Combine Stealth Action With Stealth Wealth To Be Richer, Happier, & Free

Practice Stealth Action If You Want To Be Happier, Richer, And Free

Given the bull market has exacerbated the wealth gap, practicing stealth wealth is a strategically wise move. You don't want to attract haters just because you decided to diligently save and invest all these years. Instead, you want to blend into the crowd so you can live a carefree life.

The global pandemic has also exacerbated the wealth gap. One the one end is the investor class who has experienced robust asset price appreciation. On the other end is the working class without much investments at all. They've been hit hard by pandemic with big unemployment.

What I've come to also realize is that it's important to practice Stealth Action as well. Stealth Action is where you keep what you're doing private so as to not attract any attention, criticism, and unnecessary stress.

I'm in a funny situation where I publicly write about some things I want to do. As a result, I get a lot of criticism from people who either don't believe what I'm doing is right or know they probably should be doing what I'm doing, but are unwilling.

But in real life, I always keep mum about my plans. The only person I share everything with is my best friend, my wife.

Let me share with you four examples that demonstrate why Stealth Action is important.

Figuring Out How To Retire By 45 With Two Kids

I write in my Early Retirement Master Plan that I will get up by 5 am every morning to do a couple hours of work online before my family wakes up. I also say that I plan to dedicate 10 more hours a week on Financial Samurai (30-35 total) in order to try and generate more revenue.

Since 1999, I've always been an early riser because I had to get into the office by 5:30 am before the stock market opened. As a result, I've been conditioned to wake up early. I automatically wake up after six hours of sleep without an alarm. I also like to take 30 – 60 minute naps after lunch every day.

Because I don't have anybody to report to, it's sometimes easy to slack off and go to bed later than I should and not get things done in the early morning. Hence, my new goal of waking up by 5 am requires me to regularly go to bed by 11 pm.

Here's an interesting comment from a reader,

I love how you optimize everything by taking calculated risks and reap the rewards. I was wondering if you could write an article on how you determined 5 hours is the optimal amount of sleep? You certainly get ahead now, but may have to pay in the form of Alzheimer's years earlier than an 8 hour a night sleeper. How do you calculate tradeoffs between wealth and health?

And another reader,

There is a 2016 study of older women in which people that get self-reported less than 6 or more than 8 hours a night for many years had a significantly higher risk of Alzheimer's. But forcing yourself to stay in bed awake does not make sense either. Perhaps avoid the nap and you may end up sleeping longer at night.

Holy crap! I'm going to die a miserable death! I asked the readers how many hours of sleep do they average a night. Of course, both said 8 or more hours.

I then asked both readers to get back to me with the exact percentage of increased risk for Alzheimer's risk for those sleeping less than eight hours, but so far, I've gotten no responses.

Are we talking about an increase from 1% to 1.5%? Or are we talking about an increase from 1% for those who sleep 8+ hours a night to 80% for those who sleep less than 8 hours a night? There is a big difference. Be careful talking in absolute terms.

Despite naturally waking up after six hours of sleep for years, I now have a new Alzheimer's worry because I didn't practice Stealth Action. I've tried to sleep longer, but I just can't. Maybe being in good shape and having no gray hairs at 42 doesn't really mean anything due to my sleeping habits.

Stealth Action And Sleep

Then I recalled this chart below that shows the average sleep duration by percent for the population in America. Apparently, roughly 3.5 percent of the American population only naturally sleeps around six hours a night. Perhaps I'm part of this minority group? Maybe I have a rare gene mutation, ADBR1, which is linked to with heightened wakefulness and less sleep necessary. Who knows.

The average amount of sleep people sleep by hour

It doesn't make sense to say that just because you sleep 8 hours a night must mean that someone else should also sleep 8 hours a night. Could it be that stating my goal of waking up by 5 am has made some readers feel bad for sleeping in? Possibly, which is why I would never say this goal to anybody in real life. Instead, I'd tell them that I have a hard time getting up and am always sleeping in until 9 am.

Point: If you do something different than the norm, some people will point out where you're wrong or try and make you feel bad about your efforts. Take Stealth Action to avoid unnecessary stress.

College Savings

In the post, Determining How Much To Save In Your 529 Plan, I write that my goal is to save $500,000 per child. It is very obvious to me that in 16-18 years, four years of undergraduate education will be much higher than it is today.

If I end up accumulating more due to investment gains, no big deal. I'll just pass down the surplus to hopefully my grandchildren. I also don't plan to tell my kids that I'm saving $500,000 each for their education. As far as they'll be concerned, they're going to have to work summers and part-time jobs to earn some money to help pay for their tuition. Further, I'm going to try and convince them to go to a reputable public school or only go to a private university if they can get scholarships.

Here are a couple responses to my plan.

Reader #1, a measured response:

I think you save too much for the 529. I saved about $100k (including gains) for each of my children and one is 1st-year college and the other is 4th-year college. They both go to UCs and the graduating one still has $50k left.

The first year has a little bit of merit scholarship (5k year or something like that) so he will have lots leftover as well. Not really worried because we can use the surplus in case they want to go to grad school.

It doesn't seem like reader #1 realizes my kids are 0 and 2.8 years old and that college will be more expensive 16-18 years from now.

Reader #2 with a much more aggressive response:

You are over-saving, I 100% agree with reader #1. Your other posts also show your over-investment attitude to your kids. You don’t leave them a chance to do it themselves at all.

Let them attend public school, let them shoot for scholarships and teach them that you will fund no more than 30% of their college costs – for other 70% if they don’t even have scholarship – they can 1. start saving themselves when they are 10+ (and you can help with that!) and 2. work in summers and earn their way up (you can help with that too). Teach them how to live!

By helping them in a way you are trying to help – you are putting them in a golden cage, and that is a “no brainer” how to spoil your kids.
Are you really trying to hyper-compensate for what you had in your own childhood?

I'm not sure what reader #2 means by hyper-compensate for what I had in my own childhood. I went to a private international school for middle school, then to a public high school and finally, to a public university. I had a pretty interesting experience growing up in multiple countries. Further, I'm not telling my kids how much I'm saving for their education.

It feels like me saving $500,000 per child has offended reader #2 in some way because he isn't saving as much for his child's education. I'm not even sure if he has children. But reader #2 probably doesn't like me because of my savings plan.

If reader #2 was a colleague, boss, fellow parent at school, or someone in my social circles, this could cause unnecessary friction. Therefore, if you plan to save for your child's education, absolutely don't tell anyone. Instead, just commiserate how expensive tuition is nowadays and how you're praying your child goes to community college or can get a scholarship.

To me, it makes more sense to save too much than to save too little.

