I'm in a bit of a predicament so I want to give some background.

I'm a 17-year-old who has a bank account with my mother as an account holder given that as a minor I cannot legally enter into an agreement with my bank and I need a guarantor. It's only my mother raising me thus there is financial strain on her to provide for us and we definitely aren't that wealthy of a family.

Typically, my bank account is only in the low $100's with balance and there wasn't much issue. After starting some work recently around 2 months ago, I have been getting some serious income (around 7k total in the past 2 months) and that all has been going to my bank account. After reviewing this months bank statement, I noticed a discrepancy. There was around $2,835 in withdrawals this month which shocked me. I have been using my money, but my spending has been no where near that amount. I did a deep dive into my finances to find the cause, and it became pretty clear almost immediately. Here are some withdrawals to another bank account:

05/24/2019 Online Banking transfer to CHK XXXX -$91.00
05/23/2019 Online Banking transfer to CHK XXXX -$60.00
05/22/2019 Online Banking transfer to CHK XXXX -$68.00
05/21/2019 Online Banking transfer to CHK XXXX -$67.00
05/21/2019 Online Banking transfer to CHK XXXX -$350.00
05/21/2019 Online Banking transfer to CHK XXXX -$400.00
05/20/2019 Online Banking transfer to CHK XXXX -$190.00
05/20/2019 Online Banking transfer to CHK XXXX +$400.00
05/17/2019 Online Banking transfer to CHK XXXX -$50.00
05/15/2019 Online Banking transfer to CHK XXXX -$98.00
05/14/2019 Online Banking transfer to CHK XXXX -$14.00
05/13/2019 Online Banking transfer to CHK XXXX -$165.00
05/19/2019 Online Banking transfer to CHK XXXX -$150.00
05/09/2019 Online Banking transfer to CHK XXXX -$60.00
05/06/2019 Online Banking transfer to CHK XXXX +$350.00
05/01/2019 Online Banking transfer to CHK XXXX -$100.00
04/29/2019 Online Banking transfer to CHK XXXX -$118.00
04/24/2019 Online Banking transfer to CHK XXXX -$160.00
04/23/2019 Online Banking transfer to CHK XXXX -$50.00
04/19/2019 Online Banking transfer to CHK XXXX -$900.00
04/08/2019 Online Banking transfer to CHK XXXX +$300.00
04/04/2019 Online Banking transfer to CHK XXXX -$25.00
04/02/2019 Online Banking transfer to CHK XXXX -$20.00
04/01/2019 Online Banking transfer to CHK XXXX -$100.00
03/25/2019 Online Banking transfer to CHK XXXX -$300.00

Total loss: $3536.00
Total gain: $1050.00
Net total: $2486.00

The checking account "XXXX" is my mother's personal checking account. She withdrew almost $3,536 and put back $1,050 meaning she took $2,486. Now I understand some of you are going to sympathize with her for raising a child alone and how she puts a roof over my head, but I hope that you can see my perspective that she is blatantly taking my hard earned money without my consent and taking a gross amount too.

I have had chats with her before, but typically she deflects or says something on how it hurts her honor that she took the money or how she is going to pay back every dime. I'm tired of it. I'll be moving out for work in a few weeks therefore I am not worried about confrontation.

I feel as though my mother has been abusing my finances and I need it to stop. I have contacted my bank and they said they might have a limited option because I am under 18 (I turn 18 in a few months, but if you look at the logs you'll see she constantly takes significantly large amounts almost every other day, I need an immediate solution.

Where can I transfer these funds while maintaining the convenience of having them accessible through a debit card and what general advice do you have for me. Thank you.

