Ever wondered how and why overseas Pinoys in the UAE manage to send money to their loved ones back home almost unabated? The Filipino Times did a straw poll and the results would leave thought clouds on everyone, saying, “Ako rin ganyan (I can relate).” Here are the top five money secrets overseas Filipinos (OFs) would rather keep to themselves.
1. We send more than we spend.
A whooping 67 percent of the respondents to TFT’s poll done across the UAE said they send home around 25 to 50 percent of their salary, leaving barely enough for the bed space rent, food and utilities. Others are fortunate to have spouses with them who share in the expenses in the UAE, while the rest have company-provided accommodations as well as pick-and-drop service to work.
“I send between Dh1,000 and Dh1,200 a month,” said 37-year-old Junie Sorsano who has been in the UAE for the past seven years and is currently employed at a Dubai-based travel agency.
Sorsano sends the money to provide financial support to his child and pay debts.
“I am only a bedspacer. For transportation, I have an unli NOL card good for three months. For my food, I buy from the fish market where everything is cheaper compared to supermarket prices.
“I don’t go shopping unless necessary and I buy only from thrift shops. I don’t go out with friends often,” he said.
2. We almost have no savings.
The TFT survey shows only around 13% send money for retirement savings, dollar account or business purposes.
“Minsan nakakagulat din na nakakapagpadala ako ng mas malaking amount kesa sa naiiwan sakin dito pero ganun naman talaga,” said 30-year-old Crystal Medrano, single mom and working as an executive assistant in Dubai for the past four years.
Making Dh5,000 a month, Medrano said she sends up to Dh3,000 on paydays for her son and family.
“Mas mabuti na sila ay hindi nagkukulang sa Pinas. Magaling naman ako magbudget ng finances ko at may ipon naman din ako kaya kung ma-short man di ako umuutang,” Medrano said.
3.We take care of you. Who will take care of us?
As Franz Angeles, Money Talks UAE Certified Associate Financial Planner, put it: “The main reason a person goes abroad for work is, of course, to provide a better life for his or her family,” said Angeles.
“However,” she stressed, “sending everything without even setting aside for retirement life and, worse, even depriving himself or herself of a reasonable amount for subsistence is not good both for the OF and hism or her family.”
Angeles explained: “Say, they send everything, and their family spends it all, when the OF goes back home for good (usually old and not capable of working) without any savings, he or she will be dependent on his or her family. Paano kung magkasakit? Saan sya kukuha ng pangpagamot? He or she becomes a burden to the family.” Angeles, who has been providing counselling to OFs for the past several years, said she has come across numerous cases of migrant Filipinos who have never realized the importance of saving money for themselves.
4 Sana binabayaran nga nila ang mga payables ko
Eighteen percent of the respondents said they send money home for their payables like debts, retirement savings and upkeeps for their start-up businesses.
However, there have been a lot of cases where OFs end up knowing that their dues for the likes of Pag-Ibig, SSS and PhilHealth were not paid. “Di naman ako nag-aalala pero kasama sa prayers ko sa St. Mary’s na sana’y ibinibayad nga nila yung padala ko,” said Anton Karuso, company driver who lives in Sharjah.
He said he has been regularly sending up to Dh3,000 for a condo unit he has entrusted to a relative.
5. I am not a bank!
The TFT survey shows Filipinos spend more than once a month to their loved ones.
And TFT interviews with remittance centers reveal that Pinoys have the highest remittance frequency, some sending five times a month, remitting as low as Dh200 per transaction.
“A lot of my relatives do ask for help,” says Ana Margarita Espineli, a PR executive in Dubai.
“When I was new in the UAE, I would usually find a way to send whenever they ask for assistance. But now, I have learned to say no.”
Every payday, Espineli exclaims: “Tag gutom na naman! (Starvation starts today).”
She added: “Sometimes I want to tell my relatives, ‘Your niece is not a bank.’”
To avoid falling into this seemingly never-ending cycle, financial experts advise that OFs should set aside 10 per cent for charity which may include help for relatives, 20% for savings and investments, and 70% for the usual monthly expenses.