Point: You never know what type of innocuous activity you do that might offend or make someone uncomfortable if they find out. Even though your activity has no bearing on the other person's life, it may still evoke a negative response. That negative response can fester and ruin your relationships in real life. Take Stealth Action and practice Stealth Wealth!

Caring For A Sick Family

Being sick is terrible, especially if you have to not only provide for your family but also take care of a sick baby. Despite all our hand washing and face mask-wearing, our baby still caught the virus that our son gave to us.

As a result of her illness, she's constantly waking herself up because of a chronic cough. Her crying more and sleeping less hurts our sleep and we feel terrible for her. Poor little one. But instead of letting this virus defeat me, I wrote a post called, The Worst Thing About Daycare And Preschool Is Not The Cost. Always make lemonade out of lemons!

Here was a reader's response:

Just wait until you get Hand Foot Mouth Disease… Or pinkeye. This is turning into a parenting blog. I only want to read things that make me money.

This is a depressing comment because it reminds me that the average person doesn't really care. They have their own problems to deal with. If you don't provide value, they'll just move on to something else.

The reader's comment is also a reminder that I really do need to focus more on money-making topics and less on personal topics. The best finance sites in the world don't have any personality. Take a look at some of the latest titles from several award-winning personal finance blogs:

Best VA Loan Lenders 2020

Survey Junkie Review: A Legit Online Survey Website?

7 Best 0% APR Credit Cards For 2020

PNC Bank Checking Account Review

Citizens Bank Promotions

Vaulted Review: Simple Way To Buy Physical Gold

Although these posts might not be interesting, it makes the blogger money and doesn't attract any criticism because none of the articles have any comments. This is a win-win!

Point: Most people don't care about your problems, even if you're trying to help because they have enough of their own problems to deal with. For some reason, some people always believe you owe them something as well. As a result, make sure you take care of yourself and your family first. The world is a competitive and cruel place with little loyalty. As Marshawn Lynch said after losing in the NFL playoffs, “Take care of your chicken!”

Business Strategy Requires Stealth Action

Let me share a final example of why practicing Stealth Action is important.

In mid-2019, after I announced that I would focus more on entrepreneurship and less on retirement, I wanted to gain some motivation and insights from people who were very focused on making money online.

One episode highlighted how two guys had built a one million visitors a month site with over $200,000 a month in revenue (not profits) in just three years. I was very impressed and also surprised that they were revealing all their business strategies.

The two partners ended the episode saying their plan was to aggressively grow the number of visitors and revenue in 12 months. But check out what happened to their traffic six months later.

Why Stealth Action Is Important

They went from a peak of 1 million visitors a month in May 2019 to 341K visitors in December 2019. I have never seen such a large and steady descent in traffic before, especially from two partners who seemed to have it all figured out.

I'm confident their traffic and revenue will eventually rebound given the cyclicality of the business and their smarts. But experiencing a 66% decline in traffic so quickly must have been a little jolting, especially since they've also got staffers to pay.

The traffic decline doesn't look like a Google penalty since the slope is pretty steady. Instead, I hypothesize many competitors listened to the episode, copied their strategy, and competed aggressively in their space.

Point: If you are running a business, don't boast about its success. The world is full of copycats who will arbitrage away your profit margin as soon as you reveal your strategy. Even though being an original will let you stand out from the crowd, it's much easier to copy than be an original.

Take Stealth Action

Take get ahead, practice Stealth Action

The reason why we sometimes don't practice Stealth Action is due to ego. We have a need to sometimes brag about our accomplishments for affirmation. We also need to tell the world what we've done so we can establish some credibility.

The final reason why some of us don't practice Stealth Action is because we want to share our experiences to try and help others navigate unknown dangers. But unfortunately, this lack of Stealth Action often backfires because people often don't appreciate advice even if they are the ones venturing over to seek your advice!

The more you publicly announce all your plans to improve your life, the harder it will be to get ahead. It's much better to keep things on the down-low and surprise people on the upside. Make the change or else suffer the consequences!

For the optimists out there, not all is lost. If you are a self-secure person with a lot of empathy, you still have a great chance to come out ahead. Just be careful not to let others take advantage of your generosity.

Track Your Stealth Wealth

Sign up for Personal Capital, the web’s #1 free wealth management tool to get a better handle on your stealth wealth. In addition to better money oversight, run your investments through their award-winning Investment Checkup tool to see exactly how much you are paying in fees. I was paying $1,700 a year in fees I had no idea I was paying.

After you link all your accounts, use their Retirement Planning calculator that pulls your real data to give you as pure an estimation of your financial future as possible using Monte Carlo simulation algorithms. I’ve been using Personal Capital since 2012 and have seen my stealth wealth skyrocket during this time thanks to better money management.

Retirement Planning Calculator

Note: Please keep the criticisms and observations coming when I do write personal posts. It helps me see blindspots and gives me a lot of motivation. If you are OK with more personal stories, then subscribe to my newsletter. Thanks!

92 thoughts on “Combine Stealth Action With Stealth Wealth To Be Richer, Happier, & Free”

  1. You’ve helped so many people with your excellent advice. I suspect that many of us are just lurking here, perhaps not commenting.

    So I hope you’re not at all deterred by random anonymous haters.

    I’m the one who (per a few previous comments over the years) still hopes you’ll run for President someday, or become the next Oprah. You’ve got the right combination of financial intelligence and genuine emotional intelligence.

    Keep up the great work. You’re helping a lot of people with what you do. I’m sure I’m one of many people out here who benefit from your articles, but do not necessarily comment.

  2. Sounds like some fools who only want to hear about saving or making cash do not get it,
    when you travel, or do other things that is what gets your mind ready. So to hear about non cash gaining information is great in all in glory too.

  3. Totally agree, especially these days. Most of the time, nothing good comes from telling people what you have or are worth. It usually works against you in some way. Maybe your boss at work would give you a little less of a raise since they figure you dont need it as much as someone else. Friends and relatives expect you to pay for things all the time. Other people looking for loans and hand-outs. I’ve worked and hustled my whole life for what I have and have overall made good choices to get where I am now. I dont owe these types of people anything and dont want the hassle of it either.

  4. I need to practice this stealthiness more myself. I share what I’m doing personally on my blog but it isn’t to brag, more like I’m documenting my steps so if I succeed at my goals, others might be able to replicate what I do if they happen to stumble across my site and want to do what I write about.

    I’m definitely noticing that it’s best to just keep my mouth shut in person unless someone says something to open a door for me to share a useful idea I’ve learned. Just announcing things unprovoked decreases my productivity/time I could be spending to better myself.

    I’m the opposite of you on the sleep lol. If I don’t get enough, I feel like crap and am unable to work half as efficiently as I can with enough sleep.

