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How to Appear Richer Than You Are

{ 48 comments }

Everyone wants to be rich, right? Even if you can’t be rich, at least you can try to look like you’re rich. Well, I don’t consider us wealthy, but I think we are much more financially successful than the average American family. Our retirement account is in much better shape than the median household. We invest in stocks, bonds, and rental homes. We don’t have debt except for the real estate mortgages. Basically, we don’t have to worry about money much because our finance is set up to grow.

Anyway, if you pass me in the street, you wouldn’t think I’m in such a good financial position. Portland is a laid back city and almost everyone dresses for comfort. We live downtown and causal dressers probably outnumber suits by 50:1. I love the casual atmosphere here because it’s very comfortable for me. I never liked wearing suits. I just feel so stiff and unnatural. Well, I’m not sure if I’m a good coach on how to appear rich, but let’s give it a try anyway.

How to appear richer than you areClothes

“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

If you want to appear successful, then you need to wear nice clothes. Tailored suits are the way to impress your boss, coworkers, and the ladies. For casual days, pick expensive brand names likes Polo and Lacoste to go with a pair of dressy pants. You also need nice shoes and expensive watches to complete the package. Never mind that nobody really needs a watch these days.

<Joe’s style> If the goal is dressing for the job you want, then I got it down. I’m wearing sweat pants and a t-shirt as I’m typing this up! There are some advantages to being a stay at home dad/blogger and dressing comfortably is high on the list. I do venture out sometimes and I look like a typical messy Portlander. Actually, I’m in the process of wearing out my clothes. Now that I’m not working for a corporation anymore, I can wear whatever I want and I have a ton of clothes! Most of them are getting old and faded, but they are perfectly serviceable. I want to wear holes into them before throwing them out. Fortunately, Portland is a really laid back city and everyone dresses casually. Nobody really cares what anyone else wears. As long as you do not smell like a homeless person, you’re pretty good.

Grooming

“Anyone can be confident with a full head of hair. But a confident bald man, there’s your diamond in the rough.” –Larry David

It’s the little details that count. Men need to get a nice hair cut every few weeks or so. They also need to get a manicure so you can impress the tellers at bank as you sign the checks on the counter. Get your eyebrows plucked and groomed by professionals, too. Don’t forget expensive cologne.

<Joe’s style> Grooming is the first thing to go when you quit a job. I give myself and the kid a buzz cut every 6 weeks or so. I shave every few days so I’m not that scruffy… When the kid is a bit older, then we’d probably go to the barber shop. My grooming budget is zero at the moment. Lastly, I hate the smell of cologne and perfume. People always use too much.

Car

“You are what you drive.”

Ahh… Yes, you are what you drive (especially true in California). The easiest way to appear richer than you are is to visit a luxury car dealer of your choice and talk to their finance department. See what the most expensive car they’d let you borrow for and buy that. You can probably lease an even more expensive car so don’t discount that option. You’ll feel like a million bucks as you drive around in that new Mercedes-Benz. If you have kids, then get the biggest luxury SUV you can find. Bigger is better.

<Joe’s style> We purchased a Mazda 5 in cash 5 years ago and we’re planning to drive it into the ground. The Mazda 5 is a small minivan and it’s the perfect car for our family. Luxury cars are nice, but I hate paying the premium and the expensive maintenance cost. Beside, the $75,000 I saved from not buying a Mercedes Benz GL550 will turn into a million dollars in 40 years! I’d rather have that than a 40 year old luxury SUV.

Home

Of course, when it comes to where you live, you need to go for the best. You’ll spend most of your life at home so you need to splurge as much as you can. The banks have loosened up their purse strings and it’s a bit easier to get a big mortgage than a few years ago. Drop by your bank and see how much they will let you borrow. Once you have a figure from the bank, buy the biggest and nicest McMansion you can find. Of course, you’d have to fill it with designer furniture and decorations to impress the neighbors, too.

