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Parental Savings Splurge

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Sometimes your parents can't afford to help you out financially with the big things in your life such as university, a wedding, or payment for a house. In other cases, they COULD have helped but they instead decided to spend the money on luxuries for themselves. Maybe the child's inheritance has been squandered, maybe the parents made a promise and then let it slide, or maybe they pumped their money into a ridiculous hobby, addiction, or collection. It's money that the child counted on for a good reason, not just because they're spoiled and entitled.

Compare (and may overlap) with Financial Abuse, where parents may spend the money the child earned themselves.

No Real Life Examples, Please!, unless it factors into a historical event like the Coogan's Law example listed.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Played for massive drama in Overlord (2012): Arche was a gifted student mage who had to quit her studies to become a Worker (adventurers who take on less legal, but more rewarding jobs) to support her parents and sisters, which leads to her taking on the Nazarick job and dying horribly. The reason for this is that her parents have refused to realize that they were disgraced by the Emperor and continue their Conspicuous Consumption lifestyle (buying jewelry when even the next meal isn't a certainty), eventually selling her sisters into slavery where they both died of overwork. Even worse, the Nazarick raid was supposed to be One Last Job, allowing her to take her sisters away and leave their family behind.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The movie Dead Pet is about a Harvard student who discovers his college fund has been spent by his parents on expensive surgeries for their poodle. Then the poodle dies, and the son is blamed for it.
  • Repo Man starts with Otto having a bad day, that culminates in his parents donating all his college money to a televangelist. Which prompts him to become a repossession agent.

  • At the end of His Dark Materials, the Master has to fund Lyra's studies because her parents squandered their wealth on their schemes.
  • Paradox: Alysha Forrest's mother decided to spend her daughter's inheritance from her father on fancy electronics and other luxuries, forcing her to work at a seedy strip club to afford tuition to the Fleet Academy (yes, the Alliance doesn't know how to run a functional military).
  • In Hair Raising, a truck driver's widow dumps all the life insurance money her husband had earmarked for their son's education into a hair salon, despite the fact that she's a terrible hairdresser. This leads the truck driver to drag her into court after he returns as a zombie and learns what she's done.
  • In Boomsday, Cassandra's hatred of Baby Boomers began when she was all set to go to Yale, only to find out that her dickhead father used her college fund to bail out his failing company - after wasting company funds on a private jet and a fancy car. Unable to even get financial assistance because her dad's jet and car raised the value of the family's assets beyond qualification level, she ended up having to join the military.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Friday Night Lights: Buddy Garritty and his daughter Lyla have a major falling out when it's revealed that he blew her college fund on a shady business deal. Lyla has spent twelve years as a straight A student based on Buddy's promise that if she had the grades to get admitted, he would pay for her to go to any university she wanted.
  • On Friends, Monica expects her parents to help her out financially with her wedding to Chandler. Unfortunately, they already spent the money on a holiday house and remodelling the kitchen in their home. This was money they had initially earmarked for Monica's wedding, and they spent it because they decided Monica was never getting married - without talking to her.
    Judy Geller: We're sorry honey, but we just assumed if you got married after you turned 30 you'd pay for it yourself.
    Monica: You bought the beach house when I was 23!
  • In an early Supernatural episode, John tells Sam a story about how when Sam was born, he decided to put aside some money for Sam and Dean to go to college, and that every month he added $100 to that fund (presumably until John's obsession to find the demon that killed Mary kicked in). Sam gets a scholarship and so doesn't need the money anyway. When Sam asks his dad out of curiosity what happened to the money, they both laugh as John admits that he "spent it on ammo".
  • One of the reasons Eleanor became an Emancipated Child on The Good Place — her father blew half of her college fund trying to frame her mother's boyfriend, while her mother spent the other half bailing him out of jail.
    Donna: It was so stupid! He was already guilty, dumbass!
  • Russian Doll: Nadia recounts a story that after World War II, her Jewish grandparents became leery of banks for some reason. Instead, they piled their money in South African gold Krugerrands, which they intended as a college fund for Nadia. They amassed 150 of them. Unfortunately, Nadia's mentally ill mother squandered them and spent all of them but one, which Nadia wears as a necklace.
  • An episode of Law & Order: SVU sees the detectives investigate the case of an elderly woman who was tortured and forced to sign checks. They interrogate her son, who immediately points the finger at her grandson (his own son), whom he describes as a deadbeat who dropped out of uni. When they interrogate the grandson, he explains that the only reason he dropped out was that his dad frittered away his college funds on bad business ideas, and he considers his grandma the only relative who cared about him.
  • One episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent involves a man who uses his forging skills to destroy the reputation of a church's patron saint, because his mentally ill mother basically gave away his possessions and their savings to them without his consent. In a twist, he doesn't blame his mother for this, instead blaming the church for taking advantage of her mental illness to coerce the "donations" out of her, and he ultimately relents when Goren points out how devastated she'd be if the forged documents were accurate.
  • In one episode of Riverdale, Betty's mother Alice decides to give all of Betty's college money to the Farm cult she has joined. Despite trying to stop her by getting legal documents, Betty fails to get the money back.
  • One episode from the original run of Roseanne has Becky trying to apply for financial aid for college, and she needs Dan and Roseanne to provide the necessary information. As it turns out, they make too much for her to qualify for the aid she anticipated... and her college fund has been spent. In this case, the money was not spent on frivolities but rather on things like the mortgage while Dan struggled to keep his business afloat. Becky, however, is not sympathetic.
  • In one episode of Married... with Children, Al and Peggy accidentally do this to Bud after he earns a small fortune. When they find out Bud's bank account has a lot of money in it, they think it must be an error on the bank's part and figure they might as well take advantage of it. Al and Peggy are notably disturbed when they realize they stole their own son's money (and already spent it).
  • On My Name Is Earl, Joy's parents own a waterbed store, and Joy was supposed to inherit the store after her parents died. Her mother, however, has a serious gambling problem, and she bet the business (and lost it) while telling her husband that she was going for dialysis treatments. Her husband finds out (just as she found out about his philandering with Black women), but what actually becomes of that situation is never revealed.

