The Growing Financial Challenges Facing OFWs
May 15, 2015
When you hear the phrase ”overseas Filipino worker”, a lot of Filipinos automatically envision bigger income, better work environment, happier family, and an overall brighter future. There may be opportunities for a larger income outside the Philippines, but seeking a job overseas can be an extremely rough road from start to finish.
High Placement Fees
One of the financial challenges of OFWs actually starts before they even board the plane. Arranging an overseas employment with a recruitment agency can be a very expensive task – specifically when it comes to the placement fee.
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration or POEA has permitted recruitment agencies to collect placement fees to cover the expenses and potential risks of sending a worker abroad. While some countries such as Taiwan require additional fees, the prescribed amount should not be significantly more than the OFWs foreseen monthly income.
Of course, a professional may apply for personal loans in the Philippines, but starting a life overseas and leaving your family behind with a debt isn’t really a pretty picture financial-wise. Keep in mind that working overseas is a lot riskier than landing a job within the country. There are employers who charge unexpected fees and hidden or obscured policies that can delay the OFW’s salaries. Not to mention that contract terms and the nature of employment may change due to unforeseen circumstances, intended or not, by the employer. Nevertheless, these risks can definitely waste the time, money, and effort invested by the OFW.
The reason why people become almost fanatical about working overseas in the past is the way their families live back home. They are able to afford bigger houses, newer gadgets, better cars, prestigious schools, and so on. Let’s face it, the families of OFWs often forget to live modestly. And without the OFW to help retain a smart budget plan, it’s hard for a family to watch their expenses, especially if they are receiving a hefty amount in a monthly basis. This is detrimental for the long-term financial welfare of not only the OFW, but the family as well.
Say everything went well. The OFW successfully finds work with a good employer and managed to save up a modest amount after several months of working abroad. There is only one problem, the OFW has never managed so much money before.
When working overseas, there is very little emphasis on the importance of financial literacy. This is especially problematic for the OFWs family at home who receives the bulk of the savings. This introduces a false sense of security that makes OFWs and their families susceptible to bad investments. While well-meaning, families who are eager to invest the hard earned money ofOFWs are prone to making bad investment decisions. Be it a rental apartment, a passenger jeepney, a sari-sari store, or an internet café – remember that running a business requires adequate knowledge and not just the buying power to get started.
At the end of the day, the financial challenges faced by OFWs root from their lack of financial planning. They are sometimes too busy finding a job abroad that they completely overlook the importance of investing in financial knowledge. Always remember that no financial challenge should be too difficult to overcome for a financially literate Filipino – overseas or not.
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