Money in the 90’sWhat do you do when you suddenly inherit money? Are you supposed to run outand spend it like crazy? Are you supposed to put it all in the bank? Do you tell anyoneyou have your money and where you got it from? These are all questions that wentthrough my head as I turned 18.
I was an overnight “rich” person. What was I to do?Ever since I can remember, my mother has been telling me, “when you turn 18you are going to get the money your Daddy left for you. ” For some reason I never reallybelieved her. I thought that I would get about $2,000 or something and be able to buy anice computer for college or something along those lines. I never thought I would beable to buy a house.
I dont even want or need a house, but all of a sudden I am able tobuy one. I did not grow up poor by any means, but I was not the kid on the street withmoney to toss out either. Now that I had money, what was I supposed to do with it?The first thing I did when I got my money was hug my mother really tight. Eversince I was 2 she had been paying taxes on it, investing it, making sure it was safe, andtons of other things she really did not have to do. She did it all out of the kindness of herheart. When the judge in control of my funds would be a dork and send us a nice littleletter saying that he “was sorry but had decided to move the money from a 10% interestaccount to a 4% account”, my mother would be talking to our lawyer and trying to get itback to the good interest rate.
We would always be getting letters like that, so havingdinner with a man who charged us $250 an hour was not unusual. Even then I neverrealized that I would be getting actual money. I must have been in some kind of a dreamland, but it did not make any sense until one certain rainy Monday. That Monday I had gotten called out of band by my lawyer, who to my suprise,was standing in my high school hallway. He handed me a stack of documents about 4inches thick and instructed me to sign on various pages.
I did so, and afterwards he gaveme this big smile. “Congratulations, Beth. You now are in control of your money. ” Iasked him exactly how much I had to spend and he directed me to the bottom of the nextto last page. I stared at an unbelievable figure – $84,000. Was my lawyer serious? Iactually had a bank account somewhere with my name on it that contained that muchmoney? I could go out and by a new car and give each of my friends cars? I did notunderstand how overnight I had gone from my little dream world to reality.
I now had abunch of dilemas to deal with, and I was not sure I even wanted them. Would having money change me? That was a major concern of mine for a longtime after I got my money. I did not want to become one of those superficial people thatdepend on money to make them happy. On the other hand, now that I could afford to getnice things, I wanted to take advantage of it. I could now go out and buy a nice computerfor college, maybe buy a new car, and finally get some new clothes. The last time I hadmoney to spare on clothes, I was in the 6th grade, so I think I was a little overdue for atrip to the mall.
Clothes, a computer, and a car seemed very shallow to me, so I decidedto get some advice on what to do with my fortune. I did not want to spend all of mymoney and then wake up one day and realize it was all gone and I had to hunt for tuition. That would be the last thing in the world I would ever want. Randy Baird worked for American Express at the time, although now he worksfor Prudential Securities, and he was more than willing to meet with me and discuss myfinancial future. He explained to me that although it seemed like I had millions ofdollars to blow on whatever I wanted, I would actually need a budget to get throughcollege. I could not believe it.
I thought I would be able to buy all I wanted and not haveto worry about spending a little too much on a fancy dinner or buying one too manyCDs. After our initial meeting, I sat down with a calculator and figured out exactly howmuch I could spend on a computer. Since I love computers to death and I did not want tohave to upgrade during my Undergraduate education, I decided to buy a brand new400MhZ computer. The funny thing about my computer was that although I picked avery expensive setup, I had a friend of mine who worked with a local computer companybuy the computer for me under his employee discount. Even having $84,000 had notchanged my “penny pinching” style.
I felt so proud of myself that I even called up Randyand told him what I had done. After he recovered from my $2000 computer bill he toldme that I had made a wise decision and that he hoped it would be the first of many. With those words ringing in my ears, I went out and bought a brand new truck. Itreally makes me smile to myself to realize that although I have all of this money at myfingertips, when I chose to buy a truck, I got a Standard because it was cheaper, evenwhen I did not know how to drive one.
Those kind of things that I do for myself justcrack me up. Feeling insecure was way too common when I was trying to decide exactlywhat to buy with my money and I was very grateful for my humble upbringing. Withoutit I probably would have gone spend-crazy and ended up with a Corvette and about 5cents to my name. Now that I had a computer, a car, and clothes, I was ready to make a big decision. I needed to figure out what I wanted to do with the remainder of my money.
After somelong nights with my trusty calculator and a few dozen meetings with Randy, I decided toinvest the entire thing. If I had the will not to touch the money for 4 long years, by thetime I graduated I would have a considerable amount saved up. When I realized that Iwanted to do that and not withdraw money every week to buy stuff with, I was left witha big dilema. I needed to ask my parents to support me through college.
After I wasthroughly rejected by them, I decided to get a job and work my way through school. Mymother decided that was a bad idea as well, and I settled on investing 3/4 of my moneyand using the other 1/4 for college expenses. It was really funny to realize that eventhough I was newly rich, I would have to pretend I was poor for 4 years and just ignorethe money I was saving up. My financial advisor helped me make up a budget that wasreasonable and my parents helped me understand how to stick to it.
The hard part wasover, I knew what I had to do. Finally college arrived and I found myself in a new town with nothing to do. Ithought of the thousands I had in my name and it was very hard not to drive over to thebank and withdraw some of it just so I would have something to do with my time. Thething I came to realize was that even though I did not want to spend it, it made me feelhappy and secure to know that I had it saved away. That cushion would be there for thenext few years and if there was ever some emergency, I could access it.
That securityjust made most of my other college fears fade away. I do not think I am a superficial person at all. That fear of mine I can just throwaway, because it will never happen to me. I know what I want in life right now and Iknow how to achieve it.
Getting a lot of money just kind of forced me to re-evaluatewhat I needed to do to grow up. Now that I look back on the last year or so, I can see thatI am financially secure and even better, I am more mature than I was as a high schoolsenior. I can only hope that I will be able to grow as quickly and have it turn out as wellas I have in the past.