Please Don’t Keep Up with the Joneses

You are going to the USA, that’s something to be proud of. There are many hurdles along the way, but if you got a job and a visa, it will definitely change your life. How that change will affect you and your family will depend on the many choices you will make.

This is a new, exciting chapter in your life. You are about to embark on a new journey, meet new people, explore a new continent, and do work that you love. While it’s never easy to say goodbye to friends and family, the truth is, your relationship with them will also change.

You will make a lot of money by Philippine standards.

As you work in the USA, the value of the dollars you earn will be astronomical compared to the Philippine Pesos. For a lot of OFWs, including those who are going to other countries, the money they make overseas is definitely bigger than what they used to earn in the Philippines. But the bad news is, you will also spend dollars for all your needs in the USA. So don’t convert pesos in your head when you spend dollars.

You can buy most of the things considered as luxury.

A pair of Levi’s pants. Check. Chuck Taylor sneakers and other name brand shoes, expensive bags for ladies (Coach, Michael Kors, etc), nice shirts and clothes, and many other personal and household things will be within your reach. A lot of these goods can be bought during Sale season in the USA and there are plenty of those.

You can support your parents and family financially.

For most Filipinos, helping parents and family is a big thing. And even when we are grownups and independent from family, we still find ways to support our parents and some family members. This is a great privilege and consequence of being able to work in the USA.

There’s plenty of things to be proud about.

But please don’t fall into the temptation of “keeping up with the Joneses.” If you’re not familiar with this expression, it means flaunting a lavish lifestyle. In this time and age of Facebook and Instagram, it’s easy to portray a lavish lifestyle.

Yup, it’s your absolute right to post anything you want on social media. But it’s always good to step back and reflect on our lifestyles and what it communicates to others.

Don’t upgrade your lifestyle too suddenly.

Consumerism is on display in the USA and around the world the world. When you are adjusting to a new life in the US, you will need to spend a lot of money to get established–rent, furnishing, and many other things you need. If you decided to upgrade your lifestyle too suddenly, you might find out that it is very difficult to sustain.

Think of sustainability.

It’s very easy to descend into the credit card abyss in the USA. Banks and lending companies are all too ready to lend you money. If you’re not careful, you become swipe-happy and will shop too much too soon. That’s a recipe for disaster.

Pace yourself. Think of sustainability. It’s always good to have a solid Personal Finance strategy in place. I recommend the book “The Index Card” by Helaine Olen and Harvey Pollack. Save, save, save! Now that we’re given a chance to earn some good money, let’s not throw away our chance to build sustainable wealth for ourselves and our children.

Set aside money for church or charity.

Generosity is always a good thing. You help others and you also loosen the hold of consumerism and greed over your heart and life. My wife and I still support our small church in the Philippines while also supporting our local church and other charity in the USA.

I believe it’s a good idea to give back to our country. There are many ways to give anyway. So please consider sharing your blessings.

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