Confessions of a Trust Fund Baby

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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?

    • Robert

      not true. This life is short for any experience or skills to last or have any effect worth talking about. Sorry to burst your bubble but it’s true.

  • 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.

  • http://www.redpalmmarketing.com/ 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 :)

  • Tool Fool

    Must be nice in many ways.
    A Range Rover, a new turbo Porsche. A home in Malibu, a park view apartment in NYC. Prada clothing, vacations in Milan and St. Bart’s.
    They’re just things, Bret.

  • knn

    You’re a great writer!

  • Death

    Die

  • http://www.facebook.com/savig1992 Savannah Gonzales

    This really hit home for me.. I’m currently 21, and I too grew up without a dad, and was handed a trust big enough for me to buy a home in cash. I TOO was raised by my mother who raised three of us sisters with a taste for going out to eat ever so frequently, and “if you love it and cant live without it, get it honey!” I TOO, wrecked my first car, a basically brand new, suped up MINI Cooper S (also made by BMW.. ha ha) due to sheer stupidity and drinking. I TOO, have blown so much money on unreasonable places I was renting out –with extra bedrooms I wasn’t even using– being told “sure, its reasonable”. And.. I too have blown so much money on going out, partying, bottles upon bottles, hundreds, thousands on alcohol.. buying drinks for friends, covering costs for boyfriends, etc. I have never been made to work a day in my life, and when I think of it, I dread it and am scared for the day I may actually have to be pushed or forced to make ends meet. It’s probably extremely frustrating for others to read, that don’t understand what it’s like, but it really is a fear. Just like you were before– here I am asking myself the same questions of “I could open a business, but what?” “I don’t want to buy a house yet, yet why am I throwing money away on renting?” It’s sickening and selfish to admit that, I too, would rather just sit here enjoying life and money while I’m still young and have the means to. It’s sobering (literally) reading an almost spit and image story of the decisions I’ve been making for the past 2-3 years since turning 17 or so. I am literally in the midst of walking in your past footsteps, and reading this really put reality into perspective. I think this entry was a sign from God, something I needed to hear directly.. I don’t think the details of your story could have matched mine any closer without freaking me out totally.. and I am so thankful that you took the time to be honest with yourself, and others.. something I have yet to do. I hope the best works out for you, myself, and anyone else in this strange, yet real predicament that can and will negatively affect your morale and outlook on life, working, and discipline– a total first world problem, but a real one at that. Thoroughly appreciate and needed this.. thanks again!

  • http://www.facebook.com/savig1992 Savannah Gonzales

    This really hit home for me.. I’m currently 21, and I too grew up without a dad, and was handed a trust big enough for me to buy a home in cash. I TOO was raised by my mother who raised three of us sisters with a taste for going out to eat ever so frequently, and “if you love it and cant live without it, get it honey!” I TOO, wrecked my first car, a basically brand new, suped up MINI Cooper S (also made by BMW.. ha ha) due to sheer stupidity and drinking. I TOO, have blown so much money on unreasonable places I was renting out –with extra bedrooms I wasn’t even using– being told “sure, its reasonable”. And.. I too have blown so much money on going out, partying, bottles upon bottles, hundreds, thousands on alcohol.. buying drinks for friends, covering costs for boyfriends, etc. I have never been made to work a day in my life, and when I think of it, I dread it and am scared for the day I may actually have to be pushed or forced to make ends meet. It’s probably extremely frustrating for others to read, that don’t understand what it’s like, but it really is a fear. Just like you were before– here I am asking myself the same questions of “I could open a business, but what?” “I don’t want to buy a house yet, yet why am I throwing money away on renting?” It’s sickening and selfish to admit that, I too, would rather just sit here enjoying life and money while I’m still young and have the means to. It’s sobering (literally) reading an almost spit and image story of the decisions I’ve been making for the past 2-3 years since turning 17 or so. I am literally in the midst of walking in your past footsteps, and reading this really put reality into perspective. I think this entry was a sign from God, something I needed to hear directly.. I don’t think the details of your story could have matched mine any closer without freaking me out totally.. and I am so thankful that you took the time to be honest with yourself, and others.. something I have yet to do. I hope the best works out for you, myself, and anyone else in this strange, yet real predicament that can and will negatively affect your morale and outlook on life, working, and discipline– a total first world problem, but a real one at that. Thoroughly appreciate and needed this.. thanks again!