  5. I was once told “no good deed goes unpunished.”

    It’s unfortunate that you share things with the intention to help but it is met with jealousy, envy, and negativity.

    Totally agree with your article on being stealth/humble and I really enjoy your posts on Bay Area real estate and college savings. For someone also here in the bay with very young children, it’s also the same reality I’m facing.

      1. As a person who attended Bay Area schools all my life (SF schools then East bay for high school), I find the school ratings system confusing. There is a section for test scores and academic achievement, which should hold a lot of weight. Then the other sections of equity and low-income seem to factor in.

        What I find unfair is that areas that are not diverse, seem to get a pass on the low-income and equity area, then their overall score appears to be a 9 or 10/10.

        It appears to me when people ask about the “school” ratings here in the Bay Area and if they are high, it really means “does it have a less than 10% low income” attendance. I won’t even get into what it means from a diversity standpoint. Look at all the 9 and 10 ratings on great schools website and tell me the majority and minority ethnicities, and let me know if you see a pattern.

        For my own personal experience, the public schools I attended were in the middle to low (<5 per I was not aware of this at the time, did scholastically well, had honors classes, graduated with a 4.8 GPA and was accepted into all colleges I applied for. My high school girlfriend at the time went to a prestigious and private “college preparatory” school in SF, she did academically well, and we scored exactly the same on our SATs (I scored higher in Math, while she did well on English). In the end, I graduated with a doctorate degree from college and I’m sure she was successful too, but from a ROI standpoint, I’m not sure her parents got what they paid for. There was definitely less violence, crime, fights, and robberies at her school than mine for sure though.

        Bringing it all together, now as a parent, I’m taking a critical look at “school ratings” and plan to observe closely the test scores. The schools/areas getting high scores overall but a pass on diversity/equity don’t seem right to me. It’s no surprise to me the median home price in those cities is $1.4M and above, but again, is that really fair they get a 9 or 10/10 for equity and low income when those areas are less than 10% of the constituents?

        Just a few of my thoughts on “highly rated schools” and where my brain goes when I hear people ask.

        1. No one cares. Spare us the politically correct lecture. And “diversity” is a lie, the politically correct way to demand racial quotas.

          1. You apparently don’t care to read or comprehend either.

            I didn’t state a position on diversity, just that it shouldn’t be included in school ratings.

            My issue is with the school ratings system and how it factors into overall scores, restated simply here just for you Jack.

            Education is clearly something you don’t care about, for yourself and others. Moving on.

  6. Didn’t mean to stress you out, man. You asked about the study of another reader, so I looked it up and told you the results. You can’t generalize studies to individuals. Just take the info and do what you will with it. I didn’t realize you had responded to my comment. I see that I can make that an option when I comment. Either way, I’ll try to find the comment from the prior article and respond.


  7. TheEngineer

    There are certain level of wealth and education that ironically brought on cynicism and paranoid.

    I used to be part of a niche of engineers, few doctors and business owners who are mostly self-serving individuals the more you know them.

    Many of them seemed to harbor the mentality cynicism and paranoid of the world around. Always think someone out there is plotting and/or working against them – sadly, few think of their own spouses and children.

    It is my own child who reminds me (not so much in words, but just being young and naive) to have a balance view of the world.

    Progress is the end product of optimism!

  8. Dude, I think you are great. Keep up all of your smart and interesting work and don’t get down over the aggressive negative comments! I loved your post about 529s and am grateful to hear your strategy on it. Your personality and the fact that you share stuff about your family (even sick kids—duh, many of us have them, too!) is what makes your blog unique.

    You’ve amazed me over and over again at how even keeled you’ve been over negative comments that would have sent me reeling. I’m glad to know that you are human and that sometimes the aggressive comments bother you. But you handle them beautifully and I hope that you will keep sharing your own personal story with all of us, no matter what. You’ve got a lot of support out here. Thanks for all that you do.

  9. Great perspective. I love this blog becuase it touches all the aspects of money and not just making money. I have been practicing stealth wealth and it has helped me tremendously specially at work as people start making presumptions about your raise, bonus. I don’t share whole lot with my family or friends as it might bring a bias that I don’t want. Being stealth really frees me and my family and enjoy our freedom. I keep driving the same old car to stay away from the radar. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Keep the good stuff coming.

  10. I only tell my close friends, who are supportive of my work. I try to ask about their stuff as much as I talk about mine. A friend who brings you down when they listen about your life, isn’t a very good friend. If they can’t cheer alongside you, then it isn’t worth telling them anything except to inflate your ego, which is rarely worth it.
    I very rarely tell strangers unless they are going to be a very temporary feature in my life and it’s relevant to the conversation somehow.

    I’ve slowly gotten to the point where I only read a couple of blogs, because all the other ones recycle content. When you write, it’s something usually unique, or with a different twist.

    In summary: Thanks. Ignore the haters.

    1. Hi Devin, thanks for reading. It’s worth being careful about some close friends too. They say that friends change very 7 years. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve unfortunately seen this happen. Let’s always be generous with our close friends. But even though they are close and want the best for us, we need to be modest with any of our successes.

      I welcome the criticism on FS b/c I enjoy highlighting them and hanging a lantern on my problems. I know that other people have the same type of issues, so keeping things real is what I always want on FS.

  11. 100% agree with the overall sentiment here.

    I’ve found that I can really only share my projects/career aspirations with immediate family these days. Anything more than that just gets all these “Well, with my X years experience, I can tell you the best way is…”

    Sorry, but no. In an age where sharing your opinions and knowledge is easier than ever before, you quickly learn that most people just have a lot of opinions and not much to back it up. Those of us with actual wisdom are starting to eschew social media and connect in other ways. It’s almost like we are becoming a new brand of luddite and I’m not sure whether thats a good thing or bad thing.

  12. Ryan anderson

    Hi Sam, I 100% agree that there is almost no upside to telling people what you’re up to until it is a few years in the past. Even then thinking or talking about the past only holds you back unless it’s to learn a specific lesson. The best thing we can do for our loved ones is to ask them powerful questions and let them figure out the answers themselves.

    I hope that you will do a post in the future on the flexibility and safety involved with cash value life insurance. Disney used his cash value life insurance to promote Disneyland. If you search for companies that have used cash value life insurance you will be amazed at what you find.

    Best wishes,

    Ryan A

    1. Oh man, but sometimes waiting a few years to then tell someone can be really hard!

      For example, I was very excited to share with the community we welcome a new daughter to our family. But I kept the information private and told nobody online that we were expecting. Only a month after she was born did I write this post:

      Given my life will be consumed by my children over the next six months caring for them FT, I thought it best to share just in case I disappear from FS for a while. My podcast has already reduced production.

