Financial literacy for OFWs

Janice, an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) regularly sends an average of P 30,000.00 to P 40,000.00 (Almost a $1,000.00 U.S) a month to support her husband and two children. After several years of working abroad she comes home expecting a loving husband and two healthy children to greet her. Instead she finds her household in disarray, her children not in school for more than a year; her husband living with another woman, no food in the refrigerator, debts piled up at the neighborhood store, no money in the bank and worst their house is about to be foreclosed by the bank.

The scenario may be exaggerated and may even be fictional but this kind of situation is happening to thousands of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). The Philippines is one of the largest foreign workers sending country. Statistics show that 1 out of 10 Filipinos are working abroad. Sadly, some OFWs and their families end up worse then what they were before financially then when they left to work abroad.

A study made by the Ateneo de Manila University’s Economic Policy Reform and Advocacy (EPRA), showed that there are quite a number of OFW families that depend solely on the earnings of the overseas worker. These families only focus on present consumption, without thinking about savings and insurance resulting to financial misery throwing away years of hard earned money.

Becoming more aware of this problem the Philippine Government and several nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are campaigning hard to increase financial literacy among overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their family members.

Of worthy notice are the efforts spearheaded by Ateneo de Manila University’s Economic Policy Reform and Advocacy (EPRA). EPRA has come up with a financial management primer entitled “Pagpahalaga sa Perang Kinita: A Pinoy Guide to Managing Finances,” in order to increase the financial literacy of OFWs. OFWs are also encouraged to answer a five-question survey to gauge their “financial literacy.”


The primer consists of 13 parts, and covers the basics of financial literacy. It starts with the basics of financial planning, budgeting, protection through insurance, and progresses to more complicated topics on investments. The material is well written and can easily be understood by most Filipinos. The principles found in the financial management primer are not just for Overseas Filipino workers, they can be used by anybody who is interested in learning financial management.

If you are interested to view the primer go to the OFW Journalism Consortium website. This site also contains several helpful topics relevant to Overseas Filipino Workers.

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7 Responses to Financial literacy for OFWs

  1. Pingback: Financial Management » Blog Archive » Basics On Financial Management:

  2. Iris says:

    Wow! Your story is horrific. Financial management knowledge is a must for everone.

    The U.S. also have a problem. Majority of Americans are unable to manage their money wisely. By living beyond their means – expensive luxury cars worth $50K, big houses worth $500K or more, designer clothes, and multiple vacations – all these for an average annual income of $43,000. That’s why personal debts have risen drastically. For instance, the total U.S. consumer debt in 2007 reached $2.46 trillion (not including mortgage debt). Basically, Americans may portray a wealthy lifestyle, but most everyone is buried in debt. Many experts are suggesting adding a financial management class to grade students to be able to train our children to be financially savvy at an early age.

    For more statistics, check out:

  3. zigfred says:

    Iris: It’s a sad fictional tale but what’s more sad is that thousands of Filipinos are experiency it day to day. I grieve for the lack of financial literacy in this country.

    With your inputs I guess it’s not a local problem but a global one since people are experiencing it in the U.S. I strongly agree that financial management should be taught in all levels of education. We often hear of highly educated men and women with successful careers but are however living in the turbelent nightmare of unpaid debts. I was almost a victim of the debt quicksand about 3 years ago. Luckily, I got out.

    Thanks for the site. This will come in handy as reference in future posts.

  4. zigfred says:

    Iris: Hey, I got a great idea, do you want to guest post in this blog ? Just send me your article and I will put it up.

    Nice to see like minded people around. Thanks for the comments.

  5. Iris says:

    I will be honored to guest post for your blog. I have a break from school coming up (May – June), which should provide me enough time to write a quality article.

  6. Me'an Olan says:

    Hi. I am currently working on a Financial Literay Module as part of the Action Plans of our Foundation. EPRA’s primer, which i happen to have right now, (Pinoy’s Guide to Managing Finaces) is one of the reference materials that i find very handy and very applicable. The fictional story about Janice is nothing new; we see similar dramas in movies, TV, magazines, etc. But reading or hearing such story still aghasts me. And i always end up asking myself, “why, oh why?!” and then a surge of anger and dismay would crawl up to my spine. Honestly, i’m also thinking of working abroad (yah, i know, i’m a typical; same old OFW-aspirant-Filipino). But i’m also having seconds thoughts. I don’t want to be a part of the EPRA statistics — those OFWs whose families focus only on present consumption and end up with more debts. I want to work abroad because i want to have sufficient savings decent enough for my daughter’s future. I want to have a house of my own and other properties which would make me see the fruits of all my labor. I know that i might not be able to obtain a zero-debt status (well, after all, as what the elders say “sa laki ng utang ng bansa natin, ang bawat Pilipino hindi pa ipinapanganak may utang na!”), but i am targeting a well-lived life. Not just for myself, but for my family, specially for my daughter.

    I will visit the OFW Journalism Consortium website and other websites presented herein. I know i’d still find other pertinent data that will help me finish my module.

    Thank you very much and more power!

  7. zigfred says:

    me’an Olan: Hi there ! THanks for visiting my blog. I’d appreciate a copy of the financial literary module that you are working on. Hope you can send it to me so that I can help promote it in my blog. More power to you as well !!!

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