Confessions of a Trust Fund Baby


trust fund babyJust before my 16th birthday, my mom wrote a check from my account to buy me a BMW 328i, and that is where I learned to drive a stick shift.

That car had a lot of power under the hood, and I used and abused it. I almost crashed twice, once racing someone on the highway.

I didn’t realize how quickly I was coming up behind another car—it looked like it was standing still—until my friend riding shotgun started screaming. The car saw me and swerved out of the way just in time (thank God). The other time, I was racing another young brat in his BMW on a backcountry road. I spun out and narrowly avoided sliding into a copse of trees.

That’s what happens when you give something powerful and shiny to a 16-year-old. When I blew out the clutch on my toy, I traded it in for a luxury SUV and started driving a little more like a grown-up. So I survived high school.

Coming Into My Inheritance

I am a trust fund baby. Ever since I can remember, I knew that there was an investment account with my name on it with enough money to buy a home, in cash.

Every month, money drops into my checking account. It’s a solid middle class salary, untaxed, and it’s contingent on nothing. I don’t have to work for it, nor can anyone take it away from me if I behave badly. I did nothing to earn it, unless you count growing up without a dad—it stemmed from a wrongful death lawsuit. Every year the annuity increases by 3%, and it will continue to show up, every month, until I die.

RELATED: What Do You Do When Your Kid Inherits Money?

As far as trust funds go, it’s no Hilton fortune. My mom claims she could have negotiated for a much larger settlement, but she chose an amount that meant my sister and I could do what we love but still be motivated to earn money. (For the record, that was a really smart move.)

However, that was the extent of her financial education. In our household, budgets were not discussed: Money showed up, and we spent it. My mom seemed to take pleasure in cultivating two young women with a taste for fine dining and expensive clothes.

Then, when I turned 21, I was handed a shit ton of money. Here’s something to consider if you ever want to do the same for your kids. (When you’re done laughing, I’ll continue.) The prefrontal cortex, which helps you make responsible decisions, isn’t fully developed until you’re 25. So I wasn’t really capable of making the best decisions concerning my money. I didn’t even get a financial adviser to go along with it, just my mom’s advice to “Always pay off your credit card bill every month.” Well. That was easy.

  • Jace

    This sounds very similar to my situation as a “trust fund baby”, I often roll around on the ground in my underwear and lay in random areas of my apartment staring at the ceiling bored out of my mind. I literally understand now the baby reference. After I blew $200,000 in less than 6 months, Im now limited to a restricted income also of a high middle class salary. I dont like it. My mom was smart enough to not allow me access to assets but rather the cash flow from them. If not for that Id easily be a millionaire. For how long? Im not sure.

    If I could just get a job to stay busy, but I dont want a job. I hate people in general, I also dont know many people in my situation to relate to as I find normal people have become harder to associate with as being a trust fund baby is difficult to disguise. Im probably the worst personality type to inherit this situation. Money is a drug to me and I want more…a lot more. The more money I get the more money I want, yet dont have the character enough to make it happen on my own as far as I know. I would rather be self made, but then at the same time I am very appreciative for what I do have and I empathize for people in extreme poverished situations. However I dont empathize for people who hate or exhibit envy or ridicule. These type of people are of low class and ignorance with an inability to see outside of their own perspectives. Not sure what my point was, but thanks for sharing.

    • Bongstar420

      So the queen of england is a figure deserving of respect and admiration?

  • hhhthh

    So this is what some rich kids do with their lives. wasted. What have you given back to your species since you were born? oh idk, spend spend spend. oh yeah a trust fund is very smart. its actually counter productive since it breeds incompetence and ignorance. if you want to success in life, you have to start at 0. not saying that that’s what you want. just saying that if you want to find true ‘happiness’ true ‘peace’ true ‘self’, you have to throw away all safety nets and feel the danger the risk the transience and reality of life. i completely understand your situation. i may not have a trust fund. but i certainly was under the care of my parents. everything i ever needed/wanted provided, and i don’t need much. but even so, i feel the pointlessness of living for the sake of staying alive. that’s what you get with safety nets provided by others. you have to provide for yourself, your own safety nets, and teach that skill to your children, not blatantly and irresponsibly give it to them.

    • Bongstar420

      I thought that was how wealth redistribution was “supposed” to work?

  • jimmy j

    Interesting article. Thanks for sharing and I’m glad you opened your eyes. Honesty all the way!

  • Van Basten

    Wish I was a trust fund baby. But, everyone has their own set of issues. I always say rich people have their own problems.

    • Bongstar420

      ….And here I am wishing that trust fund babies didn’t exist. What is wrong with me?

      • Van Basten

        I’m guessing you’re jealous? Could be a lot of things.

  • Andy

    I work in Wealth Management servicing high-net worth individuals…some with successful entrepreneurial backgrounds, others from lottery winnings, others from “old-money” that was down from generation to generation. A lot of the kids we deal are trust fund babies and some who have been pampered their entire lives to the point where they do not know how to pay their phone/cable/satellite/credit card bills. Some do not know what in the world to do with their lives besides go to a local whole foods – some decide to work with a life coach. It is nice to see and to read your article that you try hard to understand others’ struggles who live week by week. Even in my industry, I still find it hard to make it through. Very well written.

  • Laurean Vincent

    Well… you were lucky! At least you mom made sure you could afford the luxuries she taught you to appreciate. Mine did the opposite with my trust fund… I could rant and rave… but ….. sigh.

    • Bongstar420

      A tear drops my eye

  • Anthony J. Alfidi

    Rich people really are fascinating. They defy gravity, the law, and common sense. They must be superhuman.

  • tina

    I would love to have your problems.
    However, I still enjoyed reading your article. I really like your writing style!

  • Tess757

    I think it’s awesome that you’ve made some changes in your life. You were able to stop yourself from ruining your own life…very inspirational. I’ve never had a glimpse into the life of someone who is privileged and in most cases I would think of someone like yourself as a snob, but I dont. You remained grounded enough to pull yourself together…KUDOS!!! Congrats on quitting coke…i know that wasnt an easy feat…congrats again!! Have a great 2014!~~~ :)

    • Bongstar420

      She should have started her own coke production chain. It would be a whole lot better than the douche bags who are running the game now!

  • Bongstar420

    Why weren’t you manufacturing all those things you were purchasing?

    Look, here is the deal. If you want to feel like a worthy person, you need to make it with no more inheritance than an average person. The more wealth an individual starts out with, the less worthy they have to be to make it. Look at Donald Trump. Does anyone really believe that guy would have millions if he was born into poverty?

    Wealthy people have way to many external comparative advantages that are not inherent to their genotypes (though they would like us to believe otherwise) to properly deserve their positions. Who deserves to win the race, the better driver or the better car?

  • CM

    In some ways I can relate, at least a little. My family started out poor as immigrants from an impoverished country. Over the course of 35 years, as my parents both had full-time jobs and made some very good investments, they amassed net worths of low 7 figures, each.

    Given how my family started out, I could never take money for granted, but now having significant ‘outside financial resources,’ I have been given the luxury to live my life the way I’d like. For one, I am marrying my loving fiancee, who earns a lower than ideal salary.

    It still feels weird having foots in both extremes of the financial spectrum. I could never live like a trust fund baby, because it isn’t in my DNA to do so. But it’s a blessing to have the freedom not to be bound by finances.

  • ktbsmilie

    Would anybody here (including author) be interested in speaking to me for a feature I’m working on for Grazia?

  • ktbsmilie

    I’ll elaborate – I’m really keen to speak to a female with a trust fund. If you’re interested please email me. Ktburnetts at gmail dot com. Cheers :)