Just 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.
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.