<Joe’s style> We live in an expensive city so expensive housing is unavoidable. Our home is a small 1,000 square feet condo, but it was pretty darn expensive. We could have borrowed much more, but the condo was perfect when we were a DINK couple. We will probably move to a bigger place in a few years now that we have a kid. My mom also visits us for extended periods so we definitely need a little more elbow room. We’ll miss living in a smaller home because everything from property tax to the utility bills is much cheaper than a bigger home.

Better to be rich than to appear rich

I’m afraid when it comes to appearing richer than you are, I’m not very successful. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because I’m much richer than I look. The Millionaire Next Door found that most millionaires don’t look wealthy. Many of them drive modest cars, live in average neighborhoods, wear average priced clothes, and are careful with their money. (You should read this classic book if you haven’t yet).

If you want to look richer than you are, then you need to borrow money to do so. Even millionaires will get into financial trouble if they max out their mortgages, car loans, and credit cards. Instead of spending money to appear richer than you are, why not invest it instead so you can really become rich?

Here is a question for the wealthy readers – do you look like you’re rich?

Image credit: flickr by emilydickinsonridesabmx

 

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{ 48 comments… add one }
  • Ernie Zelinski March 20, 2015, 2:08 am

    “. . . question for the wealthy readers – do you look like you’re rich.”

    First, I am not necessarily wealthy (around $1 million in assets) although some people will consider me so. I make a great income (although at the same time some people will still think my income is not so great).

    I certainly don’t look rich. I have some really nice jackets with style, ones that cost $400 and $500. But when it comes to “fashion”, I am in agreement with this famous playwright.

    “Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable we have to keep changing it every season.”
    — Oscar Wilde

    I have two cars. One is a 1995 Camry and the other is a 2003 Solara. I could buy ten Mercedes for cash. But I always remember what multimillionaire Harvey Mackay, (author of “Swim With the Sharks”) stated: “I suppose there are people with real money who drive Cadillacs and Mercedes. I don’t know many. As long as practically anyone can own one of these so-called prestige cars, who’s going to be impressed? If you can afford a fancy car, you make more of an impact driving an ordinary one.”

    I live in a modest half-duplex in an area where I am in the top 5 percent of income earners. I am of the conviction that one should live in the ugliest house on the block. That way, everyone on the block has to look at it much more than me. Incidentally, in the last week I received a “Violation Notice” from the City of Edmonton indicating that a complaint has been received about my detached garage at the back of the property and it has to be demolished by March 31. Obviously one of my neighbors does not like the garage, which is over 35 years old. I think it is the neighbor who about two years ago told me I should sell my 1995 Camry (she doesn’t like clunkers in front of or near her house). But I digress too much. (I think that I will win my fight against the City given that the City issued a Certificate of Compliance for the duplex and detached garage when I purchased my property in 2007.)

    No, I don’t look rich. Ultimately, money is not about looking rich. There is a higher purpose to money. “It frees you from doing things you dislike,” quipped Groucho Marx. “Since I dislike doing nearly everything, money is handy.”

    Ernie J. Zelinski
    The Prosperity Guy
    “Helping Adventurous Souls Live Prosperous and Free”
    Author of the Bestseller “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free”
    (Over 250,000 copies sold and published in 9 languages)
    and the International Bestseller “The Joy of Not Working”
    (Over 280,000 copies sold and published in 17 languages)

    • retirebyforty March 20, 2015, 10:34 am

      Thanks for the story Ernie. Good luck with the fight.
      I agree with you about owning the smallest house on the block. The more expensive houses will lift the price of your house. 🙂
      That’s a great quote from Marx.

    • Serge March 20, 2015, 11:05 am

      How is Zelenski’s comment always the first one in line, complete with applicable quotes?
      Does he stay glued to his email screen 24/7 just watching for a message from Joe?

  • Clarisse March 20, 2015, 3:12 am

    If I would become rich, I wouldn’t buy an expensive car. Even if I have enough money, I spend money too much just to buy an expensive car.

