The Washington Post

Obama, Romney and the art of being broke 20-somethings

Then this week at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, Michelle Obama spoke about the early days of her marriage, when student loan payments cost the couple more than their monthly mortgage payment. “We were so young, so in love, and so in debt,” she said.

Obviously, both of these women had political reasons for bringing up these decades-old memories. And, yes, both speeches have been criticized. But I was struck by Romney and Obama’s similar comments about making ends meet in their 20s. It seems that being a broke 20-something has become a required stage of life, a universal experience of sorts that older generations like to reflect fondly upon.

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on that in the comments section below. But, first, here are some excerpts from transcripts of the two speeches:

Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, addresses the Republican National Convention. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Then our first son came along. All at once I’m 22 years old, with a baby and a husband who’s going to business school and law school at the same time, and I can tell you, probably like every other girl who finds herself in a new life far from family and friends, with a new baby and a new husband, that it dawned on me that I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into.” (Full transcript)

First Lady Michelle Obama speaks in Charlotte on the first day of the Democratic National Convention. (Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

When it comes to giving our kids the education they deserve, Barack knows that like me, and like so many of you, he never could’ve attended college without financial aid.

And believe it or not, when we were first married, our combined monthly student loan bills were actually higher than our mortgage. We were so young, so in love, and so in debt.” (Full transcript)

What about you? For those who haven’t been a 20-something in decades, what lessons did you learn during those years? And for those still struggling through, what are you learning along the way?

For more higher education news, you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter. And here are some recent articles you may also enjoy:

Class of 2007: Reunion after a tough 5 years

Learning continues after graduation, especially in a rough economy

Romney’s prep school and college days: What do they really tell us?

Jenna Johnson is a political reporter who is covering the 2016 presidential campaign.


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