The Rise Of Stealth Wealth: Ways To Stay Invisible From Society If You Have Money

Practice stealth wealth if you know what's good for you. Showing off how much you make and how much you have is not the way of the Financial Samurai.

Becoming wealthy has never been easier in America. Both stocks and real estate have performed phenomenally well since 2009. However, feeling comfortable as a wealthy person on the other hand, has never been tougher.

The pandemic created a K-shaped recovery where the investor class has widened the wealth gap between the working class.

The investor class crushed it in 2020 and 2021. Both the stock market and housing market boomed, making millions of investors much richer.

Be More Humble During Difficult Times

Then a bear market hit in 2022. Many people with inappropriate asset allocations got crushed. Now there's a Fed-induced recession and bank runs. This widening wealth gap is why I'm a big proponent of practicing Stealth Wealth.

To be open about your income and wealth gains would be completely foolish when so many people are hurting. Instead, if you are rich, it's much better to convince people you are middle class. This way, when the revolution comes, you will be spared.

Further, just look at how the government taxes your money. The government taxes you based on income and much less so on wealth. Taxes are likely going up under Joe Biden as well. Therefore, stealth wealth is paramount.

Stealth Wealth To Avoid The Government

Once you make much more than $250,000 a year, you will face an abundance of taxes or tax phaseouts: Medicare tax, AMT, deduction phaseout, credit eliminations, education tax, Net Investment Income tax, etc.

With Joe Biden as president, he has promised to raise taxes on households making over $400,000 a year. Therefore, I argue that in 2023 and beyond, the best income to earn is around $180,000 per individual.

However, you can pass on $12.92 million per person in wealth, tax-free to your heirs in 2023. This sounds like a lot of money, however, you already paid taxes on the $12.92 already. So don't think the high estate tax threshold is really a great benefit and it's likely to change.

President Biden has proposed raising the top capital gains tax rate. He might also abolish the stepped-up basis if he has his way. Therefore, the government is clearly targeting the wealthy to try and better distribute some of the wealth.

I can understand targeting centi-millionaires and billionaires. But if you're a six-figure income-earning household working 60 hours a week, I'm not so sure this won't cause disdain. You're already exhausted from working so hard and paying so much taxes, to pay even more sounds impalpable.

You must practice Stealth Wealth to avoid the government's growing reach.

Stealth Wealth To Avoid Anger And Resentment

If the government doesn't get you, regular citizens will. Who did you cheat or rob to get to where you are? Take your millions and shove it! Is the common attitude among those who feel left behind. This is a real problem for those who want to make it big in the land of dreams and hand guns.

Freedom is one of America's greatest attributes. Yet, if you go too far on the income curve you'll start feeling like a prisoner to society. Hundreds of millions of Americans know what losing freedom is like due to months of shelter-in-place to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite the rich giving more to charity in one year than many others will give in their lifetimes, people will protest their wealth and hate them forever. Despite paying more taxes each year than what the median household makes, the rich person will be demonized for “not paying his or her fair share.”

Class warfare is no fun, even if you do have the financial means to own a bazooka. The last thing you wanna do his face and angry mob full of resentment.

Practice Stealth Wealth To Be Happier And Free

Most readers here are ambitious folks who want to improve their financial health. Thanks to disciplined savings and investing habits, in another 10 years, I'm sure everybody is going to be that much wealthier, if not millionaires.

But once you get to where you are going, you'll wonder what's next. Never lose site of the fact that it's really the journey to financial independence that's most rewarding.

When society turns their back on you for being successful, just recollect on all your struggles and take a deep breath. Be proud of your accomplishments because you know you're not just doing it for yourself, but for your family as well.

You don't have to be ashamed for not being the dumb ass in high school who thought it was cool to skip class every week to smoke weed. You shouldn't feel bad that you worked summer internships during college while your buddies went off to play. And you should certainly not feel embarrassed by your frugal habits and smart investments once you found a job.

If you're getting up at 5 am every morning to make extra income before work, good on you! Feel proud of working more than 40 hours a week and not complaining why you can't get ahead. Alas, stealth wealth is important because the minority won't put that type of effort into their work.

It's OK To Be Proud Of Your Achievements

Unfortunately, society has a fantastic way of discrediting your achievements. “Nobody is self made,” and “You didn't build that,” are my two favorite retorts.

Just try taking yourself completely out of the equation and see where that logic goes when there's nobody to think, dream, and execute. When you are outnumbered, resistance is futile. You must blend in and rage with the rest of them.

In my viral post, Blew Up My Passive Income, No Longer Financially Independent, it engendered a lot of hate from readers on my platform and other media articles who said I was greedy. There was not a lot of empathy. All I want to do is take care of my family of four in an expensive city the best way I can.

With the below suggestions you'll be able to better walk amongst the shadows without fear of retribution any longer. Your family will be more guarded from bullies lurking to recondition your children every chance they get.

Once you finish reading this post, never speak of its matters beyond your immediate family and friends again. Going on Twitter or Facebook to boast about your financial accomplishment is really stupid. We've got to protect our own little community on the web.

A Guide To Stealth Wealth

As America attempts to reverse capitalism due to widening income inequality, blending in as a middle class citizen has never been more vital. Below are 15 Stealth Wealth recommendations to help you assimilate better in society.

Stealth Wealth Rule #1: Never drive a nice car to work or to any public setting.

Drive the most economical, safe car you know so that when you ultimately run into your co-workers, they'll think you're frugal or poor. Take public transportation and proclaim your love for buses and trains profusely. You don't want to roll into the office in a Benzo and have your boss see you. His or her immediate thought will be to cut your bonus since you are doing so well.

Driving up to an employee salary negotiation meeting in a Bentley isn't going to work in your favor either. Instead of choosing a new Range Rover Sport and deducting the vehicle as a business expense, consider a more moderate BMW X3 or Jeep Grand Cherokee instead.

When cops huddle for breakfast thinking about which car they want to ticket, do you think they are going for the guy in a 10 year old Toyota Corolla? Cops make $50-$60,000 a year on average and are on a mission to equalize.

Having a regular car is the #1 easiest way to practice Stealth Wealth. Only drive a nice car to an event for everybody else drives a nice car. You must read the room.

Read: The 1/10th Rule For Car Buying Everyone Should Follow

Stealth Wealth Rule #2: Be careful who you give your home address to.

People love to snoop online to see what you paid for your house. Not only will they see what you paid for your house, they'll also be able to tell whether you're under water or making huge equity. Instead of giving an exact address, you can give them cross streets and a description of the house. e.g. I'm at the corner of Jackson and Teller. Brown wood shingle house. You can't miss it.

Inevitably, they will find out your exact address if they pay attention, but delay that information for as long as possible. Your house is your sacred abode. Protect its privacy. I recommend claiming your house online and trying to make the house look as bad as possible. Property tax assessors look online all the time now to try and jack up your taxes.

Your home is now the easiest way to blow your Stealth Wealth cover. Be careful.

Stealth Wealth Rule #3: Don't flash your bling

Whether it's your Panerai watch, Birkin bag, Armani suit, or Louboutin shoes, keep them at home if you don't want people to know you can afford the real thing. People who practice stealth wealth do not flash their bling. Or they may choose to tell someone they're wearing a fake if asked.

Resist the urge to brag about your material things. You're already an established individual. The quality things that you buy are for your own pleasure after all. Pretend you don't know luxury brands or how much things cost. You can just say you like how they look.

Only wear nice things in the appropriate setting. If you're going to a billionaires mansion party, then fine, flash your jewelry and watches all you want. You're among other rich people who won't hate you for what you have. They'll appreciate your finer taste.

However, read the room. If you are in a low-key environment, you must also stay low key and stealth wealth.

Stealth Wealth Rule #4: Never reveal your full income or wealth.

Without question, never reveal the full extent to how much you make. Only those who are insecure, seek adoration, or want to make money by teaching you how to make money enjoy flaunting their wealth. There's definitely an inverse correlation with how much wealth you have and how much you show. You're an invisible tycoon remember?

If you have a particularly high income level and you're hanging around with people who make a fraction of what you make, be cognizant not to talk about your vacations or things you've bought. Be aware that the median national household income is about $75,000. Earning anything more than 2X your state's median household income will put you under fire.

The people bragging about their income are people with the lowest self-esteem. They clearly do not know the importance of Stealth Wealth.

Stealth Wealth Rule #5: Spread your assets around. 

Do not become one of the biggest land owners in your community. Do not become one of the biggest shareholders in a private equity deal unless you really, really believe in it.

Spread your investable assets around so people can't really tell how much you have. Diversification also ensures that your wealth doesn't take a beating in case of violent downturns either.

Chopping up your assets and putting them into different LLCs is one of the best ways the rich practice Stealth Wealth.

Read: The Recommended Net Worth Allocation By Age Or Work Experience

Stealth Wealth Rule #6: Get out of your bubble.

Once you know your State's median household income and average net worth, adjust your outlook accordingly. Not everybody had nurturing parents, attended great schools, worked hard, got a lucky break etc. Some people are born into poverty, and it's damn hard to get out because of negative influences all around. Believe that people truly want to do better.

When you start visiting other communities, you realize that despite all your hard work, you are probably luckier than most. The better understanding you have of others, the less chance you'll come across as an arrogant snob and the better you can assimilate. Take every chance you get to travel internationally and live abroad.

Just know that if you are signaling to the public about your averageness, make sure you signal consistently. Here is a Stealth Wealth case study on what not to do to blend in. The Tweeter made herself appear middle-class, when she was anything but.

Stealth Wealth Rule #7: Pretend you do not understand.

You might be a brilliant person, but brilliant people are intimidating. Instead, pretend you don't fully understand what another is saying by asking questions. Don't think you're better than others just because you see solutions easily. Guard your intelligence like you guard your full income and wealth.

It's better to start your intelligence at a low level and dial it up if the occasion requires. Some of the smartest people I know have this eery look about them that screams stone cold aloofness. You know they are already thinking multi-variably, but from the outside it seems like they are a dull brick wall.

The expert Stealth Wealth practitioner has a high enough Emotional Quotient to understand that imposing one's intelligence on someone else is not the right move.

Read: Are You Smart Enough To Act Dumb Enough To Get Ahead?

Stealth Wealth Rule #8: Praise others for their success.

Always be encouraging and positive of other people's milestones. People who are insecure tend to be the ones who want to toot their horn the most.

You know the types who constantly post pictures of themselves online, name drop who they hung out with the other day, or constantly share how great they are. Once in a while is absolutely fine. All the time just cries for desperation and attention.

Try really hard to bite your tongue and not “one-up” someone else despite any successes you have. Give glory to them. Be happy for others and never belittle their achievements.

A Stealth Wealth practitioner knows there's enough praise to go around for everyone. Praise other people, and attribute your success mostly to luck.

Stealth Wealth Rule #9: Volunteer to be on various charitable boards. 

Although charitable boards are a breeding ground for some of the wealthiest people, it's hard to get attacked if your name is prominently on the brochure for good. Your role as a charity board member is mainly to fundraise since it is assumed you are relatively well-connected.

Rich people attract other rich people, who enjoy rallying around a cause. The more money you can raise for the charity, the less bad things other people will have to say about your wealth.

Just be aware that usually only very wealthy people have time and the connections to land a board position at a charity. And when it comes to your charitable givings, stay consistent and keep those donations a secret as well.

Stealth Wealth Rule #10: Always stay humble.

Consistently mention your failures. Sooner or later, people will figure out you are not as poor as you make yourself out to look. When they do, they will realize how humble and unassuming you were all those times they were talking about their wealth and their achievements.

You know those movies where a girl falls in love with an ordinary guy she meets at a park, but he turns out to be a prince instead? You want to be that guy. They'll love you even more and you may even affect their financial lives in a positive way.

Since 2012, when I retired from finance, I've been internet retirement policed for not being truly retired. One year, I decided to share with people that I got a job as a high school tennis coach making $1,000 a month.

The IRP on Twitter went into an uproar and attacked me because Financial Samurai is a relatively large site that earns money. However, if Financial Samurai was a small site, nobody would say anything.

Instead of denying the Internet Retirement Police's claims, I accept them. I give in. I can't help that I love to write and connect with other like-minded folks on the internet. It's one of my biggest joys in retirement.

By writing, Why I Failed At Early Retirement: A Love Story, I'm no longer harassed by the IRP. And you know what? It feels quite liberating. The IRP have moved on to harass other people to work out their own issues.

Stealth Wealth Rule #11: Donate to both parties or donate nothing at all.

If you donate aggressively to one party, you run the risk of being ostracized if another party comes into power. Think about all the senior government officials and big backers who were loyal to Obama when Trump assumed power. Their careers instantly got shut down.

Now think about all the loyal backers of Trump once Biden became president. All of Trump's backers will be run out of town as well.

The solution is to donate to both parties equally and sing their causes for a greater America. Once you identify yourself as an American rather than as a Republican or a Democrat, it's easier to justify being a patriot.

For a real-time case study, Sam Bankman-Fried donated $40 million each to Democratic and Republican politicians. He also donated to many media organizations. As a result, he still roams free and gets invited to speak at The New York Times and other institutions, despite misappropriating client funds.

The collapse of FTX has lost its clients ~$10 billion. But if you donate aggressively to powerful people and institutions, you can be more stealth and last longer than you should.

Stealth Wealth Rule #12: Set up trusts for your children and charities.

One of the great ways to hide and protect your wealth is by setting up revocable living trusts. You don't want your heirs to go through a public and potentially messy probate court to fight for what they think they should get.

Trusts are all about leaving a legacy you desire without other people getting up in your business. Just be careful not to leave your kids too much, or else they might become spoiled brats with no purpose in life!

I also recommend putting businesses you own under someone else's name (a proxy, usually a lawyer) or under the shelter of a trust. Keep the inquisitive eyes guessing and even play along if they start getting very aggressive. A trust within a trust, just like a dream within a dream.

Stealth Wealth Rule #13: Stop smiling so much and acting all happy.

One of the biggest annoyances is being around someone who is always so happy when you are not. The happy person usually lifts your spirits up. Smiling is the #1 thing you can do to improve your chances of being liked.

But if you are always happy, some people start thinking what's wrong with you. And more importantly, your constant happiness might make other people feel bad for not feeling as happy. People are much more empathetic to people who are feeling down and out. Misery loves company!

Instead of always being happy, develop a poker face in your daily life and practice your frump. Since money can't buy happiness after ~$200k per person and $300,000 per household, society will be thrilled if you are worth multi-millions and sad.

Of course, if you are amongst happy people, smile and be happy as much as you want! The Stealth Wealth practitioner is highly aware of his or her surroundings. Ideally, you learn how to smile internally.

Stealth Wealth Rule #14: Understand pop culture and sports.

The more you can connect with someone, the less they will hate you. Americans spend six hours a day on average watching TV instead of producing. If you don't have six hours a day to waste, read the online synopsis of The Game Of Thrones, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Strangers Things and more.

Make sure you know who are the top four contenders in the NFL and NBA. The more sports and pop culture you know, the more you are able to assimilate. The greatest thing I like about sports is that it breaks down all race, cultural, and economic barriers. It's what you do on the field that counts.

Now that tens of millions of people are sheltering in place forever, you should also become familiar with all the top shows on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and HBO Now.

Stealth Wealth Rule #15: Always attribute your success to luck.

Eventually, people might catch on that you are wealthier than you make it seem to be. When they confront you, it is vital you attribute your success to lucky breaks. Once you do, there's nothing more than can say because you've already acknowledged your skills and hard work didn't get to where you are.

Take the confrontation a step further and buy them a drink or a meal to share your luck. You will instantly gain an ally if you do.

I truly do believe anybody with a significant amount more wealth than average is lucky. Therefore, if you are wealthy and start claiming it was mostly your skill and hard work that got there, you will instantly make enemies. Accept that your wealth is mostly due to luck.

The Benefits Of Stealth Wealth

Here are some of the key benefits to stealth wealth.

1) Truer relationships. 

When you're powerful or wealthy, you're never quite sure whether a person showing interest likes you for who you are or for the benefits they think you may provide them.

When it comes to romance, we've learned from a previous post one should look out for one's mannerisms to unveil stealth wealth. A good life is all about genuine relationships that are not soiled by the taint of money.

2) Less people come out of the woodwork to bother you for money. 

As soon as your old acquaintances and relatives find out you have money, you'll inevitably get e-mails and phone calls from people who are looking for financial assistance. You might even get a call from your baby mama or baby papa to discover a child you never knew you had!

3) Lower expectations for you to always pay. 

There's a tendency to push the group bill on the wealthiest person in some cultures or circles. You may very well be the wealthiest person at the table, but it starts getting incredibly annoying when people who are not starving are always asking you to pick up the bill.

The same lower expectations go for when it comes time to donate to charity. People should pay or donate out of the goodness of their hearts, not because they are simply wealthier than others.

