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Pay Your College Tuition By Selling Companionship

This article was written by in Family and Life. 10 comments.


When I was an undergraduate in college fifteen years ago or so, I convinced my girlfriend at the time to stay enrolled. She was interested in moving back to her home state and pursuing her degree at a less expensive school, but for some reason, I encouraged her to stay at the university with me, which was out of state for the two of us. She helped pay her out-of-state tuition for some time by selling Beanie Babies on eBay. She was able to get the toys at their wholesale prices, and the collecting craze was at its peak at the time.

Out of all the methods of raising money for college, this bothered me the least. The internet has a much broader reach these days, and there are certainly ways students looking for money can use that to their advantage. The one method that has traditionally worked very well for students — especially young, attractive students — is finding someone older and wealthy, and offering companionship in return for a healthy allowance.

Finding dates online is more accepted and easier today than ever before, and it’s so popular that there is more than enough room online for niche sites to flourish. At least one specialized website allows young men and women find their “sugar daddies” or “sugar mommies” — companions who are willing to offer money for companionship. One such website is seekingarrangement.com, and there are many others easily discoverable. Some are focused on the type of relationship wherein one member of the couple has significantly more wealth than the other, while other dating websites cater specifically to wealthy seekers of love.

For a student looking for help paying tuition, an extra $3,000 to $20,000 a month will cover that and more, and that seems to be what many who register on these websites as sugar daddies are willing to provide. This assumes the anonymity of the internet doesn’t persuade enough people to lie about their finances. I can’t begin to think about what may drive a wealthy person to advertise their identities as a provider of cash in return for companionship, but a market exists for everything, and dating websites like these make it possible (just like eBay does for anything other than body parts and relationships).

It is, however, easy for me to understand what young people in need of cash might be thinking when listing their identities as available for companionship in return for cash. Whether students or not, it’s nice to be taken care of. The idea of never needing to worry about money is what drives many people to work hard to find some way of achieving financial independence as quickly as possible, but there are two big obstacles:

  • Many people will never achieve financial independence, whether due to a lack of motivation, talent, or effort. Anyone can reach the point of growing wealth to the point where it will not be an obstacle to reaching goals, but it’s not going to be easy. Finding a relationship with someone willing to share is often a lot easier.
  • Achieving financial independence without a stroke of luck takes time. People, particularly students, have expenses now, and can’t wait to build a successful business over the course of one generation, even if they have the capability of doing so.

While seekingarrangement.com does a good job of explaining that its customers who enroll to trade companionship for money and vice versa are being honest about their needs and desires and this type of arrangement is a fair trade, I can’t imagine relationships based on this type of arrangement are healthy for the long-term. For many, that’s fine; students looking for help paying their tuition may only want this type of relationship until the financial need no longer exists. What happens, however, when the sugar daddy or mommy meets hard times or the younger person in the relationship loses his or her attractiveness in the eyes of the companion who is interested in someone of a specific age? Perhaps I’m trying to apply long-term relationship logic to a relationship that is designed to be short-term, but the websites that enable these matches claim there long-term viability.

There is the danger that these relationships and websites, though they claim the focus is on companionship, could be focused on sex. For some, this may not be a problem; there are as many opinions about what sex is and what it should be as there are people in this world. When you’re looking to pay for your tuition, seeking a relationship with a wealthy companion may be more socially acceptable than offering yourself as a prostitute. Is the difference important?

Would you be comfortable being on either side of this type of arrangement?

Photo: Thomas R. Stegelmann
CNN Money

Published or updated September 18, 2012. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar W at Off-Road Finance

Having spent lots of time around Vegas gamblers, I know my fair share of sugar daddies and sugar babies. Most of the relationships are a form of more or less legal prostitution. In general I would say they are not positive relationships, and most do not last. That said, when the same people try to engage in normal relationships without exchange of money the results are often even worse. It may be that some people are just too damaged to have normal relationships.

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avatar Ceecee ♦53 (Newbie)

I didn’t realize that this was a common thing out there among students. I would be too afraid of such an arrangement, after seeing some of the Craigslist crimes against women. It also has a certain creepy factor to me. But maybe I’m just old and out of touch…..

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,470 (Platinum)

I couldn’t say how common it is, but it does exist.