      1. Ryan Anderson

        Yeah I loved that post particularly because you were like nonchalant boom we had a baby! I still remember telling my wife and she was surprised too. Congrats and I appreciate all the effort you put into FS!

      2. Sam, congratulations on your baby girl! I read a post recently that alluded to your second child and I knew I had missed something & went searching for the news. We’ve never spoken, but I read a lot of your articles and I appreciate the connection with readers you’re building. Congratulations & keep up all the great work.

  13. Thanks Sam for your perspectives on growing your personal wealth and how you approach life. Stealth wealth makes a lot of sense in today’s society where people are so easily offended and vocal about any activity outside of the social norm. I try to tune out things that are merely distractions and focus on things that matter the most (like my family, career, and personal goals).
    You aren’t the only one who practices stealth wealth, but you are the first person that I’ve seen write about the topic. Thanks!
    Years ago I worked for a privately held company that was owned by a single family. The CEO was a billionaire that managed to stay off the Forbes top 100 for years by being private about business successes. Stealth wealth gave the family members freedom to live how they wanted. If they wanted to save some $$ by flying commercial instead of taking their private jet they could.
    Keep up the posts. Growing wealthy isn’t just about the numbers.

    1. “The CEO was a billionaire that managed to stay off the Forbes top 100 for years by being private about business successes.”

      This is HUGE!

      I remember when Forbes ranked the top 10 wealthiest families in China in the late 1990s. HALF were persecuted and thrown in jail!

  14. Do you think practicing stealth action/wealth opposes running a financial blog? Do you sometimes feel too public with your financial goals by writing about them? No hate; I’m genuinely curious and struggle with this myself!

    1. Probably, if the blogger was public.

      I limit my sharing to about 20% of what I actually do and have. But I’m thinking 10% might be more appropriate. What do you think is the right amount to share?

      A small circle of us have made all sorts of investments over the past 10 years. It’s kinda nuts how lucky we’ve gotten. But it takes action to get lucky.

  15. Sam, I continue to love the blog and have for many years (how many referrals I’ve made – countless!). I admire what you’ve done and the wonderful platform/business you built. It’s what I would have wished I could have done as a younger version of myself.

    But, having taken a different and slightly longer path to wealth and retirement, I arrived at the same place you did. Wealthy, great family, totally independent, and in a position to help people. Which I’m doing a lot of these days.

    I’ve given this advice to many who have asked so I’ll give it to you: You “talk” too much. Just shut up.

    Simple. You ask for too many opinions, you rebut too much criticism, you care too much about the views of others, you appear to have a deep seated emotional need for validation despite the fact that you have made overwhelmingly great choices in your life.

    This is very common. I’ve seen it dozens of times in very successful people. They would be even more successful and happier if they just would SHUT UP a little more often, for their own mental health!!!

    1. This is great advice! Any suggestions on how to write articles if I shut up though? Perhaps just get a lot of guest writers and staff writers. My plan for more business in 2020 and beyond is to remove myself from this site and have other people write so I can do other things.

      But I will admit though that I love the banter and enjoy writing comment commentary type posts like this one. Do you mind if I use your comment for a new post? The comments are really a gift that keeps on giving for writers.

      It is interesting you think I seek self-validation though when I think I’m mainly trying to help people think about things in different ways. I’ll explore this more. Thanks

      1. Sam, you made a couple of great and insightful points about yourself in this reply.

        You are constantly underplaying your ability, intellect, background, parenting skills, etc. Even if 50% of it were tongue-in-cheek and for effect, it would be 50% too much.

        It is the exact opposite of bragging but can be just as harmful to you and those around you.

        I would welcome you using any concepts from this interchange.

    2. This is the dumbest comment I have ever read. You want to read content but also want the writer to shut up?

      If I was Sam, I would just eliminate the comments. Cuts out all the crap and idiot commenters. Won’t be as fun for observers, but will make everything more efficient.

      Stealth Action really is the way to go.

    3. I wonder if you are failing to understand that if you have a website that attracts millions of visitors and comparing your situation is much different?

      Even 0.1% of 1 million readers who are highly critical means 1,000 critical people. So that absolute volume is huge.

      If 0.1% of the people you encounter are highly critical you wouldn’t notice. You probably wouldn’t even notice 100X the amount because you’re irrelevant.

      For people who are relevant, famous, or have big platforms, stealth everything is very important.

      Sam is simply using these few critical examples to demonstrate a point. It may seem like most are critical, but most are not. Read the comments of the articles yourself.

  16. Sam, never mind the folks who feel the need to argue everything that differs from their experience or practice. It is astonishing to me how many people seem to read blogs just to (often) disagreeably disagree with the blog author’s POV.. keep up the good work— I’ve been enlightened by your thoughts and POV, even when it doesn’t match my own.

  17. Considering that most of the readers here likely earn to much to get any FASFA aid for college, but not wealthy enough to pay cash without saving for years (money that could be invested elsewhere), here are my thoughts: If grad school is part of the plan, the first school/degree is inconsequential unless it is needed to get into a desired grad program. The last degree is the one that matters and after your first post-grad job, even it quickly becomes inconsequential. I don’t understand the people that push for the expensive undergrad degrees knowing they will ultimately be getting an advanced degree. No wonder so many of my colleagues have more school debt than annual income! Cali now offers junior college for free. How could anyone justify not getting 50% of their undergrad paid for while still maintaining the ability to graduate with the same undergrad degree that other paid at least twice as much for. Talk about stealth action! There is simply no way to justify paying more than state school tuition for undergrad unless grad school is not in the plans or entry into a prestigious grad program requires it.

  18. Stealth wealth is for sure the way to go especially in this age of instagramming and snapping and whatnot. Everyone is eager to show the trappings of wealth and supposed hard work and they probably end up wasting too much time to actually do work!

  19. Thank you for focusing on tearing apart my argument and not me. I did not intent to simply add worry to your life, but to bring to light what I have read. As I just finished Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, PhD here is some additional information from the book.

    Shorter sleep was associated with 45% increased risk in developing coronary heart disease within 7 to 25 years of the start of the study.
    A study of 4000 Japanese male workers over a 14 year period found that those that slept less than 6 hours had a 400 to 500% increased likelihood of have one or more heart attacks than those sleeping more than 6 hours.
    Unfortunately on Alzheimer’s all the book says is that there is a statistically significant increase, which you properly note could mean 1% to 1.5% or 1% to 80%. Googling I found that around 10% of Americans over 65 have Alzheimer’s, but that doesn’t answer your question.

    One powerful example was looking at Daylight Savings Time. When the clocks move forward an hour and people have one fewer hour to sleep, there was an increase in heart attacks and traffic accidents. When moving back, the opposite occurred.

