5 Money Mistakes Seafarers Make (and What to Do to Reverse It!)

 The employment for seafarers is endless. Since 2000, the marine industry was flourishing, thereby providing tons of jobs for many Filipinos. Nonetheless, being a seafarer is difficult. You have to leave your family to secure a better future while spending a lot of time in the middle of the ocean. Still, all the sacrifices are worth it. You get to earn more than what you can earn here and give your family a more convenient life.

Don’t get too excited. Living the dream of a good life may keep your family happy, but this could send you to bankruptcy, especially if you are not too careful with your money. The good news is you can do something to avoid the bankrupt path by avoiding these money mistakes many seafarers make:

1) Splurging on material things

This is a common mistake committed not just by seafarers but almost all Filipinos.

Now that you are a seafarer, you have the privilege of earning twice or thrice than what you can earn here and that makes you excited. The tips you get from customers on the ship and bonuses, if you’re lucky, can make you buy the latest gadgets or the newest shoes for your family. Plus, it is cheaper overseas than buying those items in the Philippines, so you figured why not.

It’s okay if you buy once in a while. On the other hand, splurging on material things on a regular habit, say sending them a package every month, is too much. Yes, it will keep your family happy, but what about your savings?

What to do: Create a budget list, which indicates items you really need. Sure, you want the best for your family, but by best, this means giving them something that will last a lifetime. Never let material things be your family’s definition of happiness or a gauge on whether you love them or not.

2) Salary dedicated to remittance

You want your family to experience the good life and that’s fine. To make sure they live comfortably, you send all (or at least a big chunk of) your salary to your family back home. Worse, you may even carry the burden of shouldering even your extended family’s needs.

(Read: How to say NO to your extended family’s requests)

What to do: Stick to a budget. It’s okay to send money back home, but don’t send everything. Allot money for your savings as well because you need something for the rainy days. As to your extended family’s requests, don’t easily give in to their demands. Let them stand on their own feet because the more you say yes, the more they will take advantage.

3) No budget 

You got your monthly salary and you’re happy. The challenge now is what to do with it. Many seafarers and OFWs in general don’t know how to budget. As a result, many end up using their entire salary and leaving little to nothing for the most important expenses such as investment or savings.

What to do: Make a budget starting with your monthly salary on top (salary must be in net amount, which means salary after all the deductions). Then list all your daily expenses, regardless of the amount, such as transportation fees, food, rent, and monthly remittances. See how much more you have left then allocate the remaining amount for savings and other types of investment. Stick to it to make budgeting more effective.

4) Not saving for retirement

You can’t be a seafarer forever. There might also be instances when your employment is terminated early due to unforeseen circumstances. Unfortunately, many Filipino seafarers are focusing on the now and fails to look at retirement plans.

What to do: Start thinking about future plans, including your retirement. Save as much as you can and look for options on how to grow your money. We also shared six tips on how to help you save for retirement, which you can read here.

5) The “Pasikat” mentality

Many Filipinos think that if one member of the family is working abroad, then the family must be living a good life. As a result, you feel pressured to live up to that expectation, which explains why you always throw a party or treat your friends and family if you are back home. Sadly, there is a danger in that and before you know it, you are using your monthly salary splurging on things that won’t last long, just to keep up with that expectation.

What to do: Ditch the pasikat mentality and start focusing on your family’s future. It doesn’t matter if you don’t own the latest gadget or if your son is not wearing the newest Nike rubber shoes. As long as you invest your money in the right ventures, you will be able to grow them and finally, you get to enjoy things you sacrificed before.

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