What is It Like to be a Trust Fund Baby?

M.C. Huguelet

Trust fund baby is a colloquial term that refers to an individual whose wealthy parents have provided him with an endowment that ensures his financial security for life. Popular culture and the media are filled with portrayals of trust fund babies who spend lavishly, abuse alcohol and drugs, have a delusional sense of their own importance, fail to accomplish anything worthwhile, and often ultimately find that their lives are hollow and meaningless. While such notions may make for entertaining story lines, they are stereotypes. In truth, as with individuals from any socioeconomic background, it is difficult to provide a general description of the lives of trust fund babies. Again, as with those from all walks of life, some trust fund babies may accomplish a great deal, while others may remain caught up in superficial pleasures.

A trust fund baby may be provided with the care of a nanny.
A trust fund baby may be provided with the care of a nanny.

The typical childhood experiences of a trust fund baby can vary widely, depending upon the desires and beliefs of his family. He may be provided with the close care of a nanny, and may be allowed many extravagant toys. His family may take him on luxurious vacations, and he may attend expensive, prestigious schools. On the other hand, his family may prefer that he does not take his wealth for granted from an early age, and he may have what the general population considers a “normal” childhood, free from extravagance.

Alcohol abuse is a common trait of trust fund babies in popular culture.
Alcohol abuse is a common trait of trust fund babies in popular culture.

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It is a widely accepted stereotype that every trust fund baby is automatically admitted to the world’s most prominent universities on the basis of his parents’ wealth. The truth is perhaps less black and white. Family wealth can allow a trust fund baby to pay the often vast tuition fees charged by many of the most elite universities. The same wealth may have allowed the trust fund baby to attend an impressive preparatory school, which can strengthen his college application. Admission to high-profile universities is not guaranteed for any applicant, however, and is usually dependent upon standardized test scores and high school grade point average.

Whether or not a trust fund baby chooses to attend college, he must eventually consider what he would like to do with his adult life. Indeed, some trust fund babies feel no need to have a career, choosing instead to live on the money they have inherited. A great many trust fund babies choose to develop fulfilling careers in an extremely wide range of fields, however. They may take over their family’s business, train to work in a profession, become artists, or run for political office. Some trust fund babies may devote themselves to charitable work, volunteering for nonprofit organizations or funding projects such as arts endowments or medical facilities.

Trust fund babies are financially dependent upon others.
Trust fund babies are financially dependent upon others.

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