Stealth Wealth

The Benefits Of Stealth Wealth

in Financial Planning by

One of the most amazing things about San Francisco is that there are wealthy people everywhere, but you’ll never be able to tell based on how many dress. Mark Zuckerberg is 30 years old and likes to wear a grey shirt, jeans, and a hoody most of the time; yet he’s a multi-billionaire. Unfortunately, there’s no escaping the paparazzi and society’s expectations for Mark and his money.

But for the rest of us who are looking to build our own modest fortunes, there’s still hope to live peaceful lives away from society’s rage or government scrutiny. Wealth has gone from being a celebrated goal to one that is increasingly being looked down upon due to the obnoxiously large wealth gap.

Although there is an enormous logarithmic difference between the wealth of the top 1% and the top 0.1%, society still views them all the same: in a suspicious and often disapproving way. Not even the top 10% income earner (~$115,000) is safe anymore.

Look around the room for a moment. Chances are high someone has a cushy trust fund. It’s more than likely that a colleague’s parents paid for his/her house down payment, took care of graduate school tuition, or bought him/her a car. After living through the biggest bull market ever, helping adult children financially is commonplace. You can’t take it with you after all.

I used to be very envious of these lucky folks as the son of middle class government workers. While my classmates or colleagues vacationed in Europe over the summer, I had to work at McDonald’s making $4.25 an hour for a power-tripping boss. At least we could eat all the yummy apple pies we wanted. But I snapped out of my envy because there’s never any use complaining or feeling sorry for yourself.

The Stealth Wealth movement is growing and I encourage everyone to join. Let me share with you five reasons why.

THE BENEFITS OF STEALTH WEALTH

It’s human nature to experience anger, jealousy, and envy. While climbing the mountain towards financial independence, you will undoubtedly encounter people who will try and keep you down. Perhaps they are jealous you are happily married with a beautiful family while you’re stuck going home to an empty apartment. Perhaps they are threatened by your abilities. Or perhaps they simply don’t like your race, culture, ethnicity, or sex.

Discrimination and hate are more common than people realize. Life is already difficult enough. Your goal is to minimize the amount of headwinds as you climb towards the top.

Five reasons to adopt Stealth Wealth:

1) You become the underdog. It’s more fun to root for the underdog, rather than the 27-point favorite. We’ve all seen movies where the scrawny football player named Rudy makes it on the Notre Dame team. We’re always cheering for the child with a muscular growth problem who befriends a three-legged dog and goes on to win dog show after dog show. If you roll up in a $55,000 automobile and repetitively talk about your amazing trip to Bali, your colleagues will secretly despise you. Your boss will think, Why the heck should I give her a raise and a promotion when she’s already living the good life? Take the bus and focus on the tortuous 20 hour flight instead if someone asks about your trip. Once people think you’ve got it tough, they’ll be much more inclined to help you out.

2) You deflect attention. When people think you are just struggling to get by, you no longer receive as much attention from your competitors, enemies, or the government. Having more freedom to do as you please is glorious. You can work at your own pace in peace because less people will care what you are doing. The IRS doesn’t secretly assign someone to profile your finances because you haven’t made it to some publication’s rich list. When Forbes came out with their China’s top 10 most wealthy list in 1998, several of the individuals went to jail over the next five years! Those who seek attention are only asking for scrutiny.

3) People’s expectations of you decline. One of the secrets to getting ahead is to always underpromise, and overdeliver. If people think you’re rich, they might also think you’re smart or highly connected. A friend of mine who worked as an institutional broker at a mid-tier firm always ranked between 6-15th place in the latest broker vote. When I asked him about his seemingly dismal results he responded, “What’s the point of reaching top five? Once I’m there, my bosses will expect me to always be in the top five. I’d rather rank within the expectations range and continuously get paid as much as the bulge bracket employees than set myself up for future disappointment.” He’s still making a tremendous income today being a marginal player.

4) You don’t have to always pay the bill. If you’re the rich one in the group, some people will naturally expect you to pay a larger percentage of the bill, or pay for everything. Even though you’d happily pay for everyone or buy your buddy a drink, you certainly don’t want to feel like you’re always expected to pay. It’s like going out on a date. If you ask someone out, you wouldn’t expect them to pay, but it’s nice if s/he offers. People also come out of the woodwork once they’ve seen you on TV or know that you’ve received some type of financial windfall. The first step when you receive a lot of money is to never tell anybody you’ve received a lot of money.