  • 23
    Can you employer give you checks instead of direct deposit?
    – void_ptr
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 5:35
  • 71
    While it sounds like you are in the United States, you should edit your post to confirm along with state as banking regulations do vary. Commented May 26, 2019 at 7:11
  • 4
    Do you have another adult relative who could act as guarantor? Commented May 26, 2019 at 13:44
  • 6
    Do you pay rent/board ? If not, will you start when you turn 18?
    – Criggie
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 21:50
  • 17
    Also maybe check out interpersonal.meta.stackexchange.com. I believe besides the financial questions the bigger issue here is your mom not letting you know about this in advance.
    – blues
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 7:24

13 Answers 13


I can only speak from my own experience dealing with a very similar situation I had with my own single parent mother. My situation lasted for about a decade from when I was 16 to 28 and resulted in me losing literally tens of thousands of dollars. I had a joint account (set up from when my account was initially created when I was much younger) and my mother would regularly take money from it (sometimes as much as $3000 as I got older). I too would discover missing money and upon investigating find out that it was my own mother who once again had withdrawn from my account. This continued even after moving out. There were times when I was living on my own (making minimum wage) when I would discover that the small amount of money I had carefully managed to save up was suddenly gone.

While I cant know beyond what you have said how similar our situations are, I can tell you a few things that I learned and also how I ended it:

  1. No amount of confronting my mother to ask her to stop or to ask her to ask me for the money first ever worked
  2. No amount of money that I gave her ever solved her financial problems
  3. Paying a "rent" of sorts per month didn't fundamentally solve the problem and if you are going to pay rent I would strongly advise getting your own place as it would be better for your own development (and a lot more fun) than paying to live with your parent (re-reading you question it sounds like you are doing this so great!)

I would suggest immediately either closing the joint account (or removing her name) and opening a new account under you name only. If I remember correctly I think when I did this (after waiting way too long!) I actually had to close the account and open a new one as I would have needed my mothers consent to remove her name from the joint account. I don't see why opening your own account as a 17yo should be a problem, but if for some reason you live in a jurisdiction that does not allow this, then you could always use the mattress bank for the next couple months until you turn 18.

Also you mention:

"I have had chats with her before, but typically she deflects or says something on how it hurts her honor that she took the money or how she is going to pay back every dime. I'm tired of it. I'll be moving out for work in a few weeks therefore I am not worried about confrontation."

This non-sense of hurting her "honor" is just a way to use guilt to make you feel sorry for her. This is a tactic that my own mother employed and is fundamentally emotionally abusive and immature. My mother also said she would pay me back by inheriting her house. In actuality after moving out, I found out that the bank foreclosed on the house (she never told me) and I lost not just my supposed payback but also everything that I had left at the house. The lesson here is that you are unlikely to ever see that money again. Thankfully in your case it sounds like you are moving out and will have only lost a couple thousand dollars which is really in the grand scheme fairly small.

Takeaway: Get your own account immediately! Enjoy living on your own and count this experience as a lesson learned! Good luck!

  • 4
    Why didn't you take your mother to court?
    – d-b
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 20:28
  • 104
    @d-b Because she was my mother
    – James
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 21:10
  • 40
    @d-b what makes you think suing his Mom would have gotten James anything other than a bunch of worthless IOUs, and the permanent emnity of a significant chunk of his family? Commented May 26, 2019 at 22:51
  • 59
    @d-b As Dan said, suing would not have helped me get any money from her since she didn't have any to begin with (if anything I might end up losing more from court fees, lawyers, hassle etc). More importantly I found it difficult to come to terms with the fact that my mother was not acting rationally or in my interest. The reason I answered was in the hope that the OP would not allow this to continue as long as I did. Ironically the damage done really wasn't financial at all. I know how to make more money. I can't get a new mother. There are some problems that the courts just cant fix.
    – James
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 0:21
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Commented May 28, 2019 at 15:55

This is not how it should work. Obviously there are legal questions, whether she is legally allowed to access your money, but more important is the relationship between mother and child.

One thing is of course that while you had no income, your mother had to pay all your expenses (rent, food, clothing, everything), and since you are having income now, you ought to contribute to the household. Have a look how much income your mother had for the last years, and how much of that she could use for herself.

