OFW life is not easy. Yes, you are earning in dollars and more than what you can earn in the Philippines, but with bigger earnings come bigger responsibilities. You need to make sure that your family is financially secure and at the same time, will have food on the table. You take the burden of paying everything – from bills to tuition fee and even medical expenses of your relatives.
Apparently, it doesn’t end there. There will always be a sense of longing and guilt feeling, which you compensate by sending a balikbayan box with love. Surely you mean well, but one of the reasons why many OFWs don’t have enough savings is because they spend up to the last centavo buying something for the family. Worse, this “something” might not even last for at least a year.
You can change that without compromising the “need” to send balikbayan box back home. Here are questions you need to ask yourself first before shopping for the box’s contents:
Do they need this?
Everybody needs clothes and shoes, but do you really have to buy these items frequently? The shoes you bought for your son six months ago still fits so there’s no need to buy one. Plus, you spouse doesn’t need bottles of perfume good for the next three years.
Unless you plan to turn this into a buy-and-sell business, evaluate the need for such item first before buying. Otherwise, you could be wasting your hard-earned money for something your family won’t use anyway. Quality over quantity.
Is it part of the budget?
There is a reason why budgeting it important. It allows you to allocate your money to make sure you will last and at the same time, make you conscious of your spending habits because you can easily see which areas you can cut down.
Before shopping, look into your budget first to see if it can accommodate another expense. If not, don’t purchase an item – yet – even if it’s on sale.
Can I afford this item?
Do you know why many Filipinos are living in debt? There are many reasons, but one of them is relying heavily on credit such as credit card or loan. There is nothing wrong with applying for a loan if you use it properly and for the right reasons like putting up your own small business. But if you apply for the purpose of buying a new phone or laptop for your kids, then you need to re-think your priorities and avoid buying items you can’t afford to pay in cash.
The best thing you can do is to walk away. That’s fine. It only means your money deserve something better and more worthwhile. Better yet, save up for it.
Is this the best deal?
There are stores that carry the same item but for a different price. Before you buy anything that is really necessary, make sure to shop around and compare prices per store. Some stores charge higher and the goal is the get the best deal (or cheapest price) for bigger savings. There are stores that offer free add-ons or discounts, which you should take advantage of as well.
It doesn’t matter if one store is more expensive by $2. That’s still $2-worth of savings and you shouldn’t say no to that.
How is the quality of the item?
The biggest department store in your place is on sale, so you decided to check it out. Sure, you get clothes and shoes for half the price, but how is the quality? Are you willing to pay for rubber shoes with 80 percent price tag but the soles look like rats chewed on them?
There’s nothing wrong with buying on discounts, but make sure to check the quality of the items first. You want to save, but if saving involves compromised items, then it’s best to leave them on the rack and wait for better opportunities.
At the end of the day, don’t feel pressured to shop for your family as often as you can, especially if it means compromising your savings. More than the material things, what your family wants is your safety and good health, so focus on that.