Inside blog joke: “New pet’s name at the shelter is currently bogart, but I’m going to change it.” “You should totally change it to Alexicographer.”
It is not interesting to watch laypeople argue about the definition of a jargon term. Especially when that term is already ill-defined within the disciplines that use it.
DH says: ooh, I might be making progress! it’s Science!
DH gets seriously bad breath when he starts losing weight.
I had sympathy for someone who was complaining about student loan payments and how they’re so far behind other people their age until I read about their frequent exotic vacation travel that they splurge on because they should be allowed to splurge on something. Choices = consequences– you could choose to not take such regular vacations and then you could have the bigger house you’re begrudging other people or you could make a bigger dent in your loans. Those people you’re complaining about could have chosen to go on vacations instead, but they didn’t, they chose the things you think it’s unfair that they have and you don’t. Because somehow travel money is different from regular money used to buy boring things?
Someone famous who used to comment on our blog (but who I have never met and hasn’t the slightest clue who I am either bloggily or professionally) is giving a talk nearby today. I wonder if I should go. [update: I can’t because DH is out of town and DC1 has a piano lesson. Booo.]
I didn’t think it could happen, but I’ve actually gotten kind of tired of the food at Trader Joe’s.
quote from current lab meeting: “who’s got two thumbs and knows how to research? I do!”
You know, I just read a similar student loan post, ending with “feel the bern”. I still feel a little sympathy, but this person was clearly intentionally not prioritizing loans and has had lots of vacations. Which is fine… but own that decision.
Well, you see, it is an EXPERIENCE. And you can’t travel when you are old – it just isn’t possible. So it is a necessary luxury, really.
(There are arguments for prioritizing travel when you are young, and I mostly agree with them, esp. if you plan to have kids… but only if you can afford it or if it fits into your overall financial plan.)
Pedicures are an experience too (not one I enjoy, but they’re considered as taboo as lattes!)
I have found traveling with kids to be more fun than without. They get so much more excited about things and it’s fun to see their reactions. Granted, I am not crazy about going places where you can’t drink the water or you need an armed escort to go shopping. Washington DC by myself was fine. With DC1 it was extraordinary. Similarly Boston, San Diego, LA, SF, etc. Even places like Albuquerque, Little Rock, or St. Louis are a lot more fun with kids. Maybe I should do a deliberately controversial post on the topic.
I think there are several things going on…
1) Travel can serve as a signaling mechanism, much like university used to. I would argue it used to be you could prove a certain amount of “being a cultured / interesting person” by going to university (or to “the right sort” of university). Now, going to university has become so focused on credentialing, people use travel to find people to associate with, demonstrate that they are cultured/interesting and (at higher income levels) signal their disposable income. But college is still expected, ergo student loans.
2) Travel is also sometimes a reflection of prioritizing education. If your schooling consisted entirely of post No Child Left Behind testing obsessed malarkey, you might feel travel was more educational than college as well.
3) That said, by and large, people (especially young people) aren’t prioritizing travel over college… they’re prioritizing travel over home ownership. Home ownership, forced savings aside, only keeps pace with inflation and seems more risky for post-housing crisis generations. Whether it’s “responsible planning for the future” or “luxury conspicuous consumption” is very debatable (depending in part on local financial specifics, and in part on perspective).
What’s going on with someone who has large student loans and large travel expenses is that they are very fixated on how they are signaling to others (consciously or not). They need a degree and a nice house to signal success to their parents, and they need travel to signal success to their peers. Ultimately, the most expensive luxury is giving a crap what other people think. In academia, you’re given a pass on some of the most trivial versions of conspicuous consumption (people *do* care less about what car you drive if you are a professor than a banker), but what is morally laudable is not to be able to save money when nobody cares, but to be able to save money *even when people will think less of you for doing so*. Otherwise, it’s just differently prioritizing e.g. houses and travel.
Though we were super good and only ate out when we’d earned a little extra money working as research subjects (targeted extra income!). :) I don’t think there were any movies we really had to see theaters until the first Harry Potter came out and by then we could do it without guilt because the debt was gone!
Still, even the biggest dinner and a movie splurge in most places (where you can’t you know, get a gold plated burger) is nothing compared to most traveling.
a weekend in vegas if you’re driving from LA and get good deals… airfare alone for two people will be at least $300 from elsewhere
(yes, yes, there’s travel hacking, but most travel hacking involves, you know, spending money you don’t have when you’re already in debt so you can get mileage, or being employed in a job that requires travel)
I find it fascinating that some people don’t consider travel a luxury. My boyfriend has worked several places where foreign travel is considered so luxurious that he’s basically considered to be snooty just for doing it. It’s only like a couple thousand dollars each, depending where you go–most people can easily save up for that. It’s nowhere near the cost of a car or house and no worse than things like cable and smart phone contracts and eating out a lot.
Once my boyfriend was working at a call center and he asked for some time off to travel (my sister was living in Belgium!), and they said sure, but don’t count on your job still being there when you get back. And it wasn’t.
Well, one problem with comparing yourself to others is that it’s easy to compare your total lifestyle to the combined best parts of all the lifestyles of everyone you know. You might be able to have anything you want, but not everything, at least not all at the same time.
I feel that ‘don’t complain about the natural and immediate consequences of your choices’ is a good principle. You spent money? Well, now you have less money!
