“Penge Pamasko” – How to Handle Relatives and Friends Who Ask for Christmas

After two or so years working overseas, you were finally allowed to go home, even just for the holidays. Are you excited?

Sure you do.

Apparently, going home could take a toll on your wallet. To begin with, people think of OFWs or balikbayans as “big time.” You’re earning in dollars and surely, you are earning more than what majority of your relatives earn even if combined. Because of this, it’s not surprising when people ask you for “pamasko.” Plus, it’s a cultural thing. It is common for Filipino families to share their blessings to everyone, including friends, relatives, and inaanaks.

Don’t worry. You can avoid this. In fact, you can still share your blessings without draining everything in your wallet – and leaving debt behind. Here’s how you can do it:

Tip No. 1: Be honest about your situation. 

Yes, you earn in dollars, but you are not a millionaire – yet. There are tons of expenses you need to pay like your monthly amortization for the house and car, your kids’ or siblings’ tuition fee, Emergency Fund, and the list goes on.

That being said, be honest about your situation. Even if you earn more than what you can earn here, working overseas is not easy. Most of the time, you have to juggle two or more jobs just to make ends meet. Lower their expectations about you and make sure they know how hard your life is back there.

Tip No. 2: Buy items in bulk. 

Let’s say you have extra cash to spare and you insist on giving something to people back home, even just small items. If you prefer that, then we suggest you buy items in bulk.

Duty free stores sell items like chocolates and other food items in big portions. You can also find novelty items like ref magnets or key chains in affordable prices – and you can even try to ask for a discount when you buy in bulk. Souvenir shops that sell items like shirts or caps are also a good place to buy because it gives your relatives and friends an idea about what it’s like in the country you are working. You can portions those goods and give those items away in case someone asks for pasalubong when you get back.

These items may be cheap, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

Tip No. 3: It’s okay to say no. 

Sometimes, all it takes is this two-letter word: NO.

Surely, you want to share your blessings to other people. Still, are you willing to sacrifice your financial future just to please other people? Definitely not.

Don’t give in to all their demands just because you owe them utang na loob. Again, this is why it is important that you make them understand your situation and how hard it is to earn money. Be honest about how much you’re earning and the gazillion expenses you have to say.

Consequently, don’t make promises such as buying them gadgets or sending them money when you get back overseas just to appease them. It is not your obligation and responsibility to give. Worry about your family first.

Tip No. 4: Spend time with people who matter to you most. 

Christmas season is that time of the year where parties are everywhere. Sure, you missed your relatives and friends, but if they are those type who will jokingly force you to pay the bill since you’re earning in dollars, then it is best to stay away from them. It is best to spend time and make the most out of it with people who truly matter to you most – your family.

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