You don’t just go away to sea for the money – but let’s face it, it helps. So what can you do to make sure you earn as much as possible, but also save and invest wisely too? No point working yourself to a frazzle if your cash isn’t toiling as hard as you are. But there can be pitfalls, so what do you need to watch out for?
What is the best piece of financial advice you have ever been given? Do you use it? Does it work fine or you had to modify it to meet your circumstances?
There are some basic errors which seafarers the world over commit when it comes to money – do you do any of these, and can you find an alternative approach instead?
Depending on relatives to manage finances: Trust and respect are good – but do relatives really know the best way to get savings working, to get investments to deliver, and to avoid spending your hard earned? With ships now increasingly connected, many seafarers are able to take advantage of online banking – the power over the money can rest with the earner…which has to be a relief for all.
Believing that the seafaring life will last forever: Changes in circumstance mean changes in finance – and with seafarers tending to leave the sea after a few years, are your finances in a fit state to deal with any drop in salary, or any rise in taxes?
Be realistic about how long you think you will be at sea for and plan accordingly.
Taking on an overwhelming amount of (bad!) debt: This is tied to the above point. You are a seafarer on a good, tax free salary – so you can borrow. There is a good and bad debt – wise and stupid debt. A home loan would probably be considered good, while lending to fund some dubious investment opportunity would be not.
The issue of bad or scam investments is a serious one for seafarers. “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread”…a strange phrase for a financial article on seafarer investment you may think. Actually though, this is perhaps the most basic, sensible and important piece of advice you can get. Do not be in a hurry to make stupid mistakes.
The investment opportunity which seems amazing or too good to be true…well often times they are. Sadly bad people see opportunity in good people – so the hard working seafarer, away from home, distant and disconnected…and with money coming in. Well they are ripe to be taken for a ride.
That amazing coffee concoction, lashings of aloe vera, the magical juice that makes women skinny and beautiful – these are just a few of the wonderful scams that scammers often approach the gullible or optimistic with.
This is perhaps where seafarers are most vulnerable – there is a seemingly good idea, one that takes investment…nothing more. Why not pump some extra cash in while away. What is the worse that could happen? Well, in a pyramid type selling scheme like these, only the top gets paid out, and the rest lose. They lose big time…so be careful what schemes, if any, are used as an investment.
Whatever the country you are from, it is likely that someone would love to get hold of your cash…and keep it. Don’t thrown your hard earned away without fully understanding or spotting the warning signs.
In India, one example is the “NSEL” scam – this was a systematic and premeditated fraud perpetrated in the commodity market and 13, 000 investors lost their shirts when the fraud was discovered and it was found that the exchange they invested in had neither the money nor stocks to pay them back.
While in the Philippines, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Anti-Fraud and Action Division recently warned of a growing investment scam in Southern Luzon. A scam company allegedly duped its investors into paying as much as US$3,700 weekly for a 40% return. As you can perhaps imagine – the original money was lost, and the 40% return was a 100% nonsense.
A little bit of common sense and perhaps some research can protect and safeguard against most scammers, but it is important to be on the guard for the warning signs.
These are just some of the tell-tale, red flag warning signs to look out for if the investment fraudsters try and get to you and your cash:
Friendly people will phone you from companies you have never heard of. They will chatter about your investments, about your savings and pry about your career. They will big up the special opportunity they are giving you. Scammers will hope you haven’t researched, they will try and befuddle and confound, and they will rely on your false pride and try to exploit any gullibility. Don’t let them!
Sadly these people will lie and cheat, they will convince you that they have an incredible, once in a lifetime opportunity. They do – the chance to lose all your money with little or no chance of return. Unless you are an experienced investor, be very, very careful. Get proper advice, from people you know and trust. Take your time, read up, make decisions wisely. A fool and his money are soon parted…
The key for seafarers to make money work harder is to
Automate bank transaction – don’t let credit card bills or debts payments lapse. Make sure that technology is working for you.
Budget – it is boring yes, but making sure there is enough coming in to cover that which has to go out is perhaps the most basic lesson of financial management.
Invest carefully – as we have discussed, be coy and careful with your cash.
Being at sea is tough for savers – yes, ok the chances to spend are limited, but there is the need to provide financial support to family members and to put money aside too.
Investment and entrepreneurship is not often considered a key trait for seafarers – and it seems that many lose hard-earned money so it is doubly important to think, to act carefully and to consider the worst as well as the best case. So if someone offers 40%
It is all about becoming smarter about money, about saving more, and then making it work harder. In the Philippines there is a big focus on what is being called, “financial literacy”. This kind of outreach it is hoped will make seafarers appreciate their money and the things they can do with it…which aren’t just blowing it!