Have you ever met anyone you thought was poor, barely making it, or not even having any money? Then you find out they are a millionaire? I once worked for a man that always worked in farming clothes. He had a modest house, but he would dress in his suits on Sundays to go to church in his Mercedes. Now this guy during the day would seem not wealthy at all. He is just a normal guy living down the road, but he practiced stealth wealth.
I cannot say that many people practice stealth wealth at all. Some people jump onto social media to brag about their money, the accumulated wealth they have built up, or even the items they have bought.
If you are practicing stealth wealth, most people would not even know you are wealthy. They would think you are just an average joe living next door.
Being an average Joe can allow you to blend into the crowd without people noticing you. This can be very helpful so people will not take advantage of your wealth. Living modestly and humbly is how some of us grew up.
For me, I lived in a very frugal home. My family worked hard to make things pleasant, but we did not go out of our way to look fancy or spend money we didn't have. My parents have accumulated more income-producing assets and grown their wealth with that frugality.
The Mick Jagger Spotting.
In late September 2021, Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones were in Charlotte for a concert. The night before the concert, Mick Jagger went out for a drink at an iconic bar and just looked like a typical average Joe. No one even noticed him.
He is the lead singer of the Rolling Stones. How does no one even notice him? That is the key to stealth wealth. People will notice if you walk anywhere looking fancy, spending a ton of money, and making yourself known. If you are casually dressed, wearing a ball cap, drinking a beer outside. No one is going to come up to. They will think you are like them.
That is the coolest thing in the world. We are all looking to hit it big or build wealth big enough for retirement or retire early. To become secretly rich, you must follow some of the concepts of stealth wealth.
What is Stealth Wealth?
Stealth Wealth keeps money and wealth hidden from people like your friends, family, and colleagues at work. It is not about hiding it, but more about hiding the fact that you have wealth.
When people know you have wealth, they will constantly come and ask you for money. Being generous is a good thing, but people will often take advantage of that generosity and want more.
Financial independence is more than creating wealth to achieve your financial goals. It is about creating freedom from work. You do not have to have a wealthy lifestyle or look rich. Yes, you can be self-made and have a high net worth, but remember, not all people can achieve a million-dollar wealth. People will become envious.
As a budgeter and saver, I want to make sure my money lasts me a long time. This takes much patience, guidance, and planning. Practicing good personal finance practices can help you increase wealth.
People may not have the same values as you. They may live paycheck to paycheck and not save money like you.
As we will discover, there are many millionaires in the U.S.A. we may not see them all the time. It is estimated that there are over 12 million millionaires in the U.S.A., and that number keeps growing.
We may see those that have new money or old money, but the ones hiding in plain sight are the stealth wealth people.
Benefits From Stealth Wealth
With stealth wealth comes many different types of benefits. These benefits come from just being able to live a better life without having to worry about others hovering over you for money.
Better Relationships With Others
People think of rich people as having advantages that others may not have. They may feel that you are loaded with money and willing to give it away. As you grow relationships with friends and family, you can grow these relationships without the thought of jealousy or envy.
If you practice stealth wealth, you can have the image of a regular person with an average amount of money. You drive a standard car, go to the grocery store like everyone else, have no big houses, do not have fancy clothes, and eat at expensive restaurants. There is always the occasional treat at a nice place to eat, but it is not regular.
People will build a relationship with you based upon who you are instead of what you have in the bank account. That is a huge plus.
Less Pressure to Impress
People often say, “dress to impress.” In reality, you do not need to dress to impress. People think this is true to grab a job, a partner, or even have a place in high society. Yes, clothing that fits looks better than clothing that does not fit. It would be best if you did not have to impress people for them to be around you.
Practicing stealth wealth allows you not to have to impress people with your money. They will like you for who you are. These are things that should be valued. Money isn't everything in the world, and therefore having it should not be the primary influence in a relationship.
You Don't Look Cheap
People will assume you have money if you are brag, boast, or even show off your money. So if you are cheap with people, they will think you are a cheapskate. I have seen it happen. My father-in-law is a frugal man, but he sold his business for a good bit of money; some people still think he may be cheap even though he is frugal.
There is a difference between frugal and cheap, but when people know you have money, they think you are cheap if you don't spend it.
Practicing stealth wealth allows you to hide the money and act like a regular person. People will not expect you to be spending all the time. You will use your wealth to make money and to invest it.
Here are 8 Ways to Practice Stealth Wealth:
Practicing stealth wealth is a way to help hide the fact that you are the millionaire next door. People won't expect too much from you, and you can be generous when you want but not ripped off from others. Here are just a few ways to practice stealth wealth.
