“Hindi madali ang buhay ng isang seaman kahit na ang tingin ng nakakarami ay isa itong glamorosong trabaho.”
A seafarer needs to endure heavy work and be away from his loved ones for many months in a year. While it is true that the income of seafarers are usually better than other physically-demanding jobs in the Philippines, it is also true that the typical seaman needs to deal with so much financial obligations and expectation that many of them will not be able to secure their financial future properly. Despite their difficulties and sacrifices, many of our bagong bayani will not achieve their goals and dreams that pushed them into being a seafarer in the first place.
What are the reasons why many seafarers fail to secure their future? Here are some common problems and the possible solutions:
Problem #1: Too many financial obligations
Ever heard the joke: “Money is relative. The more money you have the more relatives you have?” That has been a running cliché among many Filipinos and is especially true for our OFWs. Many of our seafarers are given too much financial obligations which they take on, willingly or unwillingly. Such financial obligations often times go beyond his immediate family and spills over his extended family.
- Solution: Learn how to say no
The seafarer should begin to say no, or limit financial support, to people outside his immediate family – immediate family means the spouse and the children only. The seafarer shouldn’t feel the obligation to be the savior of every family member. His primary obligation should be to the spouse and children, anything beyond that should not be his burden. Helping is okay as long as it is limited and will not prevent the seafarer from building his savings.
Problem #2: Lack of financial discipline
Many of our esteemed seafarers and their families will try to increase their lifestyle too quickly, which results to a difficulty in being able to build savings. It is common knowledge that not all seafarers can build enough savings because of increased spending.
- Solution: Learn how to budget
Money needs to be allocated properly so it can also be tracked properly. Learn how to distinguish needs from wants and then put a limit on spending on wants. Proper budgeting will allow the family to assess their financial condition so they will be able to adjust accordingly.
Problem #3: Too much debt
Due to poor cash flow management and the lack of proper financial discipline, it is not uncommon for seafarers to be in too much debt or be in a debt trap.
- Solution: Prioritize payment of debt
There is no other way to get out of debt other than paying that debt. The seafarer must decide to get himself out of debt by paying off old debt and avoiding new ones. Managing the budget properly will allow the family to find ways to increase money to be used to begin paying off debt. It means cutting down expenses and delaying major purchases until debt is paid.
Problem #4: Not preparing for retirement
It is a sad reality that when the seafarer gets old and cannot work anymore, many of them were unable to prepare enough to live a financially independent life and he will begin to be a burden of his children.
- Solution: Start investing for retirement
With proper money management and financial discipline, the seafarer can generate consistent savings that can be used for investments that will come in handy for retirement. Some investments a seafarer can consider are life insurance, mutual funds, and rental properties as they can be very useful during retirement
Preparing for one’s financial future may be a daunting task to the seafarer and also to many of us. But with the proper mindset and discipline, a good financial future doesn’t need to be an elusive dream anymore.