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avatar qixx ♦1,890 (Half-Dollar)

To me the sugar mama would be less creepy. Also i wonder if these companionship arrangements have the equivalent of a pre-nup. Not something for me either way.

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avatar Christian L.

Luke,
It unsettles me that these services exist. To me, two people are consenting to be in a superficial relationship: one for money and the other for looks. But I can see why people are drawn to the concept. Seems like a win-win, right?

I would not be comfortable on either side of this relationship. I’d rather be single.

-Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

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avatar Kathleen @ Frugal Portland

What, no affiliate link? ;)

I wonder what people who do questionable companion dating sites like this in college end up doing for money after college.

Because a job paying $35K right out of school is going to look MIGHTY sucky by comparison.

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avatar Lance @ Money Life and More

I’ve seen TV specials on it and wouldn’t want to be on either side of it. Too sketchy (and not in my character) for me.

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avatar Evan

I may be the minority here, but this seem so normal to me. For CENTURIES men have dated younger women and if we are forced to break it down cynically each are getting something out of it…men have the company of a younger woman while the woman has the stability and maturity of an older man. All the site has done is made it a little easier to connect people.

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avatar rp

This describes what my college roommate did to pay tuition, she charged $800 an hour. Before she started, I told her “once you start, this will be with you the rest of your life, you can’t undo it.”
She explained for her own reasons why she had to do it. She made good money, over $58,000 in a year and a half in cash “working part time”. Also, she got special perks like $5000 shopping sprees, jewelry, and trips to foreign countries. On an economic stand point it makes a lot of sense, but on a moral stand point, its up to the individual.

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avatar Vivy

Let me make myself very clear about this particular subject! Some of the fundamental characteristics of truly successful people (people with a sense of fulfillment) are, ingenuity, their dignity, and a healthy sense of ego.

When you put yourself in the position of being bought and sold you are forfeiting all of the things I just mentioned. If you want to develop success you have to develop ingenuity and resourcefulness.

Selling your body is not being resourceful! It is a means to an end that people in very desperate isolated situations resort to. The price being your mental health in the short, medium, and long-term! When you don’t have your mental health because you’ve compromised it, you spend the rest of your life spinning in your head like a crack addict! Making you difficult to date, unable to live with yourself, and difficult to work with. Not to mention that you become so wrapped up in your own misery that you are unable to see the world around you and the needs of others. Yes these are the results of selling yourself. It is a very very very very difficult climb back up. Not to mention that now you have tainted the very education you have sold your body for. I am not coming from a place of religion, or some dictatorial point of view because I need to be right. I’m coming from personal experience. What’s not being talked about here is how this affects the psyche of the person selling themselves in the long term. Once you do this it will always stay with you. When you’re feeling down about yourself this makes the downward spiral even deeper as the years pass. Because you know in the end that you have compromised your self-worth and your self respect. Only a very lucky few are able to get out of the cycle that this creates. And when I say lucky few I’m talking about the odds that are equivocal to winning the jackpot for Powerball lottery (don’t delude yourself). Let me break this down: when you’re selling yourself for what you think is a good thing (your education) you have succeeded in rationalizing a ruinous action towards your self. not to mention you have tainted your education and put it in a negative context because you have had to sell your body for it. So when you look back on your college days and everybody else is reminiscing about the things it taught them like resilience and ingenuity and resourcefulness. You’ll have to look back and cope with the feelings that aren’t as nice as their’s about a time in your life that should have been celebrated with joy and dignity. You may be young and beautiful now, and you may have the idea that you can handle anything. You have one life. Serve yourself and others with dignity. If you do you will be the change that this world needs. instead of resorting to prostitution Start developing your interpersonal skills and learning how to ask for the support that you need with fearlessness. Develop your vision for the future in a positive light. Work consistently and diligently with lots of self-discipline towards a specific goal. Learn how to budget your energy and your resources. True friends are going to be your greatest assets. But you must be a giver as well as a taker. Learn how to calculate what your needs are going to be so that they can be met realistically without compromising your mental health and your physical health. Great business people learn how to find answers and there don’t seem to be any. You need to learn how to persist in the face of adversity.

Here is a fable that has resonated with me and others who insist on doing justice to ourselves and others. An old Cherokee told his grandson, “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside all of us one is evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth.”

The boy thought about it and asked, “grandfather, which wolf wins?” The old man quietly replied “the one you feed.” – Author unknown

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