5) You’ll be much happier overall. Everybody just wants to fit in, develop good relationships, and be happy. The median household income in America is ~$52,000. Rocking 5X that amount isn’t going to win you any friends. Although the median household income in San Francisco is roughly $80,000 a year, you’ll be hard pressed to find affordable housing at that level with the median house costing roughly $1.1 million. If you’re making multiple six figures a year, certainly commiserate with everybody else by agreeing that housing costs are out of control. Money has a great way of destroying relationships. If your friend is making just $1,000 more than you a year and you believe you’re doing a better job, you might not be friends for very much longer. The great feeling of having more or better relationships trumps the ephemeral feeling of having more money.

A PROTRUDING NAIL GETS HAMMERED DOWN

The other day I was classified as a Millennial by an older colleague. I turned around, wondering if she was talking to someone else, but she was talking to me. As a 37 year old man born in 1977, I never thought of myself as a Millennial before. I thought the Millennial generation was born after 1980, at least that’s what Wikipedia tells me.

After the initial surprise of realizing I wasn’t part of Gen X, I began owning my new Millennial status with pride by figuring out how to use YOLO (You Only Live Once) in a sentence. “Hey buddy, there’s no point making money if you don’t spend it. You won’t have to pay back your debt once you’re dead anyway. YOLO!” How was that?

I asked my 29-year-old colleague whether he could share with me the secret Millennial handshake, and fill me in on what Millennials like to do over the weekends and after work.

We want things, and we want things now! But we don’t want to own a home,” he joked.

I laughed and gave him a virtual high-five over text, of course. I was happy to know that I’ve successfully been able to cultivate an image of being younger and perhaps poorer than reality.

Being perceived as wealthier or older would be detrimental in my ability to progress. I’d much rather be classified as a Millennial with lots of upside and all the stereotypes that go along with this generation. For example, getting in on time might be considered early for those who think Millennials lack punctuality. Being perceived as younger tends to allow for more forgiveness.

Practical Stealth Wealth Tips

1) Drive a beater and leave the Porsche at home unless you’re already at the top of the corporate ladder.

2) Avoid name brand clothing altogether, or name brand clothing that cannot be easily identified.

3) Always say you bought your shoes and clothes from Ross, Target, T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, or Kohl’s.

4) If they keep inquiring, tell a joke e.g. “You mean my Folex?”

5) Never tell anybody how much you fully make or have.

6) Never reveal you have a trust fund or received a large inheritance.

7) Keep your bus pass in the outside portion of your wallet so that it’s more visible when you whip out your wallet.

8) Do not own a nice wallet or purse that has the letters L, V, C, G, H, or B in its name.

9) Talk about your experience flying economy in the back row, middle seat, next to the bathroom instead of all the incredible experiences you had on your amazing vacation.

10) Wear casual clothing to the extent casual clothing is allowed.

Let’s say you’re now convinced Stealth Wealth is the way to go. It’s time to keep track of your growing assets with the free Personal Capital Dashboard. Finances get messy, but Personal Capital helps keep your information private and in order. If you don’t aggregate, you might trick yourself into thinking you’ve got much less than you really do. There really is no point amassing a fortune if it’s not properly spent.

Embrace your wealth in private, but keep others guessing. There’s no hope for the already famous. But there’s still hope for the rest of us.

Readers, won’t you join the Stealth Wealth movement? What are some other benefits for looking younger and acting poorer than reality? Is Stealth Wealth too difficult because of our egos? 

Regards,

Sam

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Financial Samurai

Sam is the former Managing Editor of the Daily Capital blog. He worked in finance from 1999-2012 before deciding to focus full-time on his online endeavors - FinancialSamurai.com and the Yakezie Network. Sam is an avid tennis fan who loves to travel. He received his BA from William & Mary and his MBA from UC Berkeley.

43 comments

  1. Allen

    I’ve been practicing Stealth Wealth my entire life. My parents were immigrants who came to the States back in 1910. They didn’t have much so I adopted a very frugal lifestyle that I carried even when I was no longer poor. I’ve always driven 7+ year old cars and bought a townhouse instead of a mansion when my kids were in high school so I could help keep them grounded too.

    Nobody will ever know that I’m worth in the multiple seven figures. Not even my kids. I don’t want them to expect dad and mom to take care of them. Stealth Wealth is the way of life for many of my friends. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and spreading the word!

