The Stealth Wealth Compendium Of Useful Phrases To Deflect Attention

Invisible Man Memorial Ralph EllisonThe Rise of Stealth Wealth is here to stay as long as there’s an ever growing government and widening income inequality. It’s only a matter of time before enormous social unrest wipes the country clean of the wealthy like a tsunami. “Be rich, act poor,” is a mantra to protect our families and our finances.

The people who are ruining it for the rest of us with their “look at me” attitudes all have one thing in common: insecurity. Psychiatrists point to the need for people to overcompensate in order to prove they are not failures based on educational or socioeconomic “deficiencies.” There’s always a story behind each target-basking person. We should reach out to help, which in turn helps others survive.

I’ve provided specific reasons for why you want to join the Stealth Wealth movement along with 15 suggestions on how to blend in better. Now I’d like to propose some common phrases we can use in every day conversation to help deflect attention away from the curious and envious.

There’s a fine line between being modest, and being obsequiously modest. If people can tell your false modesty, you’re no better off than telling them you are the bomb shit.

USEFUL PHRASES TO DEFLECT YOUR WEALTH AND SUCCESS

In A Work Setting

It was a team effort. I couldn’t have done it without Bob, Jane, and the support of my boss, Mary.” – In response to a big account win from a colleague.

“Just trying to survive and live the dream.” - In response to a promotion.

“I’m just taking things one day at a time. I hope I can make it out alive.” - In response to building a successful business.

“Maybe teamwork does make the dream work?” – A joking way to deflect work success.

“I think I’ve sprouted several new gray hairs and shortened my life by several years.” – In response to winning a new project.

“I’m not sure how it happened. I got really lucky and don’t deserve it, but I’ll take it while it’s here.” – In response to an inquiry on how you built a lifestyle business and escaped the rat race.

Talking About Consumption

“Costco has some great deals on ramen noodles.” - When someone asks how often you go out to eat or your grocery budget.

“There are so many electrical gremlins I wish I didn’t buy the car.” - In response to buying a luxury automobile.

“I haven’t taken a vacation in forever! I figure I might as well live it up a little until it’s back to the salt mines.” – In response to a friend asking how you can afford a two week Banyan Tree Resort vacation in Phuket.

“I’ve been saving for this trip for years. It’s too bad it’ll be over in a blink of an eye.” – Also in response to how you get to afford another international vacation.

“The bus is my favorite mode of transportation. It’s so freeing to not have to worry about parking.” - When someone asks how you get around even if you have a stable of vehicles.

“It’s a cheap knockoff. I can’t afford the real thing.” - In response to a brand name watch, purse, or accessory.

“Apple has this great trade-in program to make things more affordable now.” – In response to why you’ve always got a brand new iPhone.

Talking About Your Home

“I’m just house sitting for my parents. I’m helping pay their mortgage and all associated expenses” - In response to how you could live in a nice home of your own just a couple years out of college.

“I leveraged everything I owned back then to buy and just got lucky.” – In response to how you were so fortunate to have bought so long ago.

“There’s so much maintenance costs. My house is a money pit. It’s often times better to be a renter.” – In response to a renter who may be envious that you own your home.

“Ouch, my back hurts so much from spending all afternoon gardening and mowing the lawn.” – In response to a smaller home owner.

“Landlords are greedy and evil.” - In response to renters bashing landlords for raising the rent.

Talking About Early Retirement

“I’m unemployed and looking for work.” - In response to someone asking why you never seem to work even though you saved up enough so you don’t have to.

“I’m a consultant who also moonlights as a (tennis, language, music, etc) instructor in the afternoons.” – In response to someone asking why you always get to take so much vacation.

“I just got lucky with this one stock investment. I’m sure to pick loser after loser if you ask me to now.” – In response to how you were able to amass so much money so quickly.

“I sacrificed a lot of free time with my friends and family to be able to retire early.” – In response to a disbeliever who hates you for all your freedom.

I missed out on a lot of life in order to save and invest. Now I can never get that time back, so I’m doing my best to make up for things now.” – To get them on your side.

Stay at home men of the world, UNITE! – When anybody makes fun of you for living off your wife.

Talking Sports

“Looks like Ray Allen really lucked out in the end, winning his second championship with Miami. Can’t believe Doc went to the Clippers and KJ and Pierce fled to Brooklyn.” – When talking about how the Boston Celtics completely detonated their lineup.

“How on Earth does Jason Kidd get to be head coach on his first go around? Do you think he is legally allowed to play point if enough teammates get injured?” – When talking about how people get to be head coaches in the league.