On the other hand, this should be done by some agreement between you and your mother. Not by your mother helping herself, and not telling you about it.

What you should do is talk to your mother, and come to an agreement how much you should contribute to the household. Keep in mind that until you are 18 you can't legally refuse to contribute, and when you are 18 you can be given the choice to contribute, or to start your own household. Either way, you should not assume that you can keep all your money and not contribute to the living cost.

PS. Another answer says you should "help out with expenses". I'd say you should pay your fair share, according to what your income is and what your mum's income is. In the UK, depending on the situation it would be possible that mum gets benefits because she has to raise a child without income, and lose those benefits because you make money. Then the very, very least would be to replace that money.

  • 37
    Would like to point out here that the mother has taken $2500 in the course of a month and forcefully borrowed $1050. In most places in the world, that is well over the costs of a single child's monthly living expenses. This answer is based on the premise that the mother is trying to obtain household contribution, which is most likely false. The mother is stealing the money for her expenses, whatever they may be, not the child's. No rent agreement will solve that unless you're suggesting the child pays for the whole household.
    – Clay07g
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 13:21
  • 3
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Further comments are likely to be deleted directly. Please don't use the comments of one answer to essentially discuss an alternate answer :-) Commented May 27, 2019 at 16:59
  • 11
    Citation for "you can't legally refuse to contribute"? I have my doubts that's true.
    – Kat
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 19:54
  • 3
    Replacing the benefits is exactly what I did. I'm Australian, and when I finished school we stopped receiving some benefits. As soon as I got a job I started paying the amount we had been receiving as benefits straight to mum and dad. I happen to enjoy living with my family and getting meals, electricity and a room for only $135/wk. Of course I still have jobs around the house and my brother and I pay for most of our home server stuff and all the expensive internet gear we need for where we live, but it's still very cheap living :)
    – Clonkex
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 0:24
  • 4
    I've got children and expect to be funding them for a long time. But you know what, that's ok because it was my choice to have children. Why is it seen as obvious that children, minors, should contribute to the household budget? They didn't ask to be brought into the world?
    – crobar
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 14:31

The simple solution here is to withdraw the remaining balance of your account in cash, and repeat that withdrawal on future pay days until you can open your own account.

If your mother is guarantor of the account, she will be responsible for picking up the overdraft charges caused by her own withdrawals, not you.

As a 17 year old, losing the first few thousand dollars you earned probably feels like a very big deal. In the global scheme of things, it's not important at all. If your mother can't or won't pay it back, just write it off as life experience - but don't forget about it next time she comes pleading for you to lend her some money!

  • 9
    It would be better to stop using direct deposit altogether
    – Kat
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 16:21
  • 3
    If he is paid by cheque, surely that has to go into the account to be available? Or (assuming the OP is in the US) is the US different and "endorsing a cheque for cash" is still a thing? Commented May 27, 2019 at 1:10
  • 4
    @AndrewLeach The OP can take the check to a check cashing service. Given it is a payroll check with proper ID, stores like Walmart will cash it for a few dollars. Dedicated check cashing places exist however they charge huge amounts (10%+) due to the risk of fraud in the wider range of checks they accept. It is usually possible to cash the check at the bank it is drawn on, though that too may be expensive for non-accountholders. Some businesses, typically those with low-income workers, can pay wages via a prepaid debit card.
    – user71659
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 1:16
  • 7
    "As a 17 year old, losing the first few thousand dollars you earned probably feels like a very big deal. In the global scheme of things, it's not important at all." It sucks to say it, but in a way, that money could be very important. Having a few extra thousand dollars at 17 seems like a perfect way to start having a healthy savings that you can build up. I do get what you're saying though, it least the money wasn't needed. Still not the best time to lose thousands when you could instead invest it as early as possible.
    – JMac
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 14:10
  • 1
    In addition to following this advice, also open a new account, and ask your employer to send any future payments there as soon as the account is open. This has several benefits, including that your mother won't even be able to withdraw money on paydays.
    – pts
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 15:05

I'm a 17-year-old who has a bank account with my mother as an account holder given that as a minor I cannot legally enter into an agreement with my bank and I need a guarantor.