    Reply
    • Financial Samurai

      Allen, that’s great to hear. I’m a big fan of driving unassuming cars. Cars are what give away people the most. It’s interesting to think about how to shelter wealth from your kids so they don’t develop an entitlement mentality.

      Reply
  2. Julia C

    That’s funny someone thinks you’re a Millennial! When I think of Millennials, I always think of 20-something year olds. The media has turned the word into a negative connotation, but I think every generation tends to look down on the next generation.

    I’m amazed at how flashy so many people are nowadays. Fancy cars, obnoxiously expensive clothing. It’s as if there is a NEGATIVE correlation between how much wealth someone displays and how wealthy they really are. don’t you think?

    Reply
    • Financial Samurai

      As a guy, all I wanted to do was buy a nice car once I got a job, b/c I always drove a beater as that’s all I could afford. I don’t think people can help themselves. I couldn’t, an bought a motorbike and a car (although it was a Volvo 850 GLT). But after a while, all the material stuff gets old and you don’t want to bring any attention to yourself anymore.

      I used to have a first year analyst who rolled up to work in a $50,000 car. Everybody took notice. And guess what? He got paid a smaller bonus than his peers. And in two years, he was gone.

      Reply
  3. R-Sto

    It’s kind of sad that wealth is no longer celebrated. Plenty of people work hard and take tremendous risk to get wealthy.

    It feels like the middle class’s last resort is to cut others down.

    Fantastic, thought provoking article!

    Reply
    • Financial Samurai

      Thanks R-Sto! After you make a certain amount and have a certain amount, things get kind of hairy nowadays. Best to just be low key.

      Reply
    • Ascend the Mountain

      The fear of wealth has roots in a victimization complex which has somehow become deeply ingrained in the common (American?) psyche. There is a sense that “I am the victim of my circumstance, I am not responsible for my situation, and screw anyone else whose ‘circumstance’ ‘gave’ them wealth.” But this sort of thinking overlooks the reality that most circumstances are largely self-created, and most wealth is largely self-generated. This sort of thinking throws self-responsibility to the wayside.

      Of course people who believe that they themselves are not firstly responsible for their own wealth, that this responsibility lays somewhere OUTSIDE themselves in the hands of some ambiguous “other” (eg. “my circumstance,” or, “wealthy people”) will be less financially successful than people who believe firstly that they themselves are responsible for creating their wealth, and that money is earned and grown through diligent work and disciplined practice.

      It’s a shame to feel like you have to “hide” just to avoid arousing in others the awareness of their own lack of responsibility, or their own desire to ‘blame’ ‘something else’ for their own life. The people who arouse within themselves negative feelings like anger, jealousy, hate, and resentment when they see others with wealth are the ones who are living in this state of illusion. There are those who do not have great wealth, yet who take responsibility for their own lives, who will not arouse within themselves those negative feelings upon seeing someone else’s wealth.

      So you see, it’s not “seeing wealth” that’s the problem, rather it’s “how people feel about themselves in response to seeing wealth,” which is, in fact, a choice, rooted in one’s attitude. By showing others that, “wealth IS achievable” and, “wealth IS okay,” by choosing not to hide, you help shine a beacon for others to see and follow and hopefully realize what they need to to turn their own lives around. Of course this takes bravery and confidence, and should be handled with an air of humility and not arrogance.

      Reply
  4. FrugalJ

    I totally get this post. I’ve done well for myself but I don’t want other people to know it. I’m happy living my own quiet and frugal way under the radar. I treat myself to experiences and trips more than material things and even still nothing over the top. And since some of my friends make a lot less than me I like to keep things low key because I don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable.

    Part of building great wealth is being smart with your money which I truly believe in. I like that you call it stealth wealth too. There’s nothing wrong with being well to do. It’s fantastic really. However I think some people let it go to their heads and can end up losing a lot of money that way by trying to keep up with the Joneses and forgetting that you don’t need to have a lot of material things to be wealthy. I’m much happier investing my money for my retirement vs figuring out how to spend it.

    Reply
    • Financial Samurai

      The more you have, the more you have to lose. It definitely is easy to lose oneself in one’s wealth, if that makes sense. There is no upside in highlighting how much wealth one has. If someone can thinking of an upside, please let me know.

