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Planning Your “Abroad” Life: Reassessment of Purpose and Goals.

If you happen to read our previous article, you most likely have a certain dilemma by now. Or, some of you might already decided to push through with your plans. However, there are still important things that you have to consider.


1. Family’s Current and Future Situation.

“I’m doing this for my family”. You will often hear this from the OFWs when you ask them why they are working abroad. Heroic and humbling right? But the downside of this is, they only get to solve the financial problems of the family. After going away, other problems may tend to occur. Kids emotional detachment, infidelity, financial demands are frequent and higher, etc.

When someone plans to go abroad, the first thing that he/she considers is the welfare of his/her family. When you are a mom with 3 kids and separated from your husband, you may want to think about how your children could cope up with life without parents. Most of us will rely on our mothers or siblings. Make sure your children are in better hands before going away. Set rules and plan out everything. Do not promise anything to anyone before you go. You can never know what will be your life abroad.

If you’re married and your kids will be left alone with your spouse, make sure you have clear goals and plans for them. If your reason of going away is for you to petition them later on then you have to prepare the necessary documents as early as possible.

2. Current Financial Status.

There has been a lot of complaints against Manpower Agencies who collects outrageous amount of money for placement fees. But, it has been the bureaucracy in our country for many years. Filipinos who are desperate to get out of their misery are willing to pay such amount of money (though it’s illegal) just to have that chance to go abroad and alleviate the life of their family.

Can you pay the placement fee? If you need to mortgage your house and lot and sell other properties for your placement fee, you might want to reassess your plans. Bank loans requires an on-time monthly payment with not less than 6% interest per annum.

Do you plan to sell your “palayan” which generates income for the family? Do you plan to sell your father’s “kalabaw” to have enough money for the placement fee? Do you think you can buy it back in due time?

Do you plan to apply for personal loan from private individuals? This can even make things worse. These people collects no less than 5% interest per month not to mention others who asks for 10% per month and add back to your principal loan the months that you failed to pay.

3. Current Job or Source of Income.

If you have a decent job, enjoying it and you are contented with your life back home, then you really need to reconsider the idea of going away.

Most of us are living in paycheque to paycheque life in the Philippines. Work-Salary-PayBills-Work. It’s frustrating and depressing right? You cannot tuck away a single cent for rainy days. But, there are some of us who can at least save up, especially those who are single without any financial obligations. Sometimes I feel so sad seeing some friends travelling and enjoying their lives back home with their families. I wonder why I, who’s earning 3 times more than them, cannot enjoy such things. And to top it all, I’ve never heard any of them complaining about their life and most of them has no plans of going abroad.

4. Current Status of the Country of Destination.

Everyone’s aware that there are unrests in practically everywhere in the world right now. Most of our Kababayans go for jobs in the Middle East because most of the jobs there are for skilled workers such as plumbers, construction workers, waiters, hotel workers, etc. But the demands for domestic helpers are also high in this part of the world. Most of the victims of crime and abuse are from these countries but many of our women are taking the risk because they believe that being a maid is the only thing they can do. Besides, placement fees for Middle East jobs are often cheaper and sometimes it’s even in salary deduction.

To those who are planning to go to Europe should also consider the fact that the Economic situation of these countries is in great turmoil as of the moment. Besides, the laws in these countries are morally changing from time to time so you might want to plan out carefully the timeline of your application.

As early as April 2015, Canada also changed their law and sent home about 15,000 temporary workers including those who doesn’t have their permanent residency yet.

Israel also have their downside when it comes to security. There are threats from North to South literally every month if not every week. Although, in 9 years of living here, the worst thing I’ve ever encountered was the non-stop warning sirens because of rocket attacks and the shivering of my 88 year old employer.

It is important to research and collect as many information as you can. It is also helpful to asks those people who are already living in that country. Don’t just rely on hearsay especially the convincing words of your Manpower Agency. It is important for you to know the real situation of the country before you decide to go.

5. Job Offer/Working Condition.

Filipinos are known to be very adaptable. We are like chameleons who can virtually change our colours for us to blend well with our environment. We can practically do everything if we put our hearts and mind to it. But, it is also important to know your skills/abilities. What you can and what you cannot.

For example, you are an office girl, sitting on a chair facing your computer in an air-conditioned office all day. Then you decided to go to Israel to become a caregiver because the salary is higher. Caregivers deals with poop and all. Do you think you can handle lifting, shouting, feeding, bathing, sleepless nights, cleaning and poop wiping? If you can, then GO!

But, if you have doubts and you think you cannot handle such working conditions, then it’s time for you to sit down and think about it. There are also conferences and trainings where you can enlist yourself and have a broader insight about the job. By then, you can finally decide whether you’ll accept it or not.

If your reason of accepting the job is more on gaining experiences for a higher possible position or migration to another country then you must endure the hardships. It will be beneficial for you in the end.

6. Offered Salary/Income.

After deliberating on the Pros and Cons of going abroad, the only question that will hover above your decision making is “HOW MUCH MONEY YOU WILL EARN” in going abroad. If you are going to spend $10,000 USD for the placement fee, make sure the offered salary can compensate. Calculate if you must. Mortgage, personal loans, interests, remittances, cost of living and other financial obligations. You also have to have an outline of your payments and have at least an idea about how many years it could possibly take for you to earn back the amount you will spend.

When you already decide to push through with it, then it is time for you to Plan your “Abroad” Life from the very start.


