Heni, Former Forbes-Recognized Migrant Worker, Shares Money Management Tips ahead of Eid

Jakarta, March 28, 2024 – For many Indonesians, the days leading up to Eid are a time for reunion, laughter, and bonding with family in their hometowns. However, many Indonesian migrant workers living abroad may experience Eid differently.  They may rely on other methods to convey affection and maintain connections with their families such as through video calls or  by supporting them financially.

Heni Sri Sundani, 36, who previously worked as a migrant worker for six years in Hong Kong and is now a sociopreneur and founder of the Smart Farmer Children movement, shared her experience during Ramadan and Eid while working as a migrant worker. Heni explained that migrant workers have their own challenges during this holy month, from longer fasting hours compared to Indonesia, to meal times that conflict with their employers' eating schedules.

However, the biggest challenge lies in managing personal finances, considering that they are not only responsible for their own lives abroad but also have to support their families in their homeland.

With remittances serving as a lifeline for many families in Indonesia, it is important for migrant workers to manage their money well. Heni, who was previously featured in Forbes' 30 under 30 Asia list, shared three practical and money-saving tips to help around 4,8 million*. Indonesian migrant workers better manage their finances in the days leading up to Eid.

1. Set Priorities

Drawing from Heni's experience, it's crucial for migrant workers to establish a priority scale. Not everything needs to be purchased; sometimes we buy things just to fulfill our desires. Moreover, the feeling of wanting to compete with others, such as buying a new prayer outfit for Eid prayers. It is important to distinguish between needs and wants and restrain oneself from unnecessary purchases, especially for migrant workers with the dual responsibilities of supporting themselves and their families back home.

2. Start Preparing Financial Plans in Advance

From the onset of Ramadan, migrant workers often face rising expenses, from covering their family’s basic needs to sending additional sums of money as part of the cherished tradition of giving Eid pocket money. Therefore, Heni suggests that the budget for the holy month of Ramadan should be planned well in advance.

Likewise, to cover the expenses leading up to Eid, Heni usually starts setting aside money from the beginning of Ramadan and considers the fasting period as a suitable time to save. By preparing in advance, the expenses leading up to Eid can be efficiently met.

3. Utilize Cheap and Transparent Remittance Platforms to Send Money to Indonesia

Migrant workers often face challenges when sending money to Indonesia, often using complex methods like entrusting money to returning friends, or costly methods like utilising traditional remittance services. Many are unaware that traditional remittance services can incur higher costs due to hidden fees and inflated exchange rates, which providers often do not disclose. According to the World Bank, the global average cost of remittances is 6.04%, meaning a migrant worker sending Rp 5,000,000 to Indonesia could incur about Rp 300,000 in fees. Consequently, families in Indonesia often receive less money than they expect.

"I once interned at a remittance provider in Hong Kong, and it’s true that they charge a variety of additional fees to send money to Indonesia. Many of my migrant worker friends also have to prepare for costs outside of the transaction itself, such as transportation costs to the bank, and so on," she explained.

Heni shares that she uses Wise to send money to her family in Indonesia. Wise offers the ability to send money to over 70 countries globally at the mid-market exchange rate (the rate that you will usually find on Google), with no exchange rate mark-up, and charges 0.65% on average for each cross-border transfer. Most transactions are also completed instantly (less than 20 seconds).

"This way, my family and I in Indonesia can make the most of our hard-earned money during Eid ," said Heni.

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