    I’m not a sleep scientist, but the book was very convincing that sleep is important. Perhaps that is simply confirmation bias. I’m certainly not a reputable source on the topic, so I would recommend anyone to read it and decide for yourself.

    If my comment made you go from a sleep goal of 5 hours to 6, then I’m very happy I wrote it. All the best to you and your newborn. Dealing with one in my home as well.

    1. Citing Japanese who work themselves to death isn’t really a valid analog for FS. Most people who don’t sleep enough hours don’t do it by choice, but by life’s requirements. Parents especially have a lot to do – something I didn’t appreciate until well after I left home.

      As a semi retired person, FS is sleeping as many hours as he chooses to. If 5 wasn’t working for him, he’d change. He has the choice. So it’s far more likely that this happens to be a suitable amount for him. For me….I’m probably on the other side of the curve.

      1. Thx for the support Jason!

        I’m proud to say I got 7.15 hrs of sleep last night!

        Tired due to two games of softball yesterday. I really just try and sleep as much as my body is wiling. Hope that’s ok, but I won’t know for sure if it is.

  20. Hey, I did not write that last line. I actually enjoy the parenting aspect of your finance posts. It truly is easier to retire early without kids… So I enjoy the unique perspective that you offer. Didn’t mean to offend or hurt you, and I’m sorry that I did. What you are doing is very difficult and that’s why you have loyal followers like myself. Keep up the good work!

    1. Nicer of you to say. But leaving a turd of a comment like that when someone is down is not nice. People like you are the reason why young people are too afraid to try and put themselves out there. I hope you at least have more compassion for your children.

  21. Sorry, not sure why this came out twice. I’m sure it is something I did on my end by accident.

  22. Financial Freedom Countdown

    For personal finance bloggers it is best to be anonymous since we share so much of our lives especially finances publicly.

    Although I’ve seen a number of larger sites having a public face. Wonder if they do that more to connect with people?

    P.S. liking the recent inclusion of emojis in your subject line

  23. Man! You know this blog is great because it has a personality.
    Please keep sharing, we all want to make money but we need human interactions too.

  24. I have a 2 year old and 2 month year old and plan on subscribing the same plan that my uncle and aunt had for my cousins. They do fairly well financially and could have afforded to send my cousin to most schools. They sat him down and told him they would pay for the entire cost of attendance for their in-state public school (~30k p/y including living costs). If he went somewhere else, they would happily pay the same 30k, but he had to cover anything above it himself via loans/work/scholarships. He ended up choosing to go in-state (they live in the midwest).

    I appreciated the balance of wanting to take care of their son, but also guiding him and allowing him to make his own decision. With my kids, I’m targeting about 250k total which is my estimate (mostly a blind guess) for the cost of 4 years at a UC school. I expect tuition inflation to slow down some with inevitable regulation of college tuition in the next decade.

    Another trend I’m noticing also is the partnerships of high schools with local community colleges. I’ve seen a lot of students skip taking AP classes and taking community college courses concurrently with high school classes. They tend to be easier than the AP test and tend to transfer better. Many colleges in California have strange equivalencies for AP tests, but are pretty straight forward with community college classes. I see a trend of more students going into college with less work to graduate. Not sure what it will look like in 16-18 years but it’s interesting and could be a huge money saver for students (and parents).

    1. I agree with your comments on the advantages of taking community college courses vs. AP in order to help with overall college costs and transfer credits but I do see one big upside for a heavy AP/Honors focus in high school. Our daughter went to a pretty good public high school and of the 22 courses she took over those 4 years, 18 of them were AP or Honors courses (10 Honors and 8 AP). I think she received 18 hours of credit for her AP courses in college.

      The difference we saw was in the teachers and peer group in high school that she interacted with. Students and teachers were both much more motivated in the tougher classes and that helped prepare her for the workload and work ethic needed for college. When I observed her friends that just took regular classes they were not nearly as motivated and do not seem to be doing all that well with the transition to college. Most are focused more on their social lives than their majors.

      Economically speaking, the community college route makes a ton of sense but we are glad our daughter took the more challenging curriculum in high school in preparation for college.

    2. Unfortunately, it is getting extremely hard to get into any UC school nowadays. Even schools other than UCLA, Berkeley, and San Diego require top 5% grades and achievements. I would lower expectations, and hope for the best. The world is going to be way more competitive in 16-18 years.

      1. “I went to UCLA….*audience applauds*…but I didn’t get in….*audience moans*….actually, I was meeting a friend for lunch *audience laughs* but there was no parking *laughs*.” – Taylor Negron

  25. Regarding the first Alzheimer’s commentor, he lives in Texas and seems single. It is much more unhealthy to live in Texas where obesity rates are higher, the food is much less healthy, and it’s too hot or too cold to exercise and be outside for about four months a year. I would say he is way more at risk of dying early and dying with Alzheimer’s then someone who doesn’t have the normal amount of stress of going to work and who lives in healthy San Francisco.

  26. Paper Tiger

    Regarding sleep, I believe in the old adage, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” I’m usually in bed by 9 pm and up by 5:30 am. This seems to work for me the best.

    As to college savings, we only have one daughter who is now a second semester Junior in college. We invested a fixed amount in a 529 every month for about 15 years and accumulated over $300K by the time she started college. She wants to pursue a Master’s degree a couple of years after she graduates with her BS and there will be enough in our account to cover both degrees so I’d have to say that we are happy we somewhat over-saved for college and see nothing wrong with doing that.

    I completely agree with your comments on Stealth Wealth and Stealth Actions. Five years ago I left my corporate career to start a company from scratch with 6 other guys. It has been a long and winding road but we are about to merge with 2 other companies led by a prominent venture group in our space and the combined entity will have a beginning valuation of 100M of which we will own 30%. This new entity will allow us to scale our business and move our focus from regional to national.

    I’ve kept a very low profile about our wealth, our plans and my business dealings. Most everyone assumes I’m retired and just kicking back which is the way I like it. I don’t want to have to deal with all the challenges that would present themselves if friends and relatives had any clue about what we have been up to.

    1. Hi there. I found your post very helpful and also love hearing your path on college saving and life. May I ask how much you saved monthly to accumulate the $300k in 15 years. Did you increase that monthly amount?

      1. No problem, we put $800/month in a 529 invested in an S&P 500 Index Fund. We never varied on the investment amount or the fund and just let it ride for 15 years. Just before she started her Freshman year, I moved all of it into a CD ladder fund because I just didn’t want to take a chance on a sudden market decline at some point while we were tapping the fund to pay for college.

        In hindsight, I might have been better off moving half to CDs and keeping half in the S&P 500 because the market has continued to perform well since she has been in school but it could have just as easily gone the other way on me. In this case, I actually did follow the adage of “when you’ve won the game, stop playing.” We had the money we needed to pay for college so there was no reason to continue to risk it in the market. Our long-term savings and investment plan had done its job.

