How Are You Stealthy With Your Wealthy?

by J. Money - Published December 11, 2017

secret money man
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When I started this blog 9 years ago, all I wanted to be was rich and famous so I could buy whatever I wanted and drive my fancy cars to all my fancy houses.

I was 27, not married (yet), no kids, and quite honestly had no idea of what true wealth meant :)

These days I still very much want to buy and do whatever my heart pleases, but thankfully I’ve wised up and realized that the only person I want to be impressing now is MYSELF. And the best way to do that is to achieve FREEDOM. Much sexier than money, and a lot more attainable without the fame!

To get to this freedom though, you have to be really good at staying out of the “one up” game. And to do that you have to be really good at hiding your “ups” so no one wants to play with you ;)

We call this “stealth wealth.” And the stealthier you are, the wealthier you become!

You probably do a lot of things already without even realizing it, but today I thought we’d go around the room highlighting them so we can all laugh and revel in our sneakery. And if you are broke, well, tell us what you’ll continue doing once you HIT your wealth! It’s all a state of mind anyways, and once you’ve had your epiphany it’s just a matter of time…

Alright, I’ll go first and then it’s your turn!

Here’s how I trick my neighbors into thinking I’m broke:

#1. I rock a mohawk. This is by far the one giveaway that I don’t have a single penny to my name, haha… Not only does it sometimes *repulse* people, but in a room of 100 and me, I’d be listed as #100 in a ranking of “who’s good with their money.” I mean, who spikes up their hair to look like a modern day dinosaur?? Could I BE wearing any more hairspray?? (Quick, what’s that reference?)

#2. My clothes are riddled with holes. On days where my hair doesn’t cooperate and looks more like a mullet than a “style,” my ratty clothes continue carrying on the front, doubly making sure to throw people off my trail…  I do have to watch out more now that I’ve stumbled across the advent of online shopping (did you know you could order clothes on the internet and they will ship it right to your door??? Without having to get out of bed???!!!), but unless I change up my entire preferences for comfort, I’m pretty sure I’ll always look like the opposite of an adult. I’m just glad t-shirts and jeans are relatively cheap!

#3. I’ve become a pretty good minimalist. And what’s the one thing minimalists own? You got it – nothing. At least nothing substantial enough for a robber to want to pay a visit to my house. And while some minimalists prefer having only the BEST items around since they’ve gotten rid of everything else, I am decidedly not one of those types as again evidence of my deteriorating wardrobe.

Outside of laptops and , the only thing I have worth more than $25.00 is my Santa Portrait which I SWEAR is the best art ever created regardless of what people say! I mean, it’s a painting of SANTA! Smoking a pipe!! At the very least you can appreciate it for one month out of the year, right? :)

santa painting pipe(Another perk to Santa? You can tell your kids he’s always watching so they pipe down faster, haha… (Pipe down! Hah! Get it?? Cuz of the pipe?? A homonym? Never mind…))

#4. I live in a 1,100 sq ft place which is literally the smallest house on the block, if not the entire neighborhood. And while it does cost us $2,200 to live here (!!!) and it’s in a sought after community, comparatively we stand out like a sore Santa painting (I will get you to smile about that if it’s the last thing I do!!). It’s even more fun when you tell people there that you rent :) That alone gets you the scarlet letter, haha…  (Oooh what if I went around with a large “R” on my clothes?!!! How hilarious would that be?!)

#5. I eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches 4 days a week. I suppose I’m only fooling my stomach there as it’s not like I’m eating it out in the open, but if anyone does stop by to pay me a visit, I’ll be sure to whip them out for you, and if I’m feeling generous share :) They never get old, I swear!

Okay, I’m stopping there as I have a feeling it’s only going to go down from here, haha…

Point is – there are many ways to hide your wealth, big and small, and typically the more you do the larger it grows.

I still slip here and there and forget about the ol’ stealth rule at times (*cough* Lexus *cough*), but as long as you’ve gotten a good hold of it and are *consciously* making these decisions with your money, you’re still a firm member of the Millionaire Next Door club, which is really the status you’re looking to achieve.

They are masters of stealth wealth, and there’s even a book about ’em! :)

So continue hiding away, friends! You can share all your sexy stats and milestones here on this blog because it’s a total Safe Zone, but the outside world is anything but, and it’s all designed to take your money away from you rather than add to it. So stay vigilant, hide your cash, and above all – remember these three words:

Freedom > Money > Stuff

Print it out and put it in your wallet/purse if you need to, but whether you have $100 or $1,000,000 to your name, it’s all money to be proud of, and it’s always better than looking wealthy but being broke! Good surprise vs bad surprise!

Now tell us all your stealthy secrets!! How do you hide your wealth? What would people be surprised to know about you by looking at how you live? How many millionaires next door do we have here?

Here’s a couple of other articles where we expand on this more:

I’m off to go count my hidden money in my tiny house now, while staring at my LARGE BEAUTIFUL SANTA PAINTING, OMG!!! It’s so amazing – admit it already!!

{ 163 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lily @ The Frugal Gene December 11, 2017 at 5:41 am

Wahhh! I second PB&J will never get old! Especially with homemade jam given annually by that one mom or aunt that we have who makes them.

Hubby’s clothes are riddled with holes. When he was working at his old place, he didn’t care but now he changed employers and it’s a smaller setting with older people, he’s becoming more conscious about holes.

Our stealth wealth is the fact that we don’t have a car but we also don’t live in a hip or fancy neighborhood. Everyone on our block has 2-3+ cars.

PS

What I don’t understand is how holes show up. Why not rips or thinning fabric? I mean the CREATION of clothing holes is just odd. Do we randomly grow a stem somewhere and poke a hole? Its madness!

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2 J. Money December 11, 2017 at 6:38 am

Hahhaha.. question of the century right there! ;)

(And impressive y’all don’t have any cars!)

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3 Chris @ Duke of Dollars December 11, 2017 at 8:05 am

What are your thoughts on buying more quality clothes that last longer but are more expensive?

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4 Mr. Tako December 11, 2017 at 11:38 am

You see that lint in the dryer after you dry your clothes? Yep, lint is YOUR clothes.

Cotton especially, is constantly shedding fibers. Eventually the fabric gets so thin any abrasion makes a whole!

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5 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 11:55 am

@Mr. Tako – What??? Haha… never thought of it that way!

@Chris @ Duke of Dollars – I’m TOTALLY down for buying more expensive clothes that last longer, I just rarely go out shopping and so far haven’t found the *perfect* clothes to just keep re-ordering online or else I’d do that in a heartbeat! My favorite jeans of 10+ years were these super sleek Armani Exchange jeans I had picked up for like $30 a pair (bought three!) down from like $100 or $150… But haven’t found any steals like that in a while which is the *ultimate* route – quality AND cheap! :)

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6 Stockbeard December 12, 2017 at 11:09 pm

One for socks: based on the recommendations of people on the MMM forums, I have bough a pair of “darn tough Vermont” socks about a year ago. They are guaranteed for life: if they end up with a hole, the company sends you a new pair. My pair from them is still in great condition, while socks I have bought more recently are already dying.

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7 J. Money December 15, 2017 at 6:18 am

Fascinating!!

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8 Ms99to1percent December 11, 2017 at 5:53 am

Mr99to1percent works from home but our neighbors think he’s a jobless bum. They wonder why he doesn’t at least take care of Baby99to1percent, why we have to take her to daycare :-)

Hey J since your picture is all over the net, noone has figured about your blog yet?

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9 J. Money December 11, 2017 at 6:41 am

Every now and then when I hit the major media an old friend will email me wondering if it was really me, but most people don’t seem to care about personal finance much so it rarely comes up haha…

Although when I was doing podcasting I had a handful of people recognize *my voice* who would stop me on the streets! THAT was crazy…

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10 Chris @ Duke of Dollars December 11, 2017 at 8:05 am

That’s wild !!

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11 Accidental Fire December 11, 2017 at 6:26 am

My big stealth-wealth weapon use to be the hideously ugly and old car(s) that I drove for over 15 years. A series of old Fords that I bought used with high mileage and that, ultimately, played a huge role in getting me to FI.

Nowadays it’s probably my clothes like you said. I may not have lots of stuff with holes, but I could not be more out of touch with fashion and since my size hasn’t changed in forever I still wear stuff that’s well over 15 years old.

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12 J. Money December 11, 2017 at 6:43 am

What did you end up upgrading to now that your old Fords are out of the equation? I miss my beat up Caddy every day :( Just wish all my old cars were more reliable and can’t risk it these days with kids…

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13 Accidental FIRE December 19, 2017 at 5:49 pm

Forgot to reply back to you on this. I got a Subaru Outback the year I became FI. I have two friends who have over 200k miles on theirs and they have the reputation of running forever.

I fully expect to have it until we’ll all be using self-driving cars

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14 J. Money December 19, 2017 at 6:17 pm

ahh very nice! Outbacks are SOOO trendy in the area I live right now… I haven’t ever stepped foot in one before but I’m super curious about them! You’ll have to take me for a spin if we ever meet up in real life :)

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15 Accidental FIRE December 20, 2017 at 8:13 pm

Yeah I love it. Sounds like a plan!

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16 Mrs. Adventure Rich December 11, 2017 at 6:34 am

I work remotely and between keeping my job profile low key and the fact I am ever clad in athletic wear, I think I’ve got stealth wealth down ;) I read the Millionaire Next Door early in my career and it really helped to shape my habits going forward.

And ever since AR Jr started eating them, PBJ sandwiches have become a staple in our diet!

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17 J. Money December 11, 2017 at 6:42 am

Smart kid :)

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18 [email protected] December 11, 2017 at 6:52 am

Here’s the problem with this article. You are already rich and famous. See that net worth chart. Many would kill to be where you are. You’re J freakin Money. The Rockstar of Personal Finance!!!

I also live in the smallest house in the block. My wife drives a 12 year old car and I don’t have one. And these are some of the reasons why I’m going to have that freedom you talk about!!!

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19 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Hah! Ain’t nobody in the real world gives a crap about me or my hidden money/blog because most people in the real world don’t pay attention to their money or blogs :) I’m only “personal finance blogging famous” which I actually prefer as it allows for more stealthiness!

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20 Grettman December 14, 2017 at 6:58 am

Why do you think most people don’t pay attention to money ? I agree with you but I struggle to understand why. I would enjoy reading a posy about your thoughts on this subject.

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21 J. Money December 15, 2017 at 6:21 am

I’ll add it to my list of ideas :) But it basically just comes down to how *badly* people want it. Everyone says they want more money and freedom and to do their dreams, etc, but when it comes down to it their actions never match up. Similar to stopping smoking or eating better or exercising more, etc. We all want it and deep down KNOW how to make it happen, but we just don’t care enough yet to pull the trigger. You have to have your *epiphany* first and THEN it’s game on!!

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22 John C @ Action Economics December 11, 2017 at 7:00 am

I drive a beater worth maybe $800, I have to roll down the window (hand crank) to open the door. I pack PBJs for work lunches as well.

I don’t work for half the year, which can go either way. “Man that guy must be loaded because he can take 3 months off work at a time”, or “That poor guy hasn’t had work for 3 months!”

Planning on staying in the same house forever, which is about average for our area, in the grand scheme of our current income our house payment is about 10% of total income, so its a much more modest house than most people with our income would live in, as average is about 3X as much.

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23 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 12:06 pm

“I drive a beater worth maybe $800, I have to roll down the window (hand crank) to open the door. ” – I love you so much, haha…

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24 Josh December 11, 2017 at 7:00 am

We buy our clothes from local thrift stores (or Poshmark), buy 2nd hand on Craigslist, sell on Craigslist, our cars are at least 9 years old (all are Fords).

Most of our extra income is going to our mortgage so we can pay it off early and be debt-free!

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25 Chelsea @ Mama Fish Saves December 11, 2017 at 7:07 am

Our stealth wealth trick is not going on fancy vacations. Every year we just go to either my husband’s parents or my mom’s house (they both live on lakes). I think a lot of people assume we can’t afford a “real” vacation, but the truth is it is just easier than jumping on a plane with a toddler! And our vacations come with free babysitters!

Other than that, we live in a much lower cost neighborhood than we need to. A few of my colleagues at work actually scoffed when I told them where we bought our house. Who knows what they think the motivation was. But the schools are good, taxes are lower, and I paid a third for our house versus most of my peers.

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26 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Good call on the toddler traveling :) I haven’t taken either of my boys on the plane yet because i’m too afraid!!

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27 Mary December 12, 2017 at 4:45 pm

That vacation one! We just took our first “real” vacation since our honeymoon (married nearly 10 years). Besides that, we’ve only ever visited family. We have two toddlers and I’ve decided visiting family is way more fun and relaxing. Free baby-sitters, a fridge, washer and dryer, and multiple rooms for kids to nap in make it totally worth it. Plus it’s so much less expensive and it makes the grandparents so happy. We actually have another vacation to Hawaii planned for January (my husband has been traveling a ton for work and has all these free miles). We’re lucky that we’ll be visiting friends, but I actually am excited to get back to our regular family road trips after that!

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28 J. Money December 15, 2017 at 6:22 am

Woot woot! We do a lot of back and forth traveling to Grandma’s too… win/win for everyone involved :)

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29 Mrs. Groovy December 11, 2017 at 7:21 am

Our 2004 Camry is the crappiest car on the block. When someone backed into us in a parking lot, I asked Mr. Groovy where we should take it to get it fixed. He laughed at me and said it gives “Lucy” character. When we build our new home (we’re closing on the land Wednesday!) I can’t wait for the first person who visits us with an RV and parks it on the front lawn. Looking like rednecks is a sure way to hide wealth.

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30 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 12:08 pm

HELL. YEAH.

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31 PaulM December 11, 2017 at 7:32 am

I’m like you and my clothes are a giveaway that I mustn’t have a dime to my name. Unlike you though, it’s not a conscious effort on my part. I think my attire is just fine but my better half tells me otherwise.

My 9 year old Chevy also helps keep appearances down when I’m out and about and in my work parking lot.

Most of my colleagues either go out to lunch or order in. I bring my lunch — usually a sammich in a brown paper bag with a piece of fruit. Looks like I can’t even afford a lunch pail. I’m used to the eye rolling by now

That Santa looks awfully concerned. Seems like he checked his list twice and has some serious issues. I’d be worried if I were a child in your house!

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32 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 12:09 pm

NO way!! That’s a “I’m thinking about something really smart and important right now” intellectual look – not a concerned one! ;)

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33 Matthew in Michigan December 11, 2017 at 7:36 am

Ha ha, what a great post! Definitely the pick me up I needed this morning. I can relate to a lot of the things you mentioned. However as I’m getting older I now eat a salad for lunch versus the PB&J, I still love them though and they are a staple with our 3 kids.
And that Santa painting is sweet! If I had it, it would be above the mantel right freakin’ now…..well if I were single it would :-)

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34 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 12:10 pm

(You’re my new favorite person of the day)

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35 Mike @ Balanced Dividends December 11, 2017 at 7:37 am

I believe the perception of wealth – what we’re discussing here – is all relative to one’s location and immediate surroundings, but it can vary from person-to-person even given the same parameters.

For example, when we lived in NYC, we lived in “luxury” high-rise apartment buildings initially on a popular street. We ALWAYS lived on one of the lowest floors because we couldn’t afford anything higher up. People in our building would scoff at us when we hit a “lower” floor’s button on the elevator. We were poor in their eyes.

But when we brought a friend over or someone from a different building on a less popular street, they thought we were wealthy. And then we moved buildings 3 times to less expensive buildings as rent continued to go up. Same thing – other people thought you were wealthy and others thought you were poor.

On your other question: I wear long-sleeve waffle shirts from American Eagle that are 12+ years old. Mrs. BD is trying to get me new ones at least this year.

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36 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 12:15 pm

Good point on relativity!

Which brings up an even more interesting question: Would you rather be at the lower part of the rich area or a higher one in the poorer area? :) Pros and cons to either of them! Particularly if you’re prone to caring about what others around you think.

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37 Debbie January 23, 2018 at 4:35 am

This is our problem. We bought the smallest cheapest fixer upper in a desirable, rich neighborhood with low crime. Our home appraised almost $50,000 more than we paid for it a year ago just because of the location. Everyone here is wealthy except us! But when I tell people elsewhere where we live, I get the “cha ching” comment or “I can’t believe you live there!”. We’re very slowly fixing it up doing all the work ourselves. We’re the ONLY people here that do our own yardwork (1100 homes in our subdivision) including cleaning out the gutters, caulking 3 skylights on the roof, washing our windows & cars, installing GFI (can’t believe there was NONE in the house), replacing some plumbing, etc. So I guess people just assume we’re poor as we never hire for anything except a new HVAC system a few months ago. We drive cheap cars & haven’t been on vacation in years except visiting relatives, while everyone here constantly travels all over the world. We’d never be able to afford living here if it weren’t for the fact the prior elderly owners let the house go the past 20 years which depreciated the value. In contrast, we sold our prior home an hour away in a declining neighborhood & despite the fact we did many upgrades, the location & high crime made it difficult to sell & we lost $$ selling it.

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38 J. Money January 23, 2018 at 6:19 am

Maybe you’ll be a good inspiration to all your neighbors ;) Especially the teens in the area! Gotta show them there’s another way!

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39 Ms. Frugal Asian Finance December 11, 2017 at 7:54 am

This is a super interesting post! Simple and down to earth!

I can’t say Mr. FAF and I are wealthy, but both of us are not really that interested in shiny stuff like name brand cars, jewellery, watches and such.

People can say we can’t afford those things, and we don’t care. My philosophy is that if someone wants to be friends with us because of the physical stuff that we own, then we be better not be friends in the first place.

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40 Apathy Ends December 11, 2017 at 7:57 am

Rocking a 2002 Camry that is starting to show some rust (we do have a newer car but my wife drives that one) definitely the worst car on our block, by far.

I have a rotation of clothes I go through, there is a high chance I will be wearing 4/5 same shirts every week. Some people have commented on it, not negative or postitive but they noticed.

Taking the bus to work is another one. I feel like I get judged for that one about half the time.

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41 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 12:16 pm

I bet you do! I literally don’t know anyone who rides the bus except for my FIRE internet friends haha…

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42 Dana December 11, 2017 at 8:00 am

Basically I wear sweats and a t-shirt every single day. I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s the best thing ever and so comfy! I never cared much for clothes growing up and even now it is hard socially but I figure I am retiring earlier than all of them so I am good. I also have never owned a car and wouldn’t, and live in a studio in an expensive city paying less than 6K a year (bought cash for dirt cheap). My closest think I am doing well for myself yet they think I have a mortgage (I am glad they don’t know otherwise) and admittedly are confused about why I even bought a studio. Everybody else thinks I’m broke. I prefer being thought of as broke honestly. It feels safer to me.

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43 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 1:14 pm

The epitome of stealth wealth all around here – you are an inspiration :)

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44 [HCF] December 11, 2017 at 8:01 am

I am nowhere around what you can call wealthy, but I have a salary which is relatively higher compared to most of my peers/neighbors. The only thing I do is living reasonably. When the standard is to show off as much as possible even in a relatively low-income area, doing just this does the trick. I buy new clothes only when the old ones become worn-off (however I and my wife have different definitions of worn-off, this happens a couple of years later according to mine). I bet that sometimes when I go to the corner store in flip flops, Hawaii shorts and a 15yrs+ old Sex Pistols hoodie people feel a pity for me. I have to try out this PB&J thing once, so many people worship it, but it would be a luxury at our place, I think. A smaller jar of PB is around $6-$8 here, definitely not the cheapest option :)

PS: The Santa picture is awesome. Apparently, this post could fuel a whole Funny Friday episode itself :)

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45 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 1:16 pm

I give you full permission to do so, sir :)

AND CRAZY YOU’VE EVER HAD A PB&J BEFORE!!!

What do you eat on a daily basis then?

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46 [HCF] December 13, 2017 at 2:55 am

;)

Only tasted peanut butter once in my lifetime…

On a daily basis my diet roughly looks like this:
Breakfast: rolled cereals, banana and greek yogurt with a splash of cinnamon (~$0.50/meal)
Lunch: leftovers from the last dinner or buy local food (~$1.5-$2.5/meal)
Dinner: whatever my wife cooks that day :)

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47 J. Money December 15, 2017 at 6:27 am

Okay, you win haha….

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48 Chris @ Duke of Dollars December 11, 2017 at 8:04 am

Forgive me PF community, I have been on a lick of using almond butter instead of PB. It’s more expensive and so delicious….but my goodness I’ve ate more pbjs then any other meal in my life .

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49 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 1:17 pm

Adventurous!

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50 Martinus December 11, 2017 at 8:05 am

I hide by wealth by having my mattress stuffed with rolled up bills. The change I hide in my indoor swimming pool.

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51 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 1:19 pm

I hope you’re serious about that swimming pool :)

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52 Martinus December 11, 2017 at 8:06 am

And more about “Spavings”. Last night my wife announced she needed to spend $225 at the grocery store so she could get a “free” stuffed turkey :(

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53 Paul December 11, 2017 at 8:16 am

For me its cars and clothes. While everyone in my neighborhood is driving a BMW or Mercedes. I’m still rocking my 2008 Camry. People probably look down on that, but those are the people I don’t care about. Also, I only buy off bargain racks and at old navy (jeans). Well that and I’ve recently started buying shirts that people use to print stuff on (Next Level Apparel), they fit really well, and they can be had for $4-$6 dollars per if you’re buying singles.

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54 Amy @ Life Zemplified December 11, 2017 at 8:17 am

We drive older vehicles a 2008 and 1995. No fancy work clothes anymore and we pack our lunches every day and turn down the invites for lunches out. Getting soooo close to the double comma club.

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55 Leo T. Ly December 11, 2017 at 8:17 am

I do practice stealth wealth as I don’t tend to buy many things that will show off my wealth. Because I blog and I am very transparent about my net worth, people will know that I am one of the millionaire next door if they stumbled on my net worth post.

Even though I have two cars that were bought brand new, the first one is about 13 years old and the second one is two and a half. They’re no Lexus though .

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56 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 1:20 pm

I love that you share your net worth on your blog too – transparency makes blogs even more interesting/helpful!

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57 Colleen December 11, 2017 at 8:18 am

I get the “when are you going to buy a house?” Question all the time. Adults keep trying to tell me that I’m throwing $$ away on rent and not building any wealth, but they have no idea how good my situation is.

I live in a rent controlled market and the payment is 1/4th of what id be paying on a mortgage and only 12% of my income. My landlord is awesome and I’m on a month to month lease. I have a down payment saved, but I want to stick this situation out a bit longer so I can keep saving for retirement and get an additional house and car fund saved. And yet It’s amazing how much advice I get about putting 3% down on a house to build wealth.

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58 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 1:22 pm

HAH! Good for you! I say you do your own thing for as many years/decades as you’re able to pull it off :) People are bonkers out there.

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59 Leahbear1 December 11, 2017 at 8:21 am

Nice Chandler Bing reference on the hairspray! My hubby and I drive beater cars, and while the rest of our neighbors are collecting boats and campers, we choose not to weigh ourselves down with possessions. We don’t dress fancy and we don’t own expensive items. Good grief, we still have an old CRT TV, which is our only Tv – the picture is great, so why replace it? Our one giveaway is that our kids attend private school – we started our oldest there in kindergarten because it was the only full-day option around, and we fell in love with the school. It literally pains me to write that check every month, but we love the education our two are getting there (grade school). I guess living frugally is about putting your money where it really matters, right? For now, that’s our kids’ educations.

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60 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 1:24 pm

Thank you for getting the Friends reference :)

And you are braver than I with the private school! Took everything in us to go public even though all my kids’ friends were at private and it’s an incredible school, but at the end of the day just couldn’t pull the trigger on it… But only because our public schools are crazy high rated too or else it would be a different situation :)

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61 Michael Naab December 11, 2017 at 8:27 am

This made me laugh because I literally wrote an article about how much money I save by (and how much my coworkers make fun of me for) eating peanut butter sandwiches for work basically every day.

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62 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 1:27 pm

Hardcore! Not even jelly or fluff – that’s quite impressive :)

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63 Ben December 12, 2017 at 3:41 pm

+1

I do the same; most jelly’s just sugar, the protein is what you need :)

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64 Budget on a Stick December 11, 2017 at 8:29 am

I’ve brought a PB&J to work nearly every day for the last 5 years (leftovers here and there I go out with friends once a quarter).

I think what makes me stealth is the fact Ms. Blue Ribbon and I look like high school/college students. I also tend to dress like one. If my sons aren’t around people will assume I am up to no good (darn you kids!!!). It doesn’t bother me, in fact, I think it is hilarious.

Often I will point out how un-stealthily people around us are and assume they are the least wealthy (see making an a__ out of u and me can go both ways ;) ).

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65 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 1:27 pm

Yeah it can, haha…

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66 Nicole @ Budget Like a Lady December 11, 2017 at 8:40 am

I like stealth wealth. Since I work in a corporate office, I have to have business casual attire but none of it is name brand. Heck, I am wearing off brand Ugg boots as I write this! I bring my lunch everyday to work and I too live in a small 1,300 sqft house with my husband and 2 kids. We are happy and Building wealth so we have more time to do what we want. Thanks for sharing your stealth wealth!

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67 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 1:28 pm

I just read an article on Uggs and now every time I see it mentioned I think of it, haha…

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68 Mrs. Picky Pincher December 11, 2017 at 8:56 am

Oooh I do this too! Granted, I’m still in the red with debt so I guess you could say I’m still technically broke. But I’m able to throw 3 Gs a month on my debt, which I guess would qualify as “rich” to some people. :P

I also have an affinity for holey clothes, but I’m slowly replacing my wardrobe with well-made items. It’s all stuff from REI, so don’t worry, I still look a bit unfashionable. ;)

We also have cars that are POS. Our Corolla has a huge crack down the windshield, dings in the doors, and stains all over the seats (from coffee and water!). Our truck is just old and dirty.

No one suspects a thing unless we tell them! In fact, they probably would assume we’re super deep into debt and can’t afford to buy nice things.

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69 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 1:40 pm

$3,000 extra a month for $$$ goals is incredible!! Much more than I’m able to do over here… Gonna feel REAL good once it all goes into savings/investments too after killing off that debt!

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70 Mike from Budget Kitty December 11, 2017 at 8:59 am

I know some people who have lots of money and enjoy showing it off. I also know quite a few people who like to show off how much they have even though I know they’re not doing as well as they make it seem.

No matter how wealthy I become I just can’t imagine flaunting it or living a ritzy lifestyle. Maybe I’m just low maintenance but I’m happy as long as I have my family and enough money to go on a modest vacation, watch my kids play soccer and enjoy a nice meal with a good beer.

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71 Bateaux December 11, 2017 at 9:02 am

I keep a ratty yard and drive an old car. My clothes look like they belong to a bum. I’m a backpacker and my gear is old stuff. Most backpackers are actully broke and try to get by on the cheap. I blend right in. Sleeping in the woods is free all you pay for is food, Dollar General stuff not the made for backpacking food. I don’t try to deceive anyone, I give dirtbags the same respect I do anyone. If I buy them a beer it’s no big deal since I’m older they figure I’ve got a little money. I don’t reveal just how much. It would screw up the situation.

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72 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 1:56 pm

I love it :)

Reminds me of an article I recently read – and enjoyed – on the original dirtbag!

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73 Sarah December 11, 2017 at 9:36 am

My husband and I aren’t “wealthy”, but with a combined net worth of well over $1.2 million, we are in better off than most realize. We don’t hide it, but we don’t flaunt it either. We have our “things” we like to spend money and we are frugal with every thing else. For example, we wear inexpensive jewelry (my engagement ring/wedding band was less than $600 (from Amazon) and his was less than $50), we pack lunches every day to bring to work, eat dinner at home 95% of the time, drive inexpensive cars, live in a modest home, my husband wears clothes with holes to work (he insists that it is fine with his warehouse job) and have vey low-key jobs. I’m sure some people suspect we have money because we give generously and often pay the restaurant tab when dining with friends/family.

And FWIW, I ate a PB&J sandwich for dinner last night along with a cup of coffee. It felt like a treat!

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74 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 2:05 pm

That’s what I’m talking about :)

Well done amassing $1.2 Milly! I’m half way there! haha

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75 Shannon December 11, 2017 at 9:37 am

YES, stealthy wealth! I’d say that is us. We are a “millionaire next door.” Check! I remember reading that book like 17 years ago when I was very low income. It changed my stereotype of a millionaire instantly.

If you were to just meet us we look unassuming because: a) I drove a $500 (yes five hundred) 25 year old Camry (well it’s been replaced recently with a new Tacoma, but still I loved that car, it did me well); b) I prepare all our meals at home, cooking every night – making hot lunches for us to take to work the next day – heck I even price out meals to see what they cost per serving for FUN; c) all of our clothes are from thrift stores/second hand – going on 5 years now for me without buying retail new (I seek out nice used brands, my husband is a top program manager for space science and here he is wearing a $3 button down work shirt dealing with multi million dollar budgets, hahaha); d) we keep the house somewhat cold, only 65F in the winter when we are awake (it’s like 15F outside right now); e) free (public lands) camping – we do a lot of camping and we always try to find free spots even if there is a perfectly nice cheap campground right there, but that is mainly because we like not having neighbors. So it appears that we are kind of frugal in some categories.

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76 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 2:07 pm

Andddd that is exactly how you guys became millionaires next door! All that frugalness adds up! You had me cracking up at that $3.00 shirt your fancy space husband wears, haha.. .

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77 Tobez December 11, 2017 at 9:43 am

I love PB&J also. I’d be interested to hear what your PB&J setup (choice of bread, peanut butter and fruit i.e. jam/jelly/preserves) is. I like the mantra of Freedom > Money > Stuff. However, I think this mantra ignores the health aspect that is required to utilize freedom once you have it. There is a big difference between being cost conscious while eating (not eating out, not wasting food) and being cheap while eating (buying food from whatever source is the cheapest — processed food, fast food, etc.). It is amazing to compare the ingredients included in natural or homemade parts of this sandwich (bread, PB or Jelly) with additional ingredients included in the cheaper versions you can buy at a store. Yes, it may save you money in the long run allowing you to achieve freedom sooner, but I’d argue that some of the things you have to ingest in order to save that money (personally, I’d note the High Fructose Corn Syrup and Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils) can cause problems in the long run limiting your ability to utilize the freedom you gained.

Current PB&J (Ingredients listed) — tastes great:
Homemade Bread – Water, Whole Wheat Flour, Olive Oil, Sugar, Salt, and Yeast
Smuckers All Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter – fresh-roasted peanuts and a dash of salt (I haven’t tried making my own peanut butter — yet)
Homemade Strawberry Preserves – Strawberries, Sugar, and Lemon Juice OR
Banana – Banana (sliced)

Cheaper College PB&J (ingredients listed) — also tastes great:
Sunbeam Large Bread – Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Contains 2% or Less of Each of the Following: Yeast, Salt, Soybean Oil, Wheat Gluten, Dough Conditioners (Contains One or More of the Following: Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Calcium Stearoyl Lactylate, Monoglycerides and/or Diglycerides, Calcium Peroxide, Calcium Iodate, DATEM, Ethoxylated Mono- and Diglycerides, Azodicarbonamide Enzymes), Soy Flour, Yeast Food (Ammoniuim Sulfate), Monocalcium Phosphate, Calcium Sulfate, Soy Lecithin, Calcium Propionate (to Retard Spoilage)
Jif Crunchy Peanut Butter – Made From Roasted Peanuts And Sugar, Contains 2% Or Less Of: Molasses, Fully Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils (Rapeseed And Soybean), Mono And Diglycerides, Salt
Kroger Brand Strawberry Jelly- strawberry juice, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, fruit pectin, citric acid, sodium citrate

First time commenting on your site, but I’ve been reading it for a while and really enjoy your content. I’ve been waiting on a copy of The Millionaire Next Door (free audiobook on Overdrive thru my local library — Stealthy Wealthy People use the Library) since I saw it on a list included on your site of top book recommendations from financial bloggers.

P.S.
My website doesn’t actually exist. . . yet.

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78 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 2:10 pm

Okay, I am NOT sharing the ingredients of my PB&Js with you as I’m pretty sure they are going to be horrible in comparison, haha… But I do appreciate the detailed breakdown here and shall check it out and see what I can do considering I heat hundreds of sandwiches a year :)

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79 OMGF December 11, 2017 at 9:57 am

The first thing I do is rock lots of melanin. There are a whole lot of people who look at me and just assume I’m broke. I always get a lot of, “OOhhh, really?! Oh wow!” responses when I tell people what neighborhood I live in.

On top of the melanin, I also tend to dress like a college student. I went to schools that loved to mark their student body with branded t-shirts, sweatshirts, bags, etc. If you see me out somewhere there is a 90% chance I’m in jeans, Chucks, a college t-shirt, and have bookbag on my back.

I bike places, which is actually pretty common in the city. But my bike is a 1987 Schwinn cruiser. Joggers pass me on the street. It is what it is.

I have a thing for outdated transportation. Silver Betty is a 2005 Pontiac G6. I love her. She’s not going anywhere.

The ruse is up though once you walk into my apartment. I like nice stuff and it’s very obvious that what I don’t spend on cars, I spend on shoes (that I don’t wear) and furniture.

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80 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 2:12 pm

Hah – nice! Maybe that needs to be one of our next posts? What things DO you splurge one even though you hide everything else??

(And now I want to see a picture of all those collectible sneaks you’ve got chillin’ over there ;))

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81 GJ December 13, 2017 at 3:47 pm

“The ruse is up though once you walk in..” HA!

That is my problem too, but for different reasons. Our house is pretty average on the outside, but I love interior design so DH and I have been fixing up this house for almost 5 years (flooring, trim, kitchen reno, built in cabinets, fixtures, etc.). We got a killer deal on a short sale and have been careful to research the upgrades to maximize our ROI and do all of the work ourselves. We’ve basically gone from near-bottom of the neighborhood on interior to the top. I also like to think our house is attractively furnished but 95% of what we own are quality items I’ve hunted from a thrift store or Craigslist like our $1700 Pottery Barn sofa I scored for $80.

So neighbors don’t assume we have much based off of our average exterior and older cars in the driveway but friends walk in and assume we are doing way better than we are based off of our “fancy” home. Just can’t win!

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82 J. Money December 15, 2017 at 6:33 am

I think you’ve figured out the perfect concoction :) It’s the INTERIOR that matters the most since that’s where you spend all your time! It would be pretty creepy to just be outside all day long and staring in :)

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83 Lisa O December 11, 2017 at 9:57 am

As a Santa collector…love the photo! Love this article because I think it hits home with just being yourself and doing what is best for you and yours. Wealth isn’t just about the $ it is about the balance of being happy with who you are and what you have. I love saving the $ and being able to feel that I am in control of my life….I love buying that new purse for $12.00 at the local 2nd hand store and feeling like a million bucks everything I pick it up because someone else paid the $98 for it and didn’t want it after very little use. Have A Great Day!

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84 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 2:12 pm

Santa friends unite!!

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85 Gene Roberts December 11, 2017 at 10:08 am

I dress casually, drive a 12 year old Mazda 3, and my iPhone 6 Plus is over 3 years old.

Unfortunately, the home owners association ruined my “poor” facade when they made me paint the trim on my garage which was peeling pretty bad in the Phoenix sun.

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86 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 2:14 pm

Booooo haha… that does remind though that I’d love to own a REALLY crappy mansion/castle/fancy looking old place that looks abandoned, but really the insides are just crazy awesome and modern but no one would ever suspect and/or break in haha… So long as I burglar-proof it better I suppose since I guess people might want to crash there if they think no one is living in it? Hmm…

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87 lisa December 11, 2017 at 10:38 am

J- I don’t think your hair is dinosaur like…It looks more like Sonic…..Which is popular here.

DH is the master of looking poor….DH drives a car being held by duct tape .He gets out of it after he pulls over because a headlight makes noise and the bulb rattles around. The seat is held together with duct tape, along with the headlight. The bumper is half off because he keeps driving over curbs. We pulled into the IIHOP and this black thing fell off. He claimed it wasn’t his. Actually, it was the trim on the front end. I handed it to him and he pushed it back on. There may be tape there now, I dunno. I keep smelling something burning when we drive and it’s oil dripping and it’s getting on the engine. He says that’s normal. Did I mention the hail storm? Um, yeah….

His clothes are top notch. I saw this big white spot on his cargo shorts. It was a huge tear on his rear.That was his underwear showing through. And he wore them all day. He used to wear jeans to his old job and holes kept appearing on his legs and rear.He was finally told by management to start wearing better pants. Imagine if he went commando.

The house had a broken window from the cold weather for years. He even had me lifting the garage door up and down because he didn’t want to pay for an opener. My neighbor kept telling me how her house was better than mine because she has a garage opener. Since I had a job and took care of kids with sports games, I had to open that garage at least 8 times a day. One day, he said he wanted to take a vacation. I said I wanted air conditioning as I was bathing the kids twice a day just to cool off.

I could go on, but you get the idea…..

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88 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 2:15 pm

Yes, basically your husband is a financial HERO and you married the perfect guy.

I get it :)

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89 ZJ Thorne December 11, 2017 at 10:50 am

I’m not yet wealthy, but am already good at stealth. I live with others and don’t have a car. My business is in a very tiny office, and once I’ve “made it,” I intend to stay there. I like that it makes my client assume I’m broke and not “wasting their money” or overcharging them. When I do buy a condo, I will pretend I’m renting so folks don’t assume things I’d rather they not.

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90 Brian @ singledadmoney December 11, 2017 at 10:57 am

I’m not wealthy yet, but when I am, my front yard will always hide any perception of wealth. There always seems to be at least one car on my front lawn wherever I’ve lived. Right now, there’s 3 drivers at my house and 4 beater cars to park. Five cars will fit in the driveway, but differing work schedules dictate parking for convenience to allow others to get out without having to shuffle cars, so one car is usually in the front yard. If the upturned nose of the passer-by were to look past the lawn parking and peer into my living room window, they’d see a “wall-mount” TV antenna hanging from the living room curtain rod. It gets great reception hanging randomly in the window!

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91 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 2:20 pm

Hahahaha… okay, this totally makes my day haha… And reminds me once when a bunch of my drunk friends one night picked up a friend’s tiny car and put it in the front lawn as a practical joke. It was hilarious to watch in the morning :)

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92 Kim December 11, 2017 at 11:07 am

We are also *gasp* renters! We sold our home of 18 years at the height of the market this past summer and became renters. Yay to no home maintenance costs! We sold, my husband retired, I went down to PT at the hospital and we rent from my mother in law (we pay her fair market for the area, no breaks in rent). Oh and both our cars are 6 years old – ancient for the area we live in. So what it looks like on the outside is we lost our house, husband got fired, mother in law is giving us free place to stay and I can barely get enough hours at work to buy food! HAHAHAHAHA little do they know we’ve been in the double comma club for a few years now and the nest egg keeps growing. To be honest sometimes it bothers me what people think but I’m getting better at it.

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93 Jen Martin December 11, 2017 at 11:56 am

This is similar to what I asked Mr. Tako below. It seems like you know who your real friends are faster than many of us.

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94 Kim December 11, 2017 at 11:28 pm

We’ve been upfront with our situation except our net worth with our friends. Whether they believe us or not who knows. I’m sure a few of them think we are trying to save face since they often ask us out and want to pick up the check! We don’t let them. I honestly think our teenage sons will be the most shocked to find out our net worth down the road some time.

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95 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 2:22 pm

YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME!!! I am dying over here!

“So what it looks like on the outside is we lost our house, husband got fired, mother in law is giving us free place to stay and I can barely get enough hours at work to buy food! HAHAHAHAHA ”

OMG – so good.

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96 HM December 11, 2017 at 11:07 am

I might be the odd one out here as I don’t like PBJ for lunch (for a snack, yes, but its not enough for us for lunch) and I do not hesitate to buy brand name clothing items (only when they are on sale though :)) since they would last for a long time…..But we rarely eat out (~ once every month or maybe two months!) and when we do, it’s normally at the cheap authentic restaurants. We don’t go on expensive vacations. We are strict in buying only stuffs we considered necessary. I guess we are sorta minimalists in that sense- I like to keep my house clean and clutter free so I tried to only keep what we love. We keep our phones until they died and always try to shop in clearance and secondhand first. We do live in a small home so we can pay off our house quickly.

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97 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 2:26 pm

“so I tried to only keep what we love.” – that’s where it is right there… I try to do the same, only my kids and wife still need to catch on w/ all their stuff ;)

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98 Jen Martin December 11, 2017 at 11:07 am

Holey clothes, old cars, unimpressive house, nothing designer, while we give 10% of our income to tithe we don’t give it all to our small church so they don’t know how much we have but instead balance it with church, missions, and other generous giving. Etc. Travel is our one splurge but we also use credit card travel points and talk about that so folks know we do international travel rather frugally.

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99 Mr. Tako December 11, 2017 at 11:44 am

Mainly we “stealth wealth” it by not bragging about our money. Sure, we have plenty of holes in our clothes, and we drive older cars… but the important part is mostly to keep quiet about the money.

If people ask, I don’t say “I have 3 million dollars and I early retired”. Nah… I say something like “Oh yeah…I’m between jobs right now and I’m a stay-at-home-dad”. Which is technically very true.

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100 Jen Martin December 11, 2017 at 11:54 am

And how do folks respond and respect you afterwards? I wonder how much society’s opinion of state at home dads or between work adults affect your listener’s next response. I think I would quickly know who my real friends were if I was in this scenario.

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101 Michelle Schroeder-Gardner December 11, 2017 at 11:44 am

So many people think that I’m poor and struggling with money, especially since I live in an RV. It’s funny, our RV costs triple the amount of the house we used to own, yet some people feel sorry for me because I live in it. I also have holes in my clothes, I hate buying stuff, and I’m quite frugal!

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102 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 2:39 pm

HAH! The first thing I think now whenever I see someone in an RV is “FREEDOM!!!!!” Haha…. I’m sure that wasn’t the case pre-financial epiphany, but man. I’ve got nothing but love and respect for all y’all out there living in tiny spaces! It’s so cool!!

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103 Joe December 11, 2017 at 11:59 am

Nice job being stealthy!
We don’t need to do much to be stealthy. We live in downtown and there are all kind of people here. I don’t stand out.
– We share one vehicle. A 2010 Mazda 5, a little minivan.
– Wear the same clothes until they’re worn out.
– Walk to the gym
– Still watching a 720p TV
– No ostensible display of wealth

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104 fin$avvypanda @ finsavvypanda.com December 11, 2017 at 12:14 pm

We live in our 1,100 sq. ft basement (I’m not sure if you guys have basements there haha) and we rent out our main floor unit to a family because we would get more income from that unit. We were inspired by real estate investor, Scott Mcgillivray from HGTV, so we followed what he used to do.

Our family, friends, and coworkers question why would we do such a thing. They always tell us that we should be living in the main floor unit. But honestly, we don’t care what they say or think because living in the basement apartment doesn’t change the quality of our life, especially when we’re rarely home (it’s reno’d and cozy too, so we don’t feel deprived).

We just tell everyone “meh.. times are tough.. we’re poor a$$ bums” hah.

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105 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 2:40 pm

Now THAT is stealth – love it! And can totally see how people would give you $hit for that haha…. so beautiful though :)

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106 Cody December 11, 2017 at 12:29 pm

Lol. I do the same thing. I purposely do the opposite of flaunting my wealth, not only because it’s unnecessarily expensive to do so, but because I kind of enjoy when people write me off. I know who is important to me. As long as those people know who I am, that’s all I’m worried about. I recently removed the net worth and salary updates from my blog, because it was getting me some unwanted attention.

1: I drive a 9 year old Honda Accord with dents in it. It’s no frankencaddy, but it’s not the most luxurious vehicle either. The dents are small and mostly unnoticeable, and it’s a very reliable and safe car. To me, it allows me to satisfiy my financial goals right now and it represents a huge head start for my daughter’s college fund. It’ll also keep me from having a car payment for the next 6-7 years, at least.

2. T-shirt, jeans, tennis shoes, backwards hat, and a scruffy face. It’s rare you’ll catch me wearing a collar, unless I’m golfing, or going somewhere that the dress code requires it (fancy dinners with my sometimes old school family). Typically I try to look a little sloppy on purpose so people will leave me alone. I also really enjoy being comfortable and free.

3. Modest home in a nice neighborhood. My wife and I live in a nice little ranch. Counting both floors, is actually 2700 square feet, which isn’t small, but fortunately we live in Louisville, where you can get nice homes for relatively cheap still. It’s one of the smaller homes in our subdivision though, but is plenty large for us and our daughter. We actually have a couple of extra rooms we rarely use. I just never saw the point of having a house that you use 30% of, where the rest is just storage for your expensive crap, lol. Sure, I wouldn’t mind a few upgrades, but doubling the price of my house isn’t worth those marginal upgrades to my lifestyle.

I’ll likely start doing more of this type of thing. As we get closer and closer to early retirement, I prefer not to have the negative attention that is associated with it. People tend to think you either inherited a ton of money, or you’re just crazy and have no idea what you’re doing.

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107 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 2:45 pm

“Typically I try to look a little sloppy on purpose so people will leave me alone. I also really enjoy being comfortable and free.” – I do that whenever I don’t want anyone to sit next to me like on the subway or something haha.. The hawk can be used to scare people off pretty easily :)

I hear ya on the net worth stuff, though – especially since you’re not anonymous. The downside to wealth stuff is that once someone knows you have it it’s hard to go back and hide it from there.. I’ve only had one of my friends “use it against me” over the years, which means either the others just never noticed it or paid attention, or they’re true friends and thus doesn’t change a thing :)

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108 Dave @ Married with Money December 11, 2017 at 12:39 pm

– Bring lunch every day, nothing fancy
– Wear a silicone wedding ring so lots of people think I couldn’t afford a fancier one
– 40 hail dents on my car, proud to drive it
– One car for two of us

Buuut we just built a house so some people think we’ve got a lot of money. Meh oh well!

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109 ForeverRefreshed December 11, 2017 at 1:15 pm

Our yard is our financial camo. We still have all the original plants from when we bought the place 15 years ago. We still have the same fence. We don’t spend money on fancy chemicals so we , like, have weeds!!! No gardener, no new plants and no fancy equipment makes us a millionaire next door ;-)

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110 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 2:46 pm

WeedsAreSexy.com haha…

Go out and buy it now before someone else does!!!

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111 Kendall @ Perfect Cents Living December 11, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Hahaha this is a really interesting topic and so entertaining! One I never really thought about but once I started reading, I was like “yeah, I do some of these things too!”

Before I get into my tricks, and because I don’t think I saw anyone get your reference in the comments, was that Friends (Chandler Bing, specifically) you were refer referencing in #1?!

Ok, a couple of my tricks now. And by no means am I even close to the net worth that you have. We are still in the process of paying off the remainder of our debt (only a car loan left) but I’d say we do pretty damn well for ourselves.
1. Instead of packing my own lunch, most days I just raid my work’s free snacks and call it lunch.
2. Although in a desired beach community, we live in a 500 sq.ft. apt that I’m pretty sure used to be a motel back in the day.
3. My truck is over 10 years old.
4. I use a calculator at the grocery store like I pinch every single penny I earn
5. Boxed red wine and mac n cheese is my favorite meal

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112 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 2:49 pm

DING DING DING – you got the reference!!

Although I always picture Joey saying it when he’s making fun of Chandler – “Could I BE wearing any more clothes???” (Remember that one? When he wore like all Chandler’s shirts and shorts and pants at one time? Haha…. man that show was good.)

love that you rock boxed wine :) And in fact, we actually had a guest post here from someone who lives in a hotel that was converted to condos! A Condotel!

http://beautyofbali.info/we-bought-hotel-room-called-condotel-live-in-it/

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113 December 11, 2017 at 2:01 pm

We’re not wealthy, but we’re stealthy!

-We own and drive one car in our family of three.
-We always, always, always bring our lunch to work.
-We wear our clothes until they’re basically disintegrating.
-I walk to work (because I am way too cheap to pay for my employer’s parking fees).

(That said, there are definitely areas where we could be stealthier. Like, we could be a lot stealthier when it comes to beer. I love good beer.)

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114 Josh December 11, 2017 at 2:45 pm

Like a couple others above, I don’t own a car, and haven’t owned one for ~14 years. I bike most everywhere I go. I don’t know how much money this has saved me, but I know it’s a lot.

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115 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 2:50 pm

Yeah, that would be one helluva Spavings account :)

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116 Samantha December 11, 2017 at 4:05 pm

Drive very old (2002 and 2005) basic Hondas.
Don’t get my nails done or hair highlights/dye.
Always pack our lunches.
Smallest house in the neighborhood, and we mow our own lawn (gasp!).
Only buy clothes at the thrift store – only most people would not know that.
No iPhones in this household.

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117 Sara @ Gathering Dreams December 11, 2017 at 5:25 pm

Loved this post!
We still live in the one bedroom flat we bought 8 years ago while all our friends have the biggest house they can afford. With the money we saved by staying in our small and lovely flat we bought 2 more rental properties.
We live in a city so we walk or use public transport to go everywhere. Never owned a car!
I kept the same phone for over 5 years! Every time I go to a meeting my boss keeps looking at my phone and says: don’t I pay you enough to buy a new phone? And I keep saying to him: not enough, never enough :)
Having said that…it looks like it’s about to die so I might have to buy myself a new phone for Christmas!!!

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118 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 2:51 pm

“not enough, never enough” – hilarious :)

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119 Scott December 11, 2017 at 5:34 pm

I have a decent NW, no debt (including mortgage). I do have a pretty nice newer car, only because I drove beaters for years, and actually wanted a car I liked for a change. Everything else is cheap, cheap, cheap. Every stick of furniture in my house is either hand-me-down or pulled from a dump. My clothes are target/walmart/thrift store, and I hardly ever replace them. Almost never eat out, maybe a couple times a year for birthdays or something. Total expenses are a hair over 1k a month. I will say this lifestyle has not been conducive to good dating, imo. Women just think I’m poor, and move on. I never tell them what I have in the bank…

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120 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 2:53 pm

Oooooh that’s an interesting trade off right there… Maybe you’ll have to start a finance blog so you can meet other sexy financial bloggers who’d appreciate your frugal ways :)

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121 Kris December 11, 2017 at 7:08 pm

If I didn’t have an office job where I’d have to wear business casual attire, I would be glad to trade them in for a pair of sweatpants and a shirt. It’s nice to dress up once in a while but I’m comfortable in lounge-y wear.
PB&J all day!! That is my go-to whenever we are out of food and the only thing left is a loaf of bread. I can survive with that for a while.
Stealth wealth all the way!

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122 Bela December 11, 2017 at 7:23 pm

We (married couple) rent an apartment. We drive a 2008 vehicle, and have only one vehicle. Our visible employment/source of income is food service. We do have a very few holey clothes items, which means they need replacement, but 1) I hate clothes shopping, and 2) I probably won’t throw away the one with holes until I need the space :) I love stealth wealth, though our wealth is six figures not million(s). It is funny that (and how) people judge the wealth of others, and in our case, some think we are pretty poor while others don’t think we are so poor. We eat well and talk about food, and are told others “can’t afford” things like filet mignon – but they seem to afford Starbucks on a daily basis, which we don’t do at all. I do think it’s much better to be thought of as not having much.

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123 Mr MSW December 11, 2017 at 9:12 pm

Nice article. While our family lives in an upper-middle-class area, we don’t share the financial habits of our neighbors. We have two older non-luxury cars, do all of our own lawn / car / home maintenance, and do not have a housekeeper like many of our peers. Also have had almost all of our kids’ birthday parties at home – finally broke down this year and treated our youngest (pre-teen) to a birthday party at the local skating rink.

I also don’t dress up much. I’ll typically be the guy that heads out in jean shorts, nasty t-shirt & crocs. (Hey, I like to be comfortable!) I spend a lot of time on construction sites for work, so a collared shirt and jeans and work boots is typically what I wear to work. (This actually helps at work – I can more easily blend in with the construction team despite typically being the engineering head of a project, and the tradesmen and ops technicians tend to be less intimidated and communicate more openly with me than if I was to dress up for the role.)

My wife and I also look and act relatively young for our age. I think people tend to combine that with the absence of major expenses and assume that we’re younger and house poor, or something along those lines That’s fine with me – they don’t need to know about our 7 figure net worth. The awkward moments will be when we have to tell people that us “young folks” are retired in a few years….! But at that point I hope to start slow travelling, so won’t have to deal with it as much :-)

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124 Adam December 12, 2017 at 9:35 am

I see “look and act relatively young for our age” come up consistently in FIRE blog comments. Hypothesis: having our financial ducks in a row significantly reduces worry and keeps us focused on what is best in life. What a nifty side effect!

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125 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 2:56 pm

And that is why you have a blog called My Stealth Wealth! Haha…. very well done, sir very well done. I also like the better communication play too the way you dress – that’s important!

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126 Mark December 11, 2017 at 11:47 pm

I love my stealth ride. Despite a net worth of just north of $5M, I drive a 12-year-old Prius that shows every one of its 265K miles. I don’t wash it in the summer time for added effect. (Where I live it doesn’t rain between May and November.). And while I live in a high-crime city, I have had exactly zero car break-ins.

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127 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 2:57 pm

B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L

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128 Barb December 12, 2017 at 8:44 am

Hubby and I both been retired for awhile and were FI bound before it was a thing. We read “Your Money or Your Life” when it was newly published and never looked back. He was a high earning MD and I made a decent salary as an RN. We never led the “doctor lifestyle” and always had modest homes, modest cars that we drove to death and rarely had any debt. We did all of the things WE enjoyed which included a lot of outdoor vacations with hiking, bird watching and educational trips. Co-workers and acquaintances may have thought we couldn’t afford the grand European vacation and ski holidays at fancy resorts. Nothing was further from the truth but we learned early on that the only people we had to satisfy was ourselves.

Currently we live in a nice but modest house and I am sure that none of our neighbors could get close to guessing our net worth.

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129 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 3:00 pm

Oh nice!

Do you know there’s now a HUGE medical/financial blogging community that’s come around as well? You’d probably appreciate it – here’s a list of a ton we’ve been tracking :)

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130 Sarah December 12, 2017 at 1:22 pm

The other day my husband and I were at dinner with friends when the bill came. My husband always checks the bill. When a friend laughed and said he never checks the bill, just chucks down his credit card, my husband pointed out that we regularly finds errors. On restaurant bills, grocery stores, everywhere! We always make a point to correct them when we find them. It turned out on this particular bill there was a $15 error – our friend shrugged and said, “Do you really have to penny pinch over $15? I’d just pay it.” We got it corrected anyway. :) Happy to be a PAW.

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131 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 3:00 pm

No kidding! $15 is way different than $0.15! Your friends are cray!

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132 Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life December 12, 2017 at 2:50 pm

I like to counter the idea that we must be wealthy to have purchased our home and renovated it in this neighborhood by walking around in decades-old clothes instead of the latest in fashion and a blow-out, no mani-pedis, walking my own dog, having a really crappy front yard, and not redoing most of the front of the house so it looks shabby :D I like to think that the front of the house looking all old and gross is an extra thief deterrent.

We also look like we don’t own cars or stuff because we always park our cards in the garage instead of using the garage as an enormous storage room like so many people do here.

Outside of the neighborhood, everyone can assume we’re poor because we only bought here, instead of the nicer neighborhoods nearby which cost at least twice as much as our humble abode.

Back in the day, I had a “nice” (to me!) car but my coworkers scoffed at me thinking I had nothing because I always took the train and bus to work. Joke’s on them, my transit was paid for instead of my parking so I saved a TON of money on that too.

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133 J. Money December 12, 2017 at 3:02 pm

Oh I bet you did! Hilarious about actually parking your cars in your garage which is where they were meant to be parked haha… it’s so true houses are just getting bloated with stuff!! So glad I stumbled across the minimalism blogs or else I’d have possibly gone that route too!

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134 Ben December 12, 2017 at 4:08 pm

I think about this all the time, how it makes me happy to be stealthy-wealthy (and i’m bored, so this’ll be a little lengthly…feel free to disregard ;) )

I take a peanut butter sandwich nearly every day for lunch (and to top it off, I buy Lidl’s honey wheat and peanut butter, which are $.89/loaf and $2.99/40oz, respectively); I had a coworker ask me where I liked to go when I went out to eat lunch with someone during the work-week, and after a moment’s thought I answered, “I actually don’t think I ever have [in 9 years of being in the professional world]”. (I will occasionally ‘go out’ for dinner by myself, but never for anything that costs more than $5.33 after tax, this being a Cookout tray….my girlfriend and I currently only see each other on weekends, so we generally go out to a ‘normal’ place ~once a week)

Up until a year and a half ago I drove a 1995 camry dubbed “Old Reliable” that my parents graciously bought me in 2003 as my first car when I was 15 (so I almost made it 13 years with the car) – after being hit going through a stoplight, I finally caved, J-Money-style, and bought a 2011 Buick Regal…which was not the most frugal choice, but I must admit, I thoroughly enjoy driving it (and I got it for less than half the original MSRP of ~$27k, including tax/tag/title)

I hardly ever buy new clothes – I don’t think I’ve ever bought a new button-up (my work attire); I’ve accumulated 20 or so over the last 10 years, because my mother eventually steps in and gives them as Christmas presents, and I just wear one, move it to the back of the rotation. My jeans/shorts (everywhere except work) are still ones I bought 7-8 years ago, and most of my casual shirts as well (with a few exceptions). I still have packs of socks/undershirts/boxers in my closet that I’ve similarly gotten for Christmas/birthday because I haven’t deemed the ones currently in rotation as threadbare enough to throw out. :) I’m also still wearing the same pair of sneakers and rainbow sandals that I bought 10 and 11 years ago, respectively (dress shoes I am forced to buy a little more frequently).

I only run my heat around 55 degrees in the winter, opting instead for hoodies and blankets, although my girlfriend assures me this will change once we live together (normally this wouldn’t count as stealthy-wealthy, but I do enjoy talking about it to see folk’s reactions), and A/C around 78 in the summer, using fans and only a fitted sheet on the bed.

I live in a quite small apartment, paying only $450/month in rent, I don’t have cable, and the slowest speed internet Spectrum will let me have, which nowadays is plenty fast for most anything.

P.S. All this backfires in a sense among those who know me; friends, coworkers, etc., in that
“you never spend any money, so we know you must have some somewhere” :)

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135 Ben December 12, 2017 at 4:12 pm

Oh, I forgot one other thing – I’ve never owned a smartphone; I’m currently using a flip phone with qwerty keyboard that I first got ~5 years ago…still only have to charge it every 2-3 days. \o/

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136 Barb December 13, 2017 at 6:48 am

Ben is my new hero! You are ON TRACK to retire whenever the hell you want to.

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137 J. Money December 15, 2017 at 6:43 am

haha YES!!! I’d love one day to hear how much all of this translates now into net worth :) But at the very least you HAVE TO tell us what happens once you and your gf move in together, haha…. that part cracked me up.

(And congrats on the car upgrade! J$ approves!)

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138 Steve @ Think Save Retire December 12, 2017 at 5:27 pm

We live in a freakin’ trailer. :)

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139 J. Money December 15, 2017 at 6:45 am

Yes, but it’s SO BRIGHT!!! You attract all the flies with that honey! ;)

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140 Jeff @ Maximum Cents December 12, 2017 at 8:37 pm

I’ve learned that most people either want your money or want you to spend your money. Saving money isn’t valued in our society. One example is that my car is now 11 years old and a lot of people think I’m crazy for not buying a new one. Why should I buy a new car if there’s nothing wrong with my current car? I also pay less in insurance, excise tax, no sales tax, and no finance charges by keeping my current car. Here’s to the old car club!

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141 J. Money December 15, 2017 at 6:45 am

To the old car club!

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142 GJ December 13, 2017 at 3:30 pm

I wouldn’t consider us “wealthy” yet but we’ve laid a pretty solid financial foundation and are on our way. We don’t advertise with expensive clothes (thrift stores/target/h&m/nordstrom rack) or cars (14 and 10 years old but reliable) but focus on value. There is something to be said for “dress for the job you want” and I try to ensure my husband looks sharp at work without being flashy. I guess I see that just as much as an investment in our financial future.

We also keep our vehicles and yard clean and well-maintained as a matter of principle. It is good stewardship of what we have, maximizes the value of our assets and doing the labor ourselves minimizes costs. I also just don’t want to be *those* neighbors. I guess our strategy is to fly under the radar as responsible, average humans that don’t stand out as an extreme in either direction (broke bums or lavish showboats).

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143 J. Money December 15, 2017 at 6:55 am

Agree 100% on the “investment” part w/ your husband dressing the part. SO so smart to do vs sticking to personal preference or even comfort for that matter. While I dress as a bum on any given day, the times I need to look presentable I will do it for the greater good haha… You have to be able to adapt in this world to advance!

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144 Josh December 13, 2017 at 6:32 pm

Freedom > Money > Stuff

Just wrote that on a post note & put it on the bottom right of my computer screen.

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145 J. Money December 15, 2017 at 6:55 am

BOOM!

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146 Daffytheowl December 15, 2017 at 8:40 am

We work in finance in nyc and obviously our peers (and now we) make a relatively large paycheck. Unlike our peers though, we don’t take fancy vacations, don’t wear branded clothes or have fancy handbags and shoes. We don’t live in an expensive apartment in manhattan but in a much cheaper place in NJ and deal with a longer commute.

There is one giveaway though ;) my husband may wear a 10 year old suit but he also wears a $10k rolex so his cover is pretty much blown ;)

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147 J. Money December 18, 2017 at 3:00 pm

Haha – yeah it is :) Good for him for enjoying the $$$ a little though! I bet he smiles every time he sees it.

(we did a guest post from a fancy watch reseller here before actually… here it is – maybe your husband will enjoy it? http://beautyofbali.info/how-to-make-money-selling-watches/ )

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148 Chris @ Mindful Explorer December 16, 2017 at 6:10 pm

I used to have all the fancy flashy stuff and now I am totally down with stealth wealth. It is what has afforded me my freedom and early retirement for full on work and career mode. My fancy family vehicle is going on 8 years old and my run around beater doesn’t even have power windows and has rust. I reserve my money for things that provide true value in my life such as my mountain bike. Heck when I go for a ride and put the bike in the back of the truck it triples the value of the truck LOL. I love living a very modest life and having nobody realizing that I have a net worth of almost $1,000,000 .

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149 J. Money December 18, 2017 at 3:01 pm

“when I go for a ride and put the bike in the back of the truck it triples the value of the truck LOL.” – HILARIOUS!!!!

And killer