Minors can generally enter into contracts, but there are complications in that they can back out of contracts. Therefore it becomes an issue of state laws and the risk the bank is willing to take.

There is no state with an outright ban on non-custodial accounts for minors though several have limitations and teen age limits.

I had an individual checking account at age 15 from a major US bank. The staff knew my parents were good customers so it wasn't an issue. Because you approached your current bank saying there was a problem, it was likely you scared them off.

Many banks allow individual accounts broadly at age 17 because there are college students who leave home at that age. For example, Chase says their college account is for age 17-24.

Therefore, you should see if you can establish an independent account, if not at your current bank, at a different one.

  • 7
    It's no problem for the bank really as long as they don't give you an overdraft or lend you money. If a 13 year old opens an account and puts in $5,000, worst that can happen to the bank is that the 13 year old closes the account and gets their money back. If the bank lends that 13 year old $5,000, the kid might be able to close the account and not pay the money back, so that's something the bank would avoid.
    – gnasher729
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 10:05
  • 5
    @gnasher729 No, the problem is every time you deposit a check, they are lending you money, as required by funds availability laws. Besides intentional schemes like check kiting, there is the possibility of getting involved in fraud by others. Banks conduct risk assessment on everybody who opens an account (see ChexSystems). This is partially, but not completely, mitigated by account types that only allow debit transactions. However, those are not offered by every bank as they aren't profitable: they require politically sensitive fees since typical users have small balances.
    – user71659
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 18:36
  • 5
    @user71659 Is that US specific? I haven’t deposited a cheque in a very long time (because it’s 2019) but the last time I did it in the UK the money was only deposited into my account after the cheque cleared, several days later. Commented May 27, 2019 at 10:33
  • 5
    @KonradRudolph In the US, Reg CC sets availability. Note that electronic transfers, like ACH, can also be reversed due to fraud or mistake, though not insufficient funds. Even credit cards allow reversals (chargebacks) months later. So electronic transfers, short of bank wires, continue to carry risk. It's not a problem that is due to checks, but inherently due to the fact that fraud is often detected days after the fact.
    – user71659
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 16:41
  • 2
    @KonradRudolph The fundamental difference is that the US places the risk of fraudulent payments on the receiver of the funds, whereas Europe places it on the sender. For example, European banks will often deny fraud claims from transactions if authorized by a PIN, placing a responsibility on the sender to protect the PIN and using online PIN authentication devices (despite known PIN bypass attacks in EMV, compromise via cameras and fraud like payment redirection). The US retains plausible deniability by skipping these measures and simply takes the money back from the receiver.
    – user71659
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 16:57

Only a few options come to mind. You could get emancipated, emancipated minors can open bank accounts. This might not be worth the hassle/cost at this point.

Some banks allow anyone to be a joint owner on accounts, so if there is an adult you trust they might be willing to open an account for you.

You could close out the account and deal in visa gift cards and cash.

It might also work to have a discussion with her about helping out now that you are earning. Perhaps you could come to an agreement by which you would contribute a set amount per week to help out with expenses and she doesn't help herself to your money. While this would still cost you, it might cost you less than the current arrangement, and it would probably be the least damaging to your relationship, but she could also just keep taking.

If it's only a couple months until you're 18 and you don't think she'd hold up her end of an arrangement, I'd probably just close the account now.

Regardless of what you decide make sure to get your name off that joint account when you hit 18.

