There is another pandemic looming on the horizon – the loss of jobs of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). According to the Commission on Filipinos Overseas*, there are ten million Filipinos in over 200 countries and territories and half of them are OFWs. Imagine the stream of remittances, from almost every continent, created by these modern-day heroes – suddenly gone.
As the global economy grinds to a halt due to the spread of CoViD-19, OFWs and their remittances are bound to take a huge impact. Among the most affected are seafarers providing tourist services aboard cruise ships. As of this writing, about 10,000 of them are being repatriated back to their homeland*.
What inevitably follows is the rise of unemployment and more incidents of kakapusan among OFW-dependent households. We should also keep in mind that Overseas Filipinos themselves are facing their own difficulties as this crisis only heightens what they worry about the most: job security, health concerns, and piling debts.
Much like the fight to contain the CoViD-19 pandemic, OFWs and their families need to get ahead and flatten the curve and prepare their defense against the incoming onslaught to survive. Here are some useful financial tips to help OFWs and their families pull through these challenging times.
IF YOU ARE THE OFW ABROAD, remember to A-S-S-I-S-T until things become better:
- ALLOCATE wisely. While this may vary depending your current set-up; list down your essential needs set aside a portion of your income for your own use. This becomes emergency fund that should come in handy.
- SET a family meeting – preferably over free video conferencing services. Discuss the situation and the plan. It is important that every family member steps up. For instance, children can help do household chores instead of hiring house help. Lessen utility consumption by using the A/C in a common room instead of using separate ones.
- SPEND only for essentials but do not hoard.
- INITIATE self-control by toning down expenses. Some hobbies, like retail therapy and subscriptions to entertainment sites, can be put on hold. Use your creativity and check for platforms that offer free access.
- SKILL-UP with online classes. Who knows, you may be able to learn a new skill and add another revenue stream.
- TAKE CARE. Think of yourself as your family’s own ‘frontliner’ by securing the future. If something happens to you, what will become of them?
IF YOU ARE AN OFW’s FAMILY IN PH, you need to A-C-T with foresight and consistency:
- ADJUST the household budget. In anticipation of delays and even reduced remittance, check your current funds and compute how long it can support your family’s basic needs. Reallocate non-essentials to meet present demands.
- COMMUNICATE as a unit. Move and spend as one – decide on what services to let go and which to retain, explore ways to generate additional funds – in a show of solidarity with your breadwinner abroad.
- TAKE ON A BRIGHTER OUTLOOK. Even in the grimmest of circumstances, hope shines eternal. Create a positive and supportive environment for everyone around you, especially for your loved one abroad. The family serves as the most basic ‘frontline’ in the period of rebuilding and recovery. This is the perfect time to turn this crisis to an opportunity to live brighter.
We all need to do our share. While OFWs are making their sacrifices abroad, their family members have an important role to play as their KAAKBAY toward COMING HOME.
*2014 CFO Compendium of Statistics on International Migration, 4th Edition, published March 2016
With contributions from Beron Mangosing