    • Retired To Win March 20, 2015, 6:33 am

      One of the 2 things that really helped us get “rich” fast was to stop thinking about buying newer/expensive cars. We drive a 1996 Dodge Dakota and a 1998 Subaru Forester. Doing so got us to earlier retirement about $250,000 to $300,000 sooner.

      Anyway, back when I DID need a fancy car for my job, I managed doing that and still save money by buying for cash a 10-year old Thunderbird and sprucing it up. My clients LOVED that car. And I loved it and the money it saved me. 😉

      • retirebyforty March 20, 2015, 10:43 am

        Yeah, a new expensive car is probably the worse thing people spend money on. You’re just paying for depreciation.

  • Pennypincher March 20, 2015, 3:50 am

    Lol! Joe, you are so funny and creative. Loved the Larry David quote. And I don’t miss the awful (cheap) colognes co-workers would wear on the job. Or the terrible coffee breath, or worse! One co-worker “appeared” rich.Big expensive wardrobe, car, dinners out in the city weekly, the whole lifestyle. Until her husband died suddenly and left her in terrible, deep debt at 60. All lifestyle.
    You’d think the “faking it” ones would have learned their lessons w/the 2008 crash, but no. They are right back at mortgaging the big homes, cars, consumer debt, etc. And watch out for the repair bills on the Mazda. Labor costs aside, it’s the required “Mazda only” parts, very expensive. Had to give that lovely car up. Hey, I’ve seen street people in Portland in very expensive (North Face, Patagonia) outdoor/casual wear! It’s not hard to look expensive/rich.
    I myself have no one to impress, was brought up middle class, would rather hang out w/the middle class & working class. Funny post, Joe! Thanx for the laugh & smile.

    • Retired To Win March 20, 2015, 6:38 am

      Not NEEDING to impress anyone is the one way to go if one wants to stay financially sane.

      You know what impresses my wife and I? The ample cushion between our living expenses and our passive income. No, it doesn’t show. No, other people can’t tell. But who the heck cares?! Those people are still commuting to work in their 60s. We get to stay at home doing whatever we want.

    • retirebyforty March 20, 2015, 10:37 am

      Thanks for the compliment! It took me a long time to write this blog post. It’s not my usual style, but it turned out pretty well. Even Mrs. RB40 said she loved it. That’s a great compliment when she has to read almost every post on this site. 🙂
      Yikes! Your coworker was living it up too much.

  • Taylor Lee @ Engineer Cents March 20, 2015, 5:21 am

    I’m by no means rich, though my salary would indicate I’m on my way. Even if I were though, I’d never buy a luxury car. Just not my thing. I do take care of my personal appearance and buy medium-high quality clothes that are made well with nice fabrics (and even get them tailored sometimes). Nothing flashy, but well-fitting and nice. Other than that, not too many status indicators I exhibit.

    • retirebyforty March 20, 2015, 10:38 am

      Tailored clothes are definitely nicer to wear. I need to improve my appearance a bit, but it’s tough in Portland. Everyone is so messy…

  • Mike Drak March 20, 2015, 5:32 am

    Someone asked me the other day (true story) if I could have any car in the world which one would I pick. I replied, a truck that didn’t leak oil. No, the other person said I meant any car in the world like a Rolls, Bentley etc which one would you choose? A black truck with a trailer hitch that didn’t leak oil I replied. My statement made me laugh as I knew I had finally figured things out. Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.
    When I first entered the investment industry I was told that I should lease an expensive car which would convey how successful I was. I thought maybe people would think better of me if I drove a cheap car after all I’m constantly telling clients they should try to adopt a more frugal lifestyle. Comments anybody? Who would you trust more?

    • Kat March 20, 2015, 9:11 am

      Mike, if it were me I’d trust the frugal mindset more simply because in my mind that connotes economic and common sense.

      • Mike Drak March 20, 2015, 5:29 pm

        Kat, I totally agree with you. The key for me is to remain authentic but so many people think you should try and pretend to be someone else. That’s when the trouble starts!