  • 2
    Normally you can't "get a name off a joint account". You just have to stop using or close the joint account and make a new one in your name only. Commented May 26, 2019 at 13:24
  • 4
    @R.. A number of the accounts designed for kids can have the guardian removed when the minor turns 18 without closing it out, they design them this way to win/keep customers. If that's not an option then closing it would also get your name off of a joint account.
    – Hart CO
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 15:05
  • why you would need to have your name off the account? cannot another account be opened in another bank ?
    – Arioch
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 12:50
  • 3
    @Arioch Either or, if it's an account for minors that allows the adult to be removed when the minor hits 18 then easier to do that, if not, then a new account, in either case, the point is just to get away from any joint accounts.
    – Hart CO
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 16:12
  • 2
    @Arioch it's a good idea for OP to get their name off the joint account in case their mother overdrafts it.
    – Kat
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 20:02

I will disagree with a post saying you owe her any money or respect.

She may have given you birth, but respect is earned; money is earned.

Stealing someone's money over the argument that you are their parents, really is a ludicrous lack of respect.

Now, for the more human part of it; it always depends for which reasons.

I don't know exactly the laws where you live, but even under 18, if you work, the money is paid to a "Name", to a "person"; you.

In canada here, I worked at 16, and the money was paid to my name. Therefore, I own this money. Taking someone's property, what he or she owns, is stealing; I'd definitely have brought this up to court at some point at my 18s; but I'm a little more drastic and down to earth.

Now it's all on you, but if she's gonna pay you back, I suggest perhaps it would be time for her to start making "payment plans" with you. I mean if it was 100$ I'd probably say forget it, it's not that bad; but +2'000$ is starting to be a bit much; specially when this money can help you very much in your early adult years.

If she's gonna pay you back on a weekly basis, even if it was a 25-30$ per week, it would alteast prove a motivation to pay you back, which I'd consider to be better than simply taking your money and then avoiding the situation.

Feel free to message me if you'd like more of my insight.

  • This is jurisdiction sensitive. In some countries, parenty can legally confiscate / appropriate any property children own, as the children themselves can't own anything, so the person getting paid in the sense of the word might be the mother and not OP. It's not as black and white when OP is a minor. So if OP brings it up from that angle under some circumstances the mom could just take all of OPs money and never give any of it back right now.
    – Magisch
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 13:39
  • Your parents shouldn't have to earn their child's respect. What is missing is the lack of communication over the transfers, which gives it the impression of stealing.
    – rtaft
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 14:26
  • 2
    @rtaft ; I must disagree. If your actions proves your lack of respect, you unfortunately do not earn any respect back. Children are human beings.
    – Musuyajin
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 14:30
  • 1
    @rtaft Of course they should: they forced themselves upon their child for their own selfish reasons and needs (finding purpose and meaning in life or something like that). They start with a negative respect and should/must work hard to enter the positive side.
    – d-b
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 14:57
  • 2
    @rtaft: Perhaps parents shouldn't have to earn it at first, but after losing it like this they sure have to earn it back.
    – Joshua
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 19:38

Where can I transfer these funds while maintaining the convenience of having them accessible through a debit card [...]

This needs a country tag for parts of the answer, specifically how to open a new account or protect an existing account as a 17 year old, so I'll keep that part brief: Go and ask 2-3 different local banks what your options are.

Without the option to secure your account or make a new one, you will have to surrender the convenience of a debit card. A workable solution is to have a limited cash fund, and to store the brunt of the money elsewhere. The best option to do so is probably asking your employer to withhold your pay until your 18th birthday.

There is the option to withdraw all your money as cash and store it at home - but I advise against it because this comes with a risk of losing it all.

Another alternative is to ask a legal professional to establish a fund that is locked until your 18th birthday.

[...] and what general advice do you have for me.

Document everything.

Having her signature is a bonus, but not a requirement. She says it's rent? How much for what time frame? Put it in writing. She says she'll give it back? That makes it a loan*, put it in writing.

Offer to help

As you've seen from the reactions here, despite the obvious wrongdoing (taking thousands of dollars with no permission and no apology), there is a strong public perception that works against you. Some people expect you to give your mother money. Do that, but in the proper way. You can pay for rent and related expenses, you can give her a loan*, and you can give her an allowance. How far you have to go to ease your own conscience and the expectations of society depends on yourself and the specific cultural context.

