With the holidays rolling in, we’ll be seeing a lot of our beloved ones coming back to the Philippines from all over the world. That means celebrations, reunions, local tours, the much-awaited Balikbayan boxes with imported pasalubongs – a Filipino tradition of bringing home gifts – and sometimes their “bonggang pa-treat!”
But behind the lavish life we imagine them to have, these Filipino Balikbayans share insider accounts on how they live a frugal and practical lifestyle. If you are planning to work abroad, live abroad or migrate abroad, here are shared saving tips that come in handy… “It’s very Pinoy…” tho, one would say.
1) “Save a portion of your salary into your bank account in the Philippines so you won’t touch it…” -Kesh, 22, Dubai
Kesh has been working in a company in Dubai since graduating from the University of Santo Tomas last April 2014. When asked how she budgets her finances, here’s an advice she gives to aspiring OFWs:
“Sahod…Binudget ko na kung saan pupunta. Tapos the rest, nilalagay ko sa bank ko sa Pinas para hindi ko magalaw (Salary, I already budget where to spend it. The rest, I deposit it into my bank account in the Philippines so I don’t have to touch it).”
Setting a portion of her income into her bank account in the Philippines proved to be financially healthy. According to her, you can’t withdraw money and do over the counter withdrawals from your bank account’s ATM because it is only accessible in the Philippines.
When asked what keeps her motivated to save, here’s her inspiring words of wisdom:
“Iniisip ko nandito ako para makapag ipon, bawat gimik na iniiwasan ko, iniisip ko that I’m closer to going home kapag makatipid ako. At kahit gusto kong bumili, wala akong pambili dahil nasa peso account ko na. Every month, nagseset lang ako ng reward for myself like 1 gamit or 2 damit ganoon. Nagseset ako once a month ng time ko sa labas para sa sarili ko. Never talaga ako lumalabas. Pag off ko, bahay lang ako (I was thinking, I’m here to earn and save, every gimick I avoid, I thought that I’m closer to going home when I save. Even I really want to buy, I just can’t spend because it’s [income] in my peso account already. Every month, I set a reward fr myself like a thing or 2 clothes. I also set a time for myself once a month. Tho, I never go out. On my off days, I just stay at home.”
2) “Be responsible with your credit cards…” – Vinia, 48, Hawaii
Vinia is a mother of one and a school teacher in the Philippines. She’s never new to visiting lands far away from home as she, her son and her in laws would spend vacations abroad as well. Although, when her only son – then a high school freshman -migrated to California, she also decided to migrate to Hawaii where most of her relatives live. Migrating to Hawaii proved the then 45 year old that the cost of living is challenging. Here’s what she has to say about credit cards.
“A credit card’s a liability, not a luxury.”
3) “Huwag mag coconvert sa grocery store kasi it’s depressing. New country, new kalakaran (Don’t ever convert [prices] at the grocery store because it’s depressing. New country, new rules).” -Gianna, 23, Canada
A year after her college graduation, Gianna along with her siblings and dad, migrated to Canada where her mom and most of her relatives live. As a yuppie, she shared some funny traits she noticed from most Filipinos living abroad:
“Converting the money here using the Philippine currency is such a Pinoy thing…(laughs) Kasi sometimes, cookies at 3.99 dollars and that’s almost Php 150 diyan [Philippines], and we think how many cookies mabibili dyan kapag dyan nalang, but hell, you need cookies to live. Lol! (Converting money here using the Philippine currency is such a Pinoy thing…(laughs) Because sometimes, cookies at 3.99 dollars is almost 150 Philippines pesos, and we think how many cookies can you buy with that amount in the Philippines, but hell, you need cookies to live.“
Gianna claimed that whenever you are fresh off the boat- a term to describe immigrants that have arrived from a foreign nation and have not yet assimilated into the host nation’s culture, language, and behavior, but still continue with their ethnic ideas and practices.- it is a common thing for Filipinos to think twice about expenses. It helps in saving she said.
