SINGAPORE – Despite experiencing a steady economic growth and increase on its domestic spend, the Filipinos still struggle to save for their future. According to a recent study by Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas, 86% of Filipinos do not have bank accounts.

Based on the survey, the majority said that the main reason for not getting a bank account is lack of money. Other reasons cited: no belief on savings in the bank, proximity of bank branches to their home, high service charges, and unreasonable maintaining minimum balance.

However, it does not fully reflect the financial behavior of Filipinos. How about the Overseas Filipino Workers? Do they have the same attitude towards savings?

Seeking greener pasture

Filipinos leave the country to work abroad with almost the same reason-a better life for their families. We are talking about at least double the pay compared to what we can earn back home. While many OFWs have better chances to have improved their economic status after long years of working abroad, many are still unable to uplift their lives when they returned home. What could possibly be the reason? The Filipino Group (TFG ) gathered insights to know more about this issue. This is the first part of the series on the “Reasons why OFWs returned home and still poor “. TFG talked to some OFWs working in different parts of the world for a better understanding of the situation. The OFWs also provide solutions to these problems confronting our compatriots abroad.

Overspending is one of the main reasons why OFWs remain poor, despite working for many years.

READ ALSO: Are you financially ready to come home? 7 things OFWs should prepare for


When a person earns higher, his/her expenses go up too. With the improved purchasing capacity, generally, a worker rewards herself/himself for a job well-done. During payday, most workers-not just the OFWs, would go to a fancy restaurant, buy new shoes or clothes and see a movie all in one go.

Jellicoe Mendoza, an executive secretary in KSA, agrees. He shares that OFWs in KSA fall into promotions in various malls.

“OFWs are confused about what we want, rather than what we need. We buy things just to be “in”, he says.

According to Romel Rivera Garganera, senior financial services consultant in Singapore, overspending is brought about by impulsive buying of something that is generally not considered a need.

“Rewarding oneself is good, but not too much to the extent of maxing out the credit limits,” Garganera explains.

Garganera adds that these habits may include instant gratification, peer pressure, and the “show-off” attitude.

“Generally, OFWs feel good when they are praised or whenever they get the latest gadgets or branded goods. Consequently, spending money on luxurious travels and the likes can leave you broke. They tend to forget the real value of their hard-earned money,” Garganera emphasizes.


With the immediate indulgence and cloud nine moments that these excessive spends give, OFWs tend to forget the main reason for living the country – to save and to have a better future. In the end, they might go home with just old clothes and shoes and probably sickness from their vices.

When asked about the possible outcome if these bad habits continue, Garganera said, “People with bad habits over their finances will lead them to unending debts. It is quite not pleasant to say that they may look rich at an instance but the truth is, their bank account may actually be zero. Logically speaking, they will be financially ill.”

Mendoza, on the other hand, warned OFWs that if this practice continues, then most probably most Filipino expats who will retire wouldn’t be able to save for their future and then realize that they’ve wasted their years of hard work abroad without establishing anything during their prime.

The next part of the series will cover how OFWs can avoid overspending. Stay tuned!