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Gen Y money: Oh, the places you’ll someday, eventually go

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Thanks for reading our Gen Y money blog, where a recent grad chronicles her real-life journey to becoming a financially independent adult.

I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't susceptible to severe FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) – especially when it comes to travel.

All summer, my Instagram feed has been flooded with freshly filtered European castles, rooftop views and exotic-looking cocktails as my friends enjoy their adventures abroad. Although I love living in Toronto, the itch to see a different skyline (and indulge in some of those exotic beverages) is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.

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A recent pay raise has brought me to a fortunate financial crossroads. If I manage the increase wisely, in about 10 months I will either be able to: A) annihilate a massive chunk of my student debt, or B) live the twentysomething dream and treat myself to a Eurotrip.

I haven't travelled much over the past five years. No matter which way I crunched the numbers in university, I couldn't pocket enough to spend a semester or a summer abroad. Extracurricular activities and summer jobs were also priorities that kept me planted in Toronto. Besides, I always figured I'd be able to fund my wanderlust shortly after graduation.

Well, here I am, one year out of university, and I'm finding my travel dreams thwarted by a different kind of FOMO – Fear Of Missing Opportunities.

Part of my motivation for jumping into my career immediately after graduation was to get a head start in the industry. If there was one thing I had learned from the meagre amount work experience I'd acquired during university, it was that opportunity is not a lengthy visitor. In order to be a competitive candidate for a digital marketing job, I'd have to take advantage of every single opportunity to network and grow my skills.

Sure, it's not like I'm a CEO – my entry-level job is, arguably, insignificant enough that I could quit and only my lunch buddies would miss me. I don't have a family or any life responsibilities that I'd risk neglecting. I'm young, energetic and have the rest of my life to figure out my career – many would argue that there wouldn't be a better time to get out and see the world.

And I agree – but the past few months have been overflowing with opportunities to grow my skills, network, and carve-out my career path. I'm constantly excited by new projects and how the results might affect my next "career move." For the first time in my life, I have the ability to actually make "career moves."

I do view travel as an investment. Backpacking through Europe would not only provide me with cultural knowledge, but also with invaluable once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

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It would also slow down my student debt repayment. Upon my return, I would potentially land back in the not-so-fresh hell of job hunting. While I know that a couple months of travel wouldn't cause a significant career setback, I've also worked hard for a year to establish a certain level of job security that I'm not yet ready to abandon.

I regret having to postpone my travels, but I have an inkling that I'll enjoy travelling much more once I'm debt-free and have a few more bricks set in my career foundation. As much as I'd love to take advantage of my semi-rootless existence now, a debt-free life is on my horizon and travel will motivate me to grow my savings when that glorious day arrives.

In 10 months time, I could be a few miles closer to financial freedom, or a several hundred miles around the world. Either way, I know I have the rest of my life to either travel or grow my career – it just so happens that the funds have started trickling in now.

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