“NFL players get treated like pieces of meat – thrown out with no long term guaranteed contracts. No wonder why so many ex players struggle financially into their 30s and beyond.” – When comparing NBA, NFL, and MLB contracts.

“I wonder if MLS will ever take off? Maybe if they made the pitch smaller or the goal twice as wide the game would be more exciting.” – When talking to a parent or any soccer fan about the survival of Major League Soccer in the US and how we are still so far behind the rest of the world in interest.

“It’s a toss up between being a major leaguer and a pro golfer. If you can shoot even par on average at every tournament you enter you’ll earn a million bucks a year until forever! In MLB, those 8-10 year guaranteed contracts are sick!” – When fantasizing with a buddy which professional athlete you’d be if you had your wish.

“Raiders baby, Raiders!” – When watching a game at Oakland Coliseum.

“Russell Wilson is 5′ 10″ and plays QB for the Seahawks. Jamarcus Russell is 6’6″ with a canon arm and was out in five years. WTF?” – Venting with a Raiders fan.

“Are they going to change the name to the Santa Clara 49ers once the stadium is done?” – Venting with a 49ers fan about the one hour move south.

“Can’t believe the Patriots surrounded Brady with a bunch of rookie receivers.” – Venting with a Patriots fan.

“I wonder how much David Stern really makes? He’s like the untouchable Godfather.” – Small talk with any NBA fan.

“What’s up with $100 blood nose tickets?! I’d rather just watch the game at home.” – Venting with diehard sports fans who come out to support their team no matter how bad they are.

“Lob City is disrespectful. I hope DeAndre and Blake twist their ankles the next time they land.” – Venting with any team playing against the Clippers.

Talking About Wealthy People In General

“I would never want a trust fund. It would make me feel lazy, entitled, and useless.” - In response to a conversation bashing rich, spoiled kids even if you have one yourself.

“Kids of wealthy parents don’t know how good they have it. They try to pretend like they are one of us when they know they’ll always be taken care of no matter what.” – When venting with another about Gen Y.

“It’s easy for them to say we should all pay more taxes since they have so much money already!” – In discussion with Republicans who oppose Limousine Liberals who want to raise taxes on the rich working class.

“The rich should pay more of their fair share. Who needs so much money anyway?” – In discussion with those Democrats who support raising taxes on the rich even if they don’t have to pay more taxes themselves.

“I don’t see what’s so amazing about inheriting her wealth. It’s like being born pretty.” – In a discussion bashing wealthy people for being famous just because their parents or grandparents are wealthy.

“Rich people just don’t understand what the rest of us have to go through. They are living in a bubble.” – When you’re trying to empathize with someone who is so frustrated by a wealthier person’s success.

NEVER ATTRIBUTE YOUR WEALTH TO YOUR OWN DOING

If you have somehow been identified as an evil rich person you must do your best to denounce your status before backup arrives. If you cannot remember any of the lines above to help deflect your wealth, remember this line, “I know my luck will eventually run out.” It’s vital to always attribute your wealth to luck and never to your own hard work or risk taking.

You may secretly continue pursuing your wealth accumulation, but definitely do so through dummy corporations that make it hard to link the true owner. Reveal enough income and net worth to prove you are normal. Just keep total figures under wraps. Good luck!

Readers, any other phrases you’d like to include in the Stealth Wealth Compendium? I’d like to make this post as comprehensive as possible.  

Photo: Ralph Ellison Memorial, Sculptor Elizabeth Catlett, 2003. Riverside Park,  Manhattan.

Regards,

Sam

 

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

You can sign up to receive his articles via email or by RSS. Sam also sends out a private quarterly newsletter with information on where he's investing his money and more sensitive information.

Subscribe To Private Newsletter

Comments

  1. Ace says

    May I make an additional suggestion? Not every poor person is a sports fan. Both wealthy and lower income people do enjoy similar activities (such as hunting & fishing, camping, e.g.). I don’t think it is really that difficult to small talk about these things.

    I think a person would have to be exceptionally “dense” to discuss the amenities of his private yacht, while riding the city bus. Using common sense is just not that difficult!

    • says

      Sports is one of the greatest activities that binds people from all races, cultures, and income classes together. Nobody said anywhere that every person is a sports fan. But sports is a huge part of Americana.

      I’d love to get some stealth wealth useful phrases for camping, hiking, and fishing from you too. Thanks for contributing!

      • Ace says

        I don’t canned phrases work.

        Well… Fishermen are very easy to relate to. It doesn’t matter what race, creed, socioeconomic background, all fishermen (and fisher women) tend to really enjoy talking about their latest catch.

        It’s really easy to deflect the conversation from yourself. Just ask the person what they did over the weekend…. Maybe, they mention something like “fishing up at Lake Berryessa (or some place).”