Don't Brag on Social Media
One of the most significant ways people will know how much you have is by bragging on social media—showing everyone your new ride, throwing money in the air, or even having the most lavish vacations. These things will either show people you are living it big or you have a massive amount of money in the bank.
My wife and I try to live modest lives and a frugal lifestyle. We are showing pictures of our adventures and thanking people for the excellent hospitality we offer on social media. This can bring on unwanted attention to how much money you may have.
Use social media to inspire and to love people. This should not be a place to incite jealousy or any other ill behaviors. So don't brag about things on social media.
Drive Average Cars.
There are a couple of things that people notice. One, they see the clothes you are wearing, and two, they notice the cars you are driving. Most people will drive an average car. That is the way to fit into regular society.
It can be a dream to own a Mercedes or even a Porche. Being average is a good thing if you want to practice stealth wealth. Driving average cars allows you not to stand out.
The other benefit of driving an average car is the maintenance and upkeep. Expensive cars tend to have costly care, plus any damage done to them will be expensive on insurance. Driving average cars helps keep costs down.
Never Reveal Your Income
This is a rule that a lot of people talk about. If you were to reveal your income as something crazy high, people could see you as a target. This does not allow you to live your stealth wealth life. Having an average income is better if you want to share it with others.
Suppose you want to know the industry average for a job. In that case, sharing your income is helpful, but like I said before, having a ridiculously high income can bring on some unwanted trouble if you are telling every Dick, Jane, and Harry. So beware with the information you give out.
Diversify Your Assets
Having diversification in your assets helps you in many ways. First, you will not rely on one asset class over another. Secondly, if you are secretly wealthy, diversification shows you may not be too wealthy.
You may have a lot of money spread around in the stock market, real estate, and a personal business, but it is not all in one asset class that shows you are wealthy. It helps with the appearance of stealth wealth.
Check out your allocations with your wealth. You put things in index funds on some excellent diversification, put a percentage in real estate, and find other assets to help you out.
Being able to look at the part and do the part of stealth wealth is the key. If you are flashy with your money, people will notice. If you practice frugality, those around you will not notice at all.
I recently read an article that Eric Clapton does his laundry at a local laundromat. People never notice him because he looks like a regular guy. He doesn't look flashy. Plus, what rich person does their laundry at the laundromat, if you think about it.
If you want to keep off the appearance of being regular, you practice frugality.
Spending habits are a big red flag. We all have our spending habits that people pick up on—going out to eat once a week can be a typical habit that people will pick up on. If that habit were to change to go out 3-4 times a week, some of us would wonder if they suddenly have a lot of money or are overspending.
If you can keep your spending to the same people, you will never notice if you have a lot of money. Keep in mind that your actions shouldn't change because you have money. It would be best to practice humility and not flaunt out any extra money.
Create Trusts and Wills
Having a trust or a will helps keep your money safe for future generations. Some people want to take advantage of your money and income.
A new show on Apple TV called “The Shrink Next Door.” It is a true story of a psychologist who takes advantage of a freshly made new millionaire with anxiety issues.
As you can see, the psychologist took advantage of his patient to enrich himself, and therefore we must be vigilant in protecting wealth from those who want to manipulate us. Having trust or a will can help make this possible.
Practice Empathy and Humility
Empathy and humility go a long way in life. Life should not be about bragging and boasting about new riches or wealth. W need to learn to be generous, have some humility, and practice being empathic towards others.
Money isn't everything, and therefore, we need to realize there is more to life than just money.
Having stealth wealth is never about just hiding your wealth. It is more about protecting yourself and creating a better place than what we have found it.
As an avid camper and hiker, I want to leave each place better than I have found it. Having wealth is an opportunity to help those around us and realize there are opportunities to be generous.
As I think about stealth wealth, I want to emphasize that wealth is not bad. It is not an evil thing that some may have perceived it as. We see rich and famous people through social media and many other avenues. Their wealth brings envy into our minds, and we want them not to succeed.
This is not the right attitude to have. We need to practice humility and empathy towards others. If you create a bunch of wealth, practicing stealth wealth will allow you to help others around you. Learn to live a more frugal life where money doesn't determine what life can look like.
We will not need to live in fear of people taking advantage of us. Stealth wealth allows us to continue to live our regular lives and not be judged for any wealth we may have accumulated.
Does stealth wealth seem like it is something for you? Do you live like the millionaire next door?
I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more. And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.