In Filipino Expat Budget, we ask our kababayans about their income and expenses. *Charles (45) and *Chloe (40) work and live in Saudi Arabia together with their two children aged 9 and 6. Charles is an architect and Chloe is a technical support specialist.
Your children’s tuition fee is your highest expense. Is basic education very expensive in Saudi Arabia?
Our children go to a Filipino school. The tuition fee, school transport and the kids’ sitter are already SAR 4,100 for two kids. Our youngest has additional learning requirements so we hired a speech and behavioral therapists for SAR 900 and a shadow teacher, or what you call a tutor that costs SAR 2,500 a month. So yes, the educational expenses of our children is equivalent to the tuition fee of a college student in a private school in the Philippines.
You don’t have health insurance?
Health insurance is paid by our employers. As well as plane tickets when we go to the Philippines. We used to have an additional SAR 600 health/life insurance for the Philippines but we paused it because we were still paying for our car. Now that the car is completely paid off, and after we’ve come back from vacation in the Philippines, we’re renewing it.
SAR 1,000 for rent? Are housing properties very affordable in Saudi Arabia?
We are renting a one-family flat. Housing prices differ in Saudi Arabia. For example houses in major cities Riyadh or Jeddah are more expensive to rent than in Al Khobar or Al Jubail. We don’t live in major cities.
What can you say about the cost of living in Saudi Arabia?
It is very expensive because of higher taxes. Thankfully, we don’t pay salary taxes.
Are you satisfied with your salary? Is it enough to cover your expenses?
Our salaries are enough but I hope it will increase so that I can save more for the future of our children and our family. But sometimes when there is a financial emergency in the Philippines, it is not enough.
Your second biggest expense is remittance. How do you feel about this?
We’re supporting both our parents. It feels good because it’s a way of giving them back all the love and effort they showered us with while raising us. We intend to send them remittances as long as we are working abroad.
Do you get tired of sending remittances?
For our parents, no.
How long do you still want to work abroad? What are you saving for?
Maybe for another 3-5 years or as long as the company needs me. We are saving up for our retirement and additional investments in the Philippines.
What is financial freedom for you?
Financial freedom is having enough residual income to cover your living expenses. It is not about being rich and having tons of money, but having enough to cover your expenses so that you can spend your precious time doing what you like rather than doing things just to earn money.
What was the last thing you bought?
A business investment for the future of our children. It was worth it!
When do you splurge or scrimp?
I splurge on pampering and making my family happy like traveling, holidays and dining out, because they are my inspiration to reach my dreams. I don’t spend on unnecessary things.
What is the best thing money has given you?
I was able to provide the needs of my family such as a house, car, medical costs, and all their other financial needs.
Does money make you happy?
Sometimes, but not all the time. I learned to value every cent I earn for my children’s future.
What’s the one thing money can’t buy?
Two things. Love and happiness.
If you won €1 million, where would you spend it on?
I will invest and add another business for the future of my family. And I would also build a foundation for children with special needs.
I’m curious how much is a liter of petrol in Saudi Arabia?
It has gone up because of higher taxes. Before it was just Php20/liter but now it’s Php 40,00.
Want to share with us your income and expenses, and Pinoy budget? Email us at email@example.com. Your name will remain anonymous.
*Names have been changed for privacy.
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Dheza Aguilar is the Managing Editor of The Filipino Expat Magazine. She was a former Netherlands correspondent for ABS-CBN, and freelance writer for other publications. She works for a supply company in Rotterdam and is eternally juggling passion and career.