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.
Anime & 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.
Film - 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.
- 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.
- 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 for themselves.
- 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 cheques. 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 because 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, and relents when Goren makes it clear 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 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 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.
- 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 Pokémon 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 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.
- 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!"
- 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).
- 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.
- 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 while already being grounded) 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.
- There's a Running Gag in The Fairly OddParents! where Timmy's parents frequently blow his college fund on frivolous things.
- 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 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.