This draws a clear line between you giving (good) and her taking (bad). Don't forget to document whenever you give her something.

*If you ever give a loan to family members, don't expect to get it back. It's a nice surprise if it happens, as if often does, but don't count on it

  • 7
    Soviet proverb: If you want to loose a friend - give him a loan.
    – Arioch
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 13:04
  • Also, many "human accounts" (contracts) in banks have a number of "financial accounts" within them. Different currencies, different bank cards (or none), fixed-date deposits vs operational vs credit line. Etc, each bank has their own patterns. So, for the benefit of "drawing a line" he probably can open one more "f-a" within their joint "h-a". And explicitly says he does not want anyone but him to withdraw from that new account. And transfer (it should be free within one "h-a") from current f-a to this new what amount he needs to plan his life
    – Arioch
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 13:08
  • @Arioch this. I helped a friend pay off her credit card debt in full, she said was going to pay me in a couple months. Ever since the day she told me she was going to pay on, she hasn't been responding to my texts or calls, even though I stopped talking about the loan she took from me. Bleh, I don't even care about the money, I just want my friend back.
    – ave
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 13:37
  • @Ave with my mother it took about 5 years to that friend to emerge back. But she would never be THAT depth of a friend that once she was. The trust is never back in fullest.
    – Arioch
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 13:41
  • @Ave frankly this "stopped responding to calls" is the most detrimental here, something of false pride maybe. Hopefully it would not go as extreme as in en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Necklace
    – Arioch
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 13:54

I'm going to take a different hard line.

Whether or not she has helped you, she is taking your earnings without your permission. Yes you authorised her via the bank to co-manage the account. But that does NOT give her a right to appropriate or use your money as hers, nor was this ever discussed, agreed, or approved.

Essentially if it was anyone else (a housemate not related to you) this would be theft or at least a gross breach of trust.

As she has been doing this for 2 months, and taken close to 4x more than she has repaid in just 8 weeks, she is living beyond her means, and doesn't actually have any clear way to show she can or will repay, either. I give good odds that she will eventually admit she would like to repay you, but is unable to do so. If it wasn't technically theft before, it would be at that point.

If she were a trusted employee with bank account access, but "borrowed" money from your company's bank to buy things knowing it would be hard to repay them, she'd be in police hands right now and facing jail time for some combination of theft, fraud, or malfeasance.

I would point her in that direction, and tell her if any more is taken, ever, that is exactly what will happen next. Also ask her for her proposal to repay every penny by (30 Sept? 31 Dec?), and if that isn't kept, then ditto. Finally, show the bank and ask if she can guarantee but not be allowed to withdraw, as she is stealing from it, and they now know the fact

Personal stance - theft doesn't become non-theft just because its done by a loved one. The taking has to stop now, heavyweight, because she's already in 2 months built up (and is still continuing to increase even now) a very large debt for a low-or-struggling income single parent at a high speed that she will surely in time have to plead she lacks a realistic way to repay. And OP has indicated they are not reluctant to confront over this issue.

They should. And the OP's confrontation will need to be predicated on the basis that she doesn't seem to have much if any innate capability for self restraint, responsibility, propriety, realism, or respect for others' savings, when given ready access.

