan is to start a business, then make sure that you (and your partners) allot enough capital as well. Try to research on what businesses you can do even before going home. Even better if your family started one for you with the money you sent home, and now you can help or take over. It is not enough to have funds for overhead expenses alone; you also need to think about the business’ operational needs in the early days until it can sustain itself.
5. Are your covered with medical or health coverage? Often overlooked, health concerns should always be prioritized as the high cost of hospitalization and medicine can easily wipe out your life savings. Make sure to get yourself a health insurance that’s appropriate for your needs. There are many variants being offered out there by different providers.
6. Do you have an emergency fund? You can never tell when emergencies will strike – accidents, loved ones passing away, fires, and the like. It’s always financially wise to have at least 2-3 months’ worth of savings for these, on top of your money for your daily needs, dependents’ needs, and capital.
7. Are you planning for your retirement? Make sure you don’t forget about your nest egg. Although you do have a lot of needs to cover, you can’t afford not to have anything for your senior years. A life insurance plan is basic. You can look into a pension plan as well. Alternatively, you can look into mutual funds, but make sure to consult with a financial planner who can help you choose one that is right for your needs.
If you're not able to say yes to all 7 questions - don't worry. Don’t get overwhelmed with all these areas that you need to look into before packing your bags for home. Look into each one and see how you can work out each area so that your transition to life in the Philippines is as smooth as it can be.
Don’t worry if the timing is not right. Let these factors help you determine your timetable in achieving your goal. In the meantime, we your countrymen are proud of your hard work and dedication and your family are enjoying a comfortable life because of your sacrifice.
Grow Your Money is an editorial partnership between News.abs-cbn.com and Citi Philippines to promote financial education and provide helpful information to Filipinos on how to better manage their personal finances.
Visit www.citibank.com.ph for more information.