Remember this equation: Happiness = Expectations – Reality. If people are always expecting great things from you because you're rich, you might close up and experience a trough of sorrow.

4) Lower chance you will look like a cheapskate. 

People who don't have as much money enjoy highlighting what a cheapskate some rich person is for not tipping more than he should. If you don't practice stealth wealth, people will judge you for the things you buy.

A large reason why people are wealthy is because of the financial discipline they've practiced all those years while working. They saved and invested aggressively, eschewing the trappings of wealth.

Wealthy people tend to save more and invest more of their money. Less wealthy people tend to take their extravagant spending habits and extrapolate them if they had X amount more money.

5) Less likely you will get ripped off. 

If you are a foreigner landing in Mumbai, the taxi driver will easily try to charge you double because what's an extra 200 rupees to you? You've got to spend your time haggling for the standard downtown fare for all passengers.

Highway patrol officers tend to target fancy cars over beaters because they know fancy cars tend to move faster and there's less guilt associated with giving a wealthy person a $250 ticket.

Sales people are trained to look out for wealthy customers. They'll see what type of watch you're wearing, what type of car you drive, what type of handbag you hold, and what type of shoes you wear all to size you up and see how much they can extract within an acceptable range.

6) Less likely to get kidnapped or mugged. 

No kidnapper is going to bother kidnapping a person from the slums. They are going to go after some rich doctor's son playing in the park after school one day.

Muggers are wise to drive five minutes further to a wealthier zip code in San Francisco to mug unsuspecting pedestrians. Why mug in the Bronx when you can mug in the Upper East Side?

All one has to do is look up online those people in society magazines, or those who frequently report their outsized incomes to target. Kidnapping and mugging is a high risk business. Might as well get the most bang for your buck!

Related: My Beijing Abduction Saga: Never Risk Your Life For Money

Tip Toe Away From The Spot Light

If you have a substantial amount of wealth be grateful. You might feel ostracized by the world, and hence end up hanging out with only rich people who won't attack you for being you. However, I encourage you to not lose sight of reality.

Learn to diversify away from those who spend $50,000 a year on private high schools, $2,000 on fund raiser galas, $85,000 on BMWs and $100,000 on fancy country clubs. Hang out with regular public school people.

Flashing your wealth is a sure fire way to get the hammer by not only the IRS, but by your fellow citizens who can't stand your success.

It is much better to be rich and a nobody than be rich and famous. Trust me on this one folks. Having the freedom to do what you want in public is priceless. If you are not wealthy based on your own definition of wealth, I encourage you to channel your frustrations at the wealthy by improving yourself.

The rich and powerful have a tendency to get more rich and powerful. Their children will likely have a huge head start over the average kid graduating from school.

We've just got to try harder to get ahead by studying more, coming in earlier, leaving later, taking more risks, and being steadfast in our resolve of never giving up until we find success. Practice Stealth Wealth!

Related: The Stealth Wealth Compendium Of Useful Phrases to deflect attention.

Invest In Real Estate For Financial Independence

Every stealth wealth practitioner I know invests in real estate. Real estate is a tangible asset that is less volatile, provides utility, and generates income. The combination of asset price appreciation and rental price growth is a power combination to create stealth wealth.

In 2016, I started diversifying into heartland real estate to take advantage of lower valuations and higher cap rates. I did so by investing $954,000 with real estate crowdfunding platforms. With interest rates down, the value of cash flow is up. Further, the pandemic has made working from home more common.

Take a look at my two favorite real estate crowdfunding platforms. Both are free to sign up and explore.

Fundrise: A way for accredited and non-accredited investors to diversify into real estate through private eFunds. Fundrise has been around since 2012 and manages over $3.3 billion for over 500,000 investors. For most people, investing in a diversified eREIT is the way to go. 

CrowdStreet: A way for accredited investors to invest in individual real estate opportunities mostly in 18-hour cities. 18-hour cities are secondary cities with lower valuations, higher rental yields, and potentially higher growth due to job growth and demographic trends. If you have a lot more capital, you can build you own diversified real estate portfolio. 

Investing in online real estate is one of the easiest ways to stealth invest. Unlike owning physical property, it's extremely difficult to figure out what real estate stock, ETF, or private syndication deal you invested in.

Both platforms are sponsors of Financial Samurai and Financial Samurai is currently a six-figure investor in a Fundrise fund.

Stealth Wealth Management Tool

To manage your stealth wealth, try using Empower's free financial tools. It helps you track your net worth, control your cash flow, and growth your wealth on stealth mode for free.

One of their best features is their Portfolio Fee Analyzer, which runs your investment portfolio(s) through its software in a click of a button to see what you are paying. I found out I was paying $1,700 a year in portfolio fees I had no idea I was hemorrhaging!

Their second amazing tool is their Retirement Wealth Planner. It is the best on the web because it pulls in real data you've linked up and runs thousands of algorithms to give you a financial picture of your future. You can run multiple different scenarios with different spending, income, and life events to help anticipate your future.

Planning for retirement when paying for private grade school
Empower's sample retirement planner calculator. Are you on track? Click to find out.

Read The Best Book On Becoming Rich, Happy, And Free

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Building wealth is only a part of the equation. Consistently making optimal decisions on some of life's biggest dilemmas is the other. My book helps you minimize regret and live a more purposeful life. 

It'll be the best personal finance book you will ever read. You can buy a copy on Amazon today. The richest people in the world are always reading and always learning new things.

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323 thoughts on “The Rise Of Stealth Wealth: Ways To Stay Invisible From Society If You Have Money”

  1. I’ll agree that extreme income/wealth income inequality is a problem. Total income/wealth equality would also be a disaster. Like most issues in life, the question is, where to draw the line, and then how.

    The estate tax is stupid. 40% above the exemption level. It’s not even graduated. Given that at a 10% ROI you can double your money in 7.2 years. That does very little to limit the growth of generational wealth, especially as the heirs, if they are the children, will typically have at least 3 times that long before they pass it on. It needs to be an inheritance tax, not an estate tax. (And close out the trust dodges.)

    That means the tax would be paid by the inheritor. Why not? They haven’t paid any tax on it yet. And it needs to be steeply enough graduated that even Musk, Gates, and Buffet would have trouble bestowing much more than, say, a billion dollars on a single individual even if they lobbed a 100 billion at them in the will. But at the same time, go ahead and raise the exemption way on up, maybe 50 million (and that’s a lifetime total, to prevent games), and tie it to an economic indicator so it doesn’t require fresh legislation every time it needs to be adjusted.

    What this means is that someone with a 100 billion dollar estate could settle it on one beneficiary and they might get 1.2 billion after the estate (not the individual) paid 98.8 billion to Uncle Sam. Or they could parcel it out 2000 ways, in blocks of 50 million, and none of the inheritors would pay a dime in taxes on it. Either way, society is served, and no one loses anything they already had.

    Except for this particular form of income tax, however, all the rest need to be replaced with a consumption tax. Unfairly regressive? Sure, it would be. Except that the government figures out what people at the lower end of the working class (upper end of the poverty class) would be paying in consumption taxes for food/shelter/utilities/clothing and whatever, each year. They divide that in 12 and send everyone a check for that amount every month.

    Bonus: And if it ever gets to where you really need and want a UBI (dole) and the country can afford it, it becomes very easy to adjust the monthly repayment.

  2. In hopes of preventing my young kids from joining the angry crowd in the future I’ve been intentional about discussing that having expensive toys/cars/houses only proves the person spends money. It does not prove they actually have the money to spend. Hopefully they’ll also learn that having expensive stuff to impress other people isn’t impressive to the people actually worth impressing.

  3. Back home we used to have people envy us, although we were not rich by any means. We did work a lot, earned a pretty decent buck, which made others feel aggravated with our success. Once we immigrated we kept a low profile. We are not rich (now more than ever), but we do have a home (got a mortgage approved 2 years after immigrating), my daughter does performance tennis (which costs more than the mortgage itself), we do go back to Europe every year. In our case we prioritize the kid and travels, while keeping a very low profile otherwise. We drive two old cars, never dress fancily etc. I’d rather have people consider us to be one of them (which we are), then to look and envy us for a flashy car of for thinking we are rich. We do better than many of our neighbours, but this comes with a lot of prioritization and sacrifices.

  4. Come on man – you’re really recommending to follow SBF’s example in donating to both parties? Really? And being on charitable boards is good advice but not solely to hide your wealth. This is just so cynical and assumes people don’t have any values or principles by which to live their life. How about: try to be a good person, give generously, and stand up for causes you believe in? Isn’t that authenticity infinitely more rewarding than living a life defined by trying to blend in and hide wealth? I feel sorry for anyone who actually follows this or thinks this way, it just seems like a sad way to live.

    1. I think SBF may have followed my recommendation instead. After all, I wrote this post a decade ago and have been constantly updating it since.

      Being a good person is the ultimate goal. That said, you can be a good person and still get hated on because you have money.

      Cynicism tends to grow with age b/c you see more good and bad things happen. I don’t think ANY politician who has accepted money from SBF/FTX has publicly stated they have returned the funds. And SBF is out on bond for 10 months while pilfering $10B in depositor funds.

      What is sad is how some people treat you for saving aggressively, being frugal, starting a business, and ending up having more wealth than average. Hence, to keep the peace, it’s best to blend in.

      I’d love to hear your experience about how people treated you once you grew your wealth above average and how you were able to stay humble and below the radar. thx

  5. And yet none of your advice will save the rich person from the deterioration of their own prefrontal cortex. You can write all this to tell them to escape judgement from humans and the IRS, but you failed to tell them the brain damage they’re doing or what those consequences mean. Since this article reads like comedy, with an utter lack of self awareness of how paranoid it is, then I’m going to assume your brain is already started to atrophy quite some time ago. Perhaps you should see what rich folks MRIs start to show, no empathetic accuracy. The reason people think the rich need to go isn’t out of only jealousy, it’s just that they’re an existential threat to society by consolidation of wealth and power. You see, evolution and the brain are taking care of that way faster than any government will. Rich people will figure out how to destroy themselves through addiction, depression and suicide after the cortex rots. Their inability to get along or gain acceptance isn’t a coincidence, it’s a side effect of a damaged cortex. Being rich will eventually erode impulse control. You maybe ought to tell the rich that if they actually wanted to protect themselves, they’d stop being rich.

    Can’t run and hide from your own brain.

    1. This is an insightful comment, thank you. Are you neurologist by any chance? I really appreciate the insights on brain atrophy and would like to learn more about the correlation between wealth and brain deterioration.

      What is your financial situation? Always good to know where people are coming from.


    Try living in a fifth-wheel! We moved into it after we sold our Colorado home, and couldn’t find exactly what we wanted. More than 3 years later, we’re happily ‘caretaking’ at friends’ ranch — and now looking more seriously for bargains, since real estate prices in the West.

    This decision let us spend a year in Michigan helping take care of my mom in her final illness. It also has let us volunteer for a group in Arizona, and do some travel while taking our home with. Since the fifth-wheel is pulled by a used Ram truck (with a few dents), we don’t look well-off. But it does mean we can make these choices, while our money in investments continues to grow.

    Family members have expressed the idea that we’re “broke.” We smile and say nothing. (My mom thought it was hilarious, since we knew exactly how much we were worth.) Meanwhile, we know another family member has a lovely, expensive home — and is hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. Why would we prefer this to our current mode of action?

    P.S. Staying low lets you be generous to people who need the help — but do it anonymously, or through another group. (Like a church) You’ll feel wonderful. You won’t get pestered, either.

  7. Frank Lemon

    Has to be one of the strangest pieces of “financial” advice I’ve ever read. I suggest being yourself and enjoying life in the way you see fit. Devoting so much behavioral management to how others see you is a great way to put your happiness in the hands of other people.

    1. Agree. One of the best benefits of financial freedom is being able to do what you want.

      Unfortunately, if you accumulate more Wealth than the average person, there is a chance your increase other peoples envy of you. Hence, the importance of Stealth Wealth and staying humble.

      Maybe your view on the subject will change as you build more wealth. And if they do, please let me know why they did. After all, you somehow stumbled upon this article in a Google search because you have some question or issue to address.

  8. I love that Stealth Wealth has become a “thing” recently.

    You specifically mention a Panerai in your post as “bling” but the reality is that unless you’re wearing a Rolex, no one really knows anything about watches, which is what I love about them. My buddy wearing a Fossil has received just as many compliments on his watch as I have while wearing a Breitling.

    Not too long ago I was driving my rusted 2008 Tahoe with 200k miles to work and was cut off by a guy in Tesla. When we got up to the stop light, he had the nerve to give me the finger (even though he cut me off) and proceed to yell about how I “should get that rusted piece of shit off the road” as he sat so proudly in his brand new Tesla Model 3. I couldn’t help but smile to myself knowing that I was wearing a watch that I could trade in for his exact same car.

    Most people wear their finances on their sleeve, so they assume everyone else does too. Let them think they’re better off than you while you quietly build your wealth.

    1. Love the story. I live in a $250K house , which I paid $118K for in the early 90’s. We have a net worth of over 10M in investment money and live way below the radar. From a small town but live in a Metro area and everybody shows all they have. It humors me. They keep trying to get me to buy a Rolex. I guess being an outsider has its advantages.

  9. I have noticed that people tend to stay away from you more when they think you have no money. You can get lots of privacy, learning time and planning done when people would be disrupting everything you are trying to accomplish.

  10. I saw this today. Another reason to practice stealth wealth. Scary stuff:

  11. Don’t worry, you got a lot of criticism for your “$300k is poor” article, but you and I being in the Bay Area are comfortably in the middle/upper-middle class but we’re not sniffing the ultra wealthy levels typical here in the Silicon Valley where we’d have a lot to hide yet.

  12. Stealth wealth is what actually whispers. It is invisible but does make an appearance when required. I have seen many families which live in a modest house and drive modest cars but are actually wealthy.

  13. Stop smiling soo much? I was loving this post until I saw that. Dude, at that point you’re living a life based on what others think. I can’t get behind that.

      1. This is the truth. I talk from personal experience. Years ago I used to smile at everybody all the time, thinking that by doing so, everybody was going to like me… it usually produced the reverse result, many fellow men used to assume that I was weak and many women pressumed that I was insecure and many others probaly despised me. Reserve your smile for when a proper occasion deserves it. This world truly hates rich, happy and smiley people. People pretend to pity sad, bankrupt and miserable people, but in reality, many people deep inside rejoice when others are failing, poor and struggling. And envy those who are thriving, happy, cheerful and smiley. As the author of this article put it, “Folks, trust me on this one”. I’ve been there.

        1. I used to know a person that was always upbeat and “happy”.

          Do you want to know what bothered me? When you have the same demeanor day in and day out, both in the morning and in the afternoon, then you are wearing a mask. An happy one, but still fake as hell.

          Also, I highly value silence and quiet. This person was the opposite of that. It gets tiring really fast.

  14. Your post reminds me of something I read about the 1800s. At one time Americans aspired to modesty, and that was the topic of popular “self help” books at the time. For whatever reason flamboyancy has replaced this and we now let extroverts run everything.

  15. Huge fan of doing stealth wealth. I feel like the more I make, the less I feel inclined to impress to begin with, which is nice.

    I definitely need to work on #7 though and be a lot better at asking dumb questions or just not trying to be the best person in the room.

    RE: older comments above, I am definitely OK with lying about my wealth to have more meaningful relationship and to prevent harm. I definitely know richer folks who actually are stealth wealth but since some people know they’re wealthy try to break into their house and do kidnappings, etc.

    Though I think a good way to have an honest approach to this is just to only surround yourself with rich people. When I surround myself with rich people, I never feel like they need to pay because they have more money than me. In fact, I’m just glad to hang out with people who are already at the place where I want to be and so I almost always offer to pay.

  16. Neffew Millstrange

    My great uncle just died. I was one of many heirs that received 100k-200k. Overall his estate was 4-5 million. He lived in a shack with a bunch of land. He wore old clothes and drove an old car. Stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.

  17. Paul Robert Jones

    When the revolution came to Cambodia the Khmer Rouge identified the upper class… doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc… by whether or not you wore glasses.

    Perhaps you should add rule $16; Get Lasik.

  18. Another example where “stealth” is very useful is in academics. When fellow students know you are smart and get good grades, they want to “work with you” and they want to borrow your notes etc. Now when it comes to notes, I have always been a good note taker and it is because of my notes that I got nice grades. I never used to hide my grades when people asked and more than once I lent out my notes to other students if it would benefit them, only to figure out that sometimes I didn’t get my notes back. Like I had to almost beg to get my files back. By the time I was midway through my undergrad, I kept quiet as much as I could about my academic performance and kept my “clean worked out” notes away from the rest. Only my “rough” class notes were with me at College. By the time I entered grad school, I was as “anonymous” as possible when it came to grades and general academic performance. Best choice ever. I only worked with a few fellow students who were as solid and helpful as I was and that’s it. They essentially had the a similar philosophy

    1. I used to make copies of my notes, not giving the originals to anybody. Also you can be “rude” and not lend them / not help.