      Reply
      • Kelly

        Maybe if you are in a career that the more money you make, the more money you will make the person doing business with you. It has to be marketed from that standpoint, The better my clients do, the better I do. If you are a PI attorney, you surely do not want the client to see you in an old beater car. I would imagine the perception would create a little lack of confidence.

        Reply
  5. rick

    very interesting!

    Reply
  6. Dan

    I’m a broker living in Miami Beach. If I tried to adapt this “stealh wealth” lifestyle, I would be tagged as a person thats not very successful. Perception is a big thing in my business. If you don’t look successful, clients don’t respect you or think you don’t have what it takes. Its a shallow thing to say but it’s unfortunately true. I’ve literally seen the reaction from my client face when my colleague took a client out to lunch in his Toyota Camry. You have to sometimes look the part in order to continue to be successful. In the other hand, I’m cery low key in my personal life. I don’t wear a watch, have holes in my shorts and complain how tough business is and say how hard it is to pay bills. I try to cut corners in other ways. Good post.

    Reply
    • Financial Samurai

      Good point about looking wealthy to attain clients in your line of work.

      The most common thing I see here in SF are realtors driving BMWs and Benzos when picking up clients even though they are struggling to make sales. I had a realtor literally foreclose on his own house but still keep his Benz 300E BC he said he needed it for work!

      Reply
      • Julia A.

        I guess for him, it’s Location, location and location in real estate is synonymous with Perception, perception and total Perception to the Poor house only in his case! 🙂 🙂 🙂

        Reply
  7. LadyLisa

    I guess I have a different mindset and difference of opinion then what you say works for you at being wealthy because if I had of been blessed in my one lifetime on this earth , which unfortunately I wasn’t, I would be out there sharing my wealth instead of hiding or hoarding it all/for myself. Throughout my life I’ve thought about what I would have done had I of been a very wealthy person and each and every time I always paid off a nice home for myself and each member of my immediate family plus everyone in the family a new car , nice furniture, clothes, plenty of food and a savings account of some type to take care of them for the rest of their lives. After that I would contribute and give to my favorite charitable organizations and then make sure that my wealth was set up in a way that it just kept continously getting bigger and bigger and growing exponitionlly so that I could continue to be an Angel Giver for the rest of my life! However, I will agree with one point you make and that is that I would probably do all of this charitable giving privately or like The Bill Gates do.

    Reply
    • hide

      There is a difference between average stealth wealth ( 1 to 5 million in liquid assets) and Gates wealth. I’d love to be so rich that I spent my days deciding how to give it away. But that is not the case. I am “average.”

      Reply
    • Financial Samurai

      Stealth Wealth includes giving money away anonymously and helping others by volunteering your time because you don’t need to work.

      Reply
      • Julia

        I was just about to say the same thing to LadyLisa! Giving Anonymously is the Best and Safest Way to Give because People’s reactions could sometimes be very FUNNY like: some will feel indebted, others will accept w/secret resentment towards, some will even avoid or stop talking to you, and the Worst…some will be up on you like white on rice!

        Reply
  8. Josh

    Agree with the the overall stealth wealth message. Does your colleague read this? If he does and knows who you are, then your millennial cover is blown. The reason many people resentment towards the wealthy these days compared to the past is because majority of them feel the rich have disproportional influence in government policies that favor the rich and against the majority’s interest. Secure good paying union jobs gone, lowering capital gain&dividend tax rates, 1mil mortgage deduction, effort to eliminate or increase estate tax, outsourcing jobs, etc. Increase in wealth gap is bad in the long run for any country since it’ll likely lead to increased safety issues for everyone.

    Reply
    • Financial Samurai

      Cover is still good. I’d rather be viewed as younger than reality, than older than reality!

      Reply
  9. Swing Baby

    After retiring last year at 47. I know all to well how it is. I once leased 3700 acres in central PA from A. J. Palumbo. He was the largest land owner in the state, other than the state. His most well known donation was $40,000,000 to Pitt University to build the A.J. Palumbo Center. He drove a 30 year old Caddy and lived and worked from a modest split level home in a normal neighborhood. He charged me an annual fee of $800 for that lease. When he passed away and the land was sold, the new owner wanted $35,000 a year rent. Don’t have that camp anymore. I always kept him in mind as I became successful. I do have a new Benz that stays in my garage while I drive an old Ford Expedition with 200,000 + miles. I buy my clothes from Goodwill. And although I’ve saved quite a bit for my 2 kids, both late teens, they can’t touch it until age 30. My son appreciates the way I am as he looks at friends his age driving new BMW’s and living in large $500,000 homes as they go to college. I told him I would pay for half a car and to go pick one out. I expected a new one but to my surprise, he picked a used car for $1900. Proud father here. People know I must have money but I don’t even have someone do my taxes. I’ve always done them myself. Despite privacy laws, people still talk. Keep it private though. Totally agree with the list. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Financial Samurai

