When I turned sixteen, my social security checks started coming in the mail addressed to me instead of in care of my mother. My mother was very angry when that happened. She took care of me anyway, she said, so why did I need money? Now she wouldn't get checks addressed to her name at all. The checks made out to my dad still went into their joint account for her full use, but it wasn't the same.
My parents continued to let me live in their house rent free and eat their groceries and use their utilities, but I took over paying for my own makeup, entertainment, gas for my car, car insurance, just-for-emergencies cell phone and plan, and clothes, which I bought at second hand stores. I'd always been more of a saver than a spender, so I socked away everything I had leftover into a bank account my mother had opened with me when I turned sixteen. Birthday money and savings from summer jobs went in there too. It would be my new college fund -- the one I saved up all by myself.
The summer before my senior year of college, my mother took me on a trip to visit the colleges I was considering attending. It was a multi-city tour that spanned 1500 miles. We went sightseeing, ate expensive food, and even saw Broadway shows. By the time we got home, I'd picked my first-choice school. It was expensive, but my mother was adamant that price wasn't a factor -- I'd been a straight A student and I deserved to go wherever I wanted to go.
When I next checked the balance of my bank account, it was almost empty. I'd saved thousands of dollars since opening it, but now it held about $50. I went to my mother in a panic. She explained that she had needed the money to pay for that extravagant college visit. "I spent it all on you," she said, so I had nothing to complain about. She hadn't taken my money. I'd just spent it all without realizing it. "I'm going to be paying for all your college anyway," she said. "You wouldn't have been able to pay for it yourself." The meager amount I'd saved up shouldn't matter.