Always Be Prepared

Recent events regarding another Pinoy acquaintance of ours who is in big trouble reminded me that living abroad isn’t always easy. Without the support of family and friends you left behind in the Philippines, you have to be prepared to face any problem alone.

Back in the Philippines, I was never prepared for anything. I lived a fairly happy-go-lucky (bahala na) lifestyle. I had a good job there that paid well. I have my family and life-long friends to ask help from in case of emergencies.

When I moved to Australia, that was no longer the case. I stopped being so happy-go-lucky. I had to be more responsible. I shouldn’t rely on the help of others (all though I hope I could). I had to be more self-reliant.

With that, I’ve listed below some of the lessons I learned about making myself more self-reliant:

  • Save money for emergencies. Living abroad, you don’t have your family to help you out financially. They probably couldn’t afford to help you anyway. When you find yourself out of a job, you’ll definitely need those saved funds. It would be a good idea to set up a second bank account (with the same bank as your first) that you wouldn’t touch at all unless it’s an emergency. If the second bank account comes with an ATM card, leave the card at home so that you wouldn’t be tempted to withdraw from the second bank account. Then, set it up so that a set amount of money from your first bank account gets transferred to your second account automatically every month. Over time, you will save lots of money and you wouldn’t even realize it.
  • Get a credit card. If you run out of cash and you desperately need money, you can always use the credit card to get you by. If you find yourself unemployed and you don’t have savings, you can probably survive a month or two with one credit card with a $5k spending limit. I recommend you get a Virgin Credit Card because it doesn’t have an annual fee. So you won’t be paying anything if you aren’t using it but it will be there in case you ever need it. Now, I know that there are people who absolutely hate having credit cards because they feel that they’d end up buying more than what they can really spend. You’ll just have to learn to not use credit cards unless it’s necessary.
  • Prioritize your spending. Be sure to have the essentials paid off first whenever you get paid your salary. If you are renting an apartment, paying for the rent must be your number one priority. After all, where would you live if you get kicked out by your landlord? Pay the bills next. Where would you be if you don’t have electricity or water in your apartment? If you really cannot afford to pay all of your bills, you should at least pay your rent, electricity and water. The other bills could probably wait. All though this sounds so common-sense stuff but, believe me, I know a couple of people already who didn’t seem to know this.
  • When unemployed for too long, don’t be too picky. It might happen that you get “retrenched” and find yourself jobless. If you have prepared for this eventuality, then you can probably remain living comfortably for a month or so and you would still have the luxury to be choosy of the jobs you’re applying for. But when you are running out of resources, it is very important that you get any job just so that you would continue to earn some money. I hear that they really need fruit-pickers in country Victoria that they are willing to hire people from China to do the fruit picking. I could probably do that if it means getting food on the table at the end of the day. The problem is, there are people with so much pride that they aren’t willing to get a job that seems beneath them even if it means getting kicked out from their own homes.
  • Have enough money for a plane ticket. In case that every thing really isn’t going your way, you should have at least an exit strategy. That is, you should always have enough money to buy yourself a plane ticket for the Philippines. I couldn’t imagine myself destitute and stuck in a foreign land. At the very least, I’d like to be able to return to my family and friends in the Philippines even if I was penniless.

I know of a person who knew that he was going to have a financial problem in the near future yet he continued to live beyond his means. He continued to go out on night-outs with friends. He didn’t pay the rent. He didn’t sell his unnecessary stuff on eBay or the Trading Post. He had no savings. And in the end when he got retrenched, he had no money and ran risk of being kicked out of his own home. If he had more foresight, he wouldn’t be in the mess he is in now. Sure, he will probably still be jobless right now, but at least he wouldn’t be so desperate for money that he had to borrow from all of his new found “friends” (us) just so he can pay off his current obligations.

So, if you have plans of moving to another country, remember to be like a boy scout and always be prepared.

Published in: on June 17, 2005 at 12:31 pm  Comments (1)  

One CommentLeave a comment

  1. syempre naman po`~~:)

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