First of all, congratulations on your new job, and that fat paycheck that comes along with it.
But before you leave the country, and make your millions abroad as an OFW, please bring with you these 50 pieces of advice.
Some of them you’ll recognize from our talk over coffee yesterday, but a good number are additional tips that I hope you’ll find useful as you begin a new chapter in your life and career.
Before you leave
1. Have a haircut, visit a dentist and get a facial, manicure and pedicure. These services are expensive abroad.
2. Learn how to do your own laundry and iron clothes.
3. Have a list of important contact numbers – family members, friends, your employer, colleagues, and emergency numbers.
4. Open a bank account where you can remit your personal savings, untouchable by your family.
5. Open a UITF or mutual fund account that will allow you to invest while you’re abroad.
6. Talk to your family and manage their expectations on how much you’ll send every month.
7. Know your options on how you’ll remit money to your family, learn their rates and fees.
9. Teach your family how to use Skype or Google Hangouts.
10. Buy a durable organizer or briefcase where you can keep all your important documents.
11. Bring mementos of your loved ones.
12. Eat your favorite Filipino dishes and chirchirya before you leave.
During your first three months
13. Call your family as soon as you get settled in. Post a status on Facebook to say you arrived safe and sound.
14. Learn the bus and train routes and their schedule.
15. Look for the nearest and most affordable market where you can buy groceries.
16. Look for the Filipino store in the neighborhood.
17. Find and network with the local OFW community.
18. Ask where you can get an affordable haircut.
19. Learn how to speak and write in the local language fluently. Don’t just learn the basics.
20. Open a savings account in a local bank.
21. Always pay yourself first. Immediately save 30% of your income, yes that’s 30%.
22. Put 20% of that savings into your personal bank account in the Philippines, the other 10% in a local savings bank.
23. Save up for an emergency fund equal to your monthly living expenses plus your monthly remittance to your family, multiplied by six.
24. Know your cashflow, track your expenses and determine how much your cost of living will be.
25. Even if you can afford it, don’t send more than what your family regularly receives from you. Stick to a fixed amount and follow it.
26. Look for a route where you can jog daily. Exercise.
27. Discover good but inexpensive dining places.
28. Learn how to cook your own food. Youtube has a lot of tutorial videos.
29. Don’t drink too much. Avoid starting a new vice.
30. Stop comparing your new salary to your old one. It’s useless to convert it to Philippine Pesos in your head because your cost of living is more expensive there anyway.
31. Stay updated with the news and what’s happening in the Philippines.
32. Stay safe and follow the rules and culture of the country. Don’t do anything illegal.
During your fourth month and beyond
33. Work hard, but always get enough rest and sleep.
34. Read more books, watch less DVDs.
35. Buy yourself a good laptop and quality speakers, not a big-screen LCD TV and a home entertainment system.
36. Buy only what’s essential for you to live comfortably.
37. Call and talk to your family (over Skype or Google Hangout) at least once a week, at a set time and day.
38. Look for low-risk investments that are available to you there as an OFW.
39. Don’t just lend money to other OFWs, help them financially if you must, but only with an amount you can afford to lose.
40. Avoid borrowing money from fellow OFWs, you don’t want to owe them.
41. Get involved in some productive local activities. Be a volunteer if you can.
42. Learn a team sport and play with the local community.
43. Go out and travel on weekends and experience the local culture.
44. Post photos of you working on social networks, rather than your new gadgets or weekend travels. Don’t give your family, friends and relatives the impression that you’re just having fun there.
45. Read OFW blogs and maybe start your own blog, it’s a great therapy for homesickness, plus you can earn additional income.
46. When your family asks for more money, don’t – unless it’s a matter of life or death. Never give in to the guilt and practice tough love.
47. Tell your family to open a time deposit account where they should save a portion of what you remit to them.
48. Encourage your family to look for good real estate investments such as rental properties. Delay buying your dream house, do that when you’re finally back home.
49. Save and invest so you can come back home in five years or less and start your own business in the Philippines.
50. Reserved for your advice… add it as a comment below.