  • Moneyishappy

    This is a joke. Birth wealth is the only true way true way to be ecstatically happy in life…. Not a day goes by that I don’t envy the trust fund babies… Don’t try to convince people otherwise because it is a blatant lie. You spent your childhood SCREAMING in anticipation of your coming day and thanking your father time and time again for dying before you were born.

  • TonyXL

    The only way to learn to manage money is to not have a lot of it.

  • Big Mike

    So funny this is the story of my early adult life. Thanks for sharing, I take some comfort in knowing I am not alone. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that my father would give me 100% of my trust fund at 18 yrs old and boot me out of the house. I especially love the scientific explanation of the poor decision making. Its kind of funny because I think I ran out of money right at 25 too! Had a hell of a good run. I’m 35 now and somehow managed to get myself through college and get an M.S. I own my own house, good job, good wife, still have my toys but not quite like it was when I thought I had an endless supply of money. I also managed to give up the cocaine, but alcohol has taken a bit longer. I haven’t had a drink in 5 months, so I’m getting there. The similarities are amazing. Again thanks for sharing. I had a great trip down memory lane from your article.

  • Aimee

    all I can say is it you should be very grateful for that because we struggle every single month every single paycheck my husband gets twice a week is only 300 each that’s not even enough for us to live on!!!! I’m so sick of not being able to have the things that we need every month and having to go round begging my rich family members for money because they all laugh at me that I’m broke living in low-income, car problems I’m trying to go to school I would be very grateful!

  • Jon-Paul

    Nice article, you can see your ease with words and its refreshing to know some rational thoughts are rattling around in your noggin!

  • Joan D. Ark

    Money talks, wealth whispers.

  • Marco
  • Elvi

    I think not only a trust fund baby but anyone who has rich parents can relate to it, I was rich, I could blow 2000 easily in two weeks, then I met my boyfriend, I help him pay rent, tuition and a lot of stuff, basically everything I used to pay for my own has doubled, and also consequently because of him I have to get a one bedroom apartment stead of a single room with roommate who can share rent with me. Dont get me wrong he does make money but it comes in too slow and goes away too fast. Anyway, I was broke and I started shopping way less, started looking for things out of sales and clearance, instead of eating out $$$ all the time I started to cook, stopped buying everything I like but eventually learned to choose and give up…do I miss having sufficient money in my account yes but did I feel guilty and empty? yes. My friends used to be jealous of my nice car my parents bought me but some part of me just really wish I earned it myself even if it was only a wrecked second-hand car.

  • harper

    I am going to inherit a lot of money in the next year, when I turn 21. My grandparents set up the trust and I am so grateful they did. But now I am terrifed of how I will handle all that money, I don’t want to turn into a snobby brat, omg am I scared! My family has told me to never let anyone know, especially boyfriends because they are afraid I will be taken advantage of. I’m afraid if my bf found out he may judge me..I could never let my friends know. Sometimes I feel shame knowing how blessed I am when there are families that can’t even put food on the table. I’m glad I read this! It brings me comfort knowing others have this same issue, if you could call it that

  • stephen

    This article is absurd – this is not what anyone who grew up wealthy is like. This person wreaks of new money, and the fact that she considers herself “wealthy” when in reality she was living in a $1,400/month apartment in New York City as recently as a few years ago is just a joke. If she spent 1/6 of her annual income on rent, that means the would get $100,800/year from the trust. If it disburses 3% of total assets per year, the trust is worth about $3.3 million. Wake up – you are not wealthy, and you are an embarrassment. Clearly you revel in your identity as a “trust fund baby” – you blurt it out to guys you date after a month, and yet you hate people finding out? Please, we weren’t born yesterday. People who do not want others to know something about them do not blurt it out for no reason.

    Another thing is that truly wealthy people do not discuss their money. You are unfortunate in that you grew up middle class and never learned these things. The children of truly wealthy families do in fact work for a living too – they are just also able to live well while doing so. As someone who grew up in one of the wealthiest towns in the country, who went to elementary school with the children of two billionaire families, whose own family’s money stretches back decades, this much I know. No one who is truly wealthy (i.e. net worth > $30 million minimum) would consider you having “money” at all in fact. So, enjoy your self-imposed label of a “trust fund baby”, but you are an unrefined new money wannabe.

    • guest

      Stephen, were you by chance in the movie “Born Rich?” You sure sound like it.

    • zsa zsa

      I have had a trust fun all my life its called GOD all my life when i needed money i asked n it appeared recently i needed money to buy condo prayed n prayed n sunday i won one million enuff for condo new car furn and lil for kids n a lil money n my bank account.

    • trustfund

      Stephen,

      I find your response appalling. You say no one would think she is truly wealthy, and that wealthy families do not talk of their wealth. Well, All I hear is you try to rub your wealth in. Also, wealth is wealth.

      I do agree, most families with wealth are very quiet as to how much wealth they actually have.

      Stephen, My wife and I are both trust fund babies. My Trust fund I choose not to open at 18….I am now 26 and have still not opened it. The trust is not huge, but a decent amount.

      My wife on the other hand is 4th generation money. Her trust fund was from her great grandpa and the amount she received is STAGGERING. I mean jaw dropping. I will tell you though she bought a house in town and spent about 8 years traveling and spending money like a rock star. She however blew through all her trust in that 8 years minus her house and some stock she invested. Her trust was a lump sum at 18.

      We just had our first baby (YAY) and if we set up a trust for our grandkids we will never do a lump sum at that young.

  • ESPNSucks

    This is why we should tax the crap out of Trust funds; maybe it would make you less of a lazy pos.

  • BY

    I appreciate the article. I’m looking into creating something like this, and it helps to know how the kids feel.

  • wilson

    I really enjoyed reading your story. I am happy to hear you started a savings because im sure whomever created the trust fund for you did not want you to blow it. I myself was a lavish teen life style in Miami. I had the whole G wagon and mens rolex apparel. Untill my dad died. For some odd reason he did not have his will in place at all. There was no will at all and it all went to my sister. She fled Miami and left me homeless literally. My mom is out of the picture and I am now living at a friends house with no car. My sister was able to take away my car, and college fund my dad had left for me. Instead of a will he just placed her as the beneficiary for everything. It has been a huge culture shock for me and I have learned peoples true colors. Not even my wealthy uncle is willing to help me. I am going through these motions now and am currently working on becoming a real estate agent.

    if anyone wants to hear more you can email me at brandonalvarez96@outlook.com

  • AdaLovelace

    You have a lot of discipline, wisdom, and self-control. Congratulations! If I were you, I’d be just drifting from one place to another and from one job to another and living a completely irresponsible life! Good for you for buckling down and creating some normality and focus in your life. I have it only because I don’t have a trust fund and have to work for a living! (And thank you for showing me that might be a good thing!) I can’t imagine how the children of the super-wealthy experience life. They must grapple with a sense of boredom and some kind of existential angst because one of the major sources of human gratification is financial success.

  • Tim

    Cry me a river, you poor thing. Being rich and set for life must be just TERRIBLE! How do you manage? And we are supposed to congratulate you because you stopped doing coke? BIG WOW!

  • EMoody

    This is awesome. I’m a low-income single mother researching how to best disperse finances to my children, and your story–even though our situations are quite different–is very enlightening. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Randall Burcaw

    Its good to know I am not the only one with a trust fund problem that needs to be fixed…. for four years i have been stuck in depression not knowing which way to go and of course using all my trust fund money on drugs. I am 24, I love your article and hope to have a one on one conversation.

  • Matt

    Well, interesting story.
    It’s not the vacations or material things- it’s the “safety net” you mention which I truly envy. That, and being able to do what you love. You are very lucky, regardless of what some of these pricks say about how much wealthier they are.

    I’m 24, no family, no parents to fall back on, nothing close to a trust fund… I have nothing other than that which I’ve earned in life. I went to college to earn a career that I hate.. I go to work to simply pay the bills. I’m buried in college debt, credit cards, etc. such is life?

    What I’m getting at is that you’re extremely lucky to not have to worry. I am terrified that it’s only a matter of time before I am on the streets. I fell into a crippling addiction to hard drugs to try and cope which of course makes the situation worse.

    YOU ARE LUCKY

  • cj

    FYI
    Enough, the Personal Politics of Resisting Capitalism…
    “We’d like to address some of the ways that class privilege and capitalist dynamics function even within communities and within the lives of individuals working to fight oppression and economic injustice. It can feel taboo to share details about things like income, inheritance, class background, debt, and spending. Silence and secrecy about money make it difficult for us to challenge ourselves and each other when classist dynamics arise. Social conditioning trains us to hoard money rather than share it and build community. We want to get people talking about building shared values and practices around wealth redistribution, because we think figuring out how much is enough, and when to give away money, are key under-discussed questions in anti-capitalist politics.”

    http://www.enoughenough.org/about/

  • Joe Atnip

    the woes of a rich kid try living on 800.00 a month and having to ask for food even after working 6 days a week try living knowing that you will never retire and you will work till the day you die on end up in a state run home try living in a apartment that is under 300 sq feet try living knowing that if you lose your job you will go to prison for back child support because your ex spouse ran off with someone else

  • writer57

    “The name of the contributor has been changed to protect her identity and her financial accounts.”
    That, in a nutshell, is the problem here. You’re coming out, but not really.
    On sale Prada shoes? Please. To quote Leonard Cohen, Do not wear those rags for me, I know you are not poor.
    Yours are rich people’s problems, if you can call those problems. I don’t mean to be insensitive, but let’s be for real. You weren’t some derelict homeless junkie selling her body for dope. You paid for primo coke, just like Jack Nicholson or any other rich celebrity. You could quit it because you were recreational, not strung out.
    You became an underpaid editorial assistant because you could afford it and because you wanted what you wanted. You could’ve asked your boss, as Jackie Onassis did, to pay you $1 a year, and be allowed to take that coveted spot, rather than accept their money and pretend to be one of the girls.
    You took an ugly apartment to be more frugal, which I guess is fine, but again, that was a choice, not a necessity.
    I have a friend who’s a trust fund baby and she’s every bit as secretive about it as you are. She too is a writer. And everybody knows the only you can live comfortably in Manhattan as a writer — is to have a trust fund.

  • nicole

    well i just want to let you know i hate you. lol joking…. but i’m extremely jealous. i didnt have a father either.. we were broke though. my mom was sick all of my life and lost custody of me multiple times. was bullied psychically and mentally worn down to losing hope.. but i started thinking positively.. even though everything was wrong.. and my life is getting better. its nowhere where i want it to be and i have a lot of work to do still on myself but it’s better. thankful to my parents that are now healthy, strong and in my life. you’ll never have that. so yeah, thinking that way, i’m not jealous. thanks for sharing and at least having a decent perspective. i would say good luck but you dont need it lol somehow you were smart enough to manage your money wisely (better late than never) and quit coke…..amazing congrats on that.

  • kacky

    You’re a good writer.

  • http://www.oceansciencesailing.org/ Ocean Science Sailing

    Sorry to hear about your father. Last time I saw mine I was 3 – now 50 years ago…have always wondered what having a father was even like.

    I imagine that those with fathers must think this sounds odd to even comprehend, and rightfully so. It’s human nature to, unintentionally, take things one has for granted. Just in case, I would offer to them to take a moment and ponder if they might wish to spend some more quality time with their father before it’s too late.

    Life is about experiencing things to be sure (an obvious fact in any ‘context’), but a life worth living, in a personal context, would seem to involve adding value to some system-of-others, ecosystem, etc. There are people, places and things that need a little help to be sure…keep writing. It’s a leveraged way to have an impact.

    Best wishes,

    Craig McBurney, CEO
    Ocean Science Sailing

  • Jennifer Hanrahan

    Hi “Caroline”, thanks for sharing your story. Are there any so-called trust fund babies who actually use their funds for good–and I don’t mean wiring the occasional $6,000 to a former tour guide in Thailand or giving to charity to assuage guilt. Do you know anyone who actually selflessly commits to marriage and has kids, and then uses the money to buy him or her time and freedom, so that he or she and his or her spouse can be with the family more or all the time, travel together, just be there for all the wonderful and hard things? The world is set-up in a difficult way that requires people to be away from those they love most and who need them in order to earn money. This is a good example to some extent, but time is invaluable. Money buys time. Do any trust-fund babies use money to do loving, family-oriented things? Rather than coke, alcohol, partying, and lavish shopping and vacations? Thanks!

  • https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsxfSrCK0RDYo-p0Up6jqBg Maria

    I am so thankful my mother did all her banking in front of us kids. I was the one kids out of all of us who sat and watched as my parents did the accounting for their business and household. Had my parents not had 6 of us, they would have been wealthy, but alas, 6 kids = broke. And so I listened and watched as my mother carefully used her fingertip to underline all of the incoming and outgoing and credits and debts. I understood finance like a 45 year old accountant.
    why am I thankful? I married, unknowingly, an upper middle class guy who’s parents never let him become financially scared. I teach him and balance all the bills. Thank you mom!

  • Kyle Whitney

    Must be nice being able to afford to work at a job you love. That’s the only real positive I see in this story. I hate my job and I will hate it till I die.