10 Ways to Waste Your Hard Earned OFW Salary
It’s a constant issue that many OFWs continue to struggle even though they enjoy an increase in salary working abroad. On the one hand, they often have to send money back home to their family who enjoy a higher standard of living; on the other hand, there is a lot of temptation to spend excess cash such as a pay increase or a bonus on the luxurious offers that are unneeded.

OFW Guru recently spoke to a bunch of OFWs and rounded out their opinion on the matter of spending. OFW Guru came up with a list of 10 things our modern day heroes should not be spending their OFW salary on or should be spending less on.

Expensive/Designer Clothing

It is common to have giant sales in countries like UAE, Hong Kong and Singapore. Some of these deals are great, but OFWs buy designer goods and branded clothing as they believe that it’s a great deal to buy all the bags and shoes that have been priced down; however, in hindsight, it’s just excess spending.

Personal finance tip: Make a list of the necessities and stick to it from reasonably priced fast fashion store sales.


It’s a myth that electronics cost cheaper abroad than in the Philippines. A lot of OFWs believe this and tend to spend large amounts of their hard-earned salary for the latest tablet and smartphone. While in some cases the discounts are true, in reality, most products are priced the same with prices set globally.

Personal finance tip: Live below your means. A simple smartphone and netbook will do as long as they carry the vital applications for work and to connect back to the family.


It’s always tempting for OFWs to spend their bonus or salary increases on cheap tickets and seat sales; however, factoring the cost of the hotel and living expenses on their vacation, the trip would be expensive. Traveling is a luxury that is often saved with the family.

Personal finance tip: If you plan a trip with the family, plan it advance so you have time to save up for it.

Apartment / Living Space

With salary increases and promotions abroad, some OFWs upgrade their living quarters, which comes with a hefty price tag. While they may be able to afford a larger and more comfortable living space, the goal is to come back home and make life in the Philippines more comfortable.

Personal finance tip: If one wants to upgrade their apartment, buy small and affordable accents instead of a costly upgrade.


More often than not, the daily commute for an OFW is through a bus or a train to work. In certain cases, when OFWs earn more and can afford more, they buy a car or use cabs more often. While using a car and a taxi is easier and less stressful, the extra costs are not needed in their goal of earning more for their family back home.

Personal finance If a car is a necessity, then save up for it. You may also opt to buy secondhand. If you live in countries such as Hong Kong and Singapore where public transport is extremely convenient and efficient, then a car becomes a ‘want’ instead of a ‘need’ which you can do without.

Vices: Cigarette and Alcohol

It’s common for OFWs to hang out at bars. Smoking and drinking is a regular past time for bonding and a stress reliever from the hustle and bustle of life in a new country; however, spending recklessly on vices that are bad for their health will not help build towards their goal.

Personal finance tip: You can limit your nights out to a couple times a month or you can opt for a potluck lunch and dinner to save on drinks and avoid the mark-ups.

Luxury Gifts

OFWs love their family that’s why they went all the way to a different country to provide a better life for them. In the same way, OFWs love to share and gift extravagant and luxurious items to their loved ones. While they may be able to afford these, it’s not the smartest decision.

Personal finance tip: Their money can be put towards investing or education so that they can return home to their loved ones.

Cosmetics and Skin Care

In countries like Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai, cosmetics is a trend that a ton of OFWs end up following. They spend their money on expensive beauty products.

Personal finance tip: Instead of purchasing luxurious brand names on department store products recommended by their bosses, they can buy just-as-effective products from drug stores like Mannings or affordable beauty havens like Sasa.


Almost every OFW household is subscribed to TFC, The Filipino Channel. It’s where OFWs can keep track of the latest celebrity gossip and television dramas that they love; however, cable requires them to shell out extra money.

Personal finance tip: Instead of subscribing and spending on local television, they can easily watch the shows from free streaming websites, such as YouTube.


Casinos, clubs, and theme parks are the highlight in countries where most OFWs are designated. It’s normal for a lot of them to indulge in these forms of entertainment when they hangout together. They can always find other forms of entertainment that are less damaging to their wallets.

Personal finance tip: Try inexpensive hobbies, such as hiking or reading. Picnics are also a fun way to gather friends and have get-togethers during the weekend.

This article first appeared on OFW Guru, an online portal to simplify and improve overseas employment opportunities for both job seekers and recruitment agencies.

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