Relationships: Giving Money to the Family, Part Two



Hey all,

In the first part  of this blog, we looked at some of the obligations that Filipino families have towards each other.  When us expat foreigners get thrust into the mix and these obligations suddenly transfer over, it can make for a lot of stress and misunderstandings.   Equality is great and everything, but when families seek to level the financial playing field by forcing flood-down (as opposed to “trickle down”) economics, it can leave the involved foreigners with death grips on their wallets (and their ulcerated stomachs).

To put the topic into perspective, let’s take a look at the financial dynamics that have been going on in Michell’s family.  Her parents (who live on another island) were typical Filipinos.  They worked hard to raise their kids, making the requisite sacrifices as time went on to make sure that they were well adjusted and well educated.  All six of the children were sent to college.  This was funded through the fish farm that they owned, and for many years, the fish farm provided for all of the family’s needs. But as businesses sometimes go, the fish farm fell on hard times about four years ago, due to a variety of reasons that Michell details in the video.  Now, at the time, the only one working was Michell’s younger sister, Maricar.  She had a degree in accounting and was working online for a company located in the United States.  The other children were married and providing for their own families, and since she was single, the responsibility to help fell to her.  With the fish farm floundering, she stepped up and started contributing her salary to the family’s needs.  One of those needs was Michell’s continuing tuition, which she paid for.  She didn’t whine or kvetch about the situation – there was simply a need in the family and she did her part.  Then, a while back, their brother lost his scholarship to maritime academy (he’s studying engineering), and she found herself having to help him as well.  Well, after a while, Michell was able to get a job, so the two sisters talked and now they are both paying for his school and living allowances until he graduates in October.  And so it goes.

Michell’s parents made good decisions by sending their kids to college. There’s no doubt about that. Not only did it give them the foundation for solid employment opportunities, but it also ensured that the kids would be financially capable of taking care of them when they are old and in ill health – cuz like we noted, there are no antiseptic nursing homes to ship the folks off to once they are out of sorts.  So, in a way, investing in your kids is like investing in your own future.  

I am still up in the air about having kids at my advanced age.  It’s a huge life changer, and my biggest concern is that I will be able to provide for them the same way my own parents provided for me.  But I gotta tell you, it would be nice to raise some good kids knowing that in the future, they would be the ones around me when I passed on to the next world.  Kinda gives you that warm fuzzy feeling….

Di ba?  (Right?)

Anyways, I hope that example gives some perspective to the situation.  I still haven’t experienced the true blunt force of this, and I hope it’s not something that I will have to deal with too much in the future.  If it happens, it happens.  I will just make sure (to the best of my ability), that these situations are effectively communicated and the boundaries are made as secure as possible.

But  – as one reader noted – such things are sometimes easier said than done.


  1. Ned and Michelle,

    Thank you both for, not only informative videos but they are also very entertaining videos. It must be very hard to direct geckos while making a video, they can be so temperamental and demanding always wanting top billing.

    I joined your site a few days ago, because one day soon I hope to visit and or retire in the Philippines. The information you provide is very helpful for me in making an informed decision about moving out of the comfort zone of the USA to a brave new world.

    Like you Ned, I have met a young and beautiful girl on line and I hope we have the same feelings as you two (I can see it in yours eyes and by the way you interact with each other) when we can be together. We have talked about a place to live, she lives near Manila and I prefer to be outside the big cities. She likes Baguio because of the cool climate and I like that, but wonder what you think is the best all around location to live.

    Also, I just wonder what you think a good sum of cash money would be to bring when first going to the Philippines.

    Well, I don’t want to bother you too much and really want to say thanks for taking the time to put this valuable information on line.

    Sincerely, Mike

    1. Yeah, the geckos are absolute divas. 🙂

      Baguio is very cool compared to the rest of the Philippines. If Michell and I marry and do the lot/house routine, it just might be in one of those mountain areas to take advantage of the cooler weather. I would scout around a bit when you get here. Check out different places – Davao, CDO, Leyte, Negros, etc. for a bit before you make any decisions on where to settle. I don’t think there is any one “perfect” place to live – they all have their pro’s and con’s And don’t make any major purchases (other than a scooter and such) for at least a year!

  2. hi ned im moving there next yr my son be moving out so ill be moving im 40 atm retired army have retirement around 1200mnth and will have 20k in bank would like as much info as I can so I can preapare move ahead time location pretty open but know I don’t wana live manila or Cebu wouldn’t mind ware u live or Davao area any sugestions on how to start once I get there

    1. My suggestion would be to take a few trips over here first. Travel light and check out all the areas that you are interested in. Figure out if you want to live in a city area or out in the sticks, away from all the amenities. I actually prefer to live on the outskirts of a city area – far away enough for some cleaner air and more open spaces, but close enough to have easy access to restaurants and shopping. $1,200 a month is enough for regular expenses here – just make sure you have that $20K backup just in case things don’t go right or for emergencies. Thanks, William – both for your comment and your service. 🙂

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