    2. Sometimes sharing ain’t so bad. I used to group study with friends who were poorer students than me and as a result had to do a lot of coaching instead of studying. But more than once, the topic they asked for help with would come up in the exam paper and because i coached them on it, i knew it 10x better than if i had just read it myself. I also shared notes freely as it didnt make a difference to my score (luckily we had photocopy machines so i didnt have to lose mine). Knowledge can never be taken away from you so share it when you can and you will have the good deed repaid back, sometime sooner than you think.

  19. Financial Samurai,

    I just stumbled upon your website when I am looking online for tips on net worth by age. I commend the research you put on your post. My goal is to become the first millionaire (multimillionaire based on my mathematical projections/calculations) in my family (Humble Millionaire) and not depend on anybody including the government for income which is why I am saving aggressively (maximizing 401k and Roth; saving around 40% of the net income and investing them to growth stocks and real estate).

    Thank you for this specific post about staying under the radar when it comes to wealth.

  20. I always wondered what percentage of millionaires practice stealth wealth. There’s a tipping point where you cannot hide money anymore but you could probably look pretty poor with $10M in the bank if you wanted.

  21. Not sure how old this blog post is, its my first from the FS. The whole tone is BS, you don’t need to change your personality just because you become rich (if you change your attitude you may become rich sooner – especially when you realize that rich is not associated with money), the tax rate in the US is ridiculously low at this time, the US is one of the countries where both becoming rich and being rich is easy and not associated with stigma – the whole whiny tone is just silly, no one is after you when you have money – stop playing the victim.

    I will read some more posts, but if this is the extend of the blog – forget about it.

    1. I don’t want people to know how well off I am because there is no benefit for other people to know how well I do. That’s the crux of this tread. It says nowhere you can’t spend any money, but unfortunately we live in a society that when you live in a huge house, drive a big car and wear expensive clothes, that you have money (even if you don’t) and then some people (even within the family) start parasiting on you. Blending in as a common average guy while you have millions is better than ever.

  22. Your goal is to blend in really not to spend less

    Even if you have $20M in the bank you are not going to get a table at Lebain in NYC without wearing a high end suit or designer. On the other hand, you should not enter your local deli dressed in Yves Saint Lauren because no one else in the deli will be dressed like that.

    I don’t think you’re telling people to spend less, I think you’re really telling people to act like the avg person in a given social environment because 99% of the time there’s no advantage – social status, connections, relationships – to trying to show off that you’re ‘actually not like that’. In fact, it’s worse to tell them that you’re ‘not like them’ because then you’re outing yourself for no reason.

    If you want to use your money – and who doesn’t? – find other people who are using their money – bottle service, car service, high end hotels – and then act like they do.

  23. There is an issue with rolex watches and etc.
    The only true value of these items is showing of status, if you don’t want to flash them, why have them in the first place?

    They almost never are as good as an utility item serving purpose other than status, unless you need them to gain status which allows you to make more money.
    Most luxury items are pretty crappy if you examine them closely, i have a friend who owns a repair shop for “luxury” vehicles, without plunging to technical depths, the things he showed me, made me laugh so hard with disbelief, and basically “vaccinated” me from ever owning one of these mishaps of a vehicle.
    If gaining status isn’t your purpose, its just not a good investment in the first place, unless you really have issues with self-worth you are overcompensating.
    Saying your laboutins are fake makes you look like a wannabe if they believe you, and look like a snake if they ever find out your wealth or validate the originality of the item.
    Using a pair of durable and comfortable chinese Feiyue sneakers for your gym, which cost under 20$, being sincere of their worth, and cost/utility, will win you hearts across the board.
    Maintaining lies is a burden, if your goal is freedom, don’t venture there.

    1. There are, however, quite a few cases where you get what you pay for. You can’t get a cheap substitute for a high quality office chair (I find nothing beats an Aeron), a favorite goatskin jacket, a sturdy stationary cycle, leather upholstery, a good piece of meat or salmon, and so on.

      Actually, paying up for the things that are important to you can be a far better value than going through a string of cheap and unsatisfactory products.

      Don’t need to flaunt them, though. Nobody needs to walk around covered in real jewels and furs.

    2. I think there’s a clear difference between “quality” and “showy”

      after that its just diminishing returns

  24. I was seriously injured and will eventually be worth a lot and bec I did a will to protect myself, my own family got pissed bec I was not gonna just allow them to get a hold of the money. I have a very long road ahead and talk to few bec if people find out too much than they will be coming out of the wood work. I currently don’t have a lot but worked my butt off. Settlements take time and I will now deal with these injuries the rest of my life. An officer spoke to me today and was worried about others knowing. That detective is amazing and will be taking my case seriously of the person who caused all this pain. Sad part is, there is no one to help protect me now bec I can’t afford it. Work comp attorney’s don’t care bec they only get a small percentage of what u win. I wish there were people that helped people in situations like mine, dang had to do all I could bec my employer dropped my health insurance bec they r now paying so much of my medical bec of what someone’s intent was towards me. Now, with Corona they are taking their sweet time even getting my needed medical. This is cruel bec now it will make my future filled with most likely paying settlement money for others to care for me. Wish there was somewhere to get help in the meantime. Anyone in the medical field has told me I will never worry about money but bec of current situation can’t get any help and employer and their insurance is playing with my life. Why is there no one to help people bec work comp attorney’s can care less there comp can only be a certain max. Can’t hire an attorney to help me bec at this time can’t afford. The police have been great and they don’t even know who for me to get that help from.

    1. You need to beat the system RM.

      Might I suggest from your local library (many are now allowing books to be checked out with “precautions,” “The $100 Start-Up,” by Chris Guillebeau, a New York Times Bestseller & totally legit. And, “The 4-Hour Workweek,” by Tim Ferris also a NYT Bestseller. Both of these authors are self-made millionaires are give great step by step directions.

      Plus, these books are easy & fun to read. Also free as PDF’s if you search the Internet. If you devote just an hour a day to these studies you could wind-up making $25,000 to $50,000 a year from home before the year is out. Realistic goals too. Both books are fun reading too. Good luck!

  25. More than once I read about buying a new car reveals someone’s wealth. Whether or not buying a new car is smart, is a different story but I don’t see how buying a new Lexus or so breaks your stealth. According to the stats, 9 out of 10 new cars are financed (or leased). The far majority of cars on the road are driven by “borrowed” money. When by old Toyota quite on me after 300K miles, it was time to let go and I bought a brand new car, good deal, year’s end model at zero percent/60 months. And this car will also stay in the family. With the cash I have I can do other stuff that generates money, so I was ok with the zero percent loan. And if people ask me about the financial how-what, I am not lying: Zero percent and I show them the website. If I see a Benz or Cadillac etc on the road, there is no way this makes me think that person is rich. Because the majority of those cars are driven by people who are NOT rich at all. And if some of them happen to be rich, good for them. Nowadays, anybody with reasonable good credit can finance a luxury car, and people do as the price of a new car is around 35K. To me, cars mean nothing to assess how successful someone is in terms of financial independence and certainly driving a nice car is not breaking any stealth. Just say you took a loan, just like all the others because that is the standard. Only YOU know you didn’t have to take out a loan. If somebody thinks a person is rich because he drives a Jag, this person is a fool.

    1. I personally prefer the older german cars made between 2000 and 2010. Most of them have aged gracefully and if your mechanically inclined can be kept running for years to come.

  26. Great info and tips, of course the ones that read too much of anything
    will complain about the article.
    Buying a small home is also a frugal paradise way.

  27. Interesting read, I would like to add:

    1. You are not going to find many people to relate with. It’s okay, get used to being in your own company and learn to enjoy it.
    2. Don’t spend anytime trying to figure people out.
    3. Spend money on a good smartphone, laptop/tablet, earbuds/pods, etc. Even in poor countries they are either going to take your device regardless of it’s total value or they will have the latest tech anyway because their priorities to spend now. And good tech is far more productive.
    4. Agree with travel…while there scout out a second location or three you like to spend time. The more time you spend there the more you will get out of the location. It’s an investment. I can live for months overseas and manage my assets while keeping my cost of living way down and quality of life up.
    5. You probably have a built in b.s. detector. This article was written off the cuff. On the surface it seems in depth but there wasn’t a lot of deep thought or experience in it. The thing it left out the most is to trust your gut instincts. If you’re unconscious is telling you something is wrong then something is wrong. Don’t trust anybody who is too nice.
    6. There are too many things on the list..and the list above is 3/4 useless. There is power in wealth, use it wisely and you will have an easier time. Abuse it and you may get blowback. The guy in the 50’ is just as nice as the 300’ – or just as much as a dick. But if you have 0’ feet you may not ever get to meet interesting people.

    Good luck everyone.

    1. I’m sorry, I won’t comment on your suggestions to do things such as not smiling.

      Your investment advice is just plain wrong. I balance trust portfolios for a living, and there should at least be a warning before telling people financial advice. There are simply too many variables to consider. One example is not having to have the assets you put in a trust fund included in your estate taxes if you use an irrevocable trust. While a revocable trust does allow you to take your assets back, it will be taxed heavily upon death. What is your reasoning behind this?

      1. MarceMen Bloom

        What ever you do realize that if you are older there is a chance you would be vulnerable to the whimsy of the old days… you are not a silver fox. Protect your children – Consumer Sentinel had more than 21,000 reports of romance scams – sill rising. Higher loss than other fraud types. In 2015 people filed 32 million in losses. Bottom line – discuss separate non revocable trusts for your kids, or a “springing trust”. A basic trust won’t help as the sweetheart will convince him to change his will and get married. I lost about 500,000 because my dad was 97 and she would not let him have a cognitive test – she got a new attorney and changed his will. Romance speaks to our desires – be logical and
        prepare. Why would you chance working all your life then having your widow marry again – he would be driving “your car”

  28. Sam,

    We are similar. I was in college and almost didn’t go to a interview that landed me a Fortune 500 accounting job. I also don’t understand how people will work 40 hours a week, and then expect to get promotions. I’ve gotten a promotion every year because of my reputation while people decades older than me are in lower positions me. I am a bit of an extremist though because I couldn’t imagine spending more than 20k a year. I also plan to continue to not own (or rent) a car at all for several years.

    Keep up the good work, Sam. You are a great writer and have no doubt helped thousands of people get their financial lives together.

    Also, if you are interested I would love to have a discussion regarding whether renting or owning where you live is better financially. If you do want to have the discussion, reply with your reasoning that owning the place you live is better than renting. Based on your writing I know that you believe owning is better than renting. Hint: I believe the opposite.

    1. Nicholas Myler

      I enjoy the discussion here. I was having this chat with several friends the other day whether investing in property is a better bet than other investment types. There are some platforms these days that allow everyone to invest in property even in small amounts such as $200. The angle here is to encourage everyone to invest versus money just sitting in useless banks not making anything. Unlike other investment platforms that offer only a “slice” which has counterparty risk. I came across this company that is fighting the good fight. The company is called TellusApp. Their platform says that your investment is secured by the actual house. All of the investment opportunities are asset-backed.

  29. I like the idea of Stealth Wealth a lot and agree with 90% of this, but I take two issues with this article personally:

    1. I think the type of person who buys something fake projects an incredibly poor image. Essentially it says to the world “I am not willing to work hard enough to be able to afford nice things, but I care what people think about me because I am superficial, so I’m going to buy the bootleg version.” I think the better alternative would just be a lower-cost substitute,
    i.e. Seiko > Rolex, or Target > Neiman as the author sort of alluded to.

    2. I think in terms of “Stealth Wealth” you really need to play to your crowd. Some work-cultures will not respect you if you don’t project a certain image. Some clients may not take you seriously if you don’t have the traditional trappings of a successful business man. i.e. Do we really want to bring an investment opportunity to a guy who can only afford to drive a Honda? What could he know about business? Or..Do we want to hire this guy for $250k + bonus who is dressed like he’s been making $100k? Is he lying about his last salary? Is he overreaching in this negotiation? (I am not saying this is right, but it is the way of the world in a lot of my experiences)

    If you have the luxury of UTTERLY working/relying on yourself for money, throw what I said out the window…but I do think the “aw shucks” routine could have some unintended negative consequences. PLEASE feel free to comment agree/disagree. I think the sweet spot is, as crazy as this sounds, inadvertently allowing people to find out how much money you have, but show a concerted effort to be humble. This way, people take you seriously, but don’t think you’re a piece of crap.

    1. The article did not state, “Buy Fake Items”. Instead, it suggested that if you are asked to identify the specific brand of a personal item, you should deflect, minimize the value, or claim that “it’s fake” to hide it’s worth.

      1. Yes – and my point is…if you tell someone an item you have is fake…you’re projecting an image that “I am not willing to work hard enough to be able to afford nice things, but I care what people think about me because I am superficial, so I’m going to buy the bootleg version.” You’re not understanding my point. Even if it is real, if the outside world thinks it is fake (i.e. because you are telling them), you look like a fool. If you are afraid of projecting wealth, don’t buy the item at all.

    2. Agree with these points. Someone saying they wear fake rolexes looks like they are superficial, otherwise why get a fake?

      I know an orthopedic surgeon who dresses to the nines. At first, I wonder why he would broadcast his wealth to his patients, who mostly are much poorer. But then I think, which surgeon do you think is better in terms of surgical skills, the one that is poor or the wealthy one?

      1. That is because you have such a “mass” mentality. The mass tends to associate superficiality with the sign of success. My father always told me to watch out for the guys with a posh sports car, they’re likely to live in a shack. The same goes for a man with dozens of designer ties. He’s completely self-made and the biggest asset I probably inherited from him is his mentality. I noticed the folks coming out of the most exclusive area in my region look non-posh. While they don’t look dirty/unkempt, most look like an average Joe.

      2. As a doctor I’ll tell you, I’d be concerned having an operation performed by a surgeon with an overly nice office, who wears an expensive suit and drives a very flashy car.

        In my opinion, that is a red flag that he needs to operate a lot to fund his lifestyle and probably doesn’t care too much about his patients if he’s a “volume” surgeon. The flashy luxury goods also say something about a person’s character – for me it signals a kind of financial immaturity or personal insecurity that should have been dispensed with in one’s 20s or early 30s.

        Yes, everyone buys the one expensive car when they start making real money. The person who doesn’t then realize it was a silly purchase, that they’re on the hedonic treadmill, and goes on to buy an even more expensive car, watch, suit, etc lacks a certain kind of introspection, or they are a truly insecure person. That’s not the kind of individual I want involved in my care.

  30. Jason @ MoneyQuirk

    I think stealth wealth is extremely important. I think it is a fairly universal principle even outside of money, which boils down to “present a humble, nonchalant self”. It’s like when you talk about showing up to work in regular clothes instead of a suit and tie. I think it’s very important that you prevent people from thinking you can be a target of any kind.

    The vast majority of people are indifferent about you. The majority of the remainder probably actively wish for your success. However, there’s a small portion of the population that would happily let you suffer if it meant a slight edge for them. It’s important to remember that they exist and prepare ahead of time for them.

  31. Thanks for Sharing Sam. Can you please elaborate on business structure layering with trusts? Very interesting.

  32. Frugalharpy

    Great read. Your post reminds me of a Chinese proverb. It loosely translates into “Never show your wealth”.

  33. Interesting. As far as not let others know your address, I did something different. I bought an old, single-wide trailer on a lot in the Trailersville section of town. I use that address for nearly everything: my drivers license, my mailing address for bills, voting records, etc. Once at work, somebody was trying to figure out where I live. I said I was just trailer-trash. I really didn’t want people to know that. They didn’t believe if until the office gossip stated, “Oh yeah, she’s right. Trailer trash. I checked it out. She lives in an old trailer, complete with turn signals and trailer hitch.” I secretly smiled as I walked away from that statement.

        1. And Nancy pulled off her mask, and revealed she was actually Albert Einstein!
          Then Einstein cart wheeled out of the room and into his Maybach never to be seen again!

  34. Wholesome Wallet

    Nice read. It reminds me of Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power. Lying about the authenticity of your luxury items just because you might engender jealousy in the person asking seems absurd to me.

  35. The thing with being rich is to hide it. Don’t even mention the wealth. That’s a recipe for disaster for those wanting to move up. If you have the means, keep an average car and house and just pretend that you are middle class like everyone else. It makes it much easier that way.

    On a side note, what is middle class in California is considered rich in the Midwest, where I am from. Of course, we pay for it in other ways with lower incomes overall.

  36. I disagree about nice cars. While don’t drive a Bentely, get newer SUVs with packed safety features. The world is full of distracted drivers, and your 10 year old 4 door sedan will not protect you and your family. Splurge on a big car every few years with better safety all the time.

