As you go through life, you might meet people who you would never know are extremely wealthy or have amassed quite large fortunes. And maybe you also fall into this category currently as well.
But these wealthy people are your neighbors, family members, or even friends that have done quite well for themselves but have blended into the traditional middle-class lifestyle.
And that’s happening more often than you may realize. In the U.S. there are about 12 million+ millionaire households, which that number is continuing to grow.
As more people become millionaires, more are interested in practicing something called “stealth wealth.” And as you grow your own nest egg, you might highly consider practicing it as well.
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What Is Stealth Wealth?
Stealth wealth is the simple practice where you keep your wealth and fortunes hidden from others, including friends, family, and co-workers. It allows you to live the lifestyle you desire, without having the celebrity of being wealthy.
Unlike some flashy athletes or billionaires who dress in designer clothing, send lavish gifts to others, and flaunt their wealth on social media; people who practice stealth wealth prefer to fly under the radar.
I highly recommend reading, The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley, which lays some of the groundwork about stealth wealth and includes research about millionaires in America.
In one passage in the book, he includes:
Many people who live in expensive homes and drive luxury cars do not actually have much wealth. Then, we discovered something even odder: Many people who have a great deal of wealth do not even live in upscale neighborhoods.”
Examples of Stealth Wealth
For many wealthy individuals in the public eye, they won’t escape that people know who they are and anyone can easily look up how much they are worth. But even then, many live frugally or choose not to show off how much money they truly have.
Examples of some stealth wealth in action:
- The millionaire that still drives a 25-year-old car or truck and waits to buy a new vehicle.
- Tech industry founders who do not wear fancy suits or designer clothes, but wear the same hoodie and jeans every day.
- A high paid company executive who prefers to live in a modest home or apartment and enjoys traditional restaurants over exclusive country clubs.
- Someone in their late teens or early 20s who has a trust or inherited quite a bit of money, but lives a relatively normal middle-class lifestyle.
Remember, the strategy of stealth wealth can also apply to anyone who has begun saving and investing money.
While millionaires and billionaires have a more vested interest in not flaunting their fortunes, even those with less than a million net-worth may practice living on much less too.
The Main Reasons for Stealth Wealth
Many who are not experiencing financial freedom find it hard to empathize with the positions of the wealthy. Unfortunately, when people know you’re doing well financially, they can treat you differently.
Some may be jealous and project negative energy onto you. Others may use your generous nature to form a close bond before trying to scam you out of some money or just looking to “borrow.”
Often, wealthy people will find themselves hearing the same things over and over again: “You got lucky!”
Maybe you did — but many times it’s hard work and consistency that built your wealth. Plus, do you really want everyone to know your business or how much money you have?
Avoid Identity Theft
You become an easy target for theft and identity fraud once people know your level of wealth. If your income or salary is put out there, you have more chance of appearing on the radar of criminals looking to steal.
Not only will your money be at risk, but also your overall identity and personal accounts at every level.
There are many ways to protect yourself from fraud through identity protection software, freezing your credit, and being smart about who you interact with on a daily basis.
And by practicing stealth wealth, it helps wealthy people avoid being more of a target where cyber criminals want to steal money or other assets.
Taxes are pretty much unavoidable, and the government is likely to have a better idea of your income, even if you do practice stealth wealth.
And whether you agree with the current tax rates or not, avoiding payment of your fair share can land you in big trouble.
Think back to the news, you’ve probably have seen the stories of a millionaire landing trouble for tax fraud, hiding income, etc. It happens quite often!
But, there are a few legal ways to help secure the majority of your wealth and protect your assets.
Using offshore bank accounts, tax-sheltered investments, and professional wealth management methods can aid the wealthy in avoiding the government and certain bills that come along with it.
How to Practice Stealth Wealth
Below are some stealth wealth recommendations to help you blend in better with society, family, and friends.
There will always be people who may know you are wealthy and some may know your salary, but you can still keep the attention off of you.
1. Be careful as to who knows where you live
People enjoy looking others up online and trying to find information about what others make or have.
But being too open about your home address can lead people to creep on your home, how much you paid, the surrounding, taxes, etc.
And if your address got in the wrong hands, some might see an opportunity to steal from you. Be cautious to who knows where you live and give more vague details to those you aren’t close with who might ask where you live.
2. Never reveal your salary or income
If you are a public figure or well-known employee at a company, it may be unavoidable that the news of your income gets out. Think about Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos, there is only so much stealth wealth they can practice being such public figures.
There is no reason to brag about how much money you make. People may get annoyed with you, treat you differently, or look at you as the enemy.
It’s easy for others to get jealous of you or think you got lucky or had an “insider” on your side to get you this income. So just steer clear of the topic altogether!
3. Diversify your assets
As your money and wealth grow, you need to be smart about protecting what you have. Not only to ensure your wealth is guarded against those with ill intentions but do not have all your finances in just one spot.
Protect your wealth by creating a diversified portfolio and moving money into various accounts or assets.
For example, you can move your wealth into properties, land, cash, gold and silver, LLCs, banks, etc.
4. Avoid being flashy with everything you do
New Cars, designer clothes and expensive jewelry, etc.
It’s okay to treat yourself and use your money as you please, but it can also bring much-unwanted attention.
Don’t be flashy on social media as it could alert thieves and criminals, but also generate an image you may not want to portray. Do you really want to be that person that has to post everyday showing how rich you are?
5. Buy things with a purpose or things you like
Impressing others is not of value to you in the long-term nor should you care to show off what you have.
Seeking validation from others or even strangers is not going to benefit you in any way other than some temporary satisfaction.
Buy with a purpose and purchase things you like for yourself, not to show off to others or brag.
I don’t think people need to hoard all their money and never enjoy buying things they need or want. But keep it for you, maybe show it to a few select friends or family you trust — but that’s it!
6. Practice humility and empathy
In an ideal world, everyone would practice humility and empathy. But these two words should also play a major role in your stealth wealth strategy.
Just because you have built your wealth or have a lot of money, doesn’t mean you should be arrogant and condescending to others. People catch on to your attitude and snobby views.
Instead, start praising others’ successes, steer the conversation away from you, avoiding bragging about yourself. This focuses the attention elsewhere and people will be less likely to wonder about your income or assets.
And empathy is another important trait in that you still relate to others and understand their feelings. By constantly telling them to put in more work or dedicate more time, you aren’t being sympathetic to their personal situations.
7. Set up trusts and wills
As your wealth builds and your family grows, it’s important to set up trusts and wills. The last thing you need is family fighting over money once you are gone.
If you are more of a public figure, you know these things can end up in the news and create more unwanted drama and attention to your family and money.
Additionally, it helps you create a money legacy and help create generational wealth for hopefully years to come.
8. Avoid talking about money too much
Open dialogues about money with family and some friends can be good, but be careful with who you tell and what you tell.
Word can quickly get around about your assets and income, which your stealth wealth cover is now blown.
Also, be careful with how much knowledge you share about money or people may start reaching out to you or inquiry more. It’s okay to help others or suggest some tips in finance, but ensure there are other conversation topics happening.
Learn how to navigate and guide conversations in various directions or be more reserved when money comes up.
9. Keep your expenses relatively the same
More money and wealth can afford you more, but you still want to have some basic budget or spending cap.
The last thing you want to do is begin blowing through your money because more is accessible! So it’s best to keep your cost of living and overall expenses fairly similar.
I’m certainly not a millionaire, but anytime I got a raise or a new job with more income, my spending habits and cost of living didn’t not dramatically change. It allow me to save and invest a huge portion.
Now, it’s your money and you should certainly spend it how you please. As long as there is a good balance, you’ll be fine.
If you do start upgrading your lifestyle a bit, you may want to cover-up your purchases when others ask. You can say you saved up for a while, got something on a big discount, or that it’s fake or a generic version.
Additional Benefits of Stealth Wealth
Utilizing a stealth wealth strategy has many benefits beyond the three main reasons mentioned earlier. And while this tends to apply to high-net-worth individuals, it actually can help any individual save more!
Develop Truer Relationships
Without people knowing your net worth, they have no chance to treat you any differently. You’ll worry less that your friends, the people you date and everyone else you meet will not be getting close to you just to access the money.
I couldn’t imagine the feeling of having to second-guess everyone’s intentions that you meet because they know who you are or the wealth you have.
Plus — it relieves pressure on needing to spend money on expensive gifts or paying for every restaurant meal you attend. People may start to expect more or think you are cheap if you aren’t picking up the tab every time.
Less Pressure to Always “Impress”
There is an expectation when you have a lot of money to have the latest gadgets, to wear expensive clothing, to have the biggest home and nicest car, etc.
By avoiding those things early on, you are now able to accumulate more wealth and continue living a more moderate lifestyle.
And there is less pressure on you to keep up with other wealthy individuals. You stop worrying about spending money and waste less time going out and buying stuff.
People Hassle You Less About Opportunities
As you increase your wealth and more people know it, you’ll find others have the “next big idea,” maybe looking for a small loan to pay a debt or needing capital to start a company.
While investing in new businesses could be a good idea, you may end up being inundated with requests. Many could be from people you don’t know or have not put much effort into their business idea.
And it won’t just be new business dealings. You’ll also be targeted for new investment services or salespeople masked as wealth advisors looking to manage your money.
When people don’t think you have money, these inquiries will be much less or virtually zero. Friends and family members should stop inquiring about a loan or looking to borrow some money.
It might not stop it completely but will reduce the outreach.
Become Financially Invisible
Whether you have a healthy nest egg, you are a millionaire, or working on building your wealth — you must consider the value of practicing stealth wealth.
It’s one of the best ways to keep you financially invisible to most of the world and people around you. Plus it keeps you focused on the things that really matter in life.
There will be situations where some people will not have the luxury of creating a stealth wealth lifestyle. Being a public executive of a Fortune 500 company, athlete, or other celebrity makes it hard to blend into the shadows.
But if you can coast under the radar, you will be in much better financial shape and hopefully much happier too!
Tools to Help Your Stealth Wealth
- Personal Capital: Monitors net worth, investments, spending, and more for free. They also offer wealth management services.
- Blooom: Helps you monitor your 401k or IRAs. Get recommendations, catch hidden fees, and more for free.