Oh, the places you shouldn’t go!

The Washington Post Sunday - - TAKING STOCK - Michelle.sin­gle­tary@wash­post.com

Dr. Seuss’s “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” is a pop­u­lar grad­u­a­tion gift for col­lege stu­dents. It en­cour­ages them to go out and see the world: You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be see­ing great sights! You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights. It’s not as frowned upon now when young adults take a gap year, not only be­tween high school and col­lege but also af­ter re­ceiv­ing their un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree.

Go travel, have fun, some say. De­lay get­ting a job and sav­ing. Travel while you are young, or so the ar­gu­ment goes.

“In the past, it was be­lieved that get­ting a job or go­ing im­me­di­ately on to grad­u­ate school were the only op­tions,” Penny Loretto wrote for per­sonal fi­nance web­site the Bal­ance. “But with many more op­tions avail­able and a slow econ­omy, tak­ing a gap year af­ter col­lege can be a very worth­while ex­pe­ri­ence.”

But Brian Roberts, a free­lance writer, en­tre­pre­neur and Forbes con­trib­u­tor to its Un­der 30 Net­work plat­form wrote a com­pelling ar­gu­ment for why mil­len­ni­als shouldn’t travel in their early 20s.

As Roberts points out, a study by mar­ket­ing re­search firm GfK and Airbnb found that most mil­len­ni­als feel trav­el­ing is more im­por­tant than sav­ing for a home, car or even pay­ing off debt.

How­ever, he says, post-col­lege getaways shouldn’t be used as an es­cape from the fi­nan­cial drudgery of adult­hood.

“Mil­len­ni­als should build their nest be­fore they fly be­cause oth­er­wise, they are merely seek­ing re­ward with­out hav­ing put in the work. Thus re­turn­ing home to an un­sta­ble foun­da­tion,” Roberts writes.

He goes on to say if you can earn an in­come while reap­ing the ben­e­fits of ex­otic lo­cales that’s the best of both worlds. But if that’s not the case, “mil­len­ni­als are build­ing less eq­uity in not only fi­nan­cial in­vest­ment but also so­cial cap­i­tal. While mil­len­ni­als save 36 per­cent more of their an­nual in­come than their gen­er­a­tional coun­ter­parts, 63 per­cent ad­mit they uti­lize their sav­ings for travel, din­ing, and fit­ness rather than re­tire­ment or plan­ning for the fu­ture, as noted in Mer­rill Edge’s 2017 re­port.”

Un­less the travel is for­ward-fo­cused, it’s just play time, Roberts ar­gues. And I agree.

“Aim­less travel, not tied to build­ing a skill or a busi­ness en­ter­prise, is not likely to in­crease a mil­len­nial’s value to oth­ers or pro­duce a tan­gi­ble re­turn on in­vest­ment mov­ing for­ward,” he writes.

If you’re young and think­ing you’ll de­lay get­ting to your stu­dent loans, read this:

Oh, the places you’ll go, grad­u­ate, but know what you owe!

You’d bet­ter know what you owe be­cause your debt is high.

Oh, the places you’ll go once your stu­dent loans go bye­bye.


It’s now more ac­cept­able to take a gap year and travel af­ter col­lege grad­u­a­tion. Michelle Sin­gle­tary, how­ever, warns grad­u­ates to take care of their fi­nances be­fore tak­ing off.

Michelle Sin­gle­tary THE COLOR OF MONEY

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