  37. My bosses at the hedge fund I have worked for are both probably worth >$20MM each. If you met them, you would absolutely no idea. They walk around in flip flops, not shaven, wear the same clothes basically every day, and do not really own anything valuable.

    They are extremely frugal as well, probably because they are distressed focused investors and are running their own business.

    So easiest way to not look rich is just don’t care about how you look or dress. Drive a cheap car (<$30K) and wear normal people outfits. You should spend your money on a nice house, but your outward appearance should be the same as the average joe.

  38. I like the idea of stealth wealth, but my one problem is my car hobby. There just is no realistic way to both buy/drive nice cars, and have everyone not know about them.

    Sure, I could only drive them to car events or race tracks, but then I would not be enjoying them 99% of the time, and I think that largely defeats the purpose.

    I really hate the stigma that people attach to driving nice cars, aka the whole “must be nice” mentality. Yeah, it was nice to make good career and financial decisions to be able to buy this car lol, you could have done the same.

    1. Fire Year FIRE escape

      If people know it’s your passion I think you can get away without it seeming like you are loaded.

      Even in low-income neighborhoods, there are people with thier passion car, like an old mustang they like working on. Tim “the Toolman” Tayler did it and I don’t think he was loaded. They have the ability to be poor AND have a nice car.

      Just joke about how you wish it was cheaper, took regular gas, or wear an oily shirt and rub your tools with a shop rag all the time. I’m super into stealth wealth and I think anyone can pull it off who wants to.

      1. That’s pretty much what I do now, but to no avail unfortunately.

        I’ve basically just accepted that I’ll never financially fit it with a certain group of friends, but I still don’t think it is worth alienating them.

        It was kind of funny actually when they all wanted to do Financial Peace University with me. I was kind of like “I will feel much more financially at peace by not giving someone $50 to tell me what I already know about money”. lol

      2. Tim the Toolman Taylor was a fictional tv show host. Do fictional tv show hosts make bank with the wife holding a full time job? That analogy is flawed. Where did they live? CA, NY or maybe MI or even WV. Was the show network or public access?

  39. TheEngineer

    Most people will eventually become the victims of their own successes or failures, especially, in the area of financial.

    They do not have the proper framework to measure their life long efforts.

  40. Gennadiy from Belarus

    I ate my first T-bone steak in my life at the age of 57, when I realized, that our 401 and 457 are 1 mil and I took my wife to the Longhorn steakhouse. 16 years of max contributions.
    Was I too flashy??? I didn’t care.
    In 10 years we are going to retire. Social Security check will pay taxes on RMD.
    Live was good.

    1. Wow…. that is a long time to wait! Guess I’ve been spoiled since I was a teenager, b/c my dad took us to a steakhouse once and I was hooked. As soon as I got clients at work and a corporate card, I’d try and take a client out for steaks at least once a month. So good!

      Figuring out how to consumption smooth is huge.

      1. Gennadiy from Belarus

        No, Sam, I just did’not know. Moreover,I don’t like to give 20% tip and my wife insist on 20%. As I told before, I felt rich on $6/h and I miss that filling now.

  41. David Marinegold

    Bitcoin made me rich. When I say rich, I’m not saying I’m worth millions. I’m saying it gave me the freedom to say no when I wanted and to speak my mind without caring. My SUV is 11 years old and has dog hair in the back seat because of my labs riding to the park. It’s my everyday car. I like to wear mostly jogging outfits that come from Wal-Mart. My church clothes are business casual from the outlet store. I live in a middle-class neighborhood and my home is paid off. If I go to the movies, it’s the Dollar theater. If I buy a blue-ray movie, it’s from the used book store down the street. I will typically only splurge on tech stuff like top tier computer parts, audio and video production gadgets and I enjoy going on road trips on the weekends once a month when my work schedule allows. Yes, I have a 40-hour job and it has good healthcare and it pays for my online education. I’ll probably quit in a few years or if somebody really pisses me off but so far so good. From the outside, I look like Joe punch clock or Joe Average and nobody knows I’m rich. It’s a source of comfort and pride. Not pride in that I think I’m better than somebody but pride in myself and that I have peace of mind along with some options. I couldn’t afford to live in the zip code two streets over because those are where the hedge fund people live but I’m very happy living among everyday people and I’m sure some of them are secretly rich. I’ve got enough.

    1. Curious. 23 yr old here. I was thinking about Bitcoin today, it’s so popular now that I’m skeptical in purchasing it. Do you think it’s still a good deal now or we’re you lucky mostly from early on?

  42. Great advice sam, even the recommended lifestyle for stealth wealth seems upper middle class in India.

  43. I think one thing to help is to be the lower net worth person in the higher net worth area. In my town, my home is below the median, although quite fine and not small. We have good schools, and a good community. So being in such a community, helps one to blend a bit.

  44. You guys are all breaking rule here of not trumping that your’re wealthy. You should not post here if you’re wealthy.

  45. People buy stuff like Armani suits to show off. Who’s going to buy expensive name brand items just to lie to everyone and say they’re fake? Might as well just buy a lesser known expensive brand so people don’t even ask about it.

  46. Sam,

    Great article – I always seem to come back to it whenever I visit your page.

    To extend the conversation, isn’t there a spiritual and psychic cost to saying what is essentially untrue. For example, if you attribute your wealth to luck instead of to hard work, aren’t you basically telling a deliberate untruth?

    Generally speaking most religions dictate that you should avoid this, for obvious reasons.

    Second, if you tell a deliberate untruth, are you basically putting yourself in a situation where you could believe what you are saying? E.g. tell a lie enough and you start to believe it.

    It seems to me that a polite refusal might be far more appropriate than a deliberate falsehood.

  47. Good information, overall, but I strongly disagree with #7: “Pretend you do not understand. You might be a brilliant person, but brilliant people are intimidating. Instead, pretend you don’t fully understand what another is saying by asking questions.”

    If you have to hide your intelligence, than you need to reconsider the company you’re keeping. No two individuals have the same exact intellect. While one might be considered more “book smart” and can carry, for example, stronger academic type conversations, the other might, let’s say, have a particular expertise in a trade craft. Both individuals could share their knowledge in their respective areas of understanding, which would be beneficial on both ends.

    The key is to not judge and to understand that intelligence comes in many different forms and can be achieved regardless as to whether or not, for instance, you obtained an MBA from an Ivy League school.

    1. Mark Kessden

      I agree. Show respect for everyones level of intelligence. You acquire the ability to talk with anyone and that can give tremendous satisfaction.

    2. Chameleon Of Color

      Ever witness what happens when a colorful bird is surrounded by a bunch of crows? They attack it and may even kill it.

      I think that the analogy of human relations as well. If you are outnumbered, in a setting where your boss, your client, or too many of your peers are just not as sharp as you, don’t shine, don’t make yourself look “too good” because it may threaten others and they may unite in their jealousy and take steps to hurt you. People generally prefer to hire, vote for, buy from people who make them feel like they are “like themselves.” Jealousy a very powerful motivator!

      Perhaps the advice could be rephrased as “be a chameleon.” There are times when one has to be aggressive, sharp, brilliant and there are times when one has to play dumb. Do what it takes to win, but realize that every win will create jealous losers and so pick your victories carefully.

  48. “When you are outnumbered, resistance is futile. You must blend in and rage with the rest of them.”

    My new favorite quote. And great article. Being a Trump loving vegan atheist, (unfortunately not gay), I’m usually on the wrong side of the argument (by a lot)–so I just saved your quip to post:)

  49. “You shouldn’t feel bad that you worked summer internships during college while your buddies went off to play. And you should certainly not feel embarrassed by your frugal habits and smart investments once you found a job.”

    Well put. Recently, I was thinking about how I put in more work and effort during each chapter of our lives. It takes hard work, continuing education, self control, and financial discipline to really grow and move up to a better place in life. (Not saying I am the best at any of these. But that’s what I work towards.)

    Sometimes I think about friends who have chosen the easy route and think “that would have been nice”. But then I see where my efforts brought me, where I am headed, and the reason behind all the this.

    The goal, for me, is increasing freedom and opportunity we I go forward. Eventually, I want to have the option to travel freely and live where I want. As that goal gets closer it starts to become more and more of a reality.

  50. Big Apple Badger

    Sam – nice article. We share a similar past. Disagree with your comments on real estate crowdfunding (“CF”). Yes there is an arbitrage investing in secondary vs primary markets but CF often offers higher risk investments. This is because established real estate investment firms shy away from CF – privacy, liability, reputation, relationship, etc. concerns. Instead, established firms are adopting technology in the same way but keeping it to their network of accredited investors (Incl institutions). CF is left with smaller managers, increasing risk both of the skill of the manager and of the investment.

    RealtyShares has caught on which is why they are courting private equity firms with access to quality deal flow and professionally managed properties. Perhaps phase 2 will be an improvement but by that time, many instituional firms, like Advalurem Group, will be using similar technology.

    More interesting bet is investing in the SaaS that serve as the engine for the investment managment platform. Happy to share some firms to look into. Some are doing financing rounds.

    Wishing you and your community continued properity!

    1. Sounds good. Are you in real estate private equity? I was speaking w/ Ed Forst, who is now the CEO of RealtyShares, and ex-CEO of Cushman & Wakefield about the future. Lots of big things are in store for 2018 and I do believe institutional money will be flowing in now that this is year 5-6 since the JOBS Act passed.

      Everything new always has more risk. Hopefully the return will be commensurate. I’d love to hear about your background.

  51. I really like all the details you put into your post. This was hilarious and insightful at the same time. I too have learned not to flaunt anything because it may come back to bite you.

    I have also seen how different people treat those with money. The first thing many do is hit them up for money. Stealth is definitely the way to go.

    I prefer to keep my head down and work. Easier to stay humble that way.


  52. # 2..A thousand times this ! For my (soon to be ) home we purchased the home using an LLC – with my lawyer as the registered agent. The mailing address is a box rented at a UPS package store. All utilities will be listed under the LLC and my financing was done banks involved.

    # 5. Also excellent advice. Being heavily invested in real estate ( mostly raw land) all of them were purchased under LLC’s..again with one of my lawyers listed as the registered agent. The parcels are also spread out over a tri-state region.

  53. Mighty Investor

    That was an interesting article, not because the idea of keeping your wealth stealthy is new, but because of your specific suggestions. I found the “pretend you do not understand” and “stay current on sports” suggestions quite intriguing. Thanks!!!

  54. Thanks for your post Sam. I totally agree with you for the stealth wealth because we can achieve more freedom.

    Financial freedom is important but personal security is much more important I have to say. Keep low profile is way to go for wealthy peoples.

    Since Social media is popular nowadays. personal particulars exposed easily than ever before. Everyone is knowing each other. Although I was not rich guy yet, I was once shut my Facebook account before for personal security.

    Recently I make a decision that I want to change my life instead of wasting my life time for just working. I decided to learn how to blog and you know what?

    I type ” how to be a invisible millionaire” in Google search bar and eventually found your post about stealth wealth.

    This post had made certain of my decision and I would like to thank you for this. By the way, I also like your profile photo that you wear a black T-shirt with chinese character “侍” on it.

    1. Glad to hear it Peter. Social media is one big echo chamber, where so many people use the channel to pronounce their fabulous lives. But I definitely see a correlation with unhappiness and the more people boast about their lives.

      The happiest people are secure with themselves and focus on what matters most.

  55. MillennialStack

    This is my favorite post by you Sam. Stealth wealth is the way to go! Someone close to me that is fairly wealthy is very stealth wealth and I admire him for it. It’s one of the ways he’s been able to become wealthy, flashy toys and trying to posture was never his thing. He just likes being a smart businessman and uses his money to have the freedom he needs to live how he wants.

    Thank you for this post Sam.

  56. I definitely feel that stealth wealth is the way to go. I have seen so many high net worth people and celebrities get sued it is not even funny. If no one knows you have money, than I say keep it that way. Less is more. In that the fewer the people who know you have money, then the more you are able to live your life happier.

    Thanks, all the best from your friendly neighborhood financial freedom blogger

  57. My wife and I practiced stealth wealth until age 47 when we built a custom home. We also bought a vacation home and a luxury sedan the following year and as a result, some of our friends acted started acting differently, some of them outwardly so with strange snide comments about our vacation home.

    As my dad told me decades ago, friends and neighbors want you to do well, but not too well! My wife and I both agree that it helps sort out your true friends from your acquaintances once your wealth becomes a bit more obvious. This is especially true in places like California where more importance is placed on material things. We can’t wait to permanently move out of this state next year!

    1. “… a vacation home”

      Tell ’em it’s owned by all of your extended family.

      So that when they want to use it (for free) it’s “not available because that’s cousin Bob’s week.”

  58. I think in having lots of $$ has a form of power to it, but in saying this you have to be a strong person to direct this power in the right direction. Not everyone can be rich and smart. Find a balance and with life and wealth and respect both.

  59. Hello Mr. Samurai,
    Thank you for starting this blog and for putting all of the information out here. I am a 34-year old woman living in Los Angeles with my husband and puppy. Rent was raised for the 2nd time in 2 years, I have $15k in credit card debt, $28k in student loans, and live check to check. Both of us have bachelors/masters degrees and are now stuck in the 9-5 rat race. The credit card debt grew when we were both looking for jobs in LA.

    Recently, I was approached by a friend about a “network marketing” opportunity and even though the people in the “board plan” meeting were nice and the potential for long term financial freedom were all there…I just didn’t feel comfortable doing it. I started googling “passive income” and after TONS of websites that felt like scams, I stumbled upon yours. I just binge-read 10 of your posts and bought your book. I feel like you are genuine in your mission and I hope to be successful just as you are. My first mission is to pay off the credit cards (avalanche/snowball method) within the next 11 months and then look into all of the savings / investment, Personal Finance tracking, and other items you talked about in your blog.

    All I want in life is to travel the world, learn foreign languages, do martial arts/yoga and spend time with the husband and puppy.


    1. Hi Kristina,

      Thanks for buying my book! Not only is the book about how to negotiate a severance, it’s also a book that can help you get paid and promoted as well.

      I had your dreams before. They are very worth while. Everything starts with saving until it HURTS each paycheck. Then properly paying down your highest interest rate credit card debt and investing a portion as well. Please read the following posts:

      Pay Down Debt Or Invest? Implement FS-DAIR
      Achieving Financial Freedom One Income Slice At A Time
      A Debt Optimization Framework For Financial Independence

  60. gold digging scholar

    It’s difficult to find a wealthy man in stealth. Love and samurai with stealth sounds more like war games than love for money. If you dress down and find a woman who you think loves you for you-but discover she just wanted a comfort life- it can be hurtful. Why play these games with yourself. Get use to giving money like you got the money. Everybody wants something. There is no such thing as something for nothing. A true samurai knows that and accepts the power of pleasure. At the end of the game. be lucky that you got the chance to play. That is humility!

  61. Mr. Hammocker

    Excellent article Sam! Stealth wealth can be a difficult thing. When someone asks me what my mortgage payment is, I am always like, “Uh…… I don’t have a mortgage….” Am I supposed to lie? If I tell the truth, people are shocked. As you mentioned, relationships are much better when wealth isn’t mentioned.

    1. I haven’t found a good way to get around that question either. It usually involves a group a people asking each other what their mortgage rate is because so many people are refinancing. I don’t lie but it always ends up being a little awkward.

  62. The Wease @

    Sam, great post.

    I would add-in the judicious use of a PO Box for most mail to your point #2. I never give HR a physical address at work.

    In addition to claiming your Zillow address and loading a trailer photo of choice, I have found that Googling your address and then requesting ALL of the many realtor sites that cache images of prior for sale listings should be deleted, as well.

    This took a few e-mails to realtors and their office managers, but I found that expressing a “fear of bad things happening, with them being at least partially responsible” seemed to get even the most reluctant to finally comply with the request to remove all images and descriptions.

    Last thing I want up on the web is a video tour of my house, after I have bought it!

    Your friend The Wease!

  63. It is extremely important to be careful – I have personally seen close relatives targeted by what seemed to be every scammer & huckster out there, because it was obvious that relative was “rich,” i.e. high income.

    Unfortunately they had a high-consumption lifestyle, so they were never particularly wealthy, but had they had the wisdom to enjoy the perquisites of their success in private their life would have been much less complicated.

  64. Wow I really like this post! I have talked to people who just can’t stop talking about how well connected or wealthy they/their parents are. After living on this earth for three decades, I’ve realized that only insecure people like bragging about themselves. If they’re insecure about their intelligence, they will talk about how smart they are. If they’re insecure about their wealth, they will talk about how much money they make/will make or what their family has. I know because I’ve been there.

    Mr. FAF and I always adore the friends who have helped us out when they didn’t have much (and still don’t) and were in difficulty. They are our true friends.

