In January 2017 the Overseas Filipino Workers’ remittance hit a total of USD 2.169B. According to Rappler’s report on 15 March 2017, this amount is up by 6.8% compared to their total remittance last year in the same month. This clearly indicates that OFW’s remittance from different parts of the world not only continues to support families here in the Philippines but also helps our country to stay economically afloat. By law, we are bound to financially support our immediate family – meaning our spouse and children. By culture, we tend to bind ourselves to financially help our extended families, “friends” and “acquaintances” as well. No doubt, request for financial support is common in our culture, and the trickiest to handle. As an OFW for more than three decades, yes, I have been there, and done that! I know, right? Awkward as it may seem, I hope these nine questions will help you in deciding how to handle the situation should it arise.
1. Why me?
With at least eight lending institutions in Metro Manila alone, and some people in your circle of friends who are much more financially “well off” than you are, perhaps it is worth asking yourself this question, “Why me?”
2. Can I (really, really) afford it?
Opinions differ on what constitutes a “healthy” financial state, but the general consensus seems to be 6 months’ worth of living expenses saved, in the form of liquid cash, or equivalent to 9 months salary. Do you have that kind of savings? What about other assets and investments? The truth is, unless you have the liquid cash mentioned above, and an investment that generates a regular passive income, you are in no position to extend financial help to others. In other words, you can’t help a person’s financial problem, if your financial situation is also at risk.
3. Do I trust the person/s to put the money to good use?
Occasionally, we are asked to support a charitable cause. A friend of a friend whom you haven’t met before would suddenly send you a PM on FB soliciting monetary assistance. Even if you are one of those good Samaritans, ask yourself before committing to help. “Is our common friend close to me personally, as in someone I’m regularly communicating with? If there isn’t any opportunity for us to meet, who can vouch for this person’s character?” Based on my own personal experience, legitimate organizations issue official receipts even if I don’t ask for it.
4. Should we put things in writing or consult witnesses or even a lawyer?
When giving a loan whether it’s a one-off amount, or a continuous financial support within a certain period, it is essential to discuss all the terms and conditions. Treat this undertaking as an important financial transaction, rather than a petty charitable act, especially if the amount is well above your comfort zone. It is important to consider in the event you don’t get your money back, would it result to your financial instability?
5. Am I wholeheartedly willing to help, or am I just giving in to pressure?
When we are emotionally being blackmailed, we tend to unnecessarily feel guilty to say “no”. This shouldn’t be the case. You have all the right to choose the charity you want to help. If you don’t support the purpose of the cause, it is entirely legitimate to refuse a request for financial support. Helping is a good thing and it should make us happy. As it is written, “God loves a cheerful giver.”
6. How would I feel if the person fails to keep his/her end of the bargain?
Point No. 3 taught me to adopt an attitude of giving an amount that I can comfortably forget about. This way I am able to help the cause without worrying too much about it. Naturally, when the trust is broken, any future requests for financial help from the same person will not be easy to give.
7. How will I react if, a few months later, he/she starts asking for more money than previously agreed on?
This is obviously a red flag. Follow what your gut tells you.
8. How will he/she react when I’m suddenly faced with extenuating circumstances, and therefore have to abruptly cut-off my support earlier than promised?
This shouldn’t be an issue if discussed from the beginning, bearing in mind that no one is assured of the future. We have seen how many people had lost their jobs during the financial crisis in the year 2007 to 2008. It can happen to any person at any time. You are not an exception.
9. Why him/her?
Among the millions of needy children, ambitious start-ups, deserving scholars, environmental causes, animal rights, etc. that I can put my money on, why should I choose him/her in particular. Going back to the No. 1 point: Why me? Why him; why us? From the moment I agree to support this person, or this charity institution, our lives will be inextricably tied together for the whole duration. Will we bring out the best in one another? Good question!