Kuwentong OFW: Before Leaving PH

Warning: Long post ahead.

As mentioned in my previous post, my niece is now an official OFW. Since I learned about her plan, I’ve encouraged her to prepare for other things aside from her employment, mostly finance related.

Learn about Personal Finance

We grew up not knowing anything about personal finance. I just came across it myself years after I started working. So I wanted my niece to start earlier than me in this aspect. I gave her my book of Colayco’s Pera Mo Palaguhin mo and encouraged her to read it because it will help her with her finances. My thought then was that if she was successful with her application, she may be overwhelmed with how much money she may be earning (it’s not a big amount but significant enough as compared to their current income) and may not be able to take care of it. Thankfully, she listened and I think she was able to read the entire book. We also had one on one sessions where I shared with her my limited knowledge on personal finance. Pinabaon ko na rin sa kanya yung books. I’ve also asked her to sign up in Dropbox so that I can send her some more eBooks, which reminds me…I still haven’t done this hahaha! Plus, read all the personal finance blogs.

Set her goals

I asked her to think of her and her partner’s goals so that she won’t waste this chance of earning more by spending aimlessly. I also encouraged her to save up for their emergency fund, her daughter’s college education, a little for their retirement and settle her debts. Her other goal is to buy a piece of land and build their home in the province. I also told her to consider saving up for a business or anything that can become her source of income once she comes back home for good. She should put a timeline as to when she would work as an OFW, and that it should not be until her retirement, unless opportunity knocks once more after he contract and it’s favorable for her and her family.

Prepare a budget and stick to it

I believe that this is the most important tool to prepare when you’re starting your journey to financial independence. So, based on her goals, we drafted a budget which hopefully will work. We’ve identified which part/s of the budget will be sacrificed/adjusted in case there are expenses that we failed to factor in. I’m looking forward to her first salary because I want to know how that budget would work and if she’s able to commit to it. Mas atat pa ata ako kaysa sa kanya hahhaha! I told her to take advantage of the fact that all she needed to send to her family monthly is for her daughter’s expenses so she has more extra cash to save for her goals. If her allowance permits, I encouraged her to explore her place of employment though.

Open a savings account and a trust account

I asked her to check with her agency which banks were advisable given her place of employment. It was BPI and PNB. I was initially rooting for BPI so I asked her to go to one of the branches and inquire. The teller told her it was possible and that she just needs to present some documents. However, when she went back to try opening an account, she was denied and was advised to just open a BPInoy account online. Not sure why she got denied. I can’t remember if she told me. Maybe she did but I was so frustrated with BPI that time hahaha! Anyway, she still tried online but with my previous experience with BPI applying online for a regular savings account, I had to wait for weeks before someone got back to me. So, bye BPI. I asked her to go to PNB but there was no more time so PNB was also out of the picture that fast. I was already panicking at that point. She only had June 11 as her free day to open an account as June 12 was a holiday and her tentative flight was June 14. AND SHE MUST HAVE A BANK ACCOUNT BEFORE SHE LEAVES. I don’t want her sending money via remittance centers (I don’t have anything against them, it’s not just my first choice as much as possible) and keeping the rest with her, literally.

So, next option was BDO, which happens to be where my accounts are. With a quick search, I learned that they have Asenso Kabayan account which only requires Php 100 for opening an account. Alleluia! Hahaha! I was not ready to shell out 4-6k for a regular savings account. They also have remittance partners in my niece’s place of employment so she shouldn’t have a hard time depositing later on. We brought all of her documents just to be sure. Unfortunately, the agency still has her passport and her only other ID is a postal ID, with address which the tellers may think that it’s in outer space because it was their first time to hear of it. Anyway, we showed all documents and just let the teller choose which ones she needs to photocopy. I think she got her PDOS certification, NBI clearance, Postal ID and AWAKE ID. We did the usual routine…filled out lengthy forms, answered inquiries and tada! Done with 2 bank accounts. Why 2? One is for her partner’s use while she holds the other one. I was actually eyeing for 3 so that she has another account for her long term goals but the teller said management might question it. Ok, 2 is better than nothing. Enrollment in Online Banking is a must as well.