  • In Avenue Q, Gary Coleman's explanation for how he ended up as the superintendent at a run-down building on Avenue Q is that his parents got all the money he'd earned from Diff'rent Strokes and presumably blew through it before he was old enough to touch it, leaving him broke.

    Video Games 
  • In Cultist Simulator, if you pick the "Bright Young Thing" legacy, you play as a character "endowed from birth with wealth and talent", counting on an allowance from your father for Funds. After he dies, while sorting out matters with the will, you find out from some puzzling papers that Papa has squandered most of the family fortune. Only by going through the papers and his diary do you find out what the money was spent on.
  • Downplayed in Pok√©mon Gold and Silver. The player's mother takes and stores a percentage of the player's earnings through battles, and occasionally uses that money to buy them the items.
  • Isaac Clarke, protagonist of the Dead Space trilogy, has a strained relationship with his mother because she sunk all their money into rising through the ranks of the Unitology Apocalypse Cult instead of investing in his college education. He managed to get a degree in engineering even so, but the lack of money sure didn't help his future job prospects.

  • In the original Newshounds Lorna at one point finds that her father had been repeatedly raiding her piggy banks, when she was little. Her Christmas presents were always her cousin's hand-me-downs and her college fund also went missing. Her father is a gambler with too many get-rich-quick schemes. He's introduced being on the run from the mob after embezzling their money.
  • In one Penny Arcade strip, Gabe claims that he has a policy against playing freemium games that he only instated after blowing Noah's college fund on Genshin Impact.

    Western Animation 
  • Arthur: In Binky's Imagine Spot when he thinks he's been left home alone, his parents drive off in their car for a cruise trip, telling their son, "There wasn't enough money in your college fund for three tickets!"
  • Bob's Burgers: In "Food Truckin", Bob buys a food truck in order to compete with the other food trucks parked outside the restaurant. When Linda asks how he can afford it, Bob admits to using Gene's college fund, which Gene says he probably won't need anyway. When Gene accidentally blows up the inside of the truck, Bob asks Tina and Louise if they want to offer up their college funds to pay for repairs, which they eagerly agree to do.
  • There's a Running Gag in The Fairly OddParents! where Timmy's parents frequently blow his college fund on frivolous things.
  • Family Guy:
    • In "Stu & Stewie's Excellent Adventure", after Stewie follows his future self back to his own time, he ends up costing the latter his job and they turn to Lois for some money to get Stewie back to the present. Lois gives them the money from a secret account that Peter can't access, commenting that she could never trust him with money especially after he blew Meg's college fund on a medieval catapult.
    • In "The Peanut Butter Kid", after Stewie becomes a child star, Peter and Lois start out by saving the money Stewie makes to pay for his college fund, but they soon devolve into pushy selfish Stage Parents and start spending the money on themselves.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Homer discovers he has stock in the power plant and when his broker calls him, he decides to sell it all for beer. Of course, just as he arrives home, he learns that the value skyrocketed after he sold it (instead of having enough to buy beer he could have gotten several thousand dollars).
    • In "Barting Over", Bart discovers that he was featured in a television advert when he was a baby, but Homer spent all the money that his son made.
    • In "Pranksta Rap", Homer casually mentions to Lisa that he sold the rights of Bart's kidnapping story (he faked being kidnapped to avoid being punished because he went to a rap concert that Marge wouldn't let him) for a fortune that he had already spent — and because of this, he becomes part of the cover-up of this aforementioned fakery while Lisa tries to bring it to light.
    • In "Yokel Chords," Cletus' children become famous, and he buys himself fur coats, diamonds, etc.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television: Jackie Coogan — best known for his performance as Uncle Fester in The Addams Family — was the first child actor in Hollywood, first discovered by Charlie Chaplin in 1917. His film earnings made him and his family quite a nice lifestyle, but he ended up losing his father, actor Robert Coogan, in a car accident. His father had conservatively maintained Jackie's earnings as an actor. His mother, Lillian Rita Coogan, almost immediately married the family's lawyer, whose specialty was a financial adviser who kept track of Coogan's earnings. When Jackie turned 21, he tried to cash in on his earnings, only to find that his mother had spent nearly all of it on diamonds, fur coats, cars, and other luxuries. Jackie sued his mother and stepfather and won, which caught the attention of the government, and ultimately served to establish the California Child Actor's Bill in 1939 — also known as "Coogan's Law". It is now a federal law that at least 15% of all earnings made by child actors must go into a trust fund that becomes theirs when they turn 21. It also specifies the actor's school schedule, work hours, and time off.
    Lillian Rita Coogan (mother): No promises were ever made to give Jackie anything. Every dollar a kid earns before he is 21 belongs to his parents.