Saving fellow sailors from the financial crisis

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A BRAND NEW home, car, travel, gadgets and education for the children of the immediate and extended family – these are some of the usual things on the priority list of a Filipino sailor who actively browsing.

Research by the Integrated Seafarers of the Philippines shows that although seafaring is one of the highest paying professions, many Filipino seafarers retire penniless or continue to work on board past retirement age. .

This is attributed to excessive generosity towards loved ones, gratuitous spending and lack of budgetary discipline.

For Paul Vincent Sanchez, commissioned officer in charge of the navigational watch, it only took eight years to realize that a rewarding job is only as good as your tax knowledge and discipline.

Like many Filipino sailors before him, Sanchez was drawn to the promise of “traveling the world for free while earning dollars” by the profession.

Paul Vincent Sanchez CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Indeed, the young man saw the world between two days of hard work at sea and the desire to find his family back home.

The sunny days for Sanchez soon ended the day his sister suffered a thyroid storm. “I was the breadwinner then. His medications and admission to the intensive care unit (ICU) took a toll on my finances,” Sanchez recalls.

His sister died.

Sanchez was among hundreds of thousands of sailors who found themselves stranded on board during the height of the pandemic. For 16 months he could not return home. It was around this time that Sanchez was hit with a realization.

“It is not terminal illnesses that [put to heel] my family. It was our lack of preparation for such events. Ten years before my sister died, my mother died of cancer. I had to give up my university studies just to be able to get her treated,” he explained.

“None of us in the family had health insurance to cover emergencies and illnesses,” he added.

When the 30-year-old sailor returned home, he immediately took out an insurance policy for himself. Soon after, he found himself trying to save other sailors from the spell of extravagance.

“What really pushed me to become a financial advisor was my life experiences, how hard it is not to have something to fall back on. I’m also able to transition into another profession that affects my passion for speaking and helping people.

Today, I help people prepare for the rainy days ahead. I hope that my experiences and my struggles can serve as a lesson for them to do better,” he said.

In the midst of helping people with their finances, another tragedy struck Sanchez’s family. Her father developed a brain tumor; he was not covered by any medical insurance.

“We struggled to ensure his treatment and his operation. We still lost him,” he lamented.

At such a point, Sanchez has fully felt the blow of what many other sailors go through financially. “This is the most common financial challenge among seafaring families – the lack of an emergency fund. The typical mentality for most is to build a house and buy a car.

Nothing is spared for the emergency fund.

“Whenever possible, emergency funds should be at least three times their monthly income. Expenses should be divided into priority levels and should always include an insurance policy and an investment. This is insurance that we and our family will be covered if we cannot work.

“With the ongoing pandemic, employment in the maritime industry can be difficult. Even if we are re-hired, the reality is that we are in contract employment for the rest of our careers.

By the time we land, we’re left with nothing but our recent earnings if we don’t have any savings.”

Many seafarers are reluctant to trade their shipboard job for a shore job or business, primarily because the pay is not as lucrative.

For Sanchez, however, it all depends on a person’s courage, perseverance, perseverance and discipline to survive no matter what situation they find themselves in – values ​​that are all present in a Filipino sailor.

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