4) “Buy your jackets at the end of the winter season…” – Danielle, 22, Canada
Winter, spring, summer or fall… unlike the Philippines, other countries abroad has four beautiful seasons (jealous much). When buying winter jackets, Danielle, a 22 year old living in Canada has some practical tips to spare:
“Like your love life, seasons change. So buy your winter jackets at the end of the winter season. Kasi sale, so, you’ll have nicer jackets the coming winter (Like your love life, seasons change. So buy your winter jackets at the end of the winter season. Because it’s SALE, so you’ll have nicer jackets the coming winter.”
5) “Buy chocolates after Valentines for balikbayan box.” – Aubrey, 21, Canada
Oh, how we love the chocolates our loved ones bring home from abroad! Those delectable imported mouth-watering sweets are bought on a bulk if you want to know an insider truth. That’s how Aubrey confessed when asked about buying “pasalubongs” for people back in the Philippines. Here’s a top secret confession she spilled:
“Buy chocolates after Valentines for balikbayan box. You should see the shops on that time of the year. Kasi (Because) chocolates expire in the next ten months and most stack of Ferreros with 8 contents in a box costs 2 dollars, which is Php 70!!!”
Filipinos are indeed sale hoarders, that’s how Aubrey sees it. Here’s what she has to say as well:
“Alam mo bang andaming pumupuntang Pinoy sa groceries kapag ganun. Ubos. Ang pangit lang most chocolates may Valentine design, but it’s chocolate! Who would mind? (Don’t you know a lot of Filipinos go to the groceries during sale periods. Nothing’s left. The ugly thing tho is that most chocolates have Valentine design, but it’s chocolate! Who would mind?)“
6) “Withdraw ka ng tamang pera lang for a day for the whole 15 days before next sweldo. Tapos iwan mo cards mo. (Withdraw enough money in a day for the whole 15 days before you next pay day. Then leave your cards [at home].” – Gab, 25, Canada
During pay day, people have different financial habits; others save, others give and others spend a lot! Gabrielle, a 25 year old who works and lives in Canada said withdrawing money is not any different from withdrawing money back in the Philippines, there are charges!
As a practical tip, here’s his fair share of how she withdraws her money:
“Withdraw ka ng tamang pera lang for a day for the whole 15 days before next sweldo. Tapos iwan mo cards mo. Magwithdraw ka din sa bank mo, most e free. Kapag sa iba may charge! Especially kapag malls and recreational parks. 2-4 dollars ang charge. Sayang! (laughs). (Withdraw enough money in a day for the whole 15 days before you next pay day. Then leave your cards [at home]. Withdraw from your banks, most are free of charge. Other banks give charges! Especially at malls and recreational parks. The charge costs 2-4 dollars, what a waste!”
7) “Kasali din sa financial management ang bawal magkasakit kase nga mahal ang gamot here…”- Karyl, 23, Singapore
We all know you can’t afford to get sick. That’s why it’s very important to stay as healthy as you can. After all, health is wealth. Karyl, a yuppie in Singapore is not different from financially wise Filipinos all over the world, here’s her take on her :
“Of course, kasali din sa financial management ang bawal magkasakit kase nga mahal ang gamot here and check ups and everything associated with the medical world. Especially kung OFW ka, or walang health assistance or insurance. Plus malungkot naman talaga (Of course, include in your financial management to avoid getting sick because meds and check ups and everything associated with the medical world are expensive. Especially as an OFW, or when you don’t have health assistance or insurance”
Living in a different culture, experience another custom and assimilating into a new way of life is exciting, you can’t deny that feeling. So, for our beloved ones living and working away from their home country, embrace them with all your love when they come home, because beyond their beautiful posted photos on social media and lovely stories, still it’s not as easy as we think.
Speaking about practicality, if you want to get an affordable credit, you can always pawn items at PawnHero for extra cash. Just visit the website to learn how. Plus, to pawn ANYTIME, ANYWHERE, just download the PawnHero app into your phones. Oh, if you want to go shopping on a budget, try checking out Marketplace.ph and find authentic pre-loved items on a bargain.
Jhon Kenneth Delos Reyes
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