Next batch of papers was for her trust account. Yes, the reason why I was pushing her to open a bank account was so she can also open a trust account hahaha! Buti na lang masunurin ang bata. So, for her daughter’s college fund, we placed it in a UITF equity fund via BDO’s EIP and their retirement goes to a Balanced fund, also via EIP. Why not both equities? I wish, however, for easier tracking and segregation of funds, we had no choice but to go with those options.

Lastly, authorization form so that I can pick up her UITF COPs on her behalf.

After 3 long hours, we were done. I was so hungry but beyond HAPPY. I even congratulated her for finally having a bank account hehehe.

Side kwento. We opened at my branch of account. Since there was a time in the past that I visited the bank regularly, I became familiar with all the tellers. Unfortunately, the teller assigned to us was new (at least at that branch). After a while though, Ms. Joan (the teller who I’ve talked to in the past) came out. It looks like she was just on break. Anyway, by some fate, it was she who was suddenly attending to us, which was a blessing because first, I had an inkling that my niece’s provincial address might be an issue even though we indicated my address as her present address. Thankfully, she just verified with me and how we are related (we don’t have the same family name since it’s her mom who is my sister) and how long she’s been staying in Manila. I just told her the truth that she just stayed with me during her application. Second, I don’t really know how strict they are in accepting EIP applications. Miss Joan just confirmed whether my niece already knows how EIP works and I told her I have given her a little orientation and the risks that go with it. She accepted that and proceeded in processing the accounts. Lesson learned — it pays to visit your bank regularly hahaha!

Set expectations with her family

Here comes the tricky part hahaha! Well I just asked her to as much as possible just focus on her own family and refrain from giving money on a regular basis to her parents and siblings. While it may seem harsh, her parents are still abled and strong enough to work so it shouldn’t be her obligation to feed them now that she’ll be earning a little more. I’m not sure how this will settle with my sister and my brother-in-law once they know that it was I who advised my niece to do that hehehe. But oh well, we should unlearn some things if we want to move forward. BUT we know that asking for money won’t be avoided in the future so part of her budget is an allowance for her parents, to be given ONLY when they ask for it and IF their need is VALID.

Learn the wonders of the Internet

I bought her a smartphone as a going away gift (at first I was considering of letting her pay for it but then I wanted her to start saving right away so sige na nga, gift na) and have her installed Skype, Viber and other applications she will need.

I taught her how to use BDO’s online banking. We’ve added each other’s account in our list of third party account in case there is a need to use that in the future. Since she has 2 accounts, the game plan is for her to remit to her account, and just transfer her family’s allowance in the other account via online banking. I just hope that remittance charges won’t be that high. She’s lucky her employer allowed her access to their WiFi hehehe.

Taught her how to load online. She has an OWF sim by Smart but it can only be loaded from here. No loading stations there so next best thing to do? Load online hehehe. Mahina naman kasi ang internet sa bundok so for now, texts and calls lang to her family.

Unlearn some things

Don’t get pressured by having to send a balikbayan box. While it is not bad, I personally believe that saving for their future is much better in the long run than material things. Pinagbaon ko na nga sya ng at least 3 months’ supply of toiletries so that she doesn’t need to spend on these tapos biglang may balikbayan box? Hahaha!

Don’t get pressured to buy pasalubong for the whole barangay. Hassle magbitbit. A few chocolates for the immediate family (like Cadburry for me 😛 ) is fine but not for the whole barangay utang na loob at labas. Good thing a cousin’s husband is not into this so I set him as example.

Live simply, focus on her goals and her savings should remain top secret between herself and her partner at ako na rin bilang alam ko ang password! Nyahaha!

Others

Learn some skills if she has spare time.
Learn the language and culture of where she is now.
Travel or at least explore the place but make sure she doesn’t screw up her budget.

By the way, hindi na ata domestic helper ang tawag sa kanila. Parang nakita kong OFW for household services na. But I’m not entirely sure. Di ko nabusisi mabuti documents nya dahil ngaragan na.

Ok, enough for now. Malapit nang maging nobela.

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