    We’re really allergic to people who want to be close with us just because we have something they can take advantage of. We don’t have a lot to begin with, but for some reason some people just think we’re dumb enough not to realize what we are up to.

  65. Very true, although most of the wealthy people I know do this like its second nature. Evidenced by the the fact that a lot of wealthy people I know Drive american cars if they have a german car it’s usually a classic. I just get fed up with the people who are first generation wealthy and have a chip on their shoulder, hence the fact they need to broadcast to everyone how much they make or what they have. They also don’t even make that must (100k-250k) and they think there really wealthy or something

  66. Wow, we (my family) can really relate to this. Financially we are doing very well, but we are humble. Years ago we had a rather large custom home. We found out years later that the kids that would visit my daughter, as well as the parents, were intimidated by our large house. My daughter found out that some kids were embarassed to invite her to their house because they “just” lived in an average house. Or that parents never invited us over because they felt that they could not possibly live up to our supposedly expensive standards after having visited our house. All this is silly, of course, but perception is reality. As I near early retirement we have since downsized to a modest ranch house (more for convenience of one floor) and we notice a marked difference in the conversations we have with people. So, yes, stealthy wealthy is the way to go, because people judge by how much you have and don’t have – either way it is people either feeling 1) inferior or jealous or 2) superior and gloating. Go figure…

  67. Omfg. This article made me want to puke. I’m in the 1%, but I sure as H know how lucky I was – yes, worked hard, sacrificed and all the rest, but I’m not so stupid as to think that was the source of my success. I know plenty of people who worked as hard, studied as hard, but were given bad advice. Extremely intelligent (Mensa types) who became Physicists instead of Physicians – barely able to live a middle-class lifestyle while I retired at 40 and will pay top-bracket taxes for the rest of my days. I know a kid who couldn’t afford to attend Harvard because his father bought a boat instead. And what if one was born in South Sudan? All else being equal, you think their success would have been the same? Of course not.

    The older you get, the more you’ll realize LUCK is an incredibly powerful life force that often overwhelms all else. Yes, some say the harder they work, the luckier they are, but that’s only on the margins.

  68. This is an important article, and I’m glad for the reminder to reflect on “Stealth Wealth.” Besides being self-protective of what you have managed to achieve and who you have managed to become, it’s also essential not to water down your drive and goals when you realize other people, including friends and family, like you less for having them.

    One of my biggest shocks in life was the dismay registered on the faces of people close to me upon seeing our new home for the first time. A friend’s wife barely concealed her resentment. Another friend later accused me of valuing wealth over people! It wasn’t that expensive a residence, but it did have class and style together with a lot of sweat equity. And the furnishings and inexpensive objets d’art we had gathered and taken care of for over a decade–and artfully arranged in our new setting, because my husband and I share those sensibilities–were the last straw!! People who came inside invariably congratulated us, but still I had the feeling many were almost depressed by seeing our pleasant setting. Over time, the people comfortable with our house and our success are people with similar or nicer homes and similar to greater success. I can’t help noticing that our 10 and 12 year old cars seem to make everyone’s day a little better.

    A harder lesson, because I have a cheerful nature, was to learn that it’s best to hide your good mood as well. Yes, people love having someone smile at them–and short term your energy lifts their own mood; but then, it begins to wear on them. It starts to seem unfair that you get to be in a consistently good mood and they don’t. Never mind that it stems from your being disciplined about food, exercise, sleep and taking care of business. Or that you work at being good company and enjoying life. “IT ISN’T FAIR.”

    Human nature being what it is, it’s easier to adapt yourself to reality than to modify the reactions and feelings of most of the people you encounter. Part of being successful in life is to protect and secure what you’ve worked so hard to achieve. You keep your wallet close to you and lock the doors to your house and car. Stealth Wealth is just an extension of these precautions.

  69. This is the method of operation of a freak-in-the-face genius. If you’re cogitating the best ways to stealth it out, talk to your local freak. They live their entire lives by a totally different mindset from “normal” looking people. They usually have very little to do with society, and when they have successes of any type, it was almost always very sneakily and calculatingly done. Who is after them? Everyone, all the time, no matter what, naturally. Who is after the rich? Everyone, all the time, no matter what, naturally. When you get in the minds of people in your region, you must withstand an incredible onslaught at some point of time, and it never goes away even if you’ve parried your way to flawless victory. The most important tip is to keep your name out of people’s mouths, and this goes without saying….womens’ mouths especially. They will talk about a snowflake falling for hours, just imagine if they talk about a wealthy person. They will seek to ruin from the most vulnerable and disadvantaged to the sweetest and capable people without thought. It doesn’t matter if you’re an incredible asset or not, cavepeople do not care. Now when you bear the one ring and are already “the man” or “the it”, use the invisible trick, and often.

  70. Moderately Wealthy GenXer

    You make very good points in regards to being smart about not flaunting wealth, however I think you are restricting yourself too much in regards to not allowing yourself to enjoy your wealth. Not everyone who buys expensive homes and wears expensive clothes and drives expensive cars is wasteful with their money nor should they feel the need to downplay their affluence. I am a Gen Xer, so I am sure I am much older than many of you reading this article. I earn a modest middle class salary but because I am smart with my money and frugal at times, I am able to live in an affluent way because I am fortunate to live in an area of the US where the standard of living is lower. However, if I was earning within the 1 percent or even .5 percent category, I would also be even more careful with my distribution of money because I understand how difficult it can be to acquire large sums and to keep it longterm.

    Something the under 30 generation might not fully realize yet, is that throughout your remaining lifespan, there is no guarantee that the type of work available to us now will be in existence within 10 or 20 years. I went to college to become a journalist, then when I discovered it didn’t pay adequately, I changed careers to an elearning content developer, which earned me a higher salary but was still quite modest in comparison to what people under 30 living in San Francisco for instance might now be earning within the tech industry. That career in online learning lasted me the past 12 years, and now I am planning to branch out beyond that into other areas. Elearning, creating online instructional multimedia content and writing for the web did not exist as paid careers prior to the early 2000s! Now this niche is considered one of the top paying careers for either full time or freelance at an average of $50/hr. A modest income but enough to live on (as a single person or with a supplemental income from a spouse, friend or relative) where the standard of living is lower.

    Opportunities to blog on the Internet have been big game changers so now it is more possible for people to earn six figures or more. However this is not guaranteed to last forever. Therefore the most important life lesson I have learned is we must be adaptable, and learn how to keep generating an income throughout our lives without tying ourselves to only one method. We are not guaranteed a posh retirement income no matter how much money we have saved. If you are only saving, scrimping, and living frugally because you are actually afraid you aren’t going to have enough in your retirement, then you are missing out on the opportunity to live your life more wealthy now. That doesn’t mean you need to flaunt your wealth or overspend. It means live your life in a way which you are happy living. No one knows how many years they will be living. You don’t want to regret not taking that trip you have the opportunity to go on because you feel you need to save all your money for when you are 80. Besides, not everything needs to cost alot of money in order to live a good and happy life. Learn from the frugal and budget conscious in regards to how they are able to go on vacations such as renting homes or condos for a week. I have been able to go to Hawaii several times because I co-own a deeded timeshare condo, saving me several thousand dollars in accommodations and I can stay at five star resorts. There are a myriad of ways to live an affluent lifestyle without needing to accumulate millions of dollars. Decide what life experiences are valuable to you and then plan your finances accordingly.

    Also, don’t restrict yourself because your boss is judgmental and you think they won’t pay you more because you “don’t need it”. That is straight up discrimination. They should be only paying you based on your work contributions to the company. Don’t buy into these messed up mind games business people try to play. You don’t want to work for nor be around those kind of people, and you don’t have to. There are plenty of other good natured people you can work with elsewhere.

    Be proud of your financial and career achievements. The American Dream has always been the dream of people to go from “rags to riches” and our history is full of important and valuable people who have obtained wealth in honorable ways. They didn’t hide their wealth. They shared it, used their wealth and knowledge to help others, and were an inspiration to anyone who also wanted to achieve financial independence. There is a reason so many people like to watch TV shows like “The Rich and the Famous” and read magazine articles about wealthy celebrities because it uplifts them and gives them hope.

    1. It’s true in the past people didn’t hide their wealth, and shared it. But now, due to the internet and the information age, people are much more envious and hateful than ever. Do you feel as safe today as 20 years ago? I don’t. Hence, the world has become smaller, and that has invited more danger, unfortunately.

      Good point about our worlds changing. I say, always build your BRAND, so that no matter what, you will rise above.

      You’ll also enjoy this post on why blogging is the best business in the world, for now.

      1. I think the reason why it was different in the past is because a greater percentage of the American population was Christian. Attending church and reading the Bible in public school had a significant yet underestimated impact on the collective psyche of the nation.

        Protestant work ethic was coined by sociologist Max Webber to explain the ethos that produced an unprecedented era of prosperity in Protestant-majority nations. Maybe that’s why people were less disdainful of others’ success and more willing to be inspired by it instead.

        Moreover one could argue that sermons promoted a sense of noblesse among the higher classes as well. No one can argue with the cultural imprint that Christianity has had on modern society, especially philanthropy which exists at much lower levels in non-Christian countries.

        1. I agree 100% Michelle. The moral compass and ethos of this country has certainly become much more ambivalent. While some bad things from the past have ended or diminished…the country as a whole seems much more amoral.

      2. I think the reason why it was different in the past is because a greater percentage of the American population was Christian. Attending church and reading the Bible in public school had a significant yet underestimated impact on the collective psyche of the nation.

        The Protestant Work Ethic was coined by sociologist Max Webber to explain the ethos that produced an unprecedented era of prosperity in Protestant-majority nations. Maybe that’s why people were less disdainful of others’ success and more willing to be inspired by it instead.

        Moreover one could argue that sermons promoted a sense of noblesse oblige among the higher classes as well. No one can argue with the cultural imprint that Christianity has had on modern society, especially philanthropy which exists at much lower levels in non-Christian countries

  71. Great post Sam !!!

    I can’t believe I never read this particular article of yours. It was funny but so too the point. As I have spent more time in last 5 years in saving, frugality, and investing, I have noticed that knowledge like this is VERY IMPORTANT. Knowledge of What NOT to do is equally important as What to do.

    Thank you so much. Some were really funny BUT so true.


  72. I agree with statements 1 through 5. In the book The 48 Laws of Power , rule number one is “Never Outshine The Master. Always make those above you feel comfortably superior.” Wearing expensive clothes and driving a luxury automobile to the job will only foster jealousy and envy from your boss and co-workers. Mastering anonymity is your greatest source of safety for your family. I do not let casual acquaintances know exactly where I live. I receive my mail at a post office box and use it as my address as much as possible. I do not have vanity license plates on my cars because I do not want everyone to be able to identify my cars and my location. I do not use my professional title unless it relates to my job or in a professional situation.
    I think of money as a vehicle that allows me to have choices. Money allows me to improve my quality of life and my family.

  73. Gold Medal Finance

    Extremely good article. My most important tip is never to let your work know you aren’t living paycheck to paycheck.

    Psychologically once they realise you’re saving 30-50% of your income I’m sure they would be much less inclined to give you that pay rise next month as ‘you don’t need it as much’.

    Always preferable to act excited on payday or to complain if it falls on a Monday instead of a Friday.

  74. Stu RosenRosen

    You may need to amend this text under “15) 15) Understand pop culture and sports.”……

    “The greatest thing I like about sports is that it breaks down all race, cultural, and economic barriers. It’s what you do on the field that counts.”

    Colin Kaepernick took care of that for us.

  75. In recent years I have been trying live by the “stealth wealth” concept… Not that I would say I was throwing that info out there. But with so much information on the internet, I have trouble with making me less obvious out there on the internet and through public information. Luckily I have a somewhat common name. Do you have advice on removing yourself from Google searches, public info, real estate holdings, etc?

    1. You can rent a specialist or a company specialized in this area. You can start with something simple: try in Google with something like “how to clean my tracks in internet” or “how to remove all info for me in internet” etc.
      Have a happy day from faraway friend

  76. And yes, I have lived at different countries and within diverse social classes, and can testify that it is almost always the case that those who are only to keen to show big stashes of cash when paying a bill, wearing big and flashy watches, showing off their smart phones, etc, are far less wealthy than they’d like you to believe. On the other hand, those who appear to be far less well off in life might give you the surprise of your life. A long lasting lesson, should we say.

  77. Middle Class Millionaire

    “…The government goes after you if you make much more than $200,000 a year (medicare tax, AMT, deduction phaseout, credit eliminations, education tax, etc)…”

    So true! For the last few years I was no longer able to qualify for the “home office deduction” because my income level was too high, even though I own a home based business and literally use one of my spare bedrooms 100% as a home office. It’s hard for me to understand not allowing a business expense to be tax deductible.

    I really liked Ted Cruz’s “10% flat rate income tax plan” that he put on the table during the republican primaries. To me that seemed very fair for everyone. I forget the cut off he proposed, but it was something like exempting the first $36,000 of income that a family makes from income taxes. So the poor are simply not taxed at all… and everyone else has a fair flat tax rate. The rich still pay much more than everyone else, but in proportion everything is fair.

    One good thing about Trump’s tax plan is that he proposes that “no business will pay more than 15% in taxes, whether you are a large public company or a home based sole proprietor freelancer.” This certainly would be a good incentive for big companies to stay here in the US since it would be a very competitive corporate tax rate.

    At the same time it would convince many people to start their own businesses! Imagine how many people who are currently making $400,000 per year and up (who are currently in the 39.6% tax bracket) who would start their own company so that they could now enjoy just a 15% tax rate! Think how this would stimulate the economy and how many jobs it would potentially create.

    1. I also liked the flat tax concept but we’ll never get rid of the progressive income tax code because it’s primary mission is to shift income from those who the government thinks has income to those the government thinks don’t have enough income. Collection of the taxes is secondary. Such a huge waste of taxpayer time and money trying to keep the government from stealing the results of your work.

      1. Fast forward to 2018 and majority of Americans are not happy with the new tax law. The great majority of savings going to the top 1%, as well as the billion dollar corporations, and a huge additional deficit being created.

  78. I think it can be telling to ask yourself if you’d rather look like you have money and be poor, or look like you’re poor but have money. I know where I fall. :)

  79. Hillary's bad dream

    Never let liberals know your wealth. Chances are they are wealthier than you but themselves camouflage their own wealth to legitimize their criticism of other people’s wealth. Liberals don’t think wealth is bad. They just don’t like people other than themselves who have earned wealth to be wealthy. Wealth is an asset to be acquired and managed by an enlightened individual. Liberalism is that enlightenment.

  80. This is a very helpful article. I hope to keep a low profile if I get wealthier. The one point I would disagree with is serving on boards. It might have the benefits you mention of people thinking you are so nice but it has the drawback of possibly leading to media exposure. Then some criminal will see you in the newspaper and decide you would be a great target.

  81. Love this article. Where I live (South Florida), it’s all about the bling. So many people rent their showy lives here and I’m pretty sure they have massive debt to go along with it. It is completely normal to see the average person driving a (leased) luxury vehicle. As Dave Ramsey would say, big hat, no cattle. Meanwhile, the owner of the company I work for has a net worth probably somewhere north of $20MM and drives a 10-year-old Toyota. I also drive a 10-year-old car, bought used and paid for in cash. One of your points in this article is a good reminder that when he sees me in the parking garage, he won’t be thinking that he’s paying me too much!

    1. I appreciate that Dave Ramsey ism as well. My dad was a doctor and always drove the crummiest car to buy better cars (in cash) for his wife and daughters. He had several dozen sticky notes from management warning to tow his car if he didn’t stop parking in a doctor’s parking spot. Dave Ramsey has a model of a truck in his office in his live shows. He told a caller that it was the exact truck that Sam Walton drove throughout his lifetime.

    2. Exactly. And if you do have a car 2X-3X nicer than him, HE WILL not want to pay you as much, b/c it is even more of a ridiculous situation given his wealth and your wealth.

      Don’t one up your boss folks!

  82. A small point – I disagree with your assumption about fancy cars get pulled over more because actually they don’t. Statistically they actually get pulled over less because there is an unspoken generalization about the importance of the person in such a car, traveling at such a speed.

    This is an area where the well to do get the benefit of the doubt and yet another way that such ‘favors’ are quietly meted out. The well to do are treated differently, it just is.

    By the way, I live next to Greenwich, Ct. I see this all the time.

    1. BY A MILLION MILES you are better off in a modest car. Regardless of how often one or the other gets pulled over. If you want to awake the envy within your “friends”, people in general as well as (believe it or not) some of your own family members, then go ahead and start driving expensive cars. You see, in life you wanna appear as poor as possible, that will save you from so many headaches and sorrows. On a personal note let me share this with you, some direct family members of mine have pretty much stopped talking to me simply because they wanna keep on messing around, working as little as possible and wasting pretty much everything they ear, and then expect me to foot the bills for their lifestyles, while I, on the other hand, do pretty much the opposite to them.