        People that do these types of activities are almost always “down to earth” and easy to get along with.

        Ask them if they caught anything. What kind of bait they use. What’s your favorite lake spot, etc.

        You also get interesting ideas about cooking fish!

        • says

          You’ll find that way more people associate with sports than with fishing. It’s easy to consume sports for free to low cost on TV. Fishing, not so much.

          Thanks for providing some fishing conversation tips. I love fly fishing. Went with a buddy in Westchester, NYC this summer!

        • Ace says

          Sam,

          You’re a fly fisherman. That’s good, you understand what I’m saying. I’m not a fisherman myself; but what I noticed is that people that do activities such as this, are really easy to hold conversations with. And they usually like to explain all the “in’s & out’s” of catching the different types of fish. And preparing them properly, etc. Hunters are similar. You have to be careful to avoid political conversations related to gun control with hunters, but they are usually friendly people.

          I only bring this up, because in regards to the sports conversations; unless you are actually somewhat of a fan, people will catch you as a phony right away. I pay almost no attention to sports and wouldn’t be able tell you what position is played by whom, etc.

          It seems to me that when it comes to small talk (with anyone whom you feel might be problem), stay humble, find a subject which the other person seems interested in, and let them do the talking! This way, you are not really the subject of the conversation, and everyone feels safe.

  2. says

    These are hilarious! How about just wear shorts and old t-shirts everywhere? People will automatically assume you’re unemployed and broke.
    Sports are good too. I used to follow basketball, but our team just stunk for so long. It’s not fun being a fan of a bad team. You can always complain and get down with the people though.

  3. says

    Pretty funny stuff. I’ve also wondered about whether Jason Kidd could play and coach at the same time…didn’t Magic Johnson do that his come back. And isn’t Byron Russell the Utah Jazz guard who Jordan hit the famous championship winning shot over…didn’t know he was a QB…are you thinking about Russell Wilson? Anyways, I would have a really hard time not attributing my money to mere luck. I don’t have much but my indebted co-workers “think” I have a lot because I live within my means and don’t spend on frivolous things. I can’t stand it when they claim that they are unlucky and I’m lucky. But maybe you’re right, I should just grin and bear it pretending it was just luck!

  4. JayCeezy says

    “Do you also find that former public defense attorneys make the best criminal lawyers?”

    I have no time for stocks or bonds, I invest in pet rattlesnakes. I have 4 or 5 of them. Also pitbulls, but they keep dying on me.

    My boy is finally out of prison again, staying with me until he gets back on his feet.

    What do I care? I just found this credit card I’ll use it until it stops working.

    Why can’t the government help us out? How about “wealthcare.gov”?

    I cannot believe the price of meth these days!

    How many babymamas do you have, now?

    Nah, son. Car insurance is for fools!

  5. Austin says

    Just be a generally humble person and approach others as though you can learn something from them.. no matter what your financial profile is.

    I knew a guy in college that I couldn’t stand. He never knew anything about current events, got his sister to write his papers and always had to come ask me how to attach files to his emails. Then, one day, we went to dinner and he told me all about commercial real estate and anchor stores and the best demographics. My perception of him changed forever. He now runs several successful companies, which is more than I can say for myself.

  6. says

    “Just trying to survive and live the dream,” is 100% what I am going to say the next time I get a promotion and just see what my boss says.

    And I don’t think I could even say this with a straight face: “Rich people just don’t understand what the rest of us have to go through. They are living in a bubble.” I’ve watched too many people accumulate wealth through hard work to ever believe that to be true.

    • says

      Well you obviously don’t say that to your boss! Just have to be grateful to the person who provided you the promo or more financial means.

      You’ve got to use the line on jealous colleagues.

  7. Shaun says

    Haha most of these are humble brags or flat out the opposite of what you actually believe. I think if you really want to be low key just say thank you when people bring this stuff up and never really bring it up yourself or feed the trolls who are looking to trap you in strawman arguments.

    People don’t like it if they know you aren’t being genuine with them. Eg Mitt Romney in a diner telling people he’s unemployed too. That type of stuff makes people who know roughly how much money he’s making resent him and I’d imagine the same would happen if you weren’t running for president and a similar scenario came up.

    Just own who you are when it gets brought up and don’t throw it in peoples faces unnecessarily and I have to believe most worthwhile people will be cool with that.

    • says

      “There’s a fine line between being modest, and being obsequiously modest. If people can tell your false modesty, you’re no better off than telling them you are the bomb shit.
      ” – from the post.

      Mitt is an extreme case. He was too rich for his own good to relate to anybody.

