There seems to be a lot of public interest in the finances of millennials – you can tell because of all the aghast articles about what millennials are and are not buying (buying: expensive dog food; not buying: diamonds).

I saw it again in the flurry of interest in a young congresswoman from New York City – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – who publicly said that she was having difficulty affording apartments in both New York City and Washington, D.C., at the same time. (And who the heck can blame her? Those are two of the most expensive metro areas in the country.) Older generations like to worry about younger generations – it’s been happening, I assume, since literally the dawn of time, when the first cave-teenager argued with the first cave-parent about his cave-curfew.

So I’d like to share with you a snapshot into the Real Finances of a Maine Millennial. Oh, yes. Hard numbers.

I take home $430 in pay from my 40-hour-a-week 9-to-5 office job, which is also where I get my health insurance. I have a second job in retail that pays $12 an hour, but the hours vary by week. During the height of the holiday season I was working 35 hours a week at the store (and, yes, that is in addition to the full 40 at my regular job – don’t tell me millennials are lazy), but this week I’m scheduled only for 10. I’m still hard at work selling my uncle’s vintage Playboy magazine collection, which brings in an extra $20 to $30 per week (on average over the past few months – like anything else, the market demand for Playboys fluctuates).

Now for the expenses. My share of the rent is $425 a month; I live with my boyfriend, a roommate and two cats (the cats don’t pay rent, but they do keep the mice at bay). Heat and hot water are included; my share of the electric bill averages about $30 a month. My car insurance payment is $81.63 per month. I got a $1,000 loan from my credit union to help buy my current car; payments on that loan are $52 per month, and I’ve got about $500 to repay on that. Sixty dollars a week is automatically deducted from my checking account and put into my Vanguard savings and investment fund – I’d like to own a house someday, sooner rather than later, so I am saving for a down payment. (That’s also where the Playboy money gets squirreled away. And if I have any left by the time I buy a house, I can always use the leftover centerfolds as wallpaper.)

My current student loan payments are $75 a month – that’s payment on the interest. I have an income-based repayment plan; I submit documentation every year and my monthly payments are based on that information.


As of this writing, I owe $72,115.56 in student loans. Of that, $66,343.53 is the principal loan balance and $5,772.03 is the interest. Interest accrues daily, so by the time this column is published, I’ll owe even more. Like with many millennials, that student loan debt is the sword of Damocles dangling over my head, the dragon keeping me (the princess, obviously) trapped in my tower. The one upside to my student debt is that it is all federal loans, so they are less horrifically exploitative than private student loans, which sometimes don’t even get canceled if you die.

In my defense, when I took out those loans, I was 21 and I had a plan. I was going to get my master’s degree, move away from Maine like most young people from Maine do, become a librarian and repay my debt through public service loan forgiveness.

Obviously the plan isn’t looking so great five years later. Under the current federal government, “public service” is just as much of a joke as “loan forgiveness,” and when I moved back to Maine, I thought it would be temporary. I didn’t count on falling back in love with Maine, which has many wonderful qualities, but a booming economy for young librarianish types isn’t one of them. Also, my dad died. Expensively.

So there it is – the financial outline of a real-life millennial. I’m luckier than most – I had a grandmother who taught me from a young age what a credit score is and how to keep it high, and my mom owns her own home, so I can always move back into my old bedroom if I have to.

I’m not drowning just yet – still treading water – but you could say that it’s been a while since I last saw the shoreline, and I’m fairly certain that each wave pulls me a bit farther out to sea.

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

Twitter: mainemillennial

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