“Mayaman ka na daw.” This is a common opening line that a Filipino expat will hear from home.
When kababayans or friends back home hear that you’re now living abroad, many immediately assume that you have a much better life, more opportunities and that you’re “financially rich.”
Many people don’t see your sacrifices, your frugal way of living to match the high cost of living in first world countries and enormous amount of taxes that you have to pay. Others have a misconception that because you are living abroad, married to a “white guy”, money is overflowing from your purse and you can dole out to those who does not want to live within their budget and has found a way to squeeze it out from their family living abroad, as if money just falls from the sky.
Helping out during emergencies such as accident, grave illness and death, reaching out for those who are truly in need and in dire poverty comes from a generous heart. Extending help to people who need them is a good Filipino trait when done in moderation, whenever you are capable to give and not in anticipation of anything in return.
However, there are some unwanted financial situations which should be dealt with honest and pragmatic consideration:
1. When friends put a proxy for you in a set of 12 or more godparents in a commercialized Baptism or wedding, leaving you no option to decline because you don’t want to hurt your friend/relative
2. When people pretend to have grave needs then pressure you as if you owe them something even if you don’t. They have false expectations that you will help them regularly even if they are not your responsibility
3. When solicitation from former schoolmates, town or provincial events comes regularly to your mail box.
4. When they think of you as a bread winner of a financially-strapped family that continues to produce babies year after year.
5. When high maintenance people continuously nag you by using social networks, e-mails, sms and overseas call because they know you will have a hard time saying no.
It hurts that sometimes, we are considered as automated imported teller machine where people only remember when they need us. However we can minimize the dole outs and change the impression that we are willing milking cows.
Here are some tips:
– Budget well by living below one’s monthly income and save every month, no matter how little that might be.
– Help yourself first. This is not selfishness but having the right priority being self-sufficient, resourceful, industrious and self-reliant. You would not be capable to help others if you yourself have financial difficulties.
– Help to emancipate, support or provide economic opportunity like a business venture so as not to encourage dependancy.
– Avoid loans or installment goods.
– Avoid bad vices, don’t be an accessory to the vices of others.
– Avoid impulse buying: focus on necessity not luxury.
– Go for quality goods not brands nor quantity.
– Be a wise consumer, don’t confuse shopping and entertainment.
– Apply daily energy saving tips.
– Be a wise buyer, refrain from showing off.
– Travel frugally.
– Be happy with your personal achievements. Excessive comparison to unaffordable life styles will only cause unhappiness instead of fulfillment.
– Appreciate the help of others but respect their untold struggle, the loneliness and homesickness that they have to face everyday and the challenge of being on their own, away from their loved-ones.
– Don’t live life to impress others, this surely hacks your peace of mind and security.
Helping should not always be equated with money. It can be through spiritual and moral support of having a true, faithful and caring friend/relative, where you both accept and respect each other’s personal way of thriving in life.
Ana Angelica van Doorn, also known by her pen name Angelica Hopes, is a Filipina writer and poet living in the Netherlands. Her book Rhythm of a Heart, Music of a Soul can be purchased from Amazon or directly from her website www.angelicahopes.com