#OFWTips: Love, money and making both work

Don Kevin Hapal

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#OFWTips: Love, money and making both work
Fear of not being loved prevents many OFWs from making rational financial decisions

MANILA, Philippines – What does love have to do with our finances?

According to Vince Rapisura, president of the Social Enterprise Development Partnerships, Inc., a social enterprise that provides financial literacy trainings to low-income OFWs in 15 countries worldwide, Filipinos tend to mix financial decisions with emotions.

This is a problem because rationality is necessary when making these decisions – something we lack when we are in a highly emotional state. (READ: Are you an OFW? Here are bad spending habits you need to break‘)

One of these emotions that prevents us from making rational financial decisions is fear, specifically the fear of not being loved.

Vince, in his book entitled (L)earning Wealth: Successful Strategies in Money Management, tells us about fear and how it affects overseas Filipino workers’ (OFWs) management of their finances.

Common cause of distress

According to Vince, the fear of not being loved is a common cause of distress for OFWs. They send a large chunk of their income to their relatives in the Philippines, sometimes leaving barely enough for them to survive in their host country.

Many OFWs fear that their children or spouses would love them less if they fail to send remittances to buy the things they want. In some cases, some relatives threaten OFWs with emotional blackmail. 

This fear starts with “lambing,” a Filipino expression of fondness where one usually asks for favor from another. The favor granted is commonly seen as an act of love.

It is normal for children, for example, to do this to their parents. Vince however says that this “lambing” is usually abused, which is already tantamount to extortion. When this happens, the OFW starts to fear not being loved.

Living miles away, this fear becomes one of the OFWs’ biggest insecurities. Many of them think that sending more gifts and remittances is the only way they can send their love back home.

Showered with everything they need, relatives may become highly dependent on the OFW – becoming complacent with being unemployed and spending more than they should. 

Teach them to be independent

So how do we deal with this fear? Vince says we just need to look into these 3 definitions of love. 

First, we have to understand that love is about making the other grow. When you allow your relatives to become too dependent, you don’t allow them to grow. In this case, you must aim to teach your relatives to be able to pay for their own basic needs. Tough love can still be an act of love. 

Second, love is a choice. Before leaving to work abroad, make sure that it is your family’s collective decision. Deciding to leave should not be your burden alone. By making it a collective decision, every member of the family will be aware of the roles they play and their responsibilities. You will also not be be blamed for your absence.

Lastly, love is work. Many Filipinos leave precisely because they want better lives for their families. The challenge is to be able to get better living conditions without having to separate from your family. Your goal therefore should be to reunite with your family as soon as possible. You and your family must work together to make this possible.

What can your family do? 

Your family’s help is vital for you to attain your financial goals. 

For children, a good way to help is to work hard to finish school on time. Setbacks, such as early pregnancy or failing grades, mean more expenses for the household and may cause the OFW to extend his or her stay abroad.

The spouse left behind, meanwhile, may work and augment the income of the family. The family’s reliance on OFW income can be reduced if the spouse or other productive member of the household is able to work and contribute to the family budget.

Vince suggests to make it a goal for the family left behind to be able to cover the household’s basic needs and expenses while the OFW’s income funds their family’s ultimate financial goals – building a house, opening a business, or sending the kids to school. 

Bottomline: reaching financial goals should not be the OFWs’ responsibility alone but the whole family’s.

Whenever you feel the urge to send more than your family needs, just remember the old adage, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he’ll eat forever.” – Rappler.com


SEDPI is a Philippine-based capacity-builder in the fields of microfinance, social entrepreneurship, and financial literacy. Learn more about them here.

Got questions for SEDPI about managing your finances? Email us at balikbayan@rappler.com.

Thousands of jobs are waiting for you back home. Click here to find a job in the Philippines on the Rappler x Kalibrr Job Board.

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Don Kevin Hapal

Don Kevin Hapal is Rappler’s Head of Data and Innovation. He started at Rappler as a digital communications specialist, then went on to lead Rappler’s Balikbayan section for overseas Filipinos. He was introduced to data journalism while writing and researching about social media, disinformation, and propaganda.