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Finance: Impact of gap years on your finances

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: As the Phuket Gazette‘s managing editor is imminently departing on his possibly crazy adventure to wherever the dice will take him, I thought it might be a good time to discuss gap years and how they tie in to your long-term financial well-being.

There are two main types of gap years. The first is either before, or immediately following a university degree, and the other is mid-career and typically known as a sabbatical.

Gap years during university studies are very common in Europe, but not so much in America. In fact, even though I did take gap years myself, travelling around the United States and living out of campsites and a converted van, it is not something that is encouraged. Typically, the fast-paced American culture views time off for traveling simply as a waste of time. I obviously disagree, for reasons I will list later on.

Taking a sabbatical mid-career is a little trickier from a financial perspective if you already have many fixed overhead costs in life. Obviously most of these tend to arrive with marriage and children, but taking a gap year and bringing the family along is something I intend to do myself in the future. I consider it one of the best investments in my children’s education that I will make. So how do these gap years fit into life planning and affect our overall financial trajectory in life?

From a purely mathematical perspective, it would appear on the surface that a gap year is usually a total financial loss. Very rarely does anyone work above and beyond what is needed to finance the trip, if they even work at all. Many live off of savings during this period. So there’s not only opportunity costs associated with losing your income during the period, there is also often a chunk of savings wiped out in the process. The benefits mathematically are very difficult to quantify, so it appears on the surface to be a loser.

However, the benefits often come over the long term. For myself, a benefit of travelling the US during university made me more mature and ready to settle down when I got back into studying. This allowed me to graduate at the top of my class. I also developed a love of travel and a desire to explore, which led to me taking some of my most successful risks in life.

My second gap year came when I was burning out from trading. Initially I intended to spend a year in Thailand, teaching mainly to get a visa and earn pocket change, before going to do my MBA and switch into a different side of business back in the US. Well, that was eleven years ago.

I did leave for my MBA after a year, but I came straight back here and never left Thailand again.

My entire life here, with a wife and children, is the result of a gap year. How can you put a price tag on your entire life working out beyond your dreams?

It may be that my experience leaves me slightly biased about the value of gap years, but anybody will gain from meeting new people, experiencing new cultures, overcoming adversities, reflecting on life and making personal changes. In the long run I don’t think anyone has ever regretted a gap year unless they experienced some kind of crisis. Financially speaking, I have never come across anybody who said “If only I hadn’t taken that gap year, my retirement would be so much better”.

David Mayes MBA resides in Phuket and provides wealth management services to expatriates around the globe, focusing on UK pension transfers. He can be reached at david.m@faramond.com or 085-335 8573. Faramond UK is regulated by the FCA and provides advice on pensions and taxation.

— David Mayes

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Turbulence ahead for Thailand’s aviation industry | VIDEO

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Turbulence ahead for Thailand’s aviation industry | VIDEO | The Thaiger

When the airlines, in particular, were asking the government to put their hands in their pockets for some relief funding in August last year, it was genuinely thought that international tourists would be coming back for the high season in December and January. At the very least local tourists and expats would head back to the skies over the traditional holiday break. And surely the Chinese would be back for Chinese New Year?

As we know now, none of that happened. A resurge in cases started just south of Bangkok on December 20 last year, just before Christmas, kicking off another round of restrictions, pretty much killing off any possibility of a high season ‘bump’ for the tourist industry. Airlines slashed flights from their schedule, and hotels, which had dusted off their reception desks for the surge of tourists, shut their doors again.

Domestically, the hotel business saw 6 million room nights in the government’s latest stimulus campaign fully redeemed. But the air ticket quota of 2 million seats still has over 1.3 million seats unused. Local tourists mostly skipped flights and opted for destinations within driving distance of their homes.

As for international tourism… well that still seems months or years away, even now.

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Domestic air passenger numbers double those of January

Maya Taylor

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Domestic air passenger numbers double those of January | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Vietjet

Passenger numbers on domestic flights within Thailand have doubled within a month, rising from 4,000 in January to over 10,000 this month. Having nearly recovered to pre-pandemic levels, domestic travel plummeted once more when Covid-19 resurfaced late last year.

Apirat Chaiwongnoi from the Department of Airports says 15 of Thailand’s 29 airports are now operating domestic flights, with more expected to follow. He believes the aviation sector will continue to recover further in the coming 6 months, bolstered by the national vaccine rollout.

Around 120 domestic flights a day are now operating, which is twice the number that were operating at the lowest point in the crisis. Prior to the resurgence of the virus in December, domestic passenger numbers had recovered to 30,000 – 40,000 a day, around 80% of pre-pandemic numbers.

The DoA says airports must continue to adhere to the Covid-19 hygiene measures put in place by the Health Ministry and the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Samut Sakhon’s shrimp market to remain closed until February 15

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Samut Sakhon’s shrimp market to remain closed until February 15 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Kom Chad Luek

Samut Sakhon’s Central Shrimp Market, the epicentre of Thailand’s recent wave of Covid-19, will remain closed until February 15. The market can reopen once the overall hygiene situation at the market and surrounding area has improved, according to the province’s disease control committee.

Local officials say the shrimp market needs to remain closed until the market structure and nearby residential facilities are inspected. People who violate the order face up to a year in prison and a fine up to 100,000 baht.

More than 12,000 people in the province have tested positive for Covid-19. The increasing number of infections is a result from the active case finding to contain the spread of the virus.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World | Thairath Online

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