Updated: December 7, 2022
Christmas is a time for family. And for most Overseas Filipino Workers, it is their once-a-year chance to go home and spend quality time with their loved ones.
Unfortunately, coming home for Christmas usually results to overspending for OFWs. However, the good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way.
Below are eight tips for OFWs who are going on vacation to the Philippines for the holidays. I hope these can help you control your Christmas spending, and still have a happy and meaningful time with your family.
1. Set a total budget.
Determine how much you can afford and will spend in total for the Christmas season. Set this BEFORE you fly back home.
This budget should cover all the gifts you plan to give. Plus the cost of parties and celebrations that you’re expected to sponsor.
And lastly, don’t forget the expenses you’ll incur for the trip. This includes your plane tickets and the daily budget for personal and household expenses while in the Philippines.
Once you have your total budget, then it’s all up to your financial discipline. So I hope you will stick to it.
2. Create a list, and assign a monetary value for gifts.
You already have your budget for gifts. Now, it’s time to allocate that among your family and friends.
It’s better if you already have an idea what to give, because it will be easier to manage the budget. If not, then be sure to assign a fair value.
Last week, a friend shared to me his budget. P2,000 for his wife, P1,000 each for his children, P500 each for his parents and in-laws, P400 each for his siblings and close friends, and P300 each for his godchildren.
You can do something similar.
3. Make your visit a private affair.
It’s tempting to announce on social media that you’re back in the Philippines. But maybe it’s better to just privately tell your family and close friends instead.
Doing so can help you avoid unnecessary expenses such as invitations to sponsor parties, visits from distant relatives, and even cash solicitations from various groups you were once part of.
Moreover, you can also hold off on posting photos of pasalubong, balikbayan boxes, expensive gadgets, new appliances, and other things you bought. No need to show them off online.
4. Never take out a loan.
I’ve met a few people who took out personal loans to fund their holiday expenses. I believe that this is a big mistake.
These cash sources should be reserved for financial emergencies. Never take out a loan so you can buy an expensive gift or throw a big Christmas party.
5. Manage your personal finance.
Make your trip home more than just a vacation. Do a financial inventory, update your accounts, and look for opportunities while you’re in the Philippines.
It’s a good time to review and manage your assets and liabilities, to update your insurance policies, to open investment accounts, and to attend seminars. Read more: 9 Important Money Tasks You Should Do in December
6. Have an itinerary.
It’s always better to have an itinerary for your visit, rather than just planning your schedule while on-the-go. Doing so will will make sure that you’ll have time to do everything that you need to do.
More importantly, this will give you a valid reason to decline invitations to unimportant events or parties, and avoid unnecessary spending.
7. Don’t be pressured to spend.
OFWs are often teased by relatives and friends to buy them gifts or sponsor celebrations. If it’s not within your budget, then learn to say “No”.
You cannot control what other people will think, so just let them think what they want. It is your hard earned money, so choose to spend it on what truly matters to you.
Remember that you’re home for your family. You’re here to please not the opinion of your neighbors, distant relatives, or anyone else; but of those you love.
8. Plan with your family.
The goal is for you to finally come back home. And that’s not just a personal goal, but a goal that the whole family should have.
With that said, it is important to use this time to personally talk with your family. To tell them that you consider yourselves a team, and you need their help in reaching this goal.
I’ve met OFWs who shared with me that doing this has significantly made their families more financially responsible with the remittances they send.
Indeed, when you involve your spouse and children in planning for the future, you’ll be surprised at how willing they’ll be at making their own sacrifices, just to bring you back home.
Do you have any more financial tips for OFWs coming home this Christmas season? Kindly share them in the comments section. Thanks.
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Mr Fitz, I truly appreciate these kinds of articles. Your writing of this kind really help me to better understand the culture I have “married.” While I will never face all the issues of a returning Filipino OFW, my beautiful bride and I do get a “sample” from time to time. Not long ago and due to a mix-up in my 13A visa status, I had to make one finl visa run out of the country. My wife converted tickets for a future trip we planned and we enjoyed a full week of “awesomeness” in Cambodia. I actually slept a full day and only fired up a laptop to check some open trades on the second night. By the end of the week and a few trading days later, I was overjoyed to have earned enough to fully recover the additional cost of this unplanned trip. Well, it was time to come home to the Philippines, there was a huge van (full of family members) waiting and off we went. First stop was the duty free shops. I honestly fail to see what is the big deal but after a nice lunch, we toured around. Apparently, this is just part of what you do when returning home? My mind was fixed on the idea, that it was a great trip, we travelled in safety and returned home to loved ones. I need nothing more that that. I am, however, beginning to understand more and more of the expectations and feeling of those around me each day.