My grandmother passed away suddenly this past weekend, and if you are thinking, “Wow, The Maine Millennial has experienced a lot of deaths in her family this year,” then you are, unfortunately, correct.

My grandmother’s great passion was finance – she was a super-frugal saver, investor and coupon-er. She was the first in her family to go to college, and she went from being a single mother in the early 1970s to sending all of her kids to college and retiring in a comfortable nest on a nice egg with her husband of 42 years.

Her last Christmas gift to me was a subscription to Money magazine. She used to clip financial advice articles from newspapers to mail me. So, in her memory, I would ask my readers to clip (or email) this column to the young adults in your life because I am going to pass on some of the financial advice my grandmother gave me. (For best effect, imagine this being said to you by a woman with an impeccable snow-white bob and a surprisingly bright manicure. She is holding a glass of white wine from the Finger Lakes Wine Country.)


Credit score: It goes from 300 to 850, with 300 bad and 850 perfect. Your credit score tells people how reliable you are when it comes to paying back money, and it’s easy to forget about, but your credit score can and will affect you getting a car loan, a mortgage or an apartment rental. You want to set yourself up for success early, because once your score has been lowered, it is very hard to raise.

You don’t have to make a lot of money to get a good credit score. You just need to pay. Your. Bills. On. Time. Particularly large, high-interest ones – your landlord might be willing to front you a week on your rent check, but your student loan officer won’t be so generous. This is why my grandmother was so happy when automatic withdrawal technology was invented. If you can, take advantage of it. (I also get an 0.25 percent interest rate deduction on my student loans by having my monthly payment automatically withdrawn.)


Credit card debt: I am sure everyone in your life has told you: “Do not run up credit card debt.” If you want to tuck a small picture of Lois Fleming in your wallet to remind you, email me and I will provide one.

401(k) plans: “The smartest move is to ask what the match is and you have an equal amount taken out, too. However, if you feel you can, you can have more taken, but going with match is the best way to start. REMEMBER: This is going to be your income in years to come because, believe it or not, someday you will be old and the few dollars put away now will multiply into many $$$$ when you can’t work.” This is a direct quote from one of her emails to me.

The only financial mistake she ever made was not charging people for her financial advice. Every holiday we saw her, instead of greeting us with the appropriate festive greeting, she would say, “Not matching your company’s contribution is LEAVING FREE MONEY ON THE TABLE!”

Also, who knows if Social Security will still be around in 45 years. Best to think long term and plan ahead.

Consumer goods: Store brands are just as good as name brands. Except for Oreos. Always spring for the real Oreos.

If you shop somewhere regularly, join the rewards system. In college, I bought 80 percent of everything at CVS because it was the only place within walking distance. I never really used their coupons (they were mostly all for makeup, to the point where I think CVS was trying to tell me something), but their ExtraBucks, which could be spent like cash, came in real handy, let me tell you.


Investing: As soon as you can, start a small investment and savings account. Vanguard is a good place to start. Make it low-risk, low-reward (not what young brains are wired for, I know). Try to sock a little money away every paycheck. Compound interest is a real thing, and it’s the only financial advantage young people have over baby boomers.

Remember: Lois Fleming believes in you. She believed in a brighter future.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @mainemillennial

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