How Can You Support Your Family While Saving Up for Yourself?

  So you’ve finally landed in Australia and are about to embark on a new journey that would not only secure your own future, but that of your family’s as well. After all, you did promise to support them financially, especially now that you have the chance to earn so much more than you ever have.   But where do you draw the line?   A lot of skilled migrants make the huge mistake of sending almost everything they have back home, leaving little for themselves. What happens when this becomes a habit?  
  • Some family members can become overly dependent on the money you send.

  • Some family members may have a hard time budgeting money because they know that somebody will always send extra money when they run low on funds.

  • You will have a hard time budgeting whatever’s left of your money.

  • You will end up with nothing saved for your future plans.

Sadly, this is a scenario that sometimes happens those who go abroad. The moment they decide to come back home, they have little to no money to invest, leaving them in the same position that they were in before they left.  
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Image Credit: Ken Teegardin

How do you save yourself from falling into the same trap?   Here are a few tips that would help you support your family financially while taking care of your retirement at the same time:  
    • Help yourself first.

The tight knit nature or the Filipino family and the concept of ‘utang na loob’ has become one common excuse on why a lot of Filipinos who work and live abroad always end up prioritizing their family’s needs over their own.

 

But when you think about it, how can you help your own family in the long term if you will be unable to sustain your own finances while you’re working abroad?

 

Here’s a great metaphor that finance expert Randell Tiongson uses.

 

When you’re on a plane, the pre-flight guidelines include instructions on what to do when the oxygen masks drop. Do you remember what the first rule is? Yes! It’s to put on your own mask first before helping other people with theirs.

 
Flight attendant with oxygen mask How Can You Support Your Family While Saving Up for Yourself?

Image Credit: Swan Waters

And when you think about it, it does make sense, doesn’t it? You reach out to someone and them out first, you’ll end up fainting and running out of air ahead of the pack. Put on your own mask first, and you’ll have plenty of air to help a few people around you.

 

What if you get sick? What if the tables turn and you find yourself out of a job?

 

Would you have enough to get yourself through it? What happens to all the people you support when you can’t even support yourself?

 

Think about it.

 
    • Study your family’s financial situation.

This is never an easy task to do, because everybody will always say that they need your help, especially when it comes to finances. But a man’s got to do what he’s got to do. You just can’t help others while helping yourself at the same time if you are unsure of how much help they actually need.

 

Start with the expenses. Make a priority list. Do they need help with the utility bills? Your siblings’ tuition fees?

 

Look at other sources of money. Are you the only one working? Are any of the family members working as well? Are they in charge of any of the expenses?

 

Make sure that you do not let your family think that just because you’re working abroad, then you’ll also be paying for everything from now on. That should never be the case. Always make your family understand that there are also boundaries for the help you extend. Explain what your future plans are.

 

If there’s any other family member that also works, think about how much their salary is and how far they can go in terms of paying for some of the essentials around the house. This way, you do not overextend yourself and end up leaving nothing for your own needs.

 
    • Talk about everybody else’s goals.

You can’t just think about your own goals, you have to make sure that the rest of the family also has dreams of their own. Remember that the moment a human being loses something to strive for, they become stagnant and they remain exactly where they are forever. And where they are is at home, depending on the money you regularly send to get them through day after day.

 

Talk to your parents. Talk to your siblings. What are their long-term plans? Are your parents hoping to have a business of their own so that they wouldn’t have to work as employees forever? Do your siblings have careers to prepare for?

 
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Image Credit: Mark Ramsay

Encourage them and let them know that they’re doing the right thing in going after what they want in life. Be the voice that tells them that there’s something more to life than just sitting at home and watching telenovelas, that they can do so much with their time that would not only make the family more financially stable, but the future generations to come as well.

 
    • Guide them in making wise financial decisions.

You can’t just send money and never ask them where it’s going. Always be on top of things and ask them important questions like, “Have the bills been paid?” or “Why does bunso have a new phone?”

 

When you neglect to give guidance on how they should be using the money, you also give them the permission to use the money any way they want. This would then trigger a vicious cycle of them running out of money for the important things, and you sending them even more money than you initially planned.

 

Make them learn how to become responsible for their own financial decisions as well. If one of your siblings used up his allowance money to go partying with his friends, then let him find a way to survive until the next schedule for him to receive his allowance. Sending him money every time he runs out of it will not help him; it will only make him financially irresponsible, something that would be harder to control the older he gets.

 
    • Insure yourself.

Always have a long-term investment that would keep you secure should you find yourself unable to work one day. There are life insurance plans that allow you not only to save up for your retirement, but also covers your costs in case you become seriously ill or meet a serious accident.

 

You can also check out different HMOs in case you feel concerned about your long-term health. This way, you wouldn’t have to worry about needing a huge amount of money each time you get sick.

  These tips aren’t going to be easy to follow. Especially for a lot of traditional Filipino families, the belief that you are obligated to somehow give back to the family that has reared you and take care of you is often blown way out of proportion.   But you also have to think about yourself. One day, you’re going to want to start your own family, too. And when that time comes, you would definitely want to be ready to take the leap with them.   Special thanks to Aaron Roberts for the main image.
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