Top 7 BAD Money Habits of OFW Families

Today, there are over 2.5 Million Filipinos working abroad, and last year’s remittances reached a record $ 25.8 Billion. Yes, that’s in Dollars! However, according to a recent survey, only 3 of 10 Filipinos, who recieve remittances, set aside money for saving.

As OFWs continue to provide for their families’ needs, they have unknowingly cultivated a cultural default – Many families of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have relied mainly on remittances sent to them by their family member working abroad. This usually becomes a source of the many bad money habits of many OFW families. While many OFWs have successfully molded  their families to become financially responsible, there are still many who fail to do so.

Anyways, if you are supported by a loved one abroad and you are currently practicing any of these 7 bad money habits, you should make it a goal to stop them. Find out what they are and how to break them here.

Related Post: Top 7 Reasons Why OFWs Come Home Broke

#1 Many Don’t Attempt to Look for Another Source of Income.

Many families tend to rely solely on remittances, refusing to find their own source of income. Sometimes, even the family members quit their job because they think they can now afford a one-income household. It’s also uncommon to hear that OFWs even support their extended family members.

Break the Habit: Work on a second source of sustainable income. Remember the main reason why your loved one works abroad – to have a higher income to help build a better financial path for your family. With that, in gratitude, help boost the remittances sent home by your OFW family member. Either look for work or start a business on the side. Start looking for business ventures today while you can still depend on your income to help you get back on your feet. The sad reality is that many OFWs want to come home, but refuse to do so because they don’t have enough savings or no other means of income. The point is to make more money, so that your OFW family can to come back home to stay in the Philippines.

#2 Many Extravagantly Spend.

An OFW’s family’s life is like a peso bonanza. Every month, remittances arrive in the savings account or via a remmittance office. Many get overwhelmed with the amount in the bank account that they start upgrading their lifestyles. They buy the latest models of gadgets. They frequently eat out or go out to the shopping mall. Some may not be into branded stuff, but they opt to buy on shopping mall sales too frequently mostly on stuff they don’t really need. But, despite receiving huge remittances many OFW families still feel about never having enough. Sad but true – Many OFW’s would go abroad to provide for their family not knowing at the end of the day they are providing for majority of wants rather than needs.

Break the Habit: Be mindful of where you spend the remittances. Don’t let your loved one’s sacrifices of working abroad go to waste. Experiencing lavish things is amazing, but do not upgrade your lifestyle if your income increases, save instead. Do priority purchasing while still saving money. Assess the needs versus wants. First, set aside money as your savings, then spend on your needs and lastly, spend on things that you love. Plan what you’re going to spend money on and when to shell out.

#3 Many Overly Expect that OFWs are Very Rich & Generous.

There is a common misconception that all OFWs earn a lot of money and are therefore rich and generous. So, it uncommon for many OFWs to receive multiple requests from relatives or family members like “Pwede mo bang i-sponsor your birthday ni Nico?”, “Pwedeng humingi ng pera pang-downpayment sa bagong auto ni Aileen?” or Pwedeng humingi ng pambili ng laptop? Nag-aral po ako mabuti.” Making such multiple money requests like these from the OFW just makes them feel like a human ATM and that they are an endless source of cash. This scenario is actually a common occurrence among OFWs. And in as much they don’t want to sound ungrateful to their families and relatives back home, they just send whatever money they have left.

Break the Habit: You have to realize that your OFW loved one is probably going difficulties and you have to give value to the sacrifices they make to give you a comfortable life here in the Philippines. While it is true that an OFW earns more, their living expenses tend to be more as well. So, take note that they will have their own needs to contend with abroad. Actively learn how to allocate their hard-earned money. Work on a monthly budget with your family. If it’s something you don’t necessary and not part of your budget, just say NO and don’t spend on it.

#4 Many Do Not Save.

… Especially for Emergencies

Many OFW families do not save especially for their emergency fund. Though OFWs are able to send millions of pesos in remittances in the span of those years, majority of OFW families all had to show for were the latest models of TV, appliances, clothes, etc. In case the OFW is temporarily ‘forced’ to go back home for an indefinite period, the family won’t be able to financially survive the period when the OFW is not working. It then becomes a rude awakening that is too painful knowing that you could’ve saved all those money instead of spending copious amounts of money right and left.

Break the Habit: As soon as your OFW member sends their remittance, your immediate action must be to set aside money for your savings. This should be a priority even if you have debts and bills to pay. It is very important to really allot a portion of the remittances received in savings because at one’s life as OFW is temporary, it is better to save while one is still earning good abroad. First, save for and maintain an emergency fund, ideally 6 months’ worth of monthly expenses. Place it in a separate savings account that cannot be touched at all. This is very important, since emergencies are unexpected and typically can consume all your savings in one day (ouch that hurts!).