      That is so AWESOME about your son picking out a $1,900 car instead of a fancier one!!! He’s got his head on straight and appreciates the value of a dollar. I bet his action makes you want to help him even more.

      Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
  10. Bob

    I retired last year – at age 52. I wrestle with how to present myself to others. If I tell them I’m retired, I risk being thought of as wealthy. If I tell them I’m unemployed, I risk getting undeserved sympathy or even pity. I made the mistake of telling one neighbor I’m still working, but my lie got more convoluted as he asked questions about why I’m home so much and why I take bike rides in the middle of the day.

    I currently give an amorphous story about working from home/managing a web site (which is a half truth)/ having flexible hours, but I still haven’t come up with a solid explanation of my status.

    Reply
    • Financial Samurai

      I would just tell people either you’re working part-time on some of your passion projects to those who work, or are unemployed to those who are also unemployed or underemployed.

      Between 2012-2014 i hung out at a Golden Gate Park with fellow tennis bums and played for hours in the afternoon. We were all technically unemployed, and we bonded. It was fun making fun of the one guy whose spouse was a UCSF cardiologist who lived in a very nice place 🙂

      Reply
  11. Hogan

    Brilliant post! The flashier you are, the more susceptible you are to getting screwed.

    There is definitely an inverse relationship between true wealth and how much people tend to spend. The Joneses are in debt trying to keep up with their cars and maybe their houses.

    Keep things simple by keeping things low key.

    Reply
  12. Brett B

    While you make interesting points, there are clearly flaws in your logic.

    1) If you are going on vacation and complain about the seat you had, you will come off as a complainer. You could just say the vacation was fun.
    2) If you have a bottega veneta wallet, I highly doubt anyone would notice.
    3) People who you work with/know you have a pretty good idea of how much money you make/have. They likely have the same amount of money.

    Reply
    • Financial Samurai

      1) Ah, but you only complain if someone continues to prod. Of course don’t complain, complain. Just be like, “It was an OK trip. It kind of sucked sitting in the middle seat next to the bathroom, but I feel lucky to have gone on the trip.”

      2) You’d be surprised at how many people are aware of Bottega Veneta.

      3) You’ll be surprised at how much richer people are than you think. Making money is only a small part of the equation. Net worth is what it’s all about. Always focus on net worth over income.

      Reply
  13. Pamela

    Great article. For a special birthday, my son gave my husband and me 2 expensive orchestra seats at the San Francisco opera. I worried about what to wear knowing we would be sitting with the San Fran elite. An elegantly dressed man next to me wondered if we were friends of so-and-so as they usually had our seats. The best part of the evening though was when a young man plopped down into the seat next to my husband wearing faded jeans and a teeshirt – my hubby turned to me and said “still worried I’m not dressed properly for the occasion.” And the jeans guy, arrived late and left early! I had to admire him. On a cruise with very snobby guests we again found ourselves under-dressed for “formal” night. We were ok with that but not so the woman sitting in her evening gown next to her guy in a tux – she leaned over to me whispering “you would enjoy a Princess cruise.” Staring into her eyes I replied, “I dont think so, this ship is ok.” Now I am retired and alone, i still keep to my low key ways – when in Florida, I drive a 1998 Toyota Camry which belonged to my mother. It has wind down windows, no interior lights, well worn fabric seats but I am happy because I’m saving money. In San Francisco i have slightly nicer cars but definitely not upscale models.

    Reply
    • Financial Samurai

      Great idea for a birthday present Pamela! What a nice son you have. Thanks for sharing your stories!

      Reply
    • Julia

      I am not saying to wear a tux or a formal gown here; but, I don’t know about Jeans and a tee to the opera… that’s low!

