Money is a double-edged sword: As much as it brings comfort and happiness, it is also the reason why many relationships and personal connections are permanently damaged when poorly handled.
This is most especially true for married couples here in the UAE – as they carefully plan their expenditures in two ways – allotting for the family they are building, as well as their continuous aid to loved ones back home.
However, the elephant in the room is how married OFWs determine until when they will continue to support their families, considering that they now have a family of their own. The Filipino Times takes insights from UAE couples, who have already tied the knot, to learn how they balance their priorities in handling their money matters with the family that they grew up with back home, on the one hand, and the family they’re starting up with their spouses, on the other.
Supporting their younger siblings and parents
Ellen Huet, who has been married for seven years to her husband, Omar Jay, shares that she continues to send money to her family in the Philippines to support her siblings.
“Nagpapadala pa din ako sa Pilipinas regularly para sa mga bata kong kapatid. Naka-fix amount yun every month. Thank God at so far blessed naman kami with enough resources para makatulong ng sapat lang,” said Huet.
Sandy Regalado, who has been in the UAE for 14 years, said that even if they already have kids, he still continues to send some cash as a matter of support for his parents. “Opo, nagpapadala pa rin kami para sa mga magulang bilang konting suporta,” shares Regalado.
Bernadette Ortiguerra, a marketing and communications specialist working at a five-star hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road, for her part, shares that sending money should not be a monthly, regular remittance anymore – especially if the couple already has kids: “Kung kakayanin, why not? Pero hindi siguro monthly. Kasi first thing talaga ay yung family ko muna (anak and hubby) considering the expenses of bringing up a family in Dubai,” Ortiguerra says.
“Kung ocassionally, okay lang. Magbigay kung may extra. Kailangan mo rin kasi silang abutan. Di ka naman mapupunta dito kundi dahil sa kanila. It’s a matter of paying back. Hindi naman ako magiging successful kundi dahil sa kanila (parents),” she adds.
An important, intimate discussion
Prior to their marriage, the couples had quite a lengthy discussion on considering whether or not to continue their support for their families. In terms of being financially ready, Rachel Salinel, a media practitioner and an OFW in the UAE for over 10 years now, said that belonging to a community of likeminded individuals helped them prepare for their future as a couple. From there, they decided to continue helping their families back home.
“Before kami ikinasal, we belonged to a community that had prepared us. Before kami kinasal, we agreed that we will continue helping. Pamilya mo pa rin kasi sila at kultura natin yan. Napakahalaga na nagkaka-intindihan kayo sa bagay na yan bago kayo magpakasal. The community we used to belong to before getting married (Lingkod ng Panginoon/Ligaya ng Panginoon) prepared and guided us for this,” said Salinel.
Huet furthers that being an OFW prior to getting married opened their eyes on the importance of their role on the future of their loved ones back home: “Bago kami kinasal, pinag-usapan na namin yan. Pareho naman kasi kaming OFW ever since na nagkakilala kami so pareho naming alam ang obligasyon namin sa family. Tingin ko malaking factor yun na pag-usapan muna ang mga ganyang bagay from the start para walang issue.”
Meantime, Regalado shares that when it comes to money matters for couples, it’s really important to be transparent with your spouse so that you both have an idea about each other’s financial status and worries. He says he even shares his entire salary with his wife of more than 10 years, Milanie. “Iisa lang ang pera naming mag-asawa simula pa noong nasa boyfriend-girlfriend stage pa lang kami. Buong sweldo ko, misis ko ang humahawak,” says Regalado.
Meantime, Huet said she doesn’t believe there should be a certain percentage that spouses should pool in together from each other’s personal accounts.
“Walang percentage ng sharing dahil naniniwala ako na pag mag-asawa na, ang akin ay iyo, ang iyo ay akin. Wala naman kami agreement or rule pagdating sa pera. Ang mahalaga lang sa amin lahat ng gastusin kailangan pinag-uusapan lalo na kung malalaking expenses,” she said.
The ‘Palaman’ dilemma
The Filipino Times also got in touch with vlogger mom Grace Acla, a former leader of Singles for Christ who’s now blessed with a happy marriage and kids. She shared that some newly-wed couples experience what’s termed as a “palaman” where they have a need to support both themselves and their family.
“The dilemma ng ‘palaman’ generation is may bread kang ibinibigay sa itaas bilang support (older generation) tapos may bread din sa ibaba (new generation/kids). If your parents are already dependent on you to support them and you are financially able, then by all means,” shares Acla.
She also agreed with Huet and Regalado, saying that as communication is the key to any relationship, it pays to be transparent to your partner of your financial obligations.
“When married, I believe it’s not their obligation but if kaya ng resources, why not? But it’s a case to case basis, paano kung ang partner mo lang ang breadwinner sa family? Puedeng ipagpatuloy ang pagpapadala or bawasan ang amount na ipapadala, para rin makapagsimula kayo sa pagbubuo ng pangarap nyong mag-asawa.
“At make sure, hindi nyo itatago sa partner nyo tuwing nagbibigay kayo ng pera sa pamilya nyo. Para ndi pagmumulan ng pag-aaway o tampuhan,” Acla stressed.
Huet adds that having your spouse aid you in making financial decisions helps for you to think ahead of financial mistakes that you might make: “Natutunan ko na mas maganda mag-manage ng pera ng may kasama ka na nag a-analyze ng status ng finances mo. Pag ikaw lang kasi minsan may mga na mi-miss kang bagay, or mali pala ang style na ginagawa mo. Iba pag may nagga-guide sa iyo.”
Acla said that at the end of the day, once trust is established between couples, it’s important to pray and plan ahead to envision your future together: “As a couple, pray and plan as how you see your finances in the future. Widen your perspective on money, investments, savings, financial management. Syempre kanino pa ba tayo lalapit kung di sa taong pinaka-malapit sa atin, who would also understand our situation.”
All for the kids
All couples agreed that while they continue to support their families back home, their main priority now lies in nurturing their kids.
Acla said that while many OFWs do have the heart to help their families back home, they should never forget to save up money for themselves as well: “Be generous to your parents and in laws, but be sure to save for your future, too. Lalo na for your future kids. We also have to be aware that we have to save for our retirement also para naman our children will not be ‘palaman’ in the future.”
Huet agrees and adds that it’s important to invest for your kids’ future as their education, both in and out of the school campus, will be your legacy for them. “Invest for your kids future. Pag may anak ka kailangan yan para sa kanila din. Para pag dating ng panahon, di nila maranasan ano man hirap na dinanas mo nung bata ka. Yan naman ang goal ng lahat ng mga magulang at ng karamihan ng mga pamilyadong OFW,” said Huet.