At Snooty U the union workers went on strike once. One lady got up and said ‘We don’t make enough to take a fancy vacation every year! Support our strike!’ Which…. was not the best way to win my sympathy. You and your secretary job and your spouse’s job and the dental and health insurance I don’t have can only go to Hawaii every five years? My heart bleeds. (‘Pay a decent living wage’ OTOH
I could have gotten behind.)
The “home ownership only keeps pace with inflation” meme is very much dependent on which housing market you are talking about. In the almost 30 years I’ve owned my house, its value has quadrupled, but inflation would have predicted only a doubling. (Disclaimer: I’m relying on Zillow’s estimate of house value, which may be 5–10% high, but even correcting for that doesn’t change the overall argument.)
I don’t think that the SF bay area can be used as an example of anything about housing except as an outlier. Not sure which bullet this is referring to, but for most people housing is a single somewhat risky asset where they do most of their saving. (Paying down a mortgage, otoh, is a safe return in the absence of foreclosure.)
I think the “only keeps pace with inflation” bit reflects the popularly-disseminated stat that, over the population, the average length of time people own a house is only around six years. It shouldn’t be used as a One True Fact, just like BMI shouldn’t. If people buy and hold for 30 years like GSWP, then – like buy-and-hold stock investors – they are going to do better than inflation. Unless they have bought and held in a crappy market like, say, Mississippi.
I am quite sure it depends on which market you are talking about. Which means that for every California metro area inflation-adjusted doubling, the Midwest or South has seen a house for which the inflation adjusted value has been cut in half (in the aggregate, obviously. actually, for all I know even 30 years ago you could get two Midwest houses for the price of one California metro house- which means *four* Midwest house values cut in half to make up for SF!).
From 1890 to 1990, the inflation-adjusted prices of homes showed almost no change. You can’t get around that by owning your home for 30 years. So I would not say buying and holding makes home ownership a smart financial move. Rather, I would say the transaction costs in housing are so comparatively astronomical that buying and selling at a rapid clip due to life factors (not market factors) is a good recipe for bankruptcy.
Full disclosure: I live in Michigan and have to regularly convince my California raised partner not to Buy All The Houses, so I am Grumpier than would otherwise be called for on this particular topic.
LMAO I am grumpy about this topic too. Living in L.A. = grumpy about real estate. But then, my parents bought a million-dollar house on an estuary near St. Augustine and spend approximately the same $$ per month as we do thanks to property taxes, insurance, and utilities. Plus they have to work their aging asses off to keep the place up to their standards. So they are also grumpy!
fwiw I think people should only ever buy a house if they are willing to live there until they die. But I have lived in a lot of places I would never have wanted to be tied to.
unless your stock portfolio is a lot bigger than your home equity, the comparison is a single pick stock or a very small targeted index fund (like “only companies headquartered in my town” or “only one industry”) – you aren’t in an average of real estate markets, you’re in your own fairly small regional market.
Millenials value travel more than other generations past according to some pretty serious data I had access to a while ago. It’s an “experience” that a majority prioritize over spending on cars, housing and other goods in the study I saw, which I thought was interesting. Apparently the millenial you are reading about values travel over debt. Heh.
Great question – I am not sure why. I think the “sharing economy” might play a role – Airbnb making it easy to rent your place while you’re away making $ for travel, city car shares making car ownership less of a necessity. The conclusion was that experiences (concerts / live music / travel) were more highly valued by a majority of the millenial generation than “things” – material goods.
I suspect it’s also that mentality that the “enlightened” will always prioritize travel/experience above all material things, and particularly above such mundane things like paying off debt, because you aren’t promised tomorrow. Goes hand in hand with the evolution of the workplace away from pensions and company loyalty and all that.
I rely on Trader Joe’s mostly for staples (cheese, milk, bagged salad, etc.). Maybe that’s why I’m not bored by it. I try to avoid the prepared foods there. They are usually delicious, but I’m focusing on freshly prepared at home foods these days. (Yes, telecommuting rocks for this reason, too!)
I’m usually good at avoiding click bait, but for some reason I followed the link to your potty tag. I must be looking for a reason to avoid work. :-/
Great timing for me on the potty link! I am now re-reading your EC posts as my sick almost-1-year-old sleeps on me. Ze is suuuuper squirmy for diaper changes, so introducing the potty sounds especially great!
I guess I’m in a minority on the travel thing- not the complaining about it costing money (duh!)- but the value of it. I love to travel. It is my favorite thing to do with money, really. I probably took some trips that weren’t the smartest use of money in my time. I can honestly say that looking back on some of the trips we’ve taken give me more happiness than any other single expentidure I can think of. Except maybe our awesome dishwasher.
But, I was lucky on the college debt thing and didn’t have that problem. So all we did with our traveling was delay getting into the housing market. Which may actually have kept us from buying even closer to the peak than we did buy… so, no complaints here.
Our house was back above water, even before our recent renovations, which blows my mind. I live in a weird place, housing market wise. I love San Diego, but our housing market is just weird. I hope we can avoid bay area levels of weird, but sometimes I think we’re inevitably heading that way.
Also… I loved travel before kids, and I love it with kids. We’ve done one international trips without our kids (for a wedding), and that was fun, but weird, because I missed my kids and wanted to show them things. But they would have been hard to feed, and we wouldn’t have been able to sit around all afternoon drinking wine… so I guess it was a wash.
Not saying it has no value, just that there’s nothing “special” about it except what is special for any individual preference. If you can’t afford travel, you shouldn’t treat it any differently than any luxury you can’t afford.