    • retirebyforty March 20, 2015, 10:40 am

      That’s a great reply! You’ve got it figured out.
      I’m not sure about business vehicle thing. I guess you have to look the part. I wouldn’t want my roofer to show up in a Mercedes… 🙂

    • InsiderAccountant March 26, 2015, 9:02 pm

      I often wonder why clients of financial advisers don’t pick up on the fact that most financial advisers don’t practice what they preach. While I don’t pay people for financial advice, I would only trust those that actually live frugally and follow their own advice, simply because I can’t stand hypocrisy!

      I have found that a huge portion of financial advisers are very hypocritical and not financially successful (in my view) at all. I posted on this issue recently here http://insideraccountant.com/2015/03/21/is-your-financial-adviser-a-hypocrite-2/

      If financial advisers were as successful as they are hoping to appear, they would probably be retired already!

  • Jon March 20, 2015, 6:28 am

    When I was younger I fell for the whole designer clothes thing. Then I saw a guy with a really nice shirt on and he told me he got it at JCPenny or somewhere like that. I was blown away. It made me realize that it’s not the label that matters, it’s as long as it fits nicely that counts. I no longer shop the name brand stores and only buy clothes on sale.

    • Retired To Win March 20, 2015, 6:43 am

      True stories: the tie I got the most compliments on from coworkers and clients was one I bought at a Goodwill store for 50 cents. And the blazer that got me the most compliments at work also came from a thrift store. So, right, it’s not what you pay for your clothes that’s really important. Truth be told, neither is the label.

    • retirebyforty March 20, 2015, 10:42 am

      I rarely buy clothes now. Maybe a few pieces per year max. I have a ton of clothes and I want to wear them out. I don’t want to just throw them out even if they are faded. Thanks for the comment.

  • You can still look good, drive a decent and reliable car and live in a nice house without going to the other extreme of expensive name brand clothes, luxury cars and McMansions. Honestly, I think it’s important to look good, but I don’t care about looking rich (stealth wealth like Financial Samurai says!). Oh and I was interested in the Mazda5 since I don’t want to drive a Minivan behemoth…but we have one kid and plan to have another one. The Mazda5 seems like a good family car. I heard the gas mileage isn’t that great though. And can you fit shorter adults in the 3rd row or is it really tight?

    • retirebyforty March 20, 2015, 10:45 am

      I agree. You just need to live within your means. If you don’t make a lot of money, don’t try to look rich. If you do, then enjoy what the money can bring you. We like the Mazda 5. The gas mileage isn’t that great, but I think it’s still better than the bigger minivans. Yes, the 3rd row is fine for small/medium adults.

  • phr3dly March 20, 2015, 7:33 am

    I don’t know if we’re rich, but with a NW of about $4M and household income over $500K, wealthier than some.

    We live in a house we paid about $350K for. The clothes I’m wearing are typical, factory seconds bought for half price. Most days I’m unshaven. We do drive new cars, not luxury but comfortable, total value of probably $70K. Of course we paid cash for them.

    I read the millionaire next door years ago. It was a great read, and now that we qualify as millionaires, I do see most of the described traits from the book in us.

    • Josh March 20, 2015, 9:04 am

      You’re rich both in your NW and income. Congratulations and count your blessings.

    • retirebyforty March 20, 2015, 10:46 am

      I’d say you’re pretty wealthy. 🙂
      Thanks for the feedback. The Millionaire next door is a great book and I’m glad to see a real millionaire next door among us.

  • Pennypincher March 20, 2015, 8:27 am

    Joe, you could pick up a sidegig, doing standup comedy at your nearby comedy club! Most times, I don’t look rich, and I am so cheap, I don’t even waste ice cubes.

    • retirebyforty March 20, 2015, 10:47 am

      Thanks! I appreciate that.

