So, How Much Baon Do You Need?

By , on February 1, 2014


Pangarap: So, Our Journey Begins


Wherever you are, the reality is that you always need to invest in your future. Migrating is better considered as an investment rather than as a gamble.

I had a helper back home who, because of poverty, was not able to go to school as a kid.  She may not have been able to read or write, but she could surely count her money accurately. After all, as the wife of a dictator once said, “You are not rich if you can count your money. Me, I am rich because I do not know how much money I have.”

The desire to migrate is not a simple dream. It is expensive. It is not as easy as lining up for a job, getting the interview and expecting to earn a decent living for that job. In fact, it can be the opposite. When you migrate, you start putting in your own money first, spend that to sustain yourself, and then hope to earn a living later when you get a job and save your money back.

It is like each new immigrant has to invest his own money first for a future. I have read some blogs and went over some forum posts whose authors cannot accept that reality, expressing their own frustration, sometimes anger.  They say that they have been lured, only to find out that it will not be easy to get that first pay check.

But nobody can ever force anyone to a decision as big as migrating, or uprooting oneself or leaving country for good. The terms of engagement are pretty clear and fully laid out before our very own eyes. The decision to meet the financial requirements of the migration process is a free choice.

To some, it could be the lifetime savings, the retirement money, house and lot sold, an inheritance advanced, or blue chip stocks monetized. Whatever the source of your funding to migrate, the decision must have been conscious and your senses in control when it was made.

Thus, it can be said that under the skilled professional category, Canada gets the cream of the crop. The educated, mostly middle class, the highly-motivated, strongly driven: That is the kind of stuff that skilled immigrant professionals are made of.

Yet, coming and starting all over again is such a challenge to the pocket. Whether you are starting with the minimum required money, or bringing in more, you are bound to spend it and pray that you money does not run out before you get that first job.

This aspect increases the worries, the anxieties, and perhaps the regrets, especially for those bringing in a whole family. The tension may even impact your relationships, with the grown-up children or spouse who may not be prepared, may not fully understand, and may not be as supportive.

Migrating will cost you money. It is better to think of this money as your investment for everyone in your family.Be prepared for the challenge that the money may run out fast and that first pay check may come only in the nick of time.

What about some financial baggage?

You will never know when you can get that first job, so reduce the financial burden by striving to start on a clean slate. Break free from debts.

Wherever you are, in whatever stage of struggle you are in, there will always be a desire deep, deep down inside to come out clean of debts or financial obligation.

I am sorry to say that, no matter how hard companies try to prettify credit card usage and maintenance, many people still ruin their lives by overextending their borrowings.  It’s an oft-repeated cry for help—people wanting to be free from credit cards or debts, in general.

But to some, that is only the tip of the iceberg. While immigrant hopefuls are always reminded not to declare borrowed money in order to meet financial requirements, some still do so. Although it should be noted that meeting such requirement is not necessarily the reason or only reason some have gotten into debts. The reason is the same as why they want to leave—economic issues that could really be personal or societal. The financial problem had been there and so the decision to seek greener pasture.

It is most ideal to start a new life on a clean slate. It will not be good to be haunted by your financial indiscretions in the past, much less hunted by creditors.

Unless you have extra funds, it will be difficult to achieve freedom from debt. But you should try, and try hard.  As soon as you have reckoned with all the necessary expenses in connection with your leaving, including the required show money, do not have second thoughts about cleaning up all your financial obligations. Start with those that charge interest the highest. Hopefully, no one is a victim of freelance loan sharks that charge exorbitant rates. My grandmother used to say that loan sharks are being burned in hell while still alive due to their heartless entrepreneurship.

Abroad, chances are, the first bank you see will meet will offer you a credit card. You should get one, not only because you need it to build up your credit history, but also because you are now in a plastic card society. However, be wise in choosing the type of credit card to use. Choose the one that even pays you or rewards you for using it.

Once you are settled in, it is not surprising to discover how fast and easy those credit cards and high finance instruments are to come by. And as you are able to build up your reputation, you will be bombarded with offers for credit cards, personal loans, and all types of financial accommodations. This, matched with sales here and there, zero interest plans, and deferred payment offers.

With that, you are surely on your way to the same financial problems.

So, watch out or you will soon find yourself in the same personal economic quagmire as you were before you migrated.

Cut clean, and cut cleanly. Coming to a new country, start clean. Do not allow any temptation to go back to the old debt-ridden life.

If you can, rid yourself of all debts. Start with ridding yourself of those that charge interest highest. Looking for your first job will be rendered less burdensome if you do not have financial ghosts.

Postscript to last Column entitled, The Heart of a Filipino Longing to Return Home:  It was an article requested by a Fil-Am friend who is in a quandary whether to go home for retirement in the Philippines in the midst of all the not-so-good news back home.  My thoughts specifically for a decision I consider another major one similar to choosing to migrate.  The bottomline is: every Filipino living abroad has that desire in his heart to return and be reunited with family, regardless of whether he failed or succeeded in his journey to another land. The one thing very important is how we have made out of our decision to commence and live out the journey we have chosen for as long as we have that assurance in our hearts that country will be there to welcome us back anytime.

Nobody ever said that our journey, will be easy. But as I write and as you read, we share our strengths and we can hold to the promise that “Where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am in the midst of them,” Matthew 18:20.

Bolet is a marketing communications practitioner and dabbles in writing as a personal passion. She is author-publisher of the book:  The Most Practical Immigrating and Job Hunting Survival Guide, proven simple steps to success without the fears and the doubts. The book is available in Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, the Reading Room and other online bookshops worldwide, and in National Book Store and Power Books in the Philippines. Please check out  https://www.amazon.com/author/boletarevalo.