    2. I would second this. For me SUVs have always gotten pulled over more, in fact a jeep grand cherokee.

      There may be some of the cops wanting to pull over Ferraris speeding and such, but I think in SoCal you are less likely to get pulled over in any of the “mid range” luxury cars like BMW, Benz, Tesla, etc as opposed to regular cars.

      The cops think you are just going about yor business, but if the car looks frumpy they think you are up to something. And specifically Black people are even more better off in luxury cars as far as not getting pulled over. Cops are racist, but way more so againt lower income Black people.

      But who needs a car anyway with uber (especially now with flat fares) been over a year no car for me, and its easier! Plus you can work on the go.

    3. In life, the general rule of the “thinning of the herd” is best. In other words, the pack gets shaved from all sides, so stand in the middle to be safest. The dirty, ratty, suspicious car is going to get pulled over just like the flashy, speeding lambo is.

      That said, living in the middle, gets you the middle. So only use this rule when safety is the priority. Investors who prioritized safety over growth generally have poor returns, or at least not as great returns as those who take the leap.

      1. There’s a great saying, “Fit in, STAND OUT.” But, that’s an American saying. In China, you stand out, and you get decapitated. So many of the China’s Richest list have gotten thrown in jail or persecuted since the 1990s. Why? B/c they stand so far out of the median. This always happens in every society.

    4. May be true but we have to take a person’s skin color into account. It’s a statistical fact that Black people get pulled over at a much higher rate. Also, if they happen to be driving a luxury vehicle, it’s even worse.

      1. Absolutely true!!! I am saying that from personal experience…. the happier you seem, the more some people will try to break your spirit, make you feel ashamed for this and that about yourself, will certainly try to damage your self esteem, self confidence, positive self imagine and self positive concept. You see, weak (envious and jealous people) will certainly attempt to bring you down instead of them trying to drawn on inspiration from you for them to go higher and become better, wiser, stronger and happier. That my friend, is the truth.

  83. We live in a very artificial society. It’s possible that some of the people flashing their bling, fancy rides, and clothing are putting on a show—- do you know how easy it is to RENT any of these things, even for a short time? Are you privy to people’s credit card debt? Americans tend to ASSUME things and make judgements on superficial appearances. Thank you for your article which spells out in reverse how to use that information to your advantage by appearing to live below your means. There also becomes a time in life when having too much ‘stuff’ just is such a burden. I’d much rather be financially free to travel and live a life full of experiences instead of a life surrounded by ‘stuff’.

    1. farmecologist

      First of all, great article! We have been doing these things for a long time and didn’t realize there is a name for it. “Stealth Wealth” has a nice ring to it!

      I’d wager that the *majority* of “bling flashing” people are putting on a show. I wonder if there is any data anywhere to support this claim.

      As you mentioned, this is basically an article about living below your means. If you do that, most of the items the article discusses come naturally.

    2. Along those lines, I once knew a family who would rent a nicer car than they owned to go to family reunions. Their own car was acceptable, I thought. I guess their relatives were the showy type.

  84. Great article! I agree with most of them and live by most of the rules.

    I do like nice things with good quality and under the radar with no logos. I wish I was not. I would be able to save a lot more. It’s very conflicting feeling I have to say.

  85. Rather importantly: never advertise your wealth to women. Investigate the term “hypergamy” and all of its ramifications. Do not shy away from your friend’s stories of how the divorce destroyed his life. Look at Johnny Carson, Robin Williams, and all the other successful men who wound up paying millions of dollars to women for NOT being their spouses.

    1. Coming from a woman who achieved substantial net worth as a youngish, single, software developer, don’t tell men you’re dating how much you make/are worth either. They start asking for loans or become children when expected to go Dutch on the more frugal restaurant choice you insisted upon.

      Sometimes it’s not an us vs them thing, sometimes people are people. And some people are jerks, regardless of what hangs or doesn’t hang between their legs.

  86. An intriguing article. I live in SoCal where there are a lot of wealthy people. Some are truly vain and cant think of anything better than to flash their cash, while many others adopt the stealth mode. Each to their own, but your observations are spot on. It is such a shame that envy and jealousy play a part in how we treat each other. Success should be celebrated and encouraged, after all there has been a lot of sacrifice and discipline to get there.

  87. Absolutely one of the best articles I’ve read on this subject. I think the older you are, the more you realize how little ‘stuff’ matters and how much people do. Money can and does do wonderful things but it can also turn family and former friends against you even though you did everything right. The awareness up front of the effect people knowing your net worth can have is key to avoiding many of the mistakes you point out. Unfortunately, many who accumulate wealth learn it the hard way as we have. Great job!

  88. Good article. Had I read this years ago I may not have understood but I certainly get it now. I am building wealth but was careful, obviously not careful enough. If there was anything I really wanted was a nice house and doing that was the tip off. Unfortunately although my family is happy about my success I found that even them knowing isn’t good. When my mother became ill and we needed around the clock care they all looked at me to pay, not one offered money to contribute, not a dime. I’m not wealthy but trying to build enough passive cash flow so we can take care of ourselves when we can no longer work.

    So yes, it is best to stay low profile. It’s as if people think you have a printing machine.

    1. How are things going now? Yes, the nice house and the fancy car are the key tipoffs. I’m facing this now as my great aunts and uncles are getting into their 70s and 80s with health problems. They are looking around to see who will take care of them. The logical answer should be their kids or nephews nieces, but they inquired with me too b/c I worked in finance. The thing is, I don’t know them well at all.

  89. Just to clarify, the comment above is ridiculous. This article is fantastic and well written. keep up the great work on your website!

  90. Just to clarify, the comment above is ridiculous. The article on here is great in my opinion. Keep up the awesome job with your website!

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  95. Great Article. I first read about millionaires not showing their wealth in ‘the millionaire next door’ and that was a real eye opener. I like how you’ve gone a step further and written about the benefits that stealth wealth presents for the wealthy!

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  97. Sounds like my dad. If you saw him you wouldnt know he is a millionare. My mom drives a minivan, he drives a two year old truck, i drive a two year old car. But he pulls down almost 400k a year. He is building a 1.3 million dollar house and buying another one close to one million, and some of the people who work for him and clearly make less money are driving around nicer cars.

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  103. I don’t like this post much. I’m not wealthy, but I’m young and am working to be eventually so that I can raise a family the way that I was raised and to be able to pay to educate my future kids…However, I really dislike the entire tone of this article. It’s so cynical and really encourages people to be ashamed of themselves for doing well. All it really should say is don’t flaunt your wealth and keep perspective, knowing that not everyone has what you have. I think your advice is sensible enough, but there’s an air of plain dishonesty to it. Now, with that said it’s a great blog, had to say it.

    1. How young is young? I’m giving you the perspective from being poor, to slaving away, to having money, to not making nearly as much anymore.

      Everybody is pro big government and free services as a student and while not paying taxes. Once they have to work a lot and pay a lot of taxes, their attitudes change. And once they are retired, their attitudes change once again.

      I would love for you to check back on this post in 10 years and see if you still feel the same way.

      Welcome to my site!

      1. I agree about the tone. It sounds like you were maybe hurt or feeling frustrated when you wrote it. While I agree with a lot of what is written the tenor comes across as I have to hide or change who I am in order lessen the negativity. There is a difference between being private and downplaying your success in order to be humble vs. outright lying on purpose to protect yourself from being hurt.

        While I’ve not yet accumulated my riches, it did take us 7.5 years to pay off all non mortgage debt. When we tell people we have no debt and only $120k left on the mortgage, I do get derogatory attitudes sometimes.

        Now, I don’t run around telling everyone of our success. But those that are proud of me tend to share and exclaim how proud they are of me to others. When I see a negative reaction I immediately focus on the negative so they don’t feel worse about themselves. Then I move along. It takes time to surround yourself with positive people. I choose to feel grateful that the negative person displayed their hand by being negative. It lets me know they are not in a place right now to want help or to share in someone else’s happiness. So I consciously stay away from personal talk with these people. I guess I just see the negativity as my cue to stay away. It helps to know where you stand with people In order to build up a good network of people.

        I’ve never felt I needed to hide or change myself. They need to change! Not me! If your child was experiencing such negativity would you really expect them to appear to change who they are by pretending to not like studying and focus on the bad in front of the naysayers? Or would you tell them to focus on finding better friends? Friends with whom they can freely be themselves? I completely disregard the naysayers because I don’t care what their attitude is. Having enough positive people in my life allows me to be understanding enough to know the naysayers are just insecure because they feel hopeless or overwhelmed, etc.

        I do love your writing. I was reading personal capital articles and thought how well written they were and looked and the ones I liked were written by you and Justin. I just think there is a more honest and happier way to approach the issue. Sorry I rambled a bit at the end.

  104. Sam
    Here is one more to the list. Never reveal where you go for vacation. I pick up my son from school everyday. Couple of years back one of his classmates mom asked me if we were planning for a vacation somewhere… I said Switzerland and Austria and her jaws dropped. Since i mostly shop at target/ross and drive a toyota corolla, she never expected that from me. The next question was where I lived. I was somewhat vague, but she figured it out. From then on, if someone asks me about vacation I just say “Lake tahoe” or “Disneyland” or something closeby…

  105. We are stealth wealth and want to stay that way. (The only outward indication of wealth is our house — although it is sparsely and cheaply furnished.)
    This article helped me realize that an issue I am grappling with is that of maintaining our status as stealth wealth.
    So far I’ve been keeping tabs on finances at home via Quicken, but I want to use a program that combines information so I can do more-complete portfolio analysis. I can’t find anything that will do this analysis offline on my computer. We don’t trade often, so I don’t need a site that goes to each bank to get updates (and therefore I had ought to be able to bypass the worry of putting account and password information online.) But even Morningstar’s portfolio manager requires stock purchase history. We am very reluctant to let anything online know the details of our wealth . It just feels wrong to us as both a security risk and opening us up to marketing aimed at those who might spend big money.
    Are our worries justified?

    1. Hi Leslie,

      I think your worries are justified, but they are also not because any company who violates your privacy will quickly get crushed.

      I asked Personal Capital (who does the portfolio analysis for free in their Investment tab) about privacy, and they said they have this massive encryption software that protects information, and nobody in the office can pull a client’s information if they are not an advisor. I’m in their office 2-3 times a week currently advising on their blog buildout, and will ask for you. But I’m pretty sure nobody but an approved advisor can see all my details.

      1. Thanks for your quick reply and offer to make inquiries at Personal Capital. I want to clarify your first sentence. You wrote “I think your worries are justified, but they are also not because any company who violates your privacy will quickly get crushed.”
        does this mean:
        Worries justified, but also not justified because any … crushed.

        I hadn’t thought that if our privacy is violated, almost certainly so would others’, and the person doing the violating wouldn’t know just how the wealth = power equation might affect him / the company. (Because we live like “the common man”, and he usually has few to no resources to go after a big company.)

  106. Working my way through your archives of articles and thought this one was exceptionally good. One thing the current administration is very good at is creating class warfare. It has promoted class envy and hatred especially directed at wealthy and conservative people. It really pays to keep your mouth shut about what and how much you have. Wannabe rich people would do well to read “The Millionaire Next Door” to learn about how people with genuine wealth act. My mom and step-father were true millionaires due to a vast number of rental properties yet they lived like paupers in a rickety old house that he was born in. No one would ever believe they had the amount of money they had. I wouldn’t advocate living like paupers but living like the middle class might be more reasonable.

  107. Sam,

    I think it is important to also figure out how to work smarter as well. I have watched people work 70 hours a week and not get very far because they focus on everything that does not matter and ignore the few things that do matter.

  108. I always seem late to this blog. Sorry, just so busy. 6 years ago, I would have laughed at this post. That is no longer the case. The points made are excellent. Much of my net worth, ironically, has been built over the last 5 years. I am bit older than the average reader here (I am 47) and I know the world of poverty because I lived it once upon a time.

    It seems as though the American dream that you can make it no matter where your starting point begins is dying. Not because people can’t make it but because they are being conditioned to believe that. When I was 26, I had a child, GF (who I would later marry) and lived in an apartment in a high crime area. I was underemployed but worked various part time jobs to pay my $465 per month in rent. I probably could have qualified for a gov program or 2 but I would have rather slit my wrist than ever apply for that. I delivered pizza, was an inspector for those annoying circulars that get thrown on your lawn and I shoveled snow. All this with a college degree.

    In October of 1992, I looked at my checking account – I had $2.92 left but fortunately had a strong week of pizza delivery and my GF just got paid. We had $520 to put it so we could afford the rent and some food. I drove a 1983 Corolla and my wife had a 78 Dodge Diplomat which was a nightmare.

    Finally, I got a job that could be considered a career builder in November of 92. I was immature and thought I deserved a lot more than what I was being paid which was $23,000 a year. I struggled through 4 years and made a little more but gained a ton of maturity. Since I was a 3rd party contractor, I was at the mercy of a contract renewal. After 4 years, the contract wasn’t renewed. I actually had a contract that gave me 3 months of severance (I was making $26,000 at the time). I collected UE for 6 weeks and hated every minute of it. I had begun my studies for a CFP and took a job actually making less than what my starting salary was 4 years earlier. My wife thought I was insane. However, I was determined. I did every hard job no one else wanted to touch and everyone thought would lead to failure. I always find a way, through sheer determination, to make it work. After 10 years, I received a big break and landed a job with the potential to make very good money. Even then, I had to create my own opportunities since this was not a market we were in previously.

    To make a long story short, after spending numerous hours in airports, having hundreds of meetings that led to nothing, being away from my growing family for long stretches, things broke and I began to make real money. Today, I am proud of what I accomplished but am careful about showing it.

    I drive a BMW 328 XI and actually get ribbed about that. My lease is up next November and I am going to downgrade to a Sonota. I have had a relative tell me that I should feel fortunate to be where I am. Fortunate? I earned it with sweat equity over a long period of time. We give a ton to charity yet I have been accused of being a “fat cat”. I don’t wear expensive watches, I get my shoes re-soled, I use coupons all the time and I generally watch what I spend. I was called a fat cat because my wife mentioned to one of my cousins how much we enjoyed a dinner at a fancy steakhouse.

    By the way, my efforts ultimately led to 20 people being hired. So, others have benefited as well. Still, that no longer seems to matter. It is clear that we are the enemy now and need to go even further underground. It is frustrating to say the least. My wife has also achieved success and now has a thriving accounting practice of her own.

    We have now become a country where success is frowned upon and relying on the government is thought of as a “right”. It is sad to see how far the country has fallen. I don’t think we have seen the bottom yet.

    1. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

      Do you often wonder why folks just don’t just try harder if they want to get ahead? Instead of waking up at 7:30am, why not get up at 4:30am and work for a full 3 hours before anybody? 3 hours a day more is 90 more hours of extra time a week to get something done!

      Hard work is hard by definition, but there’s a great correlation with hard work and progress on America!

  109. EL @ Moneywatch101

    Yes I agree with everything you said to stay under the radar. But the blogs who have a ton of visitors are the ones who show their net worth, budgets, and incomes from ever compounding dividends, do you think they are making a mistake or sharing too much? I have never fogotten the time I went to a comedy club and a young man was asked, What do you do for work? He said he doesn’t work and that his grandma left him a bunch of stocks. THe comedian immediatlely called him a spoiled trust fund baby brat. I bet he later regretted saying the truth.

    1. So long as the boyfriend is paying, all is good!

      She will eventually find out about your close to 7 figure stock portfolio. Be prepared to share at least $100,000 with her! It’s the right thing to do!

  110. It definitely looks better to keep your assets and your income to yourself. You never know who is really after you for your money and who is true to you. It’s always a bad thing to find yourself in a position where you are getting screwed over by revealing too much about yourself.

  111. All good stuff and tactics I regularly apply, yet not always. I don’t feel the need to downplay in all occasions and I’m not flaunting it and yes I can afford it, I just happen to enjoy motorsports, so my primary car is a German sports sedan, understated for sure, unless you know what it is. When I first bought it, I felt awkward driving it, my wife too, like people were staring at me, 29 years old, who the heck is this guy? That lasted about a week, now I don’t care what they say, but at work I still hide it, I work in small office. Here’s another work scenario, I recently booked another trip to HI (2nd in 2 years), I live in NYC, going to the 4S’s again, but I told everyone, I got last min. airfare deal, and my father in-law had a timeshare he needed to use or lose before 2014. Point is, I largely believe it depends on the situation. In CA, the cops may pull over the nice cars, here I think they actually avoid them, A.) Because the guy inside could sue or have your job in some cases AND B.) Because here they aren’t looking to just write a ticket, and who’s more likely to have drugs or a gun? The guy in the Merc? Or the guy with 2 blown out windows and some taillights hanging off? Just saying . . .

