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.
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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?
Updated October 21, 2015 and originally published 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.