      Reply
  14. Margaret

    “Stealth Wealth” is a catchy term. Although why not just practice true frugality and humility? Instead of buying a Rolex and lying about it why not just have a functioning Timex and invest the rest? I think that you will get a lot further with people and financially if you don’t buy the artifacts of wealth, save and invest your money and then respond truthfully and humbly when talking to people. They might ask you about a flashy car or vacation, but no one ever asks me about the balance in my investment accounts or my donations for the last year.

    Reply
    • Julia

      I Agree… and TIMEX makes some very nice reliable watches.

      Reply
    • Ryan

      Great points. To true to who your are. Honesty, humility, and being content with your way of life will give you much more happiness than money (or worrying what people think of us) will. Money doesn’t need to define us. Character traits do the job so much better.

      Reply
    • Financial Samurai

      It’s probably because when you finally do accumulate a lot of wealth, you want to actually spend on nicer things as well. There’s no point making money beyond the basics if you just hoard it forever.

      Reply
  15. Craig

    I love this topic! I have been practising stealth wealth (as I know it is now called) for years. My experience in life has been that people and especially work colleagues can become very envious of you, if they think you have more than them. I think it can actually damage your career. I tell everyone in the office that I rent a one bedroom apartment when the truth is I own a two bedroom which is worth close to a million dollars and own two others. I also have a substantial share portfolio. I don’t consider myself wealthy but I know I am doing better than many. I am a single guy so it is probably easier for me to fly under the radar, so to speak. A few years back I went on a round the world trip and I got a few comments from work colleagues saying ” you have heaps of money!” I laughed it off and said , “that is what Visa cards are for,” and left it at that but it reinforced my belief that you have to be very careful what you share with people especially if it is financial. My advice is tell people as little as possible and preferably nothing.

    Reply
    • Julia . is also Julia A on prev comment.

      Love this topic too: I think this is one of the best thought provoking and useful article.

      I can relate to your co-workers/low level employees to mid/upper management workforce experience.
      It’s sad that we spend so much time with these people and they consider one another as adversaries instead of friends, if not family; their only true interest in us is a need to know one’s business for the purpose of advancement, competition, petty jealousy or gossip. 🙂

      I guess my crime was “being private about my personal life… married (private ceremony), divorced, single parent with an autistic child (they snooped and found that out), an expressive face and genuine smile , minded my business, did my job extremely well, could be counted on to deliver when assigned responsibilities, voluntarily come forward to admit having made an error, working on a fix before anyone else discovers it, being knowledgeable– they said smart, being a foreigner, black, female who dared not to be barefoot, in the kitchen and pregnant–their words, well groomed, slim, elegant, always nicely dressed, real nice jewelry, nice shoes, well put together accessories – really nothing flashy or over the top ~ One can buy clothes, but cannot buy good taste or style, 🙂 And I never complained about work, family life, money, bills, nor asked anyone to borrow money.” They questioned, commented, fill in the blanks as they needed on all of the mentions above. 🙂
      In other words, I was the square peg who refused to, or they could not fit in their round hole.
      I went through the racial digs too; although it was offensive, I did not take it personal, for it was done to anyone not white Irish and ignorance is bliss was truly defined by those fools; the sexual harassment at male hormone city; the petty jealousy by a lot of the women; the competitive back stabbing, 9/11 and it’s aftermath, etc. I Made it out in one piece. 🙂

      Sorry for the book excerpt 🙂 , but the bottom line is, you handle it very well and continue to be true to yourself, always do you, because at the end of the day the ones who really matter knows you! 🙂
      I landed that job at 21 yrs. old as a lower level employee who moved up the ranks within 10 yrs and left as a lead floor operations supervisor, on my own merit with 32 long years of service put in!
      After 9/11, I decided to start planing my exit; so, after , the VRP with the last medical included offer came in 2009 and I was 1 year too young! After a good cry, I marched to HR and told them that I am willing to take 1/2 and get out! They said “No, we are guaranteeing you 1 year of employment to 53 1/2 to bridge the age gap then 20+ months of full pay severance and free medical, because we are going to take care of you, so you get full lifetime pension and retiree medical benefit at 55 .” I fell on the chair speechless! JACKPOT! I spent that year smiling and pinching myself! I am still smiling and my 401K is the only one (thing) hustling in the stock market now! 🙂