  • Josh March 20, 2015, 8:56 am

    No one recommends spending money they don’t have to keep up an appearance. The flip side of that extreme behavior is being navel gazing in somewhat of a misguided way and completely oblivious to what anyone else cares. It’s great to drive an inexpensive car which works perfectly fine, build up savings, live in a modest home, but wearing clothes in public until they have holes in them and faded color publicly is just plain laziness and carelessness. Would you send your kid to daycare with faded clothes and holes in them? If your house or car window had holes and completely faded paint job, would you just patch it up with duct tape and plastic and let the paint peel off? No one needs to buy overpriced brand clothing, but at least have a little more self respect regarding personal appearance and know when to replace something and what to wear publicly versus what to wear just at home.

    • SavvyFinancialLatina March 20, 2015, 9:32 am

      Who cares? Paying too much attention to what society cares about is pointless. If the kids are happy running around and playing? If they have a happy family home? Who cares?

      • Josh March 20, 2015, 9:57 am

        If people and kids are happy doing whatever they want to including overeating and becoming overweight, would you still have that “who cares?” attitude as long as they were happy? Have a healthy amount of self respect and pride in oneself, including their personal appearance

      • Lou March 24, 2015, 2:28 am

        When I’m at work, I have no choice but to maintain a professional appearance. However, when on my own time I really don’t care what people think of the clothes I wear. I have an old and faded pair of blue jeans with a hole in the left back pocket, and I still wear those jeans everywhere. I never put any times in my left back pocket so I don’t have to worry about anything falling out of it. Other than the hole these jeans are in good condition, so I’m not going to throw them out and buy a new pair just because a bunch of people I don’t even know or care about might not approve.

    • retirebyforty March 20, 2015, 10:51 am

      Yes… my kid goes to preschool with holes in his jeans. Lots of kids in his preschool are the same way. They grow up so fast, it’s not worth buying new jeans for. It’s almost summer anyway.
      It’s just clothes that I don’t really care about. I think looking fit and happy goes a long way. Clothes doesn’t really matter that much. I take care of our car and home.

  • Vivianne March 20, 2015, 10:00 am

    This post probably popular among the women. We love finding deals. Say, buy a Coach bag at a Coach outlet that marked down 70% from $300 (it’s still a wooping $90). Then, people are just being polite by compliment it “oh! you have a nice bag!” This creates such satisfaction, that us, women, will keep going back for more. Better yet, sometimes, it’s already marked out 70%, then coach have their employee at the door giving additional 30% off! wow! right? The $5 part and labor bag, Coach still sell it to us at $63. And we feel GREAT! for getting a dearler stealer deal!! hahaha

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Beauty comes from within. Beauty is simple. A person who act nicely, think nicely, and talk nicely, that is a beautiful person. It’s not the house, the car, the materials that they worked so hard (trading health for wealth).

    Anyhow, I was driving an old beat up car 17 years old car, my parking spot cost over $1000/yr, my car worth about $500 😛 . Everyday, I parked next to these BMW, Mercedes, convertible, SUV, etc. My doors are all banged up because these people weren’t being mindful when they open their door or backing out. What’s beauty in that, when they can’t even be nice!?

  • SavvyFinancialLatina March 20, 2015, 11:08 am

    I completely agree with you. I don’t remember the last time I bought a full price clothing item. There is definitely a draw in having the nicest car, nicest house. At my company it seems everyone has the nicest clothes, nicest cars, and nicest houses. I was pulling out of the parking lot and noticed someone from another team go to their car. She had a Benz SUV. Super nice. And she’s only in her mid 20s. I know I am in my mid 20s and can’t afford that car. So what does that mean? Is she making that much more than me???
    One of my coworkers just bought a $50000 truck. He’s single, lives in the city. I often wonder…great does he make more than me? Because I can’t afford that.

  • Justin @ Root of Good March 20, 2015, 11:32 am

    So glad to be retired and wear shorts and casual shirts 99.9% of the time (weather permitting). The only time I dress up is weddings, funerals, 4x/year for my school board meetings (volunteer gig), and formal night on cruises. Life is pretty good, and I need to ditch some of those white button up long sleeve shirts in my closet. 🙂

    Speaking of dress code, I heard some sad news while volunteering at the kids’ school today. Since next week is a short week at school, teachers get to wear jeans all three days instead of just on Fridays. Wow, that’s some serious lack of flexibility if you can’t wear jeans Monday-Thursday during normal times. It seems like a working perk that wouldn’t cost anything, yet is denied for no good reason. So glad I don’t have to deal with that type of BS any more!