  27. I think a great way to practice Stealth Wealth is to not be in debt for things that people consider “normal.” For instance, I drive cars that are on average 10 years old and when I do buy cars I pay cash. I also live in a neighborhood where I make more than most of my neighbors, but I have paid off my house. Hence they have no idea how much free cash flow I have access too. So people assume I have a mortgage and car payments just like they do. Instead, I have a lot of free cash to invest and grow my wealth.

  28. I can’t tell you my stealth actions because they will no longer be stealth, :-).

    To be honest, I’m surprised you still allow comments on your posts given you receive so many and sort through them; it’s quite humbling.

    I can’t worry about Alzheimer’s right now, I got a 1-month-old to care for. But in the future I do plan to optimize and prioritize sleep; I feel like as a population we definitely don’t take sleep and recharging seriously enough.

    1. Comments makes posts dynamic and fun, even the unpleasant ones.

      Just realized something. Will all parents suffer Alzheimer’s since all responsible parents have to wake up every 1-3 hours for months, and then in the middle of the night for a couple years, to feed and care for their children?!

      Perhaps this is the medical breakthrough we’ve all been waiting for! To cure Alzheimer’s, you must sleep exactly 8 hours a night and not have kids!

  29. Hey Sam, I appreciate your perspective and agree with stealthiness as a good practice, with an occasional exception. I have at times announced my intentions to achieve a particular goal as a form of motivation and commitment. Nothing is more motivating to me than “publicly” declaring a goal and then having the extra pressure to achieve the goal or face the shame of failure. Lol!

  30. I bought a small company a few years ago and this past year we did very well- profits of around 1M. This came from putting in lots of long hours and doing all I could to learn the business.

    Despite this, I still drive a 7 year old Honda and don’t splurge on fancy clothes or gizmos. I just don’t care and I enjoy a good cheap weekend of camping and hiking and sitting around a free campfire. My family does take nice vacations, but we don’t brag about it. This should be another very good year profit wise and I’m hoping I can continue the high profits moving forward but I’m saving and investing almost all that money for a rainy day / early retirement in case the business model goes south in a few years.

    Like other folks said I only give savings/investing or health/fitness advice to friends or extended family if they ask. I’ve been able to maintain the same weight and stayed in very good shape for the last 15 years since college but know that people need motivation to really learn and improve themselves or they won’t be interested or will resent the advice. I don’t tell people they should stop drinking soda unless they ask me if it’s healthy. I don’t tell them they should lift weights and try intermittent fasting unless they see I’m healthy and fit and ask for tips. Same with investing- and as I’m the boss at work I never give investing advice to anyone at work as I don’t want me/the company to be sued if the advice turns out badly.

    I like the quote from “Silent” Calvin Coolidge: “The things I never say never get me into trouble”

  31. Daniel Cohen

    Hi Sam,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this matter. It really makes me curious.

    You wrote: If you do something different than the norm, some people will point out where you’re wrong or try and make you feel bad about your efforts. Take Stealth Action to avoid unnecessary stress.
    Response: What makes you believe people will be stressed? Do you think there might be a different way to look at this situation? Also, Why are you giving other people soooo much power over your mental wellbeing? I heard a really great observation/analogy recently. When someone has an allergic reaction to peanuts, do we blame the peanuts for making the person have an allergic reaction? No! We blame something within the person for that allergic reaction. Similarly, when someone says or does something we do not like/agree with, we get an “allergic” reaction to them. We (humans) tend to blame that person (a peanut) for how we feel. Instead of being curious why we feel a certain way when interacting with others and being okay feeling what we feel, people tend to avoid these conflicts. Your article is clearly one communicating avoidance instead of acceptance. Why?

    You wrote: I really do need to focus more on finance topics and less on personal ones.
    Response: Why? Would you consider that people who do not know how to deal with their personal situation would also not be able to deal with their financial situation?

      1. Robert Webb

        I haven’t yet read all of the comments. However, I did notice that you started out introducing us to “stealth investing” and ended up talking about hours of sleep, Alzheimer’s, 529 savings, and other unrelated topics. Perhaps another hour of sleep might keep you a little more on topic.

        1. Probably. I’d be too lazy to read the post and the comments as well given we’re in the internet age of sound bites and headlines.

          What about stealth investing? I didn’t use the words.

          1. Sam, Rock on! I completely enjoy your articles and reading the comments

            Don’t change a thing

            Or if you do hire other writers, hopefully they are as personable as you are

            All the other robot blogs ares so boring

      2. Daniel Cohen


        You wrote: some people will point out where you’re wrong
        Response: If someone will point out where I’m wrong, I’ll be curious if I fail to understand their argument. If I have requirements of my own that their points are not addressing, I would ask them how their points address my requirements. They will either respond with something I can learn from or finally understand your point. I would also work to make sure I made them feel heard and understood. For example, I would thank them for their insights and see

        You wrote: or try and make you feel bad about your efforts.
        Response: Ideally: When someone is trying to make me feel bad, I will feel bad and acknowledge I’m feeling bad and be curious where the feeling came from. In this case, I would find the feeling is being mirrored by the individual making the comments. I would work to accept the bad feeling and be okay with it because it will pass in roughly 30 seconds. I would work to calm myself down and not take what they are saying personally. I would ask the person why they are feeling bad? I would make sure to empathize with their feelings. Once their emotions are addressed and they are in a better state, I would be curious about their point of view on their ideas.

        Hopefully this makes sense.

        1. Makes sense. Please share some specific examples, how you dealt with it, and how you came out better. Examples really help illustrate a point and help others deal with similar situations.


          1. Daniel Cohen

            My wife and I were contemplating selling one of our rental properties. I wanted to sell the property to an investor so I minimize the impact to my awesome tenants. I brought this up to her multiple times and each time she would respond with “No! Not going to do it”. This made me very angry because I didn’t feel heard and understood. She wasn’t being curious as to why I wanted to sell to an investor. A conflict like this would cause people to either flee or fight. I did the former, storming off to another place in the house and not talk to her. Once I finally recognized I was fleeing the conflict and understood that was counterproductive to our relationship, I finally was able to calm down and ask her “Can you please help me understand what you mean by investor?” I do not believe it means the same thing to you as it does to me. At first she told me, “You know what it means”. I assured her I did not know what it meant to her. She finally told me “It’s too much risk”. “Too much risk?!?” I thought. I then proceeded to ask her “What do you mean by ‘Too much risk'” after some back and forth, she finally said “I do not want to partially own a property with another investor”. All this time, I had been taking her literally and it turns out her definition of investor was completely different then mine. I set her straight that I wanted to sell the property to an investor and they would be the only ones to own it. She was then in agreement on this case.

