Thousands of expats contribute to communities in their country of origin by sending money home to their families. But finding a balance between supporting loved ones at home, maintaining a decent standard of living, and saving for the future can be a tricky balance.
Remittance flows for families overseas can be an economic lifeline in many cases but sending cash can leave the workers themselves struggling to save.
There is hope though, according to the Philippines Statistics Authority there are about 2.3 million overseas Filipino workers, with 97% of these on contracts. About two million overseas Filipino workers sent cash remittances to their families between April and September 2017 with 37% of these workers also saving money at the same time.
The figures show that it’s possible to both send money home and save money for the future concurrently. Many overseas Filipino workers look to buy a property or build a house back in the Philippines. This might seem ambitious, but it can be achievable for many.
Five steps to saving money
If you’re looking to send cash home and save money too for that big purchase (like a house), here are five savings tips to help you achieve your goals:
- Step one: Set up a savings account. Shop around and open a savings account that pays a competitive rate of interest. Once you’ve done that, set up a standing order from your current account to your savings account for the day after pay day – make saving a priority not an afterthought. Don’t withdraw money from your savings account unless it’s an emergency.
- Step two: Set your weekly spending limits and how much you want to save. It’s much easier to save if you set a goal to work towards. What are you saving for – a house deposit, a car or a trip back home? If you’re saving for a house, work out how much deposit you need. How long will it take you to save this amount? How much will your mortgage payments be?
- Step three: Resisting that impulse purchase. Try and resist impulse purchases: Before you buy something, ask yourself “do I really need this?” If you do, investigate whether you can buy the item cheaper elsewhere. Plan your meals before you go grocery shopping, so you won’t end up throwing away unused food.
- Step four: Use technology. Whatever you need to buy, shopping around online can help you find the cheapest deal. Cashback websites can save you money on almost everything you buy online – check out Topcashback.co.uk or Quidco.com. Apps such as You Need A Budget and GoodBudget can help you budget.
- Step five: Look for freebies. If you need to furnish a property, check out Gumtree or local community Facebook groups to see if anyone is giving things away. Charity shops are another cheap option – you can pick up some awesome bargains.
Send money safely and efficiently
If you send money home to your family, it’s important to do so as cheaply as possible. You need to look at the exchange rate (for example, how many Philippine pesos you get for £1) as well as any fees charged. Exchange rates change every day and these market fluctuations can make a huge difference while sending money to a different country. Get into the habit of checking exchange rates on a regular basis. Transfer the money when you think the exchange rate is higher and will fetch maximum value for you. When your home currency depreciates, you are bound to get better exchange rates.
Whether you use a money transfer app, send in store or online, to accurately compare different global money transfer services you need to calculate exactly how much money the recipient will receive once all fees and charges have been taken into account.
Bear in mind that with many money transfers services, it’s cheaper to send larger lump sums rather smaller regular amounts. So, you might want to send money every month or two, rather than weekly.
It’s also important to use a money transfer channel that not only offers good value but is secure too. Xpress Money has recently partnered with Filremit, a well-established remittance company that has been serving the Filipino overseas community for the past decade. With this new partnership, customers can send money to any bank in the Philippines. The money will be credited in real-time to the recipient’s bank account, which can be withdrawn from a branch or via an ATM. This means that whoever you’re sending money to saves on money and time! All you would need to do is to visit an Xpress Money agent (there are 350 agents in the UK) to carry out the transaction.
With the right approach, some discipline, and finding the right money transfer service, it’s possible to save for a house, a car, or anything you wish for while also helping your loved ones back home. Good luck!