  • 3
    "she is living beyond her means". You don't know that. You can't know that.
    – RonJohn
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 8:27
  • 6
    The OPs family aren't well off. She's immediately "borrowing" large sums, and making part repayments but gradually falling off. $4k borrowed in 3 months. Keeps promising to repay but avoids a question of when and how, and doesn't yet do so. Join the dots and remember we are aiming to support the OP not their mother. I think its a fairly likely - perhaps almost compelling - conclusion, and if wrong, let the OP say so, which I actually don't think they will. Thinking in those terms is distressing, but realistically something the OP should consider and bear in mind.
    – Stilez
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 12:36
  • "I would point her in that direction, and tell her" - basically that is saying "you are not my family, no more than my employee is". While sometimes such a stand is justified, it is clear the TopicStarter does not consider it justified in his case.
    – Arioch
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 12:53
  • 1
    @Arioch - family is also able to.overstep boundaries. Clearly this is such a case. Family can abuse. The OP uses that term themselves. A boundary sometimes has to be drawn hard, even with family, even with loved ones, even if one cares. I don't agree that drawing a line in those terms equates to "not family". It's also not at all clear that the OP has rejected anything - they've explicitly said they feel it is "abuse" and they don't mind a "confrontation" over it as they are moving out soon. You might not feel comfortable, or feel it cuts the bridges irreparably. The OP may feel differently.
    – Stilez
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 13:06
  • +1 because despite me disagreeing with the approach, it is a viable option and the reasoning makes sense. It's valid advice and up to the OP if they want to take it.
    – Peter
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 13:08

Alas, you have no rights.

It is unfortunate that, in the eyes of the law, effectively, your mother owns you. I have gone the rounds with this kind of thing before (in the USA, but it is the same about everywhere), and you are not likely to get any satisfaction over this, legal or otherwise.

You only have a few months left. Once you turn 18 you can go to your mother’s bank (physically walk in and ask to speak to someone; make sure you have documentation) and close your account. Take the money and open a new account (whether or not with the same bank is up to you). After that, you do have legal recourse if she endeavors to take your money.

Another answer suggested withdrawing everything now. You can do that if you wish, but having a few thousand in bills sitting around is Not A Good Idea™. Not only can you lose it much easier, it also has the potential of putting you in danger. I know it is infuriatingly unjust.

One last thing: filial loyalty is not an excuse. People will tell you you owe your mother stuff. No you don’t. By bringing you into this world she had a responsibility to care for you. That does not imply any responsibility for you to let her use you or your money.

I am not saying you should throw her off. I do not know what your relationship is with your mother, but unless she is outright abusive you should not let this destroy your relationship, now or future. Once you are eighteen you can set bounds and require her to keep them.

Before then, though, you are out of luck.
I really am sorry.


If your paychecks are currently in check format, they should be valid for at least 6 months. You could hold on to some of them until you turn 18, and on your birthday in a few months go open a new bank account in only your name and deposit them. (You may want to notify your employer that you are purposefully holding the checks so they don't question it.)

If your paycheck is currently direct deposit, you could ask your employer to switch to checks and go with the above idea, or, if you have a really good friend or relative with their own bank account who you can trust (at least more than your mother), you could likely change your direct deposit to go into their account until you turn 18. (It's not uncommon for couples both married and unmarried to do this when only one of them has a bank account.) It's possible your employer won't need to know or care that the account is in someone else's name, but if they require a voided check, you may need to ask them if they'll allow it. If you go this route I'd recommend having a contract in writing with your friend stating what you are doing and that they'll write you a check for the full amount deposited from your employer once you get your own account. You should do this even if you absolutely trust them, as the document will help them in case they are ever audited and need to show that was not their own income. BTW, normally depositing your money into someone else's account would be considered a bad idea because you run the risk of the person stealing your money. But in your specific situation, you're actually weighing that possibility against knowing for sure that your money will be taken...

  • 1
    Clever idea about the 6 month time limit!!
    – Stilez
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 7:05
  • In USA, it is sometimes only ninety days.
    – WGroleau
    Commented Aug 10, 2019 at 15:03

Thank you. If I were you, I would withdraw all the money and put in a CERTIFIED cheque and treat it like cash--I don't think parents are able to cash certified cheques in your name. It should be certified so your parents can't be like adding his/her names on it. Also, ask your employer to give cheque payments, too!

By the way I'm Canadian and I use cheque as check.