1. Know Your Purpose.

Knowing your purpose (and stick to it) is one of the things that will help you get through all the hardships. It’s not easy to jump on the plane without clear purpose and just rely on “bahala na system”. This is the reason why some OFWs weren't able to survive the life away from home. They ended up breaching their contracts and suffers consequences. Some of them even ended up going home after a few months.

2. Set Goals.

Planning and deciding when to go home for good is easy if you set up goals and focus on it. Setting up your Goals starts with how much money you will spend and how much money you will earn. The first few months (or years) focuses on paying debts. Do not set this aside for anything superficial. Restrain yourself from buying material things which are not necessary. Focus on your financial obligations.

After paying your debts, it’s time for you to invest on something with expanding value or something that could be an asset and not a liability. Prioritise your kid’s education more than anything. Save up for that house and lot and save more for your pension. You can set up a goal of 5-7 years of living away. In this span of time, you will be able to get what you want when you focus and stick to it. After this you can finally go back to your family.

As they say, when you’re going abroad to work and your noting down your goals, the first thing on the list should be “TO GO HOME”.

3. Migration to Another Country.

If you don’t plan on staying in one place then grab your chance to gain every speck of experience you can get from your working years in that particular country. Secure recommendation papers or employment certificate from your employers. These and your personal experience will be your ticket to migrate to another country where you can possibly live and work permanently. If there’s a chance, you can enrol yourself in language studies or short courses that may help you enhance your skills and at the same time, a significant addition to your resume.

If you are planning to bring your spouse and children with you, then try to secure all their documents as early as possible. One thing that delays applications are documents with inaccuracies and it takes months or even years to correct those mistakes. You also have to take note that it’s not easy for people from third world countries to apply for a job abroad. We, Filipinos have bad reputations when it comes to foreign migration. That’s the reason why most of the countries are very rigid when it comes to documentation and identification.

4. Anticipate Unfortunate Circumstances.

You know your purpose, you have your goal and you are set to reach it according to your time table but, unfortunate event happened. Frustrating right? Well, going abroad is not always a bed of roses. There are circumstances that you cannot control and you have to anticipate this from day one.

My approach in life is simple planning with tons of options. I don’t usually settle for Plan A or Plan B. I always have Plan A to Z as much as possible. One example is your working condition. Sometimes, your employer is just plain unsuitable for you. You can’t do the job and you have to resign. In some cases, you’ll get terminated. It will take you some time to find another job and you’ll likely lose a couple of weeks of salary. This can affect the time table you set up for yourself.

It is also possible to encounter issues back home. Someone is ill and needs to be in the hospital. Your husband or kid got into an accident. The kids needs money for school activities, unexpected school fees and other things or worse, you yourself got sick. These can also affect your initial plans or goals.

It is very important to anticipate these possibilities for you to be able to know what to do when it arrived. But, whatever happens, do not wander off from your goals. No matter how tough the situation is, you have to face it and prioritise what’s important. When all is settled, you have to push yourself back to your goals and stick to it.

5. Do Not Count Your Chickens Before They’re Hatched.

Everyone’s familiar with this idiomatic expression but most of us are doing the opposite. Goal driven people are very passionate about their “wants” and often forget what they really “need”.

Take for example the people who went into business and failed. One reason why it didn’t work out was because they were already counting their profits before they even started to sell something. If this is your mentality, you’ll most likely spend the money which you still don’t have in your hands. Credit cards, loans, capricious habits like shopping for senseless things because you’re thinking you’ll have money by the end of the month. These are the things that could start a downfall before you even begin to climb up.

As they say, nothing is perpetual in this world. The only constant thing in this world is not change but the word constant itself.

6. Save, Save and Save.

Salary - Spend - Save. Is this right?

No Sir, it’s NOT RIGHT. It should be Salary - Save - Spend.

According to Warren Buffet, “Do Not Save what is Left after Spending but Spend what is left after Saving”. No wonder he’s one of the richest man in the world.

One of the common mistakes of Overseas Foreign Workers is overspending. It’s not because you are earning ten times the amount you were earning before, you already have the right to spend it all in nonsensical things. Some of the OFWs went home empty handed because they mishandled their income for years.

They also tend to spoil their family or relatives back home. House renovations, out of town trips, gadgets, unlimited shoppings and a lot more. Sometimes, if your family became too dependent, there’s no one to blame but you.

OFWs also tend to become pretentious themselves. Because they are earning a lot, they also overspend for their extravagance just to show the world how rich they are now. Not knowing that they are already starting to slip away from their priorities and purpose. Worse thing is, some of them even resort to cash advance and credit cards and at the end, they’ll end up broke with loads of loans and credits to pay.

Learn how to live within your means (or even less). If you buy things you don’t need, you’ll end up selling the things you need. Learn how to save at least 50% of what you are earning. If that’s too difficult to do because of your enormous financial obligations at the moment then try to save even just 5% of your salary. What’s important is you tuck away something. Those cents you set aside will eventually pile up and you’ll have money for rainy days. Having a quota or budget for a certain month or year is also helpful. Record your expenses and if you already reached your quota, then stop yourself from spending more.

I remember a Filipina I met a long time ago. I was about 6 months here in Israel and I met her at the park. We talked about me being new here in Israel and how little I know about this country. I could not forget what she told me that time. She said, “This country has many enemies around it. You’ll never know what will be tomorrow. Save as much as you can even just 10 or 20 dollars every time you receive your salary. Consider it as dead money. Whatever happens, do not spend it or even think about touching it.”

It’s not wrong to reward yourself from time to time. But always go back to the core; the very reason why you went abroad; your purpose and your goals. When your mind is focused on these things, it is impossible for you to drift away from the right path to succeed.


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