Thursday, December 7, 2023
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If you or your spouse are rich, consider creating a trust fund job. This way, you’ll gain more status, stay relevant, and deflect suspicions that you may be an unproductive member of society.

The older I’ve gotten, the more I realize there are plenty of people with trust fund jobs idly passing their time. Their jobs are a front to obfuscate reality. At first, I didn’t respect these folks. I’m not sure if they even respected themselves.

However, over time, I’ve come to view creating a trust fund job as a smart strategy for the rich to get people off their backs. After such a long bull market, it was inevitable many people and their parents created enormous fortunes much quicker than expected. As a result, many were left twiddling their thumbs without much purpose.

As you will see from my definition of what a trust fund job is and some examples of trust fund jobs, some people are highly accomplished.

Definition Of A Trust Fund Job

As far as I can tell, I am the first person to come up with the term “trust fund job.” So let me define what it means. Perhaps the definition will evolve over time, just like how my definition of FIRE since 2009 has evolved over time.

A trust fund job is any job you take or create that you don’t actually need to survive. A trust fund job’s main objectives are to provide status, fulfilment, and a sense of purpose. The term is only pejorative if the person has done nothing to deserve their good fortune and continues to do nothing to help others.

For those with higher self-esteem, a trust fund job is also a strategy by Stealth Wealth practitioners who want to appear more mainstream. A carefully crafted trust fund job makes the job holder better blend in with society instead of stand out. As the wealth gap widens, this is a good thing to minimize envy from others.

Examples Of Trust Fund Jobs

The best way to describe what a trust fund job is is to share some examples I’ve come across since 1999. Here are some of the best examples. Due to privacy reasons, details have been changed. If you think I’m writing about you, I’m not!

1) Boutique Clothing Store Owner

When I was working in banking I knew a hedge fund client who probably made at least $40 million over ten years. He bought a nice house in Pacific Heights and got married.

His wife was an events coordinator who enjoyed living large. But she only made about $65,000 when they met. She encouraged him to buy a Mercedes G63, a $5 million house in the hills, and plenty of nice jewellery.

Soon after they got married, she quit her job because why bother grinding anymore? But after two years of not doing much, she got bored and started a boutique clothing store in Hayes Valley, a trendy neighbourhood in San Francisco.

The boutique clothing store was his wife’s way of indulging in buying expensive clothing items. She’d fly to Tokyo, Milan, and Paris to attend various fashion shows. Then, she’d post her attendance on Instagram to show off her fabulous lifestyle. It was a great way to keep her busy and engaged.

But her boutique clothing store didn’t make any money. Instead, it lost over $200,000 a year for five years in a row because it was a trust fund job. However, the money didn’t matter so much because she was happy. And because she was happy, her husband was happy too.

2) CEO Of A Private Tech Company

Being the CEO of a private tech company is one of the best trust fund jobs you can create. All you have to do is come up with a cool-sounding name in a hot space. Then you incorporate the business online and voila! You are now Founder and CEO with status.

After I left my day job in 2012, I began playing a lot more tennis during the middle of the day. I got to know one 40-something-year-old fella who also played around 11 am on the weekdays. Over time, he shared with me some of the tech businesses he founded. One was a gaming company, another was an NFT company. I was intrigued!

But after fifteen years, he still doesn’t have a website, nor has he received any media coverage about his business. Instead, one day I saw him pictured in a high-society magazine. Once I Googled his image, I discovered he had been attending many of the fanciest galas and events for years.

Extremely Wealthy Parents

During a hit one day, he mentioned how he spent several million remodelling his home in Pacific Heights, which was worth over $15 million. I was impressed by his spending power as a guy with an unknown company.

Well, it turns out his dad made a fortune in banking in the 1980s. His father was a C-level executive at a major bank that got acquired by one of the big three banks today. He then went on to co-run the bank for a couple of decades, making over $100 million in the process.

As a father himself, he needed a trust fund job to prevent his kids from thinking that money grew on trees. His trust fund job also made him feel more important to his kids. Instead of telling his kids, he was off to play tennis in the middle of the day, he could tell them that he was off to work.

3) A Venture Capitalist

Getting a VC job at a reputable shop is tough. You often need to go to one of the elite private colleges. So props to those who were able to land a VC job via the traditional route.

The other way to get a VC job is to start a company and have a nice exit. Once you’ve collected your millions (or billions), you can join a venture capital firm as a General Partner. After all, you’ve proven your chops by building a successful company. With the right network, hopefully, you will also become a greater investor by identifying opportunities.

Instead of just telling people you invest your personal money, it may be more strategic to say you are a VC. As a VC, you stay relevant as you’re constantly networking with other investors and founders. You get the status without having to grind away as a founder.

