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Oh, the places you shouldn’t go!

Don’t put off paying down student loan debt. (iStock)

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 just between high school and college but also after receiving their undergraduate degree.

Go, travel, have fun, some argue. 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,” wrote Penny Loretto for “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 bye-bye.

Color of Money question of the week
Do you think that millennials should prioritize traveling over saving or getting out of debt? Send your comments to Please include your name, city and state. In the subject line put “Oh, the places you shouldn’t go.”

Live chat today
I’m away this week, but my Washington Post colleague Jonnelle Marte will guest host the live chat today. So send her your personal finance questions.

If you missed some chats, here’s a link to the archive.

Could you be living paycheck-to-paycheck after a $20 million payday?
Pirates of the Caribbean star Johnny Depp is suing his former business managers. Depp says they mismanaged his money. The firm, The Management Group, has countered Depp was spent lavishly and didn’t heed advice to curtail his spending. Last week I asked: Are you struggling even though you make good money? If so, what lessons have you learned about your spending habits?

Richard Watt of New Rochelle, N.Y., had a lot of lessons learned. Here’s some of this reader’s advice to save.
1. The best way to save 100 percent on a product is don’t buy it. Eighteen months ago we moved out of our home to an apartment. You can’t believe all the junk we had.

2. My phone 5C is working very nicely, I didn’t need 6 or 7, and won’t need 8.

3. Spend for what you really enjoy, a trip so see my bother or my wife’s relatives (Yes, we all get along).

4. A great meal, made at home, is usually much better than any restaurant meal.

5. If you’re a bad golfer, as I am, you don’t need new clubs. They won’t help.

“Finally, aka Johnny Depp, don’t incur huge recurring expenses,” Watts wrote. “ Your stardom won’t last forever.”

Max Handelsman of Olney, Md., wrote, “What I’ve learned is that you need to always live below your means, and always be ready for all income to be cut off and/or a tidal wave of unexpected expenses. Our family has always had a middle-class to upper middle-class income, but we live like a very frugal middle-class family. Or, at least we did most of our lives, but we’re finally spending a bit more now that we are way ahead of what we should be according to all the calculators we’ve used. If I had an income in the eight digits, I can’t say I’d live as I do now, but I would be saving and/or investing a huge portion of that. Remember, Kendrick Lamar bought his sister a Toyota Camry, a perfectly nice car, but not extravagant. Some people don’t lose their minds when they get ridiculously rich.”

Color of Money columns this week
Knowledge isn’t power. The right knowledge is power.

Stay informed about your money. Read and share my column from this past week.
Some help to sort those new rules on investment advice

In case you missed some of my recent newsletters:
For many seniors, retirement gets more expensive if Senate’s health-care bill is passed

Could you be living paycheck-to-paycheck after a $20 million payday?

Have a question about your finances? Michelle Singletary has a weekly live chat every Thursday at noon where she discusses financial dilemmas with readers. You can also write to Michelle directly by sending an email to Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read more Color of Money columns, go here.