Don’t Convert Dollars to Pesos in Your Head

When we first came to the United States in August 2015, it was so tough to spend money on almost everything. Why? Because we often convert US Dollars into Philippine Pesos.

For example, a bottle of soda costs $2. If you convert that to Peso, that is roughly equal to PhP 100. That is expensive for us in the Philippines. And if we kept thinking this way, we would not have been able to drink soda or even eat at a nice restaurant.

Even when we went shopping for clothes or anything in particular, once we started converting to Pesos, it becomes so difficult to spend money. A pair of jeans here costs between $20 to $50. Again, if you convert that to pesos, it’s between P1,000 to P2,500.

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You’re an OFW Now, So What’s Next?

Many Filipinos consider the United States as the “Land of Milk and Honey,” and that if you had the chance to go there, your life will never be the same. If you just get there, you will be swimming in dollars and you can lift yourself and your family out of poverty.

Some Filipinos may have found that to be true. And even for those who do struggle, life in the USA tends to be more comfortable than life in the Philippines. The good thing about working and living in the US is that you earn dollars. And if you convert your money to Philippine Pesos, you’d get a lot! If you had $1,000, that would be equal to around PhP50,000, depending on the exchange rate.

Alas, you earn in dollars, you also spend in US dollars. And if you’re not careful, you also get into the consumeristic, materialistic lifestyle of most Americans.

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Apply for a US Social Security Number: Guide for Non-Resident Aliens

Transitioning to another country for work is difficult. There are just too many variables that we need to consider. Getting an apartment to live in, government-mandated memberships and regulations, plus buying a car, and settling down again. On top of that, I am also considered as a non-resident alien worker. That’s because I am not a citizen, and not a Permanent Resident (Green Card holder) in the country.

Thankfully, our organization agreed to sponsor a house-hunting trip for me and my wife. Last April, Cha and I found ourselves in Nashville, Tennessee to look for an apartment, and for me to apply for the services I need to start working.

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How Much of Your Possessions Should You Bring to the USA?

You’ve been accepted for a job in the USA, you applied for and got your visa. You let go of many things that you own in the Philippines, now it’s time to pack your bag or boxes as you travel to the United States.

How much stuff can you bring?

Most airlines traveling to the USA will allow you to check two big bags or boxes that weigh up to 50lb or 23 kg. You are also entitled to bring 2 carryon bags. That sounds like a lot, but it really is not, especially if you are a family of three or more going to the USA.

Excess baggage fees are expensive! If your bag or box weighs more than 50lb or 23 kg, you will pay $75 or more! If you are bringing more than two checked bags, the third box will cost $200 or more! If you’re willing to pay that amount, I won’t argue with you.

How much stuff SHOULD you bring?

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How to Apply for Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC)

Since you are going to the United States for work, you need to apply for an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC). Every OFW is required to get the OEC as this is a requirement under the rules and regulations of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

Its purpose is to ensure that Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) are documented and protected. There are several requirements before you can get the OEC such as the contract. Ideally, this requirement will protect Filipinos from being duped by illegal recruiters.

We can consider the OEC as our exit pass. If you have an OEC, you will not pay the travel tax (which is about P1,620) and the terminal fee (which is PhP 750).

How to Apply for the OEC

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