        2. Daniel, I kind of understand your point but let me give you a little different frame of reference. As I get older, one thing I have noticed is that my time and patience are both heavily challenged and need to be channeled toward the things I believe give me the greatest pleasure and the best productivity toward achieving my goals and objectives.

          Because I am busy and focused on things that will improve my lot in life and that of my family, I have to reserve my emotional energy for those endeavors. Spending time trying to analyze and understand why other people feel a certain way only matters if it is somehow advancing me toward my goals. Otherwise, it just makes sense to let certain kinds of comments and opinions pass so that I can focus on what is really important.

          I used to spend a lot of time and caring about what other people thought. I’ve learned through time and experience that is largely wasted effort. Rarely do you really change someone’s opinion and you do have to pick and choose your spots if you want to stay on track with what is really important to you.

            1. Well, that is awfully nice of you to say and very well-received coming from someone who I have grown to respect through your work. I’m at an interesting point in life and there are some experiences yet to be fully realized that I think could add value in a guest post. I will keep your offer in mind and will reach out to you about providing a perspective on my life experiences when the time is right.

              In the meantime, I can begin to pull a draft together in preparation for a future discussion.

          1. Daniel Cohen

            Hi PaperTiger,

            Thank you for your response.

            You wrote: Daniel, I kind of understand your point but let me give you a little different frame of reference.
            Response: Sure

            You wrote: As I get older, one thing I have noticed is that my time and patience are both heavily challenged and need to be channeled toward the things I believe give me the greatest pleasure and the best productivity toward achieving my goals and objectives.
            Response: Terrific! I believe the same way

            You wrote: Because I am busy and focused on things that will improve my lot in life and that of my family, I have to reserve my emotional energy for those endeavors.
            Response: Ok. I can understand your point. What makes you believe helping all people around you will fail to improve your lot in life and that of your family?

            You wrote: Spending time trying to analyze and understand why other people feel a certain way only matters if it is somehow advancing me toward my goals.
            Response: Ok.

            You wrote: Otherwise, it just makes sense to let certain kinds of comments and opinions pass so that I can focus on what is really important.
            Response: That is fantastic. I wish I could do that more. Unfortunately, I’m suffering from PTSD. As an example, when I am talking with someone, if they stop I start feeling the awkward silence. I become worried that they do not like me. It comes from my past and I need to work on just accepting that is not the case. It is a goofy thought.

            You wrote: I used to spend a lot of time and caring about what other people thought.
            Response: Ditto

            You wrote: I’ve learned through time and experience that is largely wasted effort.
            Response: Agreed. My response wasn’t geared towards caring about what other people thought. I really wanted to focus on improving the life of people around us and not just my own. It didn’t matter if they like me or not and I could care less (unless my PTSD is affecting me).

            You wrote: Rarely do you really change someone’s opinion and you do have to pick and choose your spots if you want to stay on track with what is really important to you.
            Response: What makes you believe you rarely can change someone’s opinion? I have been pretty successful in it. However, I do not come at them telling them they are wrong or implying I know a better way. I come at them with questions that lead them to the same conclusions that my approach solves. There are times my questions get answers that show flaws in my opinion/solution and it becomes a learning opportunity.

            E.g. I was conducting a Conflict Management Training at work. One employee asked me how to deal with a conflict where he had a solution that the tech lead wouldn’t consider. He felt his solution was better. I instructed the employee to first put his ego aside. He was holding onto the notion that his solution was the only way. However, what mattered more was coming up with a solution that would benefit the company. Whether it was his solution or the tech leads didn’t matter. I instructed the employee to be curious about the tech leads solution. I instructed the employee to tell the tech lead he liked his solution, wanted to use it, but was curious how it handled the requirements the employees solution solved. The response from the tech lead would either explain how the solution met those requirements, would make the tech lead go back and figure it out, and/or ask the employee what his thoughts were. At that point, the employee could offer up his solution with a higher probability of it being accepted. In the end, the best solution would be where both employees would contribute to a single solution.

            1. Hi Daniel, I’m copying and pasting what you wrote that you wanted response on and then put my comments below them.

              I wrote: Because I am busy and focused on things that will improve my lot in life and that of my family, I have to reserve my emotional energy for those endeavors.
              Response: Ok. I can understand your point. What makes you believe helping all people around you will fail to improve your lot in life and that of your family?

              This comes back to my comment about how much energy and capacity you and your own priorities. I can’t save the world but perhaps I can impact a few at a time, just not ALL of them.

              I wrote: Rarely do you really change someone’s opinion and you do have to pick and choose your spots if you want to stay on track with what is really important to you.
              Response: What makes you believe you rarely can change someone’s opinion? I have been pretty successful in it.

              In your example, I’d say you gave them some great coaching and got them to come around to your way of thinking in the example you gave. The question of whether or not they really changed their opinion comes down to their behavior going forward. In other words, did you really change their opinion or did you simply get them to come around to your way of thinking in that one specific instance? If their behavior changed such that the next time they face a similar situation they fall more in line with what you suggested on their own, without being prompted, then you may have indeed changed their opinion. However, if they still maintain their same way of looking at things, then I doubt they changed anything. There really is a difference when it comes to changing your mind on something vs. really changing your opinion. One is a singular event, the other is real habitual change, which requires a lot more effort and commitment.

  32. Stealth action is the way to go. On the internet, people will criticize anything they don’t agree with.
    Although, I’m really worried about Alzheimer’s. That’s my worst nightmare and I’m trying to do everything I can to avoid it. If that means sleeping more, so be it. I get 6-8 hours of sleep per night. It depends on how I feel. If you don’t have family history, you’ll probably be fine.

  33. When it comes to my small number of coworkers and family, I’m not very stealthy about my plans to retire in less than two years. I have two reasons for this. First, I hope to convince at least one person to save more than they would have otherwise. I’m not sure if I have been the influence, but my closest coworker has increased his retirement savings contributions over the last couple years. On a side note, I’m pretty sure I earn less than most if not all of my coworkers – lifestyle inflation is running rampant around here. Second, it provides some accountability for my own plans. No harm yet…

  34. Good article, and I generally believe these principles are 100% the right way. We certainly live well below our means and seldom ever elaborate regarding our savings… Yet, I do feel at times, I would like to let close friends know what our savings are especially when they keep asking why we are renting and haven’t bought etc.
    On the flip, living in the NY area, despite accumulating around $2.5Mish by my early 30’s all on my own, I still don’t feel like I have “won” nor am I remotely in the top echelon.

  35. I only bring it up when someone specifically asks me. I get mixed reviews. My top 2 focuses right now are wealth building and physical fitness. I am currently trying to figure out the right balance between the present and the future and how that relates to my goals.