Being a new VC can be considered a trust fund job because investors won’t know for 5-10 years whether you’re any good at investing. It takes 5-10 years for VC investments to either get acquired, IPO, or fail. By the time your limited partners and other VCs learn about your poor performance, you will have already made a lot of money from fees.

If you can’t get a job as a VC general partner, then consider calling yourself an angel investor. An angel investor is an equally promising trust fund job but with more flexibility and mystique.

4) Being An Author / Writer

To poke fun at myself, I say being an author is a trust fund job as well.

The vast majority of professional writers don’t make enough to support themselves. We’re like starving actors working at Starbucks during the day and following our dreams at night. But if you already have enough passive income to pay for your living expenses, then being an author is a respectable trust fund job.

If you say you’re an author, you have years to prove to others you have what it takes to write a book. You can always tell people who ask what you’re up to, “I’m working on the next great American novel” or something to that nature.

Given academics and creatives are generally respected, being an author has a decent amount of prestige. If you are actually able to cross the finish line and publish a hardcover book that appears in bookstores, then your trust fund job becomes legitimate.

But if you can’t get a publisher to publish your work, you can always go the self-publishing route. You won’t gain much prestige, but at least your work is out there and nobody can call your BS.

Blogging is not a good trust fund job

Blogging is not considered a good trust fund job because it’s still a relatively new occupation that conjures up images of a person wearing pyjamas and writing about their pet cats.

But don’t underestimate blogging as a profession. Some bloggers make a lot more money than you think. Here are my reflections on technically making money online since 2009.

Although my father sometimes grumbles that I send him too many posts to edit (not this one, hence the errors), keeping him involved with Financial Samurai is good for his soul!

I rely on him to make my prose better. In turn, he gains more purpose during his retirement, which may help him live longer. Because he has no debt and a pension, being the editor of Financial Samurai is also considered a trust fund job! If only he knew I was making hike work for his own good!

5) A Consultant

Being a consultant is another classic trust fund job. Starting your own consultancy company is sometimes code for being unemployed. Hence, if you do label yourself as a consultant on your LinkedIn profile, you had best include some clients in the description.

One of the longest-running professional jokes is that nobody knows what a strategy consultant does. You know, folks from firms like McKinsey, Bain, or BCG. Hence, as a consultant, you can more easily obfuscate what you actually do for a living, which makes it an ideal trust fund job.

When people learn that you are a consultant, they’ll just accept your occupation as something meaningful. Clearly, you have the wisdom, experience, and skillset to earn money by providing consulting advice. As a result, you should gain some level of respect, even if they don’t know what you do.

6) A Grade School Coach

Being a coach is an admirable trust fund job. Everybody knows grade school coaches don’t make much money. However, parents will respect you because you are trying to help children excel.

Any coach will tell you they feel a tremendous amount of satisfaction when a child succeeds. That success can be in sports, music, drama, debate, or anything where learning and competition are involved.

If you want to take coaching a step further, consider getting the credentials to become a grade school teacher. Teaching is one of the most important jobs in society. However, partially due to the pay, it’s hard to attract or retain teachers.

7) A Real Estate Investor

It didn’t occur to me until after writing this post that saying you’re a real estate investor is also a good trust fund job. It will help deflect attention and keep you relevant during social gatherings when people ask what you do.

Real estate investing consists of all sorts of active work, including: sourcing properties, remodelling, developing, expanding, and general maintenance work.

For example, my children and I spent the summer landscaping the front yard of a rental. This was 100% manual labor that I think will help minimize the entitlement mentality. The work was much more laborious than sitting in front of a computer screen all day.

Even if you are completely hands-off because you only invest in private real estate funds online, you can still legitimately say you are a real estate investor. You have to spend time identifying good sponsors and assembling a portfolio of good deals. If your investments ultimately make money, you will feel good providing for your family.

Trust Fund Jobs Have A Good Purpose In Society

As I wrote in The Negatives Of Early Retirement Nobody Likes Talking About, losing purpose is one of the big downers of no longer working for a living. We all want to feel like we’re doing something meaningful for society. Just having money doesn’t cut it.

Over the past fifteen years, I’ve met plenty of folks who struck it rich after selling their companies or by joining startups that went on to IPO. Once they got their fortunes and left, instead of feeling elated, they started to feel depressed because they were no longer relevant.

Even though you might not need a trust fund job to pay the bills, it’s nice to have. Staying relevant will make you feel happier. And if your trust fund job can help others on a regular basis, your life will have more purpose.

As you get older and wealthier, you will likely encounter more people holding trust fund jobs as well. Instead of looking down on them, appreciate they are trying to stay active in a world that so easily forgets their names.


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