#5 Many Are Not Adequately Protected or Insured.

If you ask several OFW families to choose between insurance (life insurance, health insurance, etc) and the latest model of iPhone or Samsung Galaxy phone – their answer would be likely to be the gadgets. Many view insurance as an additional expense. They find other things worth paying for, like buying a new mobile phone or new car, a condominium, etc because these are things that can be used immediately. Many Filipinos still have this “bahala na” attitude. So in terms of planning for the future, they never prepare for what will happen tomorrow and only concern of what is happening today.

Break the Habit: Many Filipinos face life uncertainties every day of our lives and insurance (besides prayer) prepares us to these uncertainties – insurance being not limited to life insurance, but as well as health insurance and property insurance as well. While your OFW member is still abroad working, it is important to avail of at least both life insurance and health insurance. Life insurance is one unique product that provides instant cash at the time one needs it – when an insured contingency like death or disability occurs. So whenever possible, get insurance for your OFW family member when he/she comes home to the Philippnes. Insurance need not to be expensive. I would suggest getting term life insurance because it is the most affordable type of life insurance, which only gives pure death benefit for a fixed number of years. Also, don’t forget to avail of health insurance. (Remember, PhilHealth coverage is very limited.) The purpose of health insurance is to help you pay for medical care. It protects you and your family financially in the event of an unexpected serious illness or injury that could be very expensive.

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#6 Many Still Borrow Money or Get Into Debts.

Despite the higher income coming into the OFW family, many still borrow money. Why? Some borrow because of emergency/medical cases. But, usually it is to keep up with their now ‘elevated’ lifestyle. Either they buy stuff they need with their credit cards. OR they borrowing big for occassions (birthdays, baptisms, fiesta, graduations, anniversaries and more). Basically, grinding themselves into debt. They feel much confident to borrow money or charge their purchases to their credit cards because of the mindset that their OFW family member, will be able to send them enough money to pay the lenders eventually. And if they aren’t able to pay their lenders on time, they end up borrowing money to pay another debt.

Break the Habit: Live within your means. You know you need to stay away from bad debt like credit cards, right? Don’t make it a habit to borrow money. As for the yearly celebrations, is it really worth being living like a king for a day and then suffering like a beggar the rest of the year? Spend only what you can afford!

Lastly, Many OFW Families have these 6 Habits because…

#7 Many Lack Financial Education.

YES! Very, Very True! Majority of Filipinos never knew the basics of handling money wisely and intelligently like what Fil- Chinese millionaires are doing. Other than the ‘piggy bank’ strategy, we never learned anything about personal finance in school like the importance of saving, thrift values and basic investing. Once the remittances arrive, they don’t know how to handle them properly to the point that the money is gone as soon as they come in. They make the the wrong priorities in where to spend the money. And before they know it, they acquire bad debts. Not knowing anything about legitimate investments in the Philippines, makes them easy targets for opportunistic individuals and scams.

Break the Habit: Being financially ignorant is fatal. Nowadays, there is now a FREE wealth of resources on financial education available in the internet. Educate yourselves on where and how to put your OFWs hard earned money. There are a lot of active forums and seminars that are out there for you to check out; it is just a matter of making time to do so. You can learn everything as basic as opening a savings account, earning more money to investing your money to make it grow. (Check Out My SHOP page for some of my book recommendations.) You can also read the tips and advice of some Filipino financial gurus which are often for free. OR You can also register and join the FREE Financial Planning Seminars being offered.




An important conversation that needs to happen is between the OFW and their family. They need to discuss how and who receives support, to set clear boundaries between you and your OFW family member will need to provide. Keep in mind that the budget must allow for a higher savings portion than expenses. This way, your OFW member can look forward to working for a few years and then going back home comfortably. Remember, these money tips is to make sure that all the sacrifices, the chance and times spent away from your loved ones and your hard-earned money will give you better future to look forward to .

Need help on planning your finances well?

PS. Money Girl PH is an advocate of Financial Literacy, teaching people around the world how to achieve their financial goals. Our mission is to help each and every family to achieve financial independence and away from financial insecurity during this challenging time. Attend our FREE Personal Finance Seminar. Register here.

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photo credit: What’s the future for my son? via photopin (license)

One thought on “Top 7 BAD Money Habits of OFW Families

  1. Being an OFW myself, i see these bad habits being comitted by my fellow workers and their families here abroad, though i am like that also before, i slowly learning to acquire better and good habits. Thanks for this great post

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