      • Shaun says

        I guess what I’m getting at is why bother to feign modesty to begin with? You’re bound to screw it up if you don’t actually believe the words coming out of your mouth. There’s not much of a benefit to pretending these things to justify the potential cost in my opinion. I see this as overcompensating.

        • says

          You’re probably right about financial segregation of neighborhoods, social groups and private clubs being the only way to truly avoid conflict, but people will inevitably mingle and I’m trying to help those with useful conversation sound bites to help assimilate.

  8. Joe Six Pack says

    Sam, I am curious. Have you ever met anyone who was very outspoken about his success and turned out to NOT be full of it? I have known someone for a few months, really cool guy, but talks up a huge game when it comes to business and life success. I have not seen proof of any of it so I am naturally skeptical, but at the same time I feel bad for doubting him.

    It has been my experience that most people who are successful and worked hard to get there are humble and fly under the radar, ala Millionaire Next Door. What are your thoughts?

    • says

      Good question. The only person I can think of is an online marketer who was claiming he worked 4 hours a day making six figures from his online outsourcing business. I can’t find his video but he did have a post with a link to his video: http://tyroneshum.com/confession/

      He found God! Kinda reminds me of The Reverend Bakers a little.

      There are a lot of folks who drive $50,000+ cars that were bought by their parents and who live at home here in the Bay Area. But this seems more common for the younger generation I think?

  9. says

    I always make sure that I know roughly what sports season it is. Right now it’s baseball and football season, right? Go, uh, Steelers?

    And just dress really sloppy. A couple of grease stains on your shirt usually does the trick (the automotive variety of grease or cheap Chinese takeout variety – either work well).

    And don’t ever talk about tax optimizing your investments – that’s the kind of stuff that immediately tips off the proles to your bulging portfolio. If you don’t bore them to death first and get charged with manslaughter.

  10. JW says

    You write “Never attribute your wealth to your own doing.”

    Are you saying we should say “I didn’t build that”!?

    Kidding, it’s good stuff.

  11. says

    It’s common courtesy, if not common sense, to tailor your conversation to your conversational partner.

    So just like an incredibly smart person dumbing down, a successful person can dumb down their conversation with someone not as successful. It’s not a lie, just an effort to keep the conversation flowing and comfortable.

  12. says

    Sam,

    You definitely have too much time on your hands! It is real simple, don’t tell anybody you are wealthy. It really isn’t any of their business anyway.

  13. says

    Nice, you covered all the scenarios I could possibly think of! If I was ever a crazy loaded billionaire, I’d like to think I wouldn’t change that much. I don’t know that I would have a lot more material wants, but it’s hard to know for sure since I’ve never had that much money before.

  14. says

    I just say “no” to everything, because I don’t have the funds to do whatever it is. Oh wait….that’s because I don’t have stealth wealth :)

    But back when I had $100k, I did the opposite, and I definitely had more than a few very shallow relationships in my life. Money gone, friends gone. Stealth wealth would have SAVED me a ton of that money, and probably helped surround me with genuine people.

  15. Jane says

    Love this post! Do you have any suggestion, or how about writing something about people who do the exact opposite? I have a number of co-workers who just LOOOVE talking about the vacations they took, the new car they just bought and how they had missed-out on purchasing a million dollar dream home… Normally, these things don’t faze me but when it happens everyday, it makes me want to scream! Especially knowing that some of the things they brag about are over-inflated anyway. I overheard one person trying to transfer balances to a new credit card and how when their home was worth one million, according to Zillow it was just $650k… Okay, vent over!

  16. says

    I was afraid that you were going to become boring after that post a month or so back about the criticism bombs people were lobbing at you. However, your stuff is getting better and better. These are hilarious!

    Regarding stealth wealth, I love to throw in references to local thrift stores in conversation: “Holy cow, the Goodwill down in Boulder had a 25% off sale this weekend! Those rich cats sure donate some righteous stuff!”

    This is usually followed by a lecture on bedbugs.

  17. Dan says

    Those who want to see why Stealth Wealth is necessary should take a look at this.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/11/venezuela-troops-patrol-stores-control-inflation

    You’re right class warfare isn’t fun. The alternative to Senor Maduro is Marshal Pinochet and the death squad. What happens in Venezuela if the middle class and the big companies pay the Colombian cocaine cartels to move in and take care of Senor Maduro? If the Venezuelan Army keeps this up it’s generals are liable to find themselves lined up to the wall by whatever mercenaries the wealthy hire. They might be really surprised to see their loyal Sergeant or Sergeant Major commanding the death squad in his shiny new General’s uniform smiling about his stock options.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *