When envisioning wealth, do you see images of private jets, Rolex watches, lavish parties, extra chilled martinis, and private schools for toddlers in branded clothes? That may be, but this post is about practicing stealth wealth for those who wish to keep their financial situation below the radar.
Most people want wealth but differ in their commitment to achieving their goals. Many definitions of wealth include “the abundance of material possessions or resources,” as Merriam-Webster does, but materialism is not mandatory.
Wealth is achievable, but not by simply desiring it. It requires a set of values involving hard work, spending below your means with a more modest lifestyle, saving, and investing more. Find out the importance of achieving stealth wealth and maintaining your wealth and liquidity.
What is Stealth Wealth?
Stealth wealth differs significantly from most people’s image of wealth, which reflects lavish spending on showy material possessions, expensive cars replaced frequently, yachts, fancy couture and jewelry, Patek Philippe watches, and mansions. Instead of “Keeping up with the Jones,” those who practice stealth wealth will go against that grain.
They believe in financial independence and are less concerned with displaying high social status. The current generation wants to leave behind family wealth as a legacy for our children, the next generation, so they have financial advantages to better themselves.
Stealth wealth is not a new concept: the authors, Drs. Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko documented their findings about millionaires. They found two types: Prodigious Accumulators of Wealth (PAWS) and Under Accumulators of Wealth (UAWs) in The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy, a favorite book. They found that the PAWs had a minimum of four times the wealth accumulated by UAWs. The PAWs were more likely to be blue-collar middle class, with a propensity to be self-employed, avoiding status symbols, have minimal debt, and spend well below their means with strong savings and investing behaviors. The UAWs were professionals in medicine and law, living above their means, and that emphasized higher consumption.
Stanley and Danko uncovered some surprising facts about American millionaires:
- At most, 20% receive any income or wealth from a trust fund or an estate.
- More than half never received as much as $1 in inheritance. 91% never received, as a gift, as much as $1 of the ownership of the family business.
- Fewer than 25% ever received “an act of kindness” of $10,000 or more from their parents, grandparents, or other relatives.
- Nearly half had not received any college tuition from their parents or relatives.
Most millionaires are first-generation. They didn’t inherit their wealth, contrary to common beliefs. According to a 2017 study by Fidelity Investments, 88% of US millionaires are self-made.
8 Simple Ways To Live A Stealth Wealth Lifestyle
1. Don’t Flaunt Your Financial Situation
Envy is sometimes an inevitable emotion raised by those you hold most dear. It may raise questions and make them feel worse about themselves than happy for you. You may be financially successful, but your friends and family may only want to know if you can help them.
You don’t want to attract unwarranted attention from those who may wish to take advantage of your standing, including those who would defraud you in a heartbeat. The wealthier you appear, the more likely you or your family become targets for economic or physical harm like kidnapping.
2. Don’t Show or Tell Anyone
You don’t need to share details about how you earn and save. There’s no upside to sharing your bonus with anyone, which may make you feel guilty. Avoid buying status objects to impress others. No one will appreciate your journey and sacrifices.
3. Low Expectations
People who know you are wealthy often lean on rich people for loans, treats, or gifts. According to studies, lottery winners who become instantly wealthy often face difficulty maintaining the money due to overspending and providing gifts to family and friends. Practicing stealth wealth will help you avoid disappointing friends and family who depend on you for financial support.
4. Stay Who You Are
Given the high percentages of self-made millionaires, you grew up in a modest home. Despite being more financially secure, stay who you are. Many wealthy people maintain a low profile and a frugal lifestyle because it suits them, including Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Charlie Munger, among the wealthiest people in the world. Rich celebrities like Lady Gaga, Keanu Reeves, and Barbara Corcoran admit to frugal habits. They have financial freedom and continue to work hard in their respective careers.
5. Be Savvy With Your Money
Manage your money for your long-term future. Living a low-consumption lifestyle below your means gives you the best chance of maintaining wealth. You should consult a financial planner to help with your budget, investments, insurance, potential early retirement, tax optimization strategies, estate planning, and generational wealth for your children.
6. Take Care When Investing
The wealthy are often bombarded by investment schemes that may be fraudulent or highly risky. In The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason, another favorite of mine, the primary character, Arkad, says, “Guard thy treasures from loss.” Investments are often fraught with dangers, especially for beginners. Not every investment bears fruit. Learn about the risks of investing, whether in the stock market or a new business. Consult those with training and more experience in that field. Arkad tells of his folly when he entrusted a bricklayer to buy jewels for him and returned with glass.
7. Live Humbly and Modestly
Many millionaires and billionaires live modestly. They favor used American cars and trucks and down-to-earth homes. They may be sitting alongside you in a diner booth. There is less stress in life.
8. Give Generously
Wealthy people often give generously but prefer making their donations in anonymity so that they don’t get frequent calls to give to charities they have no interest in doing so. Anonymous donors may want to support specific charities but want to refrain from being solicited for more significant donations or from similar charities. Some don’t want to stand out or fear that their relationships will change once they figure they are more wealthy than they appear.
Actively practicing stealth wealth helps protect your wealth and relationship. Keeping your financial situation under wraps can reduce stress, allow you to live a less flashy life, and prevent others from taking advantage of you. Your money is your business, and it’s not worth sharing details. Keep the mindset that helps you manage your finances well to enjoy your life and provide advantages to your children.
This article first appeared and was syndicated on The Cents of Money.
With a passion for investing and personal finance, I began The Cents of Money to help and teach others. My experience as an equity analyst, professor, and mom provide me with unique insights about money and wealth creation and a desire to share with you.