      Reply
  16. A different Craig

    Living below your means and being a super saver is probably the key to stealth wealth as it then makes it difficult to flaunt your wealth. Over the years, I developed a technique that is fondly referred to as pre- buyers remorse. Why go through the angst after a purchase when you can do it prior and never go for the wallet. If there is a need to purchase something, I’ll even run the numbers scenario until I talk myself out of the purchase. It always comes to need vs want. There is no such thing as an impulse purchase with this thought process. I have friends that spend like drunken sailors and it is actually often pointed out to them. Whenever we go shopping together, I am usually the only one to come home without a purchase ( as designated shopper?) because through the experience it is far more cheaper to live vicariously through their spending habits. When they ask why I did not buy anything, my response is, “Did you ever notice that when we parked the car, I placed my wallet directly under one of the wheels. If I really need to buy something, they will have to move the car so we can retrieve the wallet. It is to the point, on occasions, to find a great deal only to share it with someone else. Later, I cajole the purchaser that I had wanted the item, but they were too fast with their wallet, so c’est la vie. My apologies if I bored you with the details, but over time, this has worked me. Of course, as added disclaimer, your results will vary.

    Reply
    • Bob

      Different Craig, I’m sort of like you. I agonize over purchases even as small as $5 or price differences as small as $3, and I often end up buying nothing. Unlike you, though, I take no joy or pride from it. I really wish I could loosen up a little more. My wife is able to spend money with a more relaxed attitude, yet she is not a spendthrift. She’s found a good middle ground, and I envy her for it.

      My parents had a Depression-era mentality and they did too good a job of passing it on to me.

      Reply
  17. Don

    Outstanding article. It’s a shame that wealth and success are demonized in this day and age. Of course, this is why the Old School wealthy Brits used to dress down. They did not want to attract attention.

    A wise man once told me, “People can forgive many things…Except Success.”

    Reply
  18. Ryan

    This article hits home for my wife and I. We’re both 32 years old and we have always been very good at managing our money, saving, investing, and budgeting. Two years ago we paid off our home mortgage. And last year we paid off the mortgages on our rental property. We no longer have any debt. But we’ve never wanted to tell our friends……or even our family.

    The worries are some of the very things you mention in your article. It’s a real thing! I know some of our friends (and family) would be genuinely happy for us, but I know others that would despise us and/or treat us differently. It’s been much better to fly under the radar. I just have to keep quiet when people talk about their car loans and mortgage rates now.

    Reply
    • Julia . is also Julia A on prev comment.

      It’s a sad truth.
      Funny you mentioned the friends with car loans and financial problems; Well, maybe you and the misses could use a/o modify it a little. TRUE STORY ~

      I used to help the same type of strapped for cash, always a money problem friends, not realizing that they saw me as their personal living breathing ATM.
      Until one day, a colleague stopped by my table while at lunch with 2 such friends (who happened to be 2 grade level below our pay); the 2 women turned the conversation into them having the usual problems keeping up with the monthly bills. As I was just sitting there listening, since I can’t really understand why and definitely could not relate; my colleague Robin (she’s Italian), interrupted and apologized saying she needed my help with something we had in class that morning.
      Once out of hearing range, Robin said to me “Jules, it’s the middle of the month and 4 days till their next paycheck and I felt that they were getting ready to ask you for a loan and I’ve seen you lend them money before; I had to get you away from them. So, for the future, take this lesson from me.” “ANYONE WHO IS TALKING TO YOU ABOUT THEIR SCREWED UP FINANCES, CREDIT CARDS, BEHIND ON RENT/MORTGAGE, Etc… JUST SHAKE YOUR HEAD AND SAY OMG, YOU TOO? I WAS TOO EMBARRASSED TO SAY THAT I AM RUNNING A LITTLE BEHIND MYSELF with A STRAIGHT POKER FACE! Otherwise, they will Turn on you, Resent you and Expect you to Bail them out all the time.”

      This was the best gift I’ve ever received from a woman friend; a practical and useful piece of advice.

      Reply
  19. valuetradeblog

    “Do not own a nice wallet or purse that has the letters L, V, C, G, H, or B in its name.”
    This one is my favorit, thank you for that.

    Reply
  20. Sfbayarea

    I’ve practiced stealth wealth my whole life (with the exception cars that are stored away in another location)
    4 out of 5 richest families I know (top .1 of 1%) try to to blend in also. They like the freedom from unwanted attention, kidnappings, people wanting to be your friend just because of your net worth.
    The either have a chauffeur drive them around and park around the corner and they walk to the destination, drive Honda’s, Toyota’s and 10+ year older cars.

    Reply

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