      1. We’ll be on the Big Island 12/7-14 – We did Maui last year and loved it. Being on the East Coast it’s tough to justify HI, but when we did a comparison between HI and the Caribbean, it actually came out to be about the same price b/c of some Luxury taxes (10%) in the islands, they called it a “value added tax” it pretty well offset the increased airfare.

  112. Oh also it was a matter of survival, blending in, where I grew up. In Asia, I found people loved flaunting wealth. Maybe because they had chauffeurs. Since I took public transport and grew up middle class and studied at a Jesuit school (Live simply so others may simply live), I learned to never wear expensive jewelry or nice bags. Otherwise, I would get mugged or worse.

  113. Loved the post. My boss wears shirts from Costco, eats McDonald’s for breakfast, and drives an old Toyota SUV. He lives in a nondescript neighborhood that is well off the beach but still gets the clean air (important in LA). He works hard. What he does do with his money is take nice vacations with his kids and invest in off the wall securities and opportunities, and save it up for his kids. I aspire to live like him. You’ve probably read Seneca. He did exactly what you advocate – live well beneath your means. I have Nassim Taleb for introducing me to him. BTW, Nassim also advocates the same. When he got a windfall, he bought a brand new Swatch, and a new Mini. Saved the rest. That was it.

  114. While some of this is (hopefully) in jest, there is a kernel of truth to it.

    A disturbingly large percentage of humans hate to see anyone succeed, and will do whatever they can to pull a successful person down to their level. It can overt, or covert, but it happens all the time.

    In nature, the best protection available is camouflage. This is financial camouflage, and a wise course of action in most circumstances.

  115. Ben @ The Wealth Gospel

    Good stuff. As much as some people think you’re living a lie, you’re really just protecting yourself from people who could take advantage of you. Another commenter said that your true friends won’t care, but it’s not about protecting yourself from your true friends. It’s about protecting yourself from all the leeches and freeloaders. Just look at any professional athlete and you’ll find a crowd of leeches following him around wherever he goes.

    1. Correct, and those who want to harm you. It’s hard to understand until you are in someone’s shoes.

      The pro athlete is an excellent example of what happens when you suddenly have wealth and people know it. ESPN Mag has a great profile of Rolando McLain, ex Alabama star and Raiders linebacker who said he cut $600,000 worth of checks just to get people of his back. He couldn’t take it anymore so he quit the NFL at age 24!

      1. Actually, fame is more of the issue with this anecdote.

        Your more typical millionaire (?) is usually a very ordinary person, living in middle class neighborhoods. Typically, small business people, union worker, teacher (nearing retirement), etc.

        These are people whom blend well because they are part of the lower income culture (or at least close to it). This is what marketing people call the “mass affluent.” Camouflage, is just less of issue for this type of wealth. It’s naturally hidden! I believe that at least for most of America, stealth wealth is actually the norm.

        Anyway, thanks Sam….. This was a very interesting post. I actually spent considerable time thinking about this (after the initial chuckle ;)).

      2. And one more thing; where I live, imported German automobiles are a “dime a dozen”. I don’t see anybody paying particular attention to them. Everywhere I go, parking lots are full them.

        My point is: If you parked your $100,000 Audi in my middle class neighborhood, no one would really notice. Of course, you would be parking next to my 17 year old Honda! LOL!

  116. At times, this post reads like satire. I must be a different sort of American, because I’m far from wealthy and quite like to see other people enjoy nice things. I nearly break my neck when I see a Ferrari and love to watch shows about well-designed, very expensive homes. Though I’m also quite aware that wealth, though nice, seems to often have an inverse relationship to happiness.

    It is the middle class displays of wealth that I find troubling– the person driving an Audi Q7 who is leveraged to the hilt with debt, etc.

  117. Charles@gettingarichlife

    When we had solar installed at our house one of the installers was a guy I knew when we were kids. He commented on how well I was doing and I was trying to downplay it. The garage door opens and my wife’s Mercedes is sitting there, bad timing. When we have kids I’m gonna make her trade it in for a Toyota 4 runner.

  118. I don’t agree with this post. You are encouraging people to be disingenuous. People should be able to be themselves. Also, it sounds like you look down on poor people. Watching “The Real Housewives of Whatever,” isn’t necessarily something poor people do and it is even more ridiculous that you would read up on these shows to fit in with a conversation about them.

    1. Not at all. Be rich, but act poor is the mantra. Don’t take offense if you enjoy watching The Real Housewives of Wherever. You actually are ahead of the game if you know the cast of characters!

      If you have never experienced discrimination, or are yourself someone who likes to show off your wealth, then this post is hard to digest. But those of us who want to do well or who have done well and don’t want to be harassed or bullied any longer, this post’s message is absolutely vital for long term sustainability and health.

      Just check out the fellow comments.

      1. Would you use these strategies to try to make friends or just to deal with acquaintances? True friends will respect and like you regardless of your financial position. You should be able to talk about things that you actually have in common and not need to make up interests to fit in. Also, I feel like your approach will only get you so far. Eventually you will be found at as a phony.

        “Yes, I love watching the Jersey Shore. That Snoopy sure does tan a lot…” Busted! Okay, perhaps you didn’t get that joke but living a lie will catch up with you.

        If you feel like you need to use these strategies for dealing with acquaintances, I suppose you could get away with it but real relationships require honesty.

        1. I just don’t think you are getting the message. This is not so much about making friends and acquaintances, but about survival. Protecting you and your family from first verbal abuse and then more serious hate crimes.

          Your response is exactly why wealthy people close inwards on themselves because they will be considered a phony or arrogant no matter what they say. What do you want from them Virginia? I hope you have it in your heart to treat the wealthy equally. What did the wealthy ever do to harm you? I would love to hear more of your story.

          Snooki has done a great job getting in shape post baby. She seems to be maturing and following the path of Nicole Ritchie.

        2. We seem to be talking past each other. I suppose I understand a little bit better if you are trying to protect yourself against abuse and hate crimes. That is an unfortunate scenario to be in.

          I used the term “phony” because you were suggesting that people should act like something they are not (i.e. not show true happiness or pretend to have interest in sports or tv shows that don’t really interest them). I didn’t mean to imply that all wealthy people are phony or arrogant.

          Instead of reading up on pop culture that doesn’t really interest you, I would suggest that you try to find a topic of conversation that you and the person you are talking to are both really interested in. You could try talking about the latest news story (“wasn’t that last shooting horrible!”), or relationships (“my in-laws never think my house is clean enough!”), or if all else fails, the weather. There are many topics of conversation that are interesting to people of all financial backgrounds.

          1. Imagine a world where we all spoke what we really though.
            We’d have World War III tomorrow!

            Getting to know someone and make them trust you and feel comfortable takes skill. We can try and assimilate or we can segregate and stick to our own kind.

  119. I know that I appear less affluent than I am with my aging cars ( formerly 2 17 old cars) and (relatively) modest home. It is less of an issue when your friends are similar in wealth though! Although there are differences in net worth of my close friends, we have similar values. Surprising in southern California where showy wealth symbols are rampant. It is one of the benefits of being older.

  120. Levi B @ Wealthnote

    I have come to learn that people who have all these fancy toys are usually pretty bad off financially. They pay for the toys with financing and other tools that get them in plenty of debt. Not only will playing wealth ninja help you avoid trouble it will keep you wealthy!

  121. My Financial Independence Journey

    I’ve got the stealth wealth thing going on. I pull in a nice income, but you couldn’t tell it from my modest apartment, Methuselah car, or lack of expensive brand name clothing or jewelry. If someone spent a bit of effort and thought about my education and job title, they could probably figure out how much I make. But most people won’t do that.

    The downside of stealth wealth is in dating. You aren’t going to be taken seriously if people have already pre-judged you as not being rich enough (as indicated by your expenses). The idea that someone could have a rapidly increasing six-figure investment portfolio is totally alien to most people.

    1. I have to disagree with the point above that, “The downside of stealth wealth is in dating.”

      I actually think it’s the opposite. You don’t want to attract a mate that’s focused on your money. This should help weed out, upfront and before it’s too late, potential partners that don’t have the same financial principles as you do.

  122. Bryce @ Save and Conquer

    Like others, much of your post had me thinking of the book, The Millionaire Next Door. Flaunting wealth is not something most high earners/savers do.

  123. Somehow, I’m not seeing this as a big problem….. If you live in a normal house and drive a more common automobile, no one will know your actual wealth.

    Millionaires are very common. I would bet about 35% of the customers walking into Starbucks every morning, are “networth” millionaires.

      1. Well….. My point is that it is very easy to behave as a lower income person. And this is what you seem to be suggesting.

        This post suggests a kind of paranoia which you tend to see in less socioeconomically diverse communities. I’m seeing it as a rather unhealthy symptom.

  124. I like this kind of post, Sam, not only because of the solid advice, but it also helps focus us on why we really should be pursuing wealth!

    It’s not about impressing other people with how much money we have or what luxury items we can buy, it’s about doing what we’re passionate about really well and producing something that other want to buy! Creating wealth.

    Thanks Sam!

  125. Wait, wait wait! People spend $100,000 a year on a country club membership?! WHAA??

    But for real, I like this idea. it reminds me of The Millionaire Next Door a bit. Why flaunt it if it only creates criticism. And flaunting is usually a compensation for something…

  126. I love the stealth wealth concept, ideals, etc!

    And being a former resident of Denver and a new resident of San Francisco there’s a lot of stealth wealth going on in these cities (more so in SF, obviously).

    I have my stealthy-ness down, I’m a pro…now I need to work on my wealthy-ness!

    Reading these posts and comments from fellow readers is always motivating. And tracking every dollar and living by the more frugal rules I’ve set for myself I know I can reach the wealthy state I’m striving for.

  127. Fist bump on stealth wealth! Yep, I’m not retired, I’m unemployed. Jeans, sneaks and pocket tee for me…hoodie if it’s cold. BTW, is Left at Albuquerque in San Jose, CA still open? (I have their laminated menu I use as a desk blotter that I picked up when visiting friends in the area.)

  128. Greedy American

    Have you seen the show American Greed on CNBC? The guys who always get caught are the flashiest of flashy people! They roll around in their Lamborghini’s and throw lavish parties all the time. The one common denominator is that they all went to poor schools and came from lower income backgrounds. All their flash was a way for making up for their poorness and lack of education.

  129. Love this post. People show off their possession very often these days especially on social media, they bought the best cars, grand houses, and whatever their money can buy for people to see. And, most often no one wants to be branded as the person who uses fake items, though if you don’t want to be victimize by people who will use your wealth against you then better tone it down just as the article says.

  130. Really thoughtful post! Almost all of these points can be practiced by anyone, and a lower profile can benefit everyone. Things like being mindful of one’s home address, not acting like a baller in public, being self-aware and aware of others by ‘getting out of your bubble’ are also helpful personal security practices. The book ‘Gift of Fear’ is a really helpful primer for those interested in protecting themselves, their family and friends, and their property.

    One thought as I read this, S. American money has been practicing ‘stealth wealth’ for decades. Some families have come by their money through criminal and corrupt practices in S. America and recently, former Eastern Bloc nations (as in China, those billionaires didn’t go to prison because they were wealthy, they went because they were corrupt).

    As for the growing income disparity in the U.S., the idea of ‘all men created equal’ has been part of the foundation of the country. But the idea of largely equal incomes has only been around for the past 70 years. It can’t be stopped, but government taxation is an attempt to slow it.

    Some resources for those interested in the subject: 1) Bill Gross wrote an awesome column on the subject for his November 2013 newsletter, at 2) Robert Reich wrote “The Future of Success” which addresses increases in productivity and where that productivity comes from (hint: not from workers working harder or smarter), 3) ‘Smart Money Decisions’ by Max Bazerman (Harvard Business School) discusses business ethics, and the ‘psychology of money’. Great column FS, once again!

    1. Income inequality can only be stopped if the common man rises up and physically takes away the riches of the wealthy. Wealthy dynasties and power dynasties are hard to stop.

  131. I’m not wealthy but I still follow some of the guidelines you laid out. One of the main reasons is that I’m pretty frugal but in our consumer crazy society frugal means I’m a cheapskate, so I’d prefer people think I just can’t afford the things they buy (which I can afford but wouldn’t buy!). It’s hard to keep income a secret at work as I work in government and it’s pretty easy to figure out how much someone makes based on their position and how many years they’ve been there.

  132. I’ve met quite a few really rich people who seemed very average. Working in Telluride for years, you run across them from time to time. One giveaway is when they list their occupation as investor or retired and they are pretty young. If they have the right personality, I usually ask what they invested in or how they got to retire, and I’ve heard some pretty good answers.

    I’m so glad to have found the PF community. You are right that you cannot talk about wealth to 99% of people you see every day. I’ve certainly had some odd exchanges with people when I cut back to part time work. It seems you can only be trusted if you work non-stop and still can’t pay the bills. I can only imagine how it will be when I walk away for good.

    1. Good to know not to put down one’s occupation as retired or investor. Why are they putting down their occupation in the first place? Best occupation to highlight is Unemployed or Consultant.

  133. It’s becoming increasingly harder in our ever evolving social media world to keep things private. I’m amazed at the information the teens I’m around each day at school think its OK to share publicly. They also buy into these words you used at the beginning of your post…”Who did you cheat or rob to get to where you are?” It’s all they think they see in pop culture, movies and the news.

  134. Income inequality is worse than ever, and it has been increasing at an exponential rate since the 1970s, so both parties are “to blame”. It will continue and the next step is social unrest. We are already seeing it start. I wouldn’t be flashy because I have nothing to prove, anyway.

    I agree with about half of what you said. I don’t believe that I am here today because I did it on my own. Society helped me, even though I am also tenacious and someone who really values her future. At the very minimum, society helped all of us see who we didn’t want to be and that motivated us.

    1. Sam,

      Meghan brings up an interesting thought in regards to this post. It sort of feels paranoid. Do you feel, or do many of the people you associate with, feel under siege?

        1. Weird comment. Whilst I agree and disagree with a few of the statements in this article. I don’t feel the need to explain my situation online as others have. However I am in a position to understand entirely. A few of the issues raised are location dependent, who you associate with, how you make your money, how you socialise and your intentions. It’s a very paranoid way of thinking, to the point of distracting yourself from actually achieving great things / living how you desire. Playing games is useless, someone is always going to dislike you. Poor or wealthy. Being aware of your surroundings and generally using common sense is key. It seems like the article is based on your perception of how you think you will be perceived. Why do you care that much what others think? It’s generalising far too much. There are *some* very valid points. Unfortunately some people take advice religiously, advice is to be taken with a pinch of salt. Life is to be lived, not to live in fear. If you’re that afraid of comments from others, you need to work on that part of yourself or disassociate. The article is written from a a scarcity mindset. I enjoyed the comments section more than the article. It’s a great topic, but the way it’s written is ‘final’. This is your perception. There are another million perceptions out there, with an equal number of human examples. Just use your brain, keep it moving and don’t JUDGE.

  135. I love this post, but it’s incredibly disheartening that there is such animosity towards wealth. I still don’t understand what happened to striving to be the one percent. As a Millennial that’s still one of my goals, although I only voice it to a select few because it usually leads to a tongue-lashing.

    To your “always say it’s fake” point. I do this in a slightly subtle way. If someone comments on a luxury item I own that is indeed real (some of them are fake) and inquires about it’s legitimacy I just say, “Well, I used to live in China” and let them infer it’s fake all on their own. That way, I’m not lying and they can just assume!

    1. Secretly strive to be in the 1%, but definitely don’t announce it to the world. It’s like the annoying kid who sits in the front row of every class, always raising their hand to ask questions, disrupting the room for the rest of us. That kid gets beaten up between sessions or after class all the time.

      He’ll get his revenge. But when he does, best to keep things hidden again to avoid getting beaten up.

  136. The poorest people spend the most amount of money on flashy junk just like the most insecure people are the loudest on social media!

    There’s no point being a target. People who constantly tell everybody how much they earn and share pictures of themselves are losers with serious insecurity issues.

    If you are really rich, you don’t need to tell anybody how rich you are. If you are happy and secure, you don’t have to constantly say how great you are.

  137. Nice post. I agree with many of these points. Ideally, I’d have no car. If I lived somewhere where I could live car-free, I would. I have a nicer car than I need; but, then again, a nice car most certainly doesn’t indicate wealth considering that most people don’t own their car outright anyway. A BMW or Audi or even a Benz made within the past 5 years is so common to see nowadays there is almost no point in trying to own one to flaunt one’s wealth. On top of that, vehicles are so well made nowadays that it doesn’t cost a lot to get a “luxury” vehicle from any “consumer” brand like Chevrolet or Honda.

    Some of your points are a little un-related.

