After a very long and enduring months on-board a ship, you are now finally nearing the end of your contract. The calendar days on your wall are already filled with crosses and circles. You are now waiting anxiously for this one specific message from your agency in the Philippines, the renowned “flight details”.
Let’s fast forward to the moment you have been excitedly waiting. You packed your bags and “pasalubongs”, finished the turn-over of responsibilities to your reliever, and accomplished all documents needed. You finally signed-off from your ship, boarded the plane going to Philippines, and in just a matter of hours you are again in the arms of your loved ones – indeed the greatest feeling we seafarers experienced.
Typical Filipino families would then celebrate your arrival by taking vacations into different tourist destinations, eating-out into fancy restaurants, shopping into every mall they could go to, or buy that specific model of phone/car/etc. you’ve been eyeing for months.
After those climactic events, days turned to weeks, and weeks turned into months. You finally noticed the money in your bank account starts to dwindle. You don’t have any other source of income. And you are the sole bread winner of your family.
The longer you stay on land, the thinner your pocket has become. The daily living expenses can’t be neglected, you can’t slash that out from your budget. You may also have monthly amortizations and obligations to pay. Include the expenses incurred for training courses required by MARINA. By that time, you are definitely thinking of going on-board the ship again.
Then the cycle starts all over again. You get into a ship, you get off, you spend like there is no tomorrow, your money get drained, and back again. Are you happy or contented with that cycle? If you are, then go on, it’s your life anyway. But if you are tired of that lifestyle, read on, you might gather great information below.
What are the important things seafarers can invest into during vacation days besides excessive spending?
Here’s what I personally do every vacation. Take note I’m not a professional financial adviser or expert. I only share what I think is right or appropriate to do.
1.) Invest in Quality Family Time
We seafarers on average spend six to nine months away from our family every year. Therefore, it is common to miss special occasions of our loved ones. We usually make up for those lost moments by giving them gifts or material things. That will be effective on first few attempts, but eventually if you keep missing those special events your relationship with them degrades.
We know that’s the price we get from working abroad and earning huge paycheck, but I think there are still ways to improve your relationship with them. Try to plan your vacation ahead. Try to coincide it with your child’s birthday, graduation day, or school vacation period. Carefully time your vacation with your wife’s birthday, anniversary, laboring day, or any special day.
Timing your vacation period may not be successful at all times because we can’t control different factors like reliever availability, convenient port for signing off, and other factors. But at least you will have greater chances when you plan ahead for your vacation. You will then surely spend quality time with your family and loved ones.
Create great memories with your family. Play with your kids during vacation and record those priceless moments. They will not remain kids forever and you don’t want to miss it, soon enough they’ll have their own lives already.
Here’s a video of me and my kid creating memories together.
2.) Invest in Professional Education
Every vacation I see to it that my skills are enhanced and improved. Why? Because we seafarers should not settle on what we already know. We should strive to be better and aim for a higher position.
The more knowledge we have, the more competent we will become. The higher position we achieve, the higher salary we will receive. Don’t settle for your current position, push yourself to advance forward. As technology advances, we people should not fall behind. Don’t let yourself become obsolete in this ever advancing world.
3.) Invest in Financial Literacy
Why invest on financial literacy? Will that help you reach your financial goals? Obviously, yes! It will be your guiding light in a dark world where spending here and spending there are the only things you know before you became financially literate.
By reading financial books and websites, I was able to open my eyes into the importance of financial matters. It enlightened me from simple subjects like income, expenses, assets, liabilities up to the world of insurance, stock market, real estate, UITFs, business, and more.
Before I invested my time in financial literacy, I thought the two things to do in life in order to become rich are to work hard as an employee and to work even harder. Reading financial literature taught me that being an employee should be temporary, we should strive to become an employer and build businesses that can help the society.
We should also become investors. Invest in things that increase in value in the future (real estate, stocks, bonds, etc.), rather than investing in things that automatically decrease in value after you bought it (cars, phones, appliances, etc.).
So the next time you plan on buying that luxurious car or that latest phone model, think again. Do you really need that or it’s just for showing off? Learn to identify needs from wants. Be responsible with your hard earned money. You’ll never know how long you can be able to work as a seafarer.
4.) Invest in Your Health
Working as a seafarer requires a healthy mind and body. That’s the reason why seafarers undergo medical examination before signing on. The rule for a healthy life is simple. Eat right and live right. Avoid vices, you know them. Any excessive things are not good for your health. Remember, if you become unhealthy, your career as a seafarer will surely end swiftly.
5.) Invest in Your Spiritual Life
You’ve been away for so long and I’m sure you’ve missed every Sunday mass. Catch up during your vacation period. Spend it with your family and loved ones. Restore your spiritual relationship. We may have different religions, but the common thing among us is that we need to give time to our Creator. Take that opportunity to thank Him for the blessings you received and you will receive.
So, there it goes, that’s what I personally do during my vacation period. What about you? Please share yours in the comment section below. You’ll never know how many fellow seafarers you could help with your own ideas and knowledge. Cheers!