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: firstname.lastname@example.org