  • David Michael March 20, 2015, 11:41 am

    It took me a good many years to understand the quote from Ram Dass,
    “the game is not about becoming somebody, it’s about becoming nobody.”

    After I had realized all of my goals and dreams was I ready to cast them aside and live a life of a nobody…sometime in my sixties. It has been a wonderful retirement as a result.

    • Josh March 20, 2015, 4:43 pm

      Have to completely disagree with this. When someone is young, they should try to utilize all their potential and work hard to become a somebody in society. After a decade or two, it’ll become abundantly clear whether someone has made it or is realistically close to making it. At that point in their life if they know they’ll only become middle to upper middle class, they can pursue a different path. But not even putting any sort of an effort to become successful when someone is young after all the years of investing in education just to become average to slightly above average middle class person seems like a waste of potential.

  • MU March 20, 2015, 4:35 pm

    Interesting post. I agree with you that “Yes, you are what you drive (especially true in California). ” I am in California. But we don’t drive expensive cars in our family because we want to spare the money for investment. In some occasions, I have to endure the subtle eyes because of my average car. I don’t care much though 🙂

  • connie munoz March 20, 2015, 4:55 pm

    I drive a 2002 monte carlo, bought it in 2005, it was 10,000 paid cash and I will drive it till it dies, in 9 years I have put 800 into tires and 800 into having engine gaskets replaced we happen to have a great friend that works on cars, and we use to entertain when we first bought our home, and it was costing us a fortune for food,drinks and everything else to entertain and we quickly learned who were real friends, we do not have those dinner partys anymore, we so don’t miss them and our budget loves them, as far as everything else, we so don’t live up to the jones, we don’t want people to know we have money, I think its best to live frugal, and who cares what people think about you, its not about the clothing you wear or what you drive, if it does those are the wrong friends…..

  • Mike Drak March 20, 2015, 5:15 pm

    One day I noticed at the bank I was working at that all the tellers were driving nicer cars than the managers. Seemed to me that something was just not right. My wife loves high end purses. I said I would buy her a knock off because no one would know the difference as long as she didn’t go out in the rain. After talking to her she convinced me to go out and buy the real deal. I’m still laughing about that one.

  • Adam @ AdamChudy.com March 20, 2015, 6:09 pm

    I agree on the car and house, but it really doesn’t take much money to dress well as a man. A single decent navy suit can be had for under $200 if you watch the right sales, and a $50 at a tailor and you have something you can wear to almost any formal occasion for at least a decade.

    (I also love my barber)… Keeping that one.

  • Jason March 20, 2015, 7:26 pm

    Joe,

    “Beside, the $75,000 I saved from not buying a Mercedes Benz GL550 will turn into a million dollars in 40 years! I’d rather have that than a 40 year old luxury SUV.”

    I love that! 🙂

    You know that I recently went car-free, so I couldn’t agree more. And living there in Portland (a fantastic city for public transit) means you guys really don’t need more than one car, especially with you working from home.

    BTW, I’ve done a lot of research on Portland lately. Beautiful city. It seems very “Europeanesque” to me, with the narrow streets, public transit, overall architectural look, cleanliness, trees, and everything else. Reminds me of some Scandinavian cities. It’s a shame that the COL and state income tax are somewhat high. The weather isn’t my favorite, either. But I’d like to check the city out one of these days!

    Best regards.

  • freebird March 20, 2015, 8:50 pm

    IMO owning anything that is mass-produced doesn’t distinguish wealth. Looking wealthy would take a bevy of full time servants who maintain your villa and escort you when you go out. Your banker, your attorney, and your physician would all make house calls for you. Material possessions would include high-value unique items like Picassos, antique furniture, and a wardrobe that is hand-tailored by artisans. Most millionaires don’t look wealthy because they’re not– and they know it.

  • Kenny March 21, 2015, 12:17 am

    We definitely live below our means, show our wealth way below our assets, display mediocrity around friends, and for sure continue to save money by buying used cars or cutting corners.

    It has become a habit from yester years, and it is hard to break. Sure, I will buy splurge for example, by buying my wife of a 29 year marriage a new 1.75c diamond engagement ring since she was tired of the old one. Saving is an objective, while buying something is not an obstacle, and that is what has become our current lives.

    Kenny

  • Samurai March 21, 2015, 2:49 pm

    It’s fun to just blend in and not call any attention onto oneself. Stealth Wealth is the best way to go.

  • Michelle March 21, 2015, 5:24 pm

    I don’t need to look rich, but I do think that people should be well-groomed. I wrote a post about my hoodie hate this week. I do think that you have to be aware of how you present yourself to others. But, I shop at Thrift Stores usually so I don’t break the bank to look my best. Other than that, I would prefer for people to underestimate what I have based on their preconceived notions.

  • No Nonsense Landlord March 21, 2015, 7:23 pm

    It’s always better to be rich, and look homeless than vice versa. Looking too good can only lead to people begging for money, or robbing you.

    When I go out, the I want the last thing anyone to expect is I have a few bucks in my wallet. I rather have them think they should just stay away. Or even throw me a $5 for food.

  • Lila March 24, 2015, 7:22 am

    I like to buy high quality items when they go on sale so they will last me longer but that doesn’t mean it has to be a designer brand. Sometimes I get designer items when they go on sale. I tend to think that time is the greatest luxury so I’m not too worried about “looking rich” nor trying to impress others. I’d rather have my time than worry about appearing rich.

  • Dave March 26, 2015, 8:00 pm

    I love this post and also the term one of the other posters coined which was “stealth wealth.” I am not the richest guy, having only a one million net worth, but I think what distinguishes me is my having NO debt. I have been debt free since I discovered “Financial Peace” in the mid-90s. If I hadn’t lived debt free all this time I wouldn’t have anywhere near as much money. Now my family buys all designer clothes at the wonderful consignment stores in our city and we love to talk about wearing hundreds of dollars worth of designer clothes for less than 50 bucks (sometimes less than 30 for a top of the line women’s outfit with a nice purse and accessories). My co-workers pay top dollar ($50-$100 depending on the shirt) for the same RL Polo shirts I buy for about 9 bucks and I never tell them what a good deal I got. I drive a 2004 Honda Accord that only has 45K and I will be driving it for many years to come because it never needs repair and gets good mileage. My wife and I just moved to a much smaller, rental, townhouse with no yard – not because we had to, but to save the $1000 plus in wasted lawn maintenance fees at our old place and also to save a lot on utilities. My co-workers live in highly mortgaged McMansions and I truly believe they think we are poor rather than the Millionaires Next Door. A few years ago I went to an investment seminar and when I entered I saw this chilled out (think Jimmy Buffet) looking guy hovering in the back in a sunglasses, a T-shirt, shorts, and flip flops. When the seminar began the moderator announced we were lucky enough to have one of the wealthiest real estate investors in the state, worth several hundreds of millions (I think it was 400 or 500 million), in the room to speak to us. Then the guy in shorts a T-shirt and flips walks up to the podium and starts talking. One of the first things he said was “you may have noticed that I dress relaxed and don’t look like a multimillionaire.” He continued, “I have enough money that I can dress any way I want to and nobody can do anything about it and they still listen to me because money talks – not fancy clothes.” He told us that there were lots of extremely wealthy people around us every day and that we never knew it because they were dressed like him, and that most of the luxury cars you see are bought on credit and the people who buy them live in houses that are mortgaged to the max. That seminar made a real impression on me. Right after that, at the real estate company where I worked at the time, we had an old man in overalls driving an old car walk in and lay down $100,000 in cash from a brown paper bag to buy a piece of property. These two events showed me about “stealth wealth” and that I really liked that style of living.

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