PH seafarers urged to set up emergency fund

By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

For many Filipino seafarers and their families, a large portion of their income goes into the acquisition of the latest gadgets, continual home improvements, and perhaps a brand-new car. And why not? They have the money.

Ritche Fariñas, Head of the Overseas Filipino Segment of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), said there is nothing wrong with that. But it is also important to know the difference between investing to make money grow, and spending on things that lose value over time.

“High income does not necessarily mean high financial literacy or even financial responsibility,” said Fariñas. “Sometimes our seafarers need to know more about how to handle their high incomes. For many of them, saving and creating an emergency fund are way down their list of priorities. In times of emergency, this lack of savings can lead to financial ruin.”

Through BPI Investment Sailing, a program that seeks to help seafarers learn about investing and financial responsibility, BPI hopes to change the mindset of seafarers when it comes to money.

In commemoration of the National Seafarers’ Day in September, BPI, through its subsidiary BPI Asset Management and Trust Corporation (AMTC), continues this advocacy through a series of talks made specifically for Filipino seafarers in partnership with the BPI Overseas Customer Segment.

“One of the goals of BPI is to help overseas Filipinos realize its goal of a financially secure life by giving them access to the right financial solutions and teaching them simple habits such as setting up an emergency fund,” said Fariñas.

“Eventually they’ll be open to investing for the education of their kids, or for a comfortable retirement. Their investments can also mean retooling or sharpening their work-related skills and knowledge, so they can advance in their careers. All this can be very motivating for seafarers who may benefit from timely financial tips,” he added.

The investing part is less likely to get derailed with an emergency fund in place. This, according to Fariñas, will help seafarers deal with setbacks better such as the loss of job or income, medical emergencies, and other unexpected events. Setting up an emergency fund involves simple steps such as setting a reasonable goal, say P50,000, committing to save regularly, perhaps weekly or every two weeks, and cutting unnecessary expenses or finding additional sources of income.

“Most overseas Filipinos leave the country to work abroad in the hope of achieving a more financially stable life for their families. However, even after decades of working overseas some of them come home without savings. Through BPI Investment Sailing, we hope to change lives,” said Fariñas.

Ultimately, it is an event for Filipino seafarers to come together and have fun while learning about the value of saving and investing.

“After all, the most financially stable families are not necessarily those who earn more,” said Fariñas. “They are those who have basic knowledge of personal finance and the financial discipline to act on this knowledge.”