Make your way back home
MANILA, Philippines — It’s an image that’s familiar to many of us: a melancholic family parting ways with a mother or father at the airport, bound for work in a foreign country.
It’s reported that in 2014, the Philippine government deployed about 2.3 million OFWs. This number is part of an even larger group estimated at 10.44 million people as of 2011, which includes Filipinos abroad who do not rely on work contracts. Back in the Philippines, there is nearly the same number of families left behind. While parents leave so that their children can have a better future, most of the time these children are left with the harsh reality of growing up without a parent.
The decision to do what’s right for the family and to provide a comfortable and secure life for them is never easy, and doing so apart from those you love makes it even more difficult. So if you work abroad and have been living apart from your children, you truly deserve to be called a modern-day hero. But it could also be time to start working towards something else they need — your presence.
Setting your goals
First, it would be helpful to divide your objectives into short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals include everyday expenditures like food and rent, while long-term ones are those that take more time like your child’s college fund or a business you hope to set up.
Next, determine when you want to go home. Maybe it’s in time for a certain milestone like your 40th birthday or your child’s college graduation. Set a realistic plan based on your salary and monthly expenses. This could take five, ten years, maybe even more, but once you settle on a goal, coming home will stop feeling like a far away dream and start becoming a concrete objective.
Creating a budget and the importance of savings
Once you’ve set your goals, work your budget around them. Create two separate ones, a budget for you, and a budget for your family back home. Be open and don’t be afraid to set limitations. Explain to your family back home that having a budget is meant to guide everyone in making the most out of your hard-earned salary.
In making your budget, identify the needs and wants of every member of the family. Prioritize necessities like rent, food, and communication, but also take into account little pleasures like shopping for new clothes or a weekend dinner out. This way, you can save money without feeling like you’re depriving yourself.
Once you know your priorities, figure out how much you can consistently save every month. Savings should always be considered as an expense and before spending on anything else, it’s best to set aside 30 to 50 percent of your salary for this purpose. The money you are able to set aside can then be used for putting up a business or as a retirement fund.
Finding new investments
Investing is a good way to stretch the money you have and enable you to earn more without taking up too much of your time. To start, direct your savings to insurance plans that cater to your priorities.
An education plan for instance, will help you save money for your children’s college education in an efficient manner. Periodic payments signal you to set aside money regularly and will multiply the amount you invested in 3, 5, or 10 year’s time.
Unit-linked savings plans on the other hand, help you grow your money faster. Here, benefits are linked to your chosen investment’s performance, which is based on current market conditions. A good plan invests your money in funds that grow your money faster than regular bank savings accounts, gives you control over what funds you are comfortable investing in, and provides low payment options fit for your income.
A bigger investment means bigger returns, so if you have a larger sum of money to work with, opt for one-pay investment plans that could grow from 7 to 15 percent yearly. Other one-pay investment plans also come with life insurance that provides your family at least 125 percent of your initial investment should anything happen to you.
Starting a business
Once you have money saved, you can start thinking about starting a business. This won’t be just another source of income but a first step in building your life back home. Some business ideas to consider are agricultural enterprises such as a hog or poultry farm, a travel agency, and restaurant or convenience store franchises. Just make sure it’s something you and your family are interested in.
Remember that budget you created? Once you’ve determined a business to pursue, review it again and check if the business’ projected income is enough to sustain your family’s lifestyle. You’ve worked hard to give your children a better life, and that shouldn’t stop when you’re back home.
Keep in mind that it’s not advisable to quit your job before the business takes off. Continue working so you can keep a stable income and assign someone you trust to manage the business instead. If the business proves to be a good revenue source, it is a sign that you can come back home.
A new journey with the family
Not many things can compare to the feeling of being with your family once again, but finally being home is just the beginning of this new chapter. Continue to work hard and strive for greater things by constantly thinking of ways to improve your business, increase savings, and make smart investments. Thankfully, you’ll have your family by your side to help you through it all. — Rappler.com
The Philam Life BalikBayani program is a nationwide financial literacy program designed to help OFWs secure their financial future so they can be reunited with their families sooner and for good. For more information, visit the Philam Life website.