    Coming off as a know-it-all is a bad thing, but I don’t think one should necessarily hide his or her intelligence for the sake of “stealth wealth”. I don’t quite see how that point applies. Arrogance and know-it-all is one thing, but applying intelligence in a helpful manner is smart and beneficial to both parties. Sure, you need to know when to shut up and listen, as in any social situation, but you shouldn’t hide your intelligence for the sake of appearing “normal”.

    Praising other’s success is more of a humbling feeling than hiding your own success. I definitely want to see people around me do well and make good decisions. I try to inflict my own values upon others in a non-overbearing way. Most often no one listens to me but if they did they would be much better off sometimes!

    1. The point being that people fear and dislike those who display more of anything, including intelligence. If you clearly know you’re much more intelligent it’s best to dial it down. I’d argue in many cases much higher intelligence is more maddening than much higher wealth.

      Here’s a case of NFL bullying from a kid who went to Stanford,

      “Nov. 5 (Bloomberg) — A degree from an elite academic school can make a player a magnet for bullying from teammates in the National Football League, according to a former Harvard University linebacker who spent seven seasons in the NFL.

      Isaiah Kacyvenski, who last played in the NFL in 2006, said he wasn’t surprised by the alleged harassment that led former Stanford University offensive lineman Jonathan Martin to leave the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins two days ago suspended fellow lineman Richie Incognito for detrimental conduct as they and the NFL investigate the matter.

      “I’m surprised it hasn’t happened sooner,” said Kacyvenski, who holds a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard and now directs sports business at the biomedical technology company MC10 Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “This is a wakeup call for a lot of people. I was made fun of for a lot of reasons. Only in the NFL can a Harvard degree have negative consequences.””

      In order for someone to listen to you, you’ve got to share your story. What’s your background again? Thanks.

      1. What I meant was, at work I’ll often hear of people doing stupid things financially or making poor decisions that I know will hurt them in the long run, so I try to give my own opinion as to what they should do. I may come off as a “know-it-all” to them but I really am just looking out for their best interest. The people I work with are still relatively young is why I even feel the need to give guidance. I haven’t been everywhere and done everything by a long shot, but I can see poor financial decisions a mile away.

      2. Yeah, but the key here is the statement, “Only in the NFL can a Harvard degree have negative consequences.” We’re not talking about NFL players, here, though. We’re taking about everyone else and the ability to share knowing in a helpful,
        non-braggadocios way.

  138. Well, I should have no problems with that last one. I really enjoy fantasy football which requires a certain degree of attention to teams, standings, etc. The stealth wealth really goes hand in hand with some of the frugal concepts. You opt to have quality items that will last, but are not overly flashy or expensive. It also serves the dual purpose of helping one accumulate the wealth a little faster.

  139. Done by Forty

    Hmmm, maybe our transparency is a poor strategy. Good food for thought, Sam. Thank you.

    1. No prob. If you’re not rocking income and displaying net worth much beyond the average, I think it’s OK, b/c most people will have the same financials. But after it starts getting 2X-3X more than your average circle of friends, I’d go DARK.

  140. Other than disclosing all kinds of personal financial data on my site, I’m pretty much a stealthy wealthy millionaire next door. Walking around town in my tennis shoes or my 13 year old beat up honda civic. I don’t even have to lie about the fact that my Folex isn’t a Rolex. If I even wore a watch (who wears those things any more?).

    Sometimes I go out to my favorite low-brow store and mingle with the commoners. I walk around and wonder which of these apparent proletarians are also stealthy millionaires in disguise, just like me.

  141. This Life On Purpose

    14) Stop smiling so much

    Can’t say I agree with that one, can’t you be happy and smiling if you aren’t mega-rich?? I’m thinking that one was meant to be a little humourous.

  142. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life

    My parents are part of the 1% but they don’t have any of the fancy gadgets that kids my age in debt are sporting. They spend on what they think is important, education for their children and travel. I was never given a car or an ipad or any of that. They worked for what they achieved and built all their own success, and I think they want the same for me by equipping me with the tools but not the unnecessary extras.

    1. To have a large Bank Of Mom & Dad to back you up is one of the best scenarios in my opinion. You can do whatever you want instead of what pays the most and not worry about starving, because your parents won’t let you starve.

      1. I still am pondering a post on this subject. You’ve mentioned it to me before and I’m debating how I would answer if the backstop of Mom and Dad makes you more of a risk-taker or less.

        1. The answer is definitely more. If you know your parents will never let you starve or be homeless, then you are more inclined to pursue your dreams regardless of how little it may pay. Deep down a child of well to do parents know they will always be taken care of.

        2. @Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life

          I disagree – my parents are all about the stealth wealth, and it hasn’t made me a risk taker at all. I lasted 5 years in big law slavery trying to make my own way. If anything, they taught me to be self-sufficient and too proud to ask for help. It is nice to know I would never starve. But there are other psychological implications that result from being raised by the type of people who are capable of becoming very wealthy but living very austere.

        3. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life

          I think it depends. I am one of those who can’t stand asking for help, but I know my parents would NEVER let me be homeless or hungry and perhaps that’s why I felt I could pursue a career in acting. I also have a major support system in NYC since I grew up in the area. Between friends and family, I know I always have somewhere to go.

          1. I think you are right in that it depends. It depends on how rich one’a parents are. We talking super mega millionaire rich, or working class rich?

            NYU is like $60,000 a year right? That puts serious pain into working class rich. So if a son or daughter knows this, I would think they’d be very motivated to try and make enough money to pay them back.

            But if the $250,000 is a drop in the bucket to the parents, maybe the son or daughter doesn’t feel bad, or a duty to pay back. Thoughts?

        4. On that point, my parents paid for all our education, including law school for 2 of us (ironically one sibling went to NYU law school) and flight school for the third. There’s no way they would ever expect to be paid back. But to ask them for money to pay rent or a bill would be extremely difficult – I can’t see any of us ever doing it, no matter how bad things got. They would be unbearably disappointed. So to start a business and fail – wouldn’t ask them for help. I’d rather be homeless on the streets (which is easy to say from a position of privilege).

  143. I love posts like this. You honestly state how people think but wouldn’t openly admit, although I don’t know if I agree with #14. One attribute I’ve noticed in folks who hide their wealth is they avoid associating too much with openly wealthy folks. The only people I know who show off their “wealth” have friends who do the same.

    1. That’s true. It’s why there are a lot of private clubs where wealthy folks can talk about their vacations, their homes, their toys and not feel discriminated against. They are talking naturally, but to others, they are being arrogant. You can’t win, which is why the wealthy close themselves off to others.

  144. We’re clearly not rich, but we do tend to do better than others. Just as you said, keeping a low profile and not bragging with how much you earn is always better.

  145. We are not rich at all, but we have a friend who thinks that we are extremely poor. He has even gone out of his way to offer to pay things for us (we have never said yes to him). I find it funny because he makes almost no money and yet he thinks that we are really struggling!

    1. That is pretty funny considering your weekly income reports. You’ve got a great friend. Does s/he not read your blog? If not, do you think they’d be taken aback if you haven’t been offering to pay?

  146. As I got a little bit older I realized that my friends were all playing a social game of keep up. We moved into a more socioeconomically diverse neighborhood. Life is better there. There will always be a lot of people I can’t keep up with financially and I am sad to see some of my friends overextend themselves trying to create a certain appearance… Plus, it’s funny when they ask me if my neighborhood is safe.

  147. Biggest pet peeve of mine: people believing cops only make 50k a year. My husband is a cop and this year he is well over 120k in salary. Yes, he works overtime to get that high, but his base is significantly higher than 50-60k. Cops make a lot more than people think. People feel sorry for me sometimes that my husband is ” just” a cop, when he is the smartest mambo know, highly educated, and does not “have an agenda” to write tickets all day. Financially we do better than most people I know who are our age (30’s).

    1. I think $50,000-$60,000 is just the average. Cops and firefighters with experience much so much more than people think as a result. In fact, I highlight being a cop or firefighter as one of the key ways to make six figures a year!

      You should feel good people feel sorry for you. That is the goal of the Stealth Wealth Movement so you don’t become a target!

    2. Smart people know cops can make good money. I have friends that rake it in doing O.T. . One of them was over 250K. The salaries were listed in the paper.

    3. Marie should re-read the article. Isn’t it one of the main points of the article to have everyone believe you make/have less than you really do? If everyone thinks cops make only 50K, then she has it made. Why the need to spoil that and tell everyone? Which is exactly contrary to what the article suggests.

  148. Stop smiling so much. – Hahaha. I disagree. Happy people will smile no matter if they’re poor or rich. Why frown when you can smile?

    1. I agree happy people will smile. It takes effort not to smile because you don’t want to annoy someone who doesn’t smile as often or isn’t as happy. It’s fun for people with little money to say “money doesn’t buy you happiness.” If you have money, you know that’s not the case and it’s the honorable thing to do to pretend like they are right.

      1. It’s been proven that smiling can have a positive impact on your health. Also, it can help brighten up your spirit at any given moment. To suggest that someone should smile less just doesn’t make sense–regardless of a stated rationale.

  149. There is definitely something to be said for being humble. I’m in the camp where I honestly do not care what other people’s opinion of me or what I do with my time or money is…but that being said: 1) I don’t put a title on my business card 2) I don’t bring people over to my home unless they are a close friend 3) I drive my 10 year old truck to work & not the nice car 4) I golf at public courses instead of joining the country club a mile from my house. 5) I do buy nice shoes though…that I think surprisingly gets noticed by a lot of women believe it or not. 6) you would have to be a watch guy to “notice” what I was wearing on my wrist, always subtle and understated.

    With that being said, you have to have balance in your life & live a little…there are no luggage racks on the top of a Hurst, so think of money as units & how you can use those units to get the best experience possible out of life. Whether that is by having financial independence (my 1st recommended priority) or enjoying a hobby that you are passionate about (traveling, family, snowboarding, wakeboarding, classic cars, photography, playing jarts, etc…) don’t turn into a grumpy old miser that never has fun! Do what is important to you!

  150. “You know those movies where a girl falls in love with an ordinary guy she meets at a park, but he turns out to be a prince instead?” How did you know about me? :) I kid, I kid…

    But seriously, in today’s America where the battle between the have and have nots is getting louder, more prevalent, and just down right scary, the stealth wealth option is the way to go. While sure I reveal the size of a couple of portfolio’s of mine on my blog, I have no delusions that my net worth and actual income will remain as something I don’t disclose. Being a target isn’t desirable, and I don’t envy those who make themselves one or are ones by the nature of their line of work.

    1. I always appreciate commenters who pick out some subtle points in my posts. Thanks.

      It’s fascinating to understand why some people want to be targets, unless they are so insecure with themselves that they are just seeking attention b/c nobody loves em?

      1. Haha it’s because some of us are actually reading what you write! :)

        I agree, I think some people struggle with insecurity to the point they need to be recognized for anything, even if it is ultimately harmful to them. I know I struggled with this a bit after moving around as a kid and not feeling like I fit in at a new school. As I aged (read: took till college) before I really completely understood the benefits of standing back and forcing anything to “fit in”.

  151. My parents live like this, or rather lived like this and accumulated their wealth by it, I think. My dad’s only a few years from retirement, and although I don’t have exact numbers, I’m quite sure my dad is worth a good deal of money. Only this year have they started to plan a vacation to Europe, and about dam time, too. My dad’s worked too hard not to be able to enjoy his money some.

    Serious question, though: there’s a show I watched on Netflix called Extreme Cheapskates, and some of the stuff they do to save a buck is pretty insane. There was one guy who brought 11 people to a buffet dinner and only paid for three plates (that is, for three people to eat), and expected his family to share off three plates. He also refused to buy any furniture for his family, preferring to find things for free–and he’s laughing the whole time about how much money he’s saved while his family is clearly annoyed. So my question is this: why do some people hoard money with no goals in mind, even to the point of refusing to make life for his family more comfortable?

    There’s obviously nothing wrong with secondhand or free furniture, but setting a TV on the floor because you’re too cheap to buy a table or entertainment stand (thereby forcing your family to sit on the floor to watch) seems wrong to me. If modest comfort isn’t even a priority for a person, what’s the point of having money at all? And even if a person like this does have awesome amounts of money, he’ll be too tight-fisted to enjoy it by the time retirement hits.

    Thoughts? My husband and I were puzzling over this yesterday, so I thought I’d ask.

      1. Bryce @ Save and Conquer

        I just saw a preview that showed a family of three all using the same bathwater, one after the other. Yuck. I’m not interested in watching that.

    1. [quote]
      If modest comfort isn’t even a priority for a person, what’s the point of having money at all? And even if a person like this does have awesome amounts of money, he’ll be too tight-fisted to enjoy it by the time retirement hits.

      Reminds me of something I saw on the mrmoneymustache blog. He says the people who say “what good is money if you don’t spend it” are really in trouble. The correct view is to say “what good is money if all you do is spend it”

      1. Money is the lubricant for other things in life. The trick is to keep the conveyor belt running. When the money machine stops, life changes quickly.

    2. Maybe that’s obsessive compulsive disorder. I remember reading that a long time ago Warren Buffett walked during snow in NYC only to save his taxi fare.

  152. Good post!

    I very much agree that it is important to NOT go overboard with wealth display. At minimum, for your security!

    For myself, this is not normally an issue. I’m rather naturally frugal and, I actually do shop at Target! :)

    1. Ace, I would totally agree. I remember when my whole town found out I was a millionaire, I was forced to move half way across the country to avoid making fake friendships and basically everything stated in this article!

      This article really do resonate with me!

      Greetings from Europe!

  153. I think you’re right that it’s important to demonstrate humility and be more low profile with increasing wealth inequality and a bigger government. America is still much more humble than emerging markets where the new wealth just flash their money all over the place.

    Everybody knows America is the wealthiest nation in the world. The people who flash wealth in America look to be the poorest people in the most debt.

  154. Stealth wealth is rather common in the Bay Area and in Silicon Valley. Sure there are some rich people who like to be flashy, but a lot of others blend in and look like plain Janes and Joes. Some even look like college students with their jeans, sweatshirts, and laptop bags. The tech influence is big here which has a lot to do with it. Funny and true tips in this post!

    1. I’m sure you’re right. People make so much money there. My brother makes pretty good money, but he is barely middle class there.
      You can almost always tell by their cars though. Californian likes their luxury cars.

      1. I can’t tell if it’s so much BA/SV residents exercising stealth wealth as it is trying to keep up with rising cost of living in the area. I’m hearing that rent for a Mountain View apartment near Castro Street is closing in on SF SOMA prices, which I find ludicrous. I think you’re right, most people are just maintaining middle class at best in the bay.

        1. It can’t be closing in because SF SOMA prices are also rocketing higher!

          You’ve got to make a lot to pay a lot. And there’s a huge line of people willing to pay these prices which means they are doing far better than maintaining.

          The SF Bay Area is leading the way in the Stealth Wealth Movement I believe. We aren’t suit types. We’re track pants and hoodies types.

          1. This is a good article. I earn a lot more than 200k. For most of my life, I made less. But u are right after 200K money did not mean much. I drive a Honda Civic. That tells u my relationship with money. I fly my family first class to Hawaii. Why? I want my grandchildren to learn there is more to life than a coach ticket. I want them to learn they like first class. I tell them the price for a ticket so they know it costs real money and their grandparents make the money through education and work. Show a child the power of money and I think the rest will take of its self. They don’t go if school grades are low. Their school work is their money for the trip.

        2. Hey Sam,

          Point taken, it’s not closing, but rising along side.

          Though likely not a majority, the people I know who are willing to pay SF SOMA prices are those who just want to experience living in the city for a few years. They’re willing to push their budgets and savings temporarily for an experience. Plus, experts are really clamoring on about how spending on experiences is what leads to happiness. That’s enough justification right?

          Didn’t expect you to comment on my first post. Btw, big fan here. Great content here.

        3. People in the Bay Area typically have crazy long commutes. When I was living out there, my commute was 70 miles one way. And the traffic tends to be heavy (especially on the Bay Bridge).

          That’s a tremendous amount stress, day in, day out (and wear & tear on your automobile). I can see where purchasing a home in the city would really help out. Even if you have to really stretch your finances to do so. And perhaps the banking industry is starting to open up again?

          It’s one of those things. Pay more for a short commute (or no commute), or spend three hours a day in your car!

          1. Not sure who you are talking about.

            My commute was 10-15 minutes by bus, just 3 miles away in SF.

            Thise who live in Palo Alto, Hillsborough, Atherton, Burlingame,
            Etc have short commutes in Silicon Valley.

            If your commute was 70 miles one way, you are living in the boondocks or Sacramento and commuting down. Save the trees Ace!

        4. But Sam,

          In Northern California, the best places to live are all inland. Blue skies and warmth, almost every day. And much better housing costs!

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