  • A certified check to whom? It's not at all like cash, it's like a check, only certified :-)
    – user81981
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 16:29
  • 1
    to yourselves. Others can't cash out a check under your name. the certified part is to add difficulty to anyone to add their name it it. I've done it Commented May 29, 2019 at 16:37
  • Much smarter to keep the money out of that account to begin with
    – user81981
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 16:38

You mention nothing about her perspective on things, aside from the promise of paying it back.

Is she in an emergency? Does she have a debt that needs to be paid back? Does she owe money to someone (friends, family, etc.)?

And also: How does she justify taking money? Just taking it, I mean.

From her perspective, it might be that she believes that you ought to pay rent and contribute to the pool for food and utilities now that you have income. That would be quite understandable, especially if she is struggling herself. It does not however, give her a right to just take. Maybe you can find a compromise with her by driving that point - agreeing that you will contribute financially, but on terms agreed to and you will give what you owe, instead of her taking it.

Your options for keeping the money safe from her are quite a few:

  1. check with the bank if you really can't open a bank account by yourself, especially with a regular income now. I would be surprised if you can't get an account if you show your contract and the last few paychecks.
  2. another option is to check if you can get a debit card from your bank, and move your money there after payday.
  3. you can ask for payment in check or cash, depending on your country. Most western countries don't offer that anymore, but in some places (and companies), that is still an option.
  4. you can yourself cash out after payday, as a cheque or in cash. You will have to keep these somewhere safe, though. Do you have other family or really trustworthy friends? If so, you can ask those people to store it for you. I would not recommend keeping it at home - if she takes from your bank account, who is to say she won't take from your room? And then you are in a very clear case of theft and I don't think that's a comfortable situation for either party.
  • ?? A debit card is merely access to your checking account, you can't move money to it
    – user81981
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 16:31
  • It appears these cards work differently in our countries in such case. Where I live, all cards (credit, debit) have their own account associated with them.
    – Tom
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 4:02
  • They say '$' so it's likely in the US..
    – user81981
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 20:18

Gonna go against the grain here and say what a lot of people are thinking, young fellow.

It's all nice and good to argue that you earned that money therefore it's only fair for you to have it. But fairness works top-down, not piecemeal. If you're want a fair relationship with your mum, you have to be fair all the time, not just when it suits you. Otherwise you cannot claim "fairness" as a motivation.

While your mother has apparently incurred damages on you totaling around $2000. However, your mother has also:

  • Carried you in her womb for 9 months
  • Given birth (!!!)
  • Cared after you for multiple years, including some not-so-pleasant tasks such as changing diapers and spoon-feeding
  • Had her sleep interrupted countless times during your infancy (note: forced sleep deprivation is widely recognized as a form of torture)
  • Spent inordinate amounts of money on babysitters, schools, and similar expenses
  • Covered your expenses regarding food, clothing, housing and virtually everything else for 17 years (!!!)

So, I am wondering - since you are insistent that your mother give you an account of the money she took from "you" (I mean no disrespect by the quotes, but it's worth keeping in mind that as you point out the account is not really yours, but hers), are you equally determined to provide renumeration to her equivalent to all the above?

If we had an anarcho-capitalist utopia, surely their solution would be to assume all children at the moment of birth enter in contract with their parents and all expenses incur debt accordingly. But we live in a sane world, where the issue is handled in a much simpler way: Parents are held responsible for the well-being of their children, and in turn they are given very broad authority regarding the child's decision, freedom and financial situation. When the child turns 18, this arrangement is usually assumed to conclude and revert to the traditional adult systems.

Your only real hope of changing this situation is asking your mum nicely. You could do other things, such as request to be given the money in cash, or have it go to an older friend's account (then you can come here and ask "friend abusing my finances, what do I do?"), or spend it before your mum can. But that's all the leverage you have on her - a couple hundred a month. If you succeed with such a scheme, are you prepared for the possibility that your mum may decide to demand you pay her rent (else leave), buy your own food, clothing, and so on?

  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. I think it's fairly clear opinions will differ on this answer (and others), a long comment thread is not going to improve it. Commented May 28, 2019 at 9:04

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