  36. spaceassassin

    (Dumb question first, is the photo of our military at sea meant to signify stealth action or the opposite? The placement of the photo under “Take Stealth Action” heading was confusing as that group is one of the most overt displays of might, power and action that exists. Just curious if it was purposeful positioning or juxtaposition.)

    We stay as stealthy as possible, but every so often people notice things. We try and slip in and out for vacations, shop at low-key places (because that’s actually what we need and like), dress low-key and eat at low-key places. The only piece of our life that threatens our low-key or stealthy persona is my car, which is the exact opposite of stealthy, but is kind of funny because it’s company-owned.

    Ignoring the car I can always tell we slipped up out in the open somewhere because the neighbors will ask the same question, “what is it you do again?” Sometimes there’s just no way to hide what we are doing and that’s when they ask, but that’s okay, they’re just curious.

    (For the record, I sleep 6-7 hours a night and wake up between 3-4, not sure what the negatives may be later, but there are significant positives for me now. I disagree with your 529 plans–not the idea of saving or the amount necessarily, but the vehicle you choose and we could discuss this much more in depth than what the comments section permits. And my first was in preschool at 1 and has stayed relatively healthy, but the frequency of even common colds has decreased each year. Hes 6 now and in Kindergarten and quite healthy and my second (18 months) will be entering preschool in another year or so, regardless of the colds that come with it.)

    As for the blog, I wouldn’t change the scope a bit. As I mentioned in another comment, the family and human side that comes through keeps me coming back. There are plenty of strict economics and financial blogs that are full of charts, numbers and data without the human-side. I appreciate the psychology-side of finance as much as the fiscal side, but maybe that’s the psych-grad coming out. And this blog has plenty of articles for everyone and their varied interests.

    keep it up.

  37. I love reading your posts about Stealth Wealth! This post really resonates with me. It really hits home because I was describing to some mom friends how I enjoy waking up early to get things done (time for myself, work out etc) and received perplexity and almost backlash from the group. Even having some girls from the group bring it up again on separate occasions. After reading this I plan to keep more to myself.

    Having two young children I also adore the parenting posts- it does keep the blog more interesting.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Oh no! Yeah, telling your mom group you like to get up early to get things done is really dangerous. Much better to say you are constantly delirious and can’t seem to stay on top of the most basic things and give a specific example eg forgot to put on the diaper before going out.

      After reading probably 25+ hours of mom group forums, I know one thing: the mom who seems like she’s happy and in control gets frequently pounced on!


      1. Thanks for your reply! I’m figuring out this was a serious no-no. My children are ages 2 + 4 years. Most of these moms have children 2+ so not babies. I struggle some nights when my oldest comes into our room and I have to take her back to her room 2-3 times throughout the night. I probably should brag up on that and maybe not wear concealer to look “tired”, ha! There is light at the end of the tunnel though, and things get easier ;-)

        You have been my favorite blog for quite some time.

    2. Zenful Working Mom

      Fellow mom here! I also wake up at 5:45am everyday to work our and get organized for future goals. I make a delicious nutritious smoothie packed with fruits and veggies and seeds everyday before getting kids up and get them ready for school etc. I look pretty fit and get comments about not aging. When asked I have mentioned to other moms my way and it did not go well. I felt really judged in a negative way like I’m making them look bad because they don’t do that. Now I have even stopped giving too much information when asked.

  38. I used to try and help colleagues with tips and links to helpful posts on finance. After awhile I just stopped doing it because never got any responses whatsoever and figured no one really cared so why push it.

    I’m fortunate that my radiology colleague is on the same financial page as me and it is nice to bounce ideas off each other (he was also the one who strongly encouraged me to start blogging).

    If you can find someone like that it really is helpful as you get affirmation as well as a potentially different view point (this same colleague also was the inspiration for why I started concentrating on building a real estate portfolio when previously I had been avoiding it)

  39. This post reminds me of one of my favorite Lou Holtz quotes: “Don’t burden people with your complaints. Ninety percent of the people you meet don’t care about your troubles. The other 10 percent are glad you have them.”

  40. Weird right? One one hand ostentatious spending increases social standing but ostentatious savings garners slings and arrows…

    On the other hand, most folks that read FIRE blogs want reaffirmation that FIRE is achievable on relatively modest sums (like a “mere” $1m) and when you go on about need $5M with kids to FIRE and $500K 529s (per kid? Is that included in the $5M?) suddenly it’s $6M and FIRE looks impossible for anyone but the highest earners. In SF anyway…which is probably a true assessment.

    FatFIRE is hard and does require large income…$200K-$300k/yr passive income gives you a fairly normal middle rung lifestyle in most HCOL places.

    I don’t think stealth wealth is too hard when you drive a Honda and live in an average neighborhood because you sure aren’t out earning the average family income for your zip code…but that’s totally out of reach for lean FIRE folks.

    Heck, one of my DD friends just got a Tesla for her birthday and she doesn’t even drive yet. Yah it’s “used” and use to be her mom’s but still. I don’t worry too much about my kids feeling too “rich”.

    They talk about saving for school but soon they are going to know how much we have because I’m teaching them about finance and I feel transparency outweighs stealth inside the family.

  41. It’s concerning now that the concept of stealth wealth and stealth action (work) are becoming normal ideas. It goes with the times i guess; were society/people dislike or hate wealth and work and those that have it or do it must hide it like it’s shameful.

    1. You believe this because Kardashians aren’t a thing?

      No, it’s not because we hate wealth…look who is President…it’s because folks dislike wealth disparity with their peers.

      Plus stealth wealth and action is a old school Asian cultural thing. Part defensive blending in and not standing out and part subtle boasting.

      Like “my son is such a bad student he was only accepted to Princeton and not anywhere else he applied”. Or “I went to William and Mary”…you know, 2nd oldest uni in the nation (after Harvard) and one of 8 public Ivys…” ;)

      I’m only giving Sam a hard time about that because I wish my kid had good enough grades to get into W&M…it’s pure jealousy talkin.

      1. Haha! I’ve never had someone jealous of me going to W&M! It’s a good public school, but come on. Not many are jealous of my alma mater.

        BUT! I would be jealous that tuition was only $2,800/year when I went! A bargain, even at that time.

        I remember telling my fellow tennis coach about why kids don’t consider William and Mary and he gave me a snobbish look. And wow, his daughter went to some $50,000 a year private university I have never heard of and is working at some random job.

        All good!

      2. I got lost on the “–we hate wealth… look who is President…” comment.
        Would be willing to augment the thought a little?

        I genuinely don’t know what you mean but this is likely due to me being slow. . President is wealthy (most are) but this is used in the same comment as “we hate wealth.” I don’t get it.

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