16 Years Old With $60,000

I’m talking to people with trust funds about their trust funds.

LS: Tell me about your trust fund, Person With a Trust Fund.

PWTF: I always knew there was money being set aside for me by my parents, padded with checks from family members. I found out how much it was when I was 16 and started working, and then took control of it two years later, just before our Great Recession, or whatever it’s being called.

LS: Was that money meant for something specific?

PWTF: There weren’t stipulations regarding my trust, but I always felt that the money was basically for a down-payment for a home, or for a car, or for an emergency. My parents had a separate education fund that paid for my university.

LS: How much was in it?

PWTF: When I gained control over the account, I had something like $60K. It was spread between in various accounts: savings, stocks, bonds mutual funds, and a retirement fund. Apparently there had been more, but the accounts took a hit when the dot-com bubble burst, and then again after the terrible performance of the markets post-9/11.

But still, to me it was a tremendous amount of money, and it’s grown. Through some aggressive saving and smart moves courtesy of a financial adviser, I’m now worth a squeak over six figures, depending on the market.

LS: Whoa. That’s some big growth.

PWTF:: Yeah, I’d made it a goal to save and to contribute, to manage it well. When I officially reached six figures I was really proud and told my parents and my brother. They were really happy for me.

LS: So you talk to your family about money?

PWTF:: Yes, my family does talk about money. As kids my brother and I each received an allowance of $25 — an unbelievable amount to us. Every week we would get two dollars in cash, put three dollars in a jar for our chosen charity, and then and deposit $20 into a savings account. We used a teller — no ATM for us — and learned how to do archaic things like fill out a deposit slip. So that was my early experience with managing money — what to spend on ourselves, what to save, and to make sure we also had money to give. How to act in a bank.

Now that I’m an adult and in charge of my own money, it’s a lot more informal. I don’t have a check-in process with my family on my net worth or anything. But I still talk to them about it. I was considering buying a home last year, and so I really had to take stock of what I could afford, and what I was willing or able to take out of the fund. I did a lot of number crunching with both of my parents and my brother (he’s an accountant). With their help I decided that my career is still too unstable to buy right now.

LS: Have you used any of the money?

PWTF:: I have only taken money out of this account twice, to pay taxes on freelance income. Both times I’ve done that as a loan to myself and paid the account back.

LS: Why pay it back?

PWTF:: Because I was able to. I had a reliable income at the time, and was proud to pay myself back.

LS: And your brother has a trust, too?

PWTF:: Yeah, and there’s a gender thing happening there. My brother was definitely given more cash gifts and in larger amounts cause he is a man and expected to have a wife and family to provide for. Whereas I was often given jewelry and so on. My community is pretty conservative like that.

LS: You said you set goals to grow the the money, but do you think about it a lot?

PWTF:: There’s a big difference in my mind between this money and the money in my everyday checking account. In general I live as though I don’t have this money. Most of it is tied up in long-term investments and hard to get to. But I’m still pretty unsettled by and uncomfortable with the amount of it.

LS: What about it unsettles you?

PWTF:: Most of the reason why the money unsettles me is that it’s a very large amount. I don’t consider myself great with money (this is relative), and I don’t consider myself super rich (again, relative) — so part of me is scared of screwing up with this money. I’m definitely worried that I’ll make a bad decision and lose it all, or that I’ll do something else ruin my “nest egg.”

It also makes me uncomfortable because for a long time I believed all parents tried (and succeeded) at creating savings for their kids. A little head start, as it was referred to, in my family. It’s only recently — like in the last five to eight years — that I realized the extent of this little bubble I lived in in. And that’s led to some some “privileged person’s guilt” about it.

If you have a trust fund or don’t have a trust fund and want to talk about your money, hit me up: logan@thebillfold.com

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