Many of us keep money stashed away to put toward certain goals.
But sometimes when those plans change, it can be hard to see that money be repurposed for something new.
An uncle realized that after he set aside money for his niece for her college years. When she instead got pregnant, he was reluctant to give her the money for anything other than an education.
He and his extended family live in the UK, where it is not as common to save money to put toward university costs. However, as he shares in his story, it seemed like the best way to help his little brother's family.
The uncle, Redditor "AITANieceUniFund," shared his story on the "Am I the A**hole?" (AITA) subReddit, looking for new perspectives on his situation.
The uncle asked the thread:
"[Am I the A**hole] for not giving my niece her university fund now that she's pregnant?"
He shared first a little about his living situation.
"I (45 M[ale]) never got married or had kids. My little brother (41M) and his wife (39 F[emale]) have two daughters, the eldest of which is 18 and expecting her first child."
After the economy crashed in 2008, it became even more important to provide for his extended family.
"As a backstory, in 2008 I was let go from my job at a regional accounting firm. Nobody was taking on staff back then so I took some time out and studied to become a licensed insolvency practitioner, after which I started my own firm and started making good money dealing with companies going into administration after the credit crunch."
"This career shift enabled me to buy my first house at 37 and start to save for the future."
"My brother, like most people, was not as lucky as I was. In 2008 he had a 7yo and 3yo and got made redundant."
"He and his wife lost the house, which was unfortunate—if they'd have been able to hang on for another 18 months I'd have been able to support them with their mortgage payments, but at that time I was also out of work and living off savings."
When he wasn't able to help his brother's family save their house, he decided to start saving money for his nieces.
"After I bought my house 8 years ago I started saving for my nieces university fees. The government at that time had just announced that they were raising fees to £9k a year so I wanted the girls to be able to go without getting into a huge amount of debt."
"I felt bad for my little brother and the girls because I was doing well and they were struggling at the time, they would never had accepted any money from me, so saving up for their uni fees felt like the next best thing. I gave up on a few things, like I could've afforded a nice car but chose something more discrete and saved the difference."
Since saving the money, though, one of his niece's has changed her plans for the future.
"My eldest niece, who we'll call Rachel, was meant to be off to uni in October, however she's now not taking up her place because she's pregnant and has decided to defer her studies to take care of the baby."
She's started asking her uncle for some of her university funds to use for her living expenses instead.
"She called me over the bank holiday weekend to ask about the uni fund and whether she could have some of the money to get set up in her own flat and buy baby things."
"I said that the answer was no, the money is for her education and she could either have it when she goes to university at some point in the future, or I would pay for a local college course so she could finish her A-levels and learn a skill, like bookkeeping, so she could get a higher paying job."
Despite his reasoning, the rest of the family thinks he's being unfair in withholding the money.
"Ultimately, this caused a big family row where I was labelled as the villain because I wouldn't give Rachel her money when she needed it most."
"I don't really see it as her money, to spend as she chooses, it's only hers on the condition that she uses it for her education."
"If I give her £25k (~$30,500) now, that'll last a year to 18 months, then what happens?"
"If she gets her degree/completes vocational training and establishes a career, then she'll be on her own two feet and can financially survive."
He then turned to Reddit, hoping for a new perspective on his predicament.
"I'd appreciate a fresh pair of eyes on this, so can anyone tell me if I'm being an a**hole for not giving Rachel her money for anything other than university/local college/training?"
After sharing his story to the subReddit, fellow Redditors anonymously commented on the OP's (Original Poster's) tale using the following scale:
- NTA: "Not the A**hole"
- YTA: "You're the A**hole"
- ESH: "Everyone Sucks Here"
- NAH: "No A**holes Here"
Many were supportive of the uncle's decision, viewing the money as a long-term investment instead of something to spend in a year.
"[He's] being flexible. [He] understands that University may not be the path a new mother wants or feels able to take, so [he's] also offering that money to fund learning a practical skill too. OP can confirm, but if [he's] [saved] up 25k for Rachel, which is my understanding, and she chooses to learn a skill, I imagine OP would also allow her to use that fund to set up a business in that skill, in the same way OP did." - Cappuccinow
"Agreed, NTA. Its not like OP has rescinded his entire off because she is pregnant, it sounds like he is still willing to pay if she get some sort of formal education. I mean, he isn't even requiring it to be a uni education, just anything that will set her up for higher earning potential. It's like that old saying- give the man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he can eat for life." - BasicPumpkin12
"Yes, OP basically told their niece, 'if you seek higher education, I'll pay for it,' and is saving up so that they can keep that promise. I don't know how the niece decided that very generous offer meant that OP has an unrestricted pile of money with her name on it that she can use for anything."
"The whole reason OP made this offer and took the effort to save for it was because they want the niece to seek higher education, not out of a burning desire to shovel money at the niece."
"It would be like if a friend wanted to go out for a nice meal, and I begged off, saying a dinner out wasn't in my budget, but then my friend offered to pay for my dinner, since the pleasure of my company would make the money spent worth it."
"How rude and ungracious would it be for me to say, 'Oh, cool, since you are willing to spend $X on me, buy this video game I've been wanting for me. But I'm still not going to dinner with you'."
"I hope the niece has enough decency once she's matured more to look back on this conflict a few years down the line with absolute shame and mortification over her bratty and entitled behavior." - MaryMaryConsigliere
Some were surprised the family was being so demanding about money that wasn't theirs.
"NTA in my eyes. That Money was set aside for a goal - her education. If that goal is not met, then no point in offering that money. I'm just surprised that your family members are acting like total jerks to you. It's not their money to be commanding like that." - unsurelife83
"Parents just want the money so Rachel moves out and THEY don't have to deal with baby either." - loco_coconut
"NTA. It is not HER money, it is YOUR money and you are still open to give it to her for the purpose it was intended. Having a children is not excuse to give up education, quite the opposite, it is a good reason to start having one more than ever." - mundotako
"Yea the entitlement is crazy but I have a feeling that the niece has been planning on using that money for the baby since she found out she was pregnant and that now that the family has found out they won't have that extra 25k they're freaking out."
"In a few years time tho if the niece chooses to go to uni or study a course she'll definitely be grateful that she didn't have to pay for it herself and support a child." - silke_worm
Others questioned the niece's behavior, seeming financially unprepared for the baby she was about to have.
"OP has very clear logic that funding University will last her niece's lifetime, whereas giving the money now would just subsidise her short term living costs (and seriously, people understandably go all out on their first baby and will burn through the cash quickly for the best new buggy, cloths, etc). Niece won't even remember this is a few years time if she gets the cash now." - KatsuExpert
"It really bugs me when people have kids unprepared. That is a human life that you will have to take care of and invest yourself in until you die- the least you can do is be PREPARED to offer your child the best you can give it. Anything else is just sh**ty on the parent's part." - roadhoggin
"This is why teen pregnancy is looked down upon. Everyone knows no teenager is ready for a baby. Even if the parents happened to be financially stable(which happens in maybe .5% of teen pregnancies) they're still immature and growing up themselves."
"I'm 23. I look back just 5 years at 18 and my views are completely different." - Hate_Having_Needs
Though it's nice to be supportive of our loved ones when they make a big decision—like bringing a baby into the world—how we choose to be supportive is going to be different for everyone. Boundaries are important too.
Hopefully the uncle and the rest of the family will be able to sort this out, so they can all be happy with their personal decisions.
*If you enjoyed this article, you can read more like it by clicking on the AITA link below.*
The book Make Your Own Living Trust is available here to help with setting money aside for a specific purpose.