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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
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
For 2018, Joe plans to diversify his passive income by investing in US heartland real estate through RealtyShares. He has 3 rental units in Portland and he believes the local market is getting overpriced.
Joe highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help every investor analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.
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