Life as a seafarer comes with both luxuries and sacrifices. Based on 2019 data, they earn $43,480 (₱2,282,743 based on the current foreign exchange rate) annually on average. While their salary is high, it is justified by the nature of their job, wherein they need to live away from their families and live on vessels for months. Aside from that, another challenge that they should overcome is personal financial management.
A lot of seafarers experienced financial fallout during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some dealt with prolonged shore leave and encountered financial shortages as they had to wait 3 to 6 months for their contracts to be renewed. Now that the industry has opened up again, it is essential to learn the basics of personal financial planning and beware of the blunders that must be avoided.
What is personal financial planning?
Personal financial planning is a strategy that can help control one's income and expenses to meet life goals. With a personal financial plan in place, one can be safeguarded from life's uncertainties.
For seafarers, it is an important approach that must be learned so they can secure their hard-earned money, explore opportunities for wealth building, and eventually create additional sources of income.
5 Financial planning blunders that seafarers must avoid
- Not saving early
With the salary the seafarers receive, most can afford to live in luxury. However, control should be mustered to ensure that one will still have sufficient savings to fall back on when uncertainties arise. The initial years as a seafarer are crucial, and it is important to start saving. Additional responsibilities such as a growing family and changing needs may affect one's capacity to save later on.
- Not saving enough
It's not enough to just save. It's also vital to be proactive. Prepare at least 6 to 12 months' worth of monthly expenses for unforeseen scenarios like emergencies and prolonged off-board months or stay with loved ones in the Philippines. Moreso, it is necessary to identify realistic goals based on earnings and essential expenses. Remember, saving can help pave the way to financial freedom.
- Uncontrolled spending
Overflowing income is not an excuse to overspend. It's okay to enjoy the fruits of hard work but make smart choices. For example, buying a car when one is offshore most of the time is not a good idea. Its value will already diminish before it's put to use. Seafarers should focus on the essentials to still have enough funds to live comfortably even when a crisis strikes.
- Not having health insurance
Seafarers should prioritize their health. Although shipowners usually cover their health needs, they may not be able to enjoy the same benefits during their vacation leave. Moreover, not all shipowners or principals provide health insurance coverage for seafarers, even during off-board months. Usually, they extend the HMO coverage to certain ranks or officers of the ship as a way to retain talent.
Investing in health insurance for seafarers would be a wise move as it will provide the necessary coverage while offshore. In addition, it will serve as the tool that will make essential medical treatments available in case of unexpected illnesses while keeping the savings secured.
NOTE: Health insurance for family members is also essential to provide the protection they need and avoid huge medical expenses.
5. Not investing in life insurance
Usually, seafarers may only be entitled to the life insurance provided by the company depending on the tenure of their working period. Investing early has its benefits, as premiums are lower. With the hazards of the job, having life insurance can give peace of mind that when unfortunate events occur, the loved ones of the seafarer will be spared from financial burden.
ALSO READ: 4 Solutions for seafarers
Sun Life supports seafarers and their families by empowering them so their money can work harder for them. In addition, the Shine Pinoy Program helps Overseas Filipinos, including seafarers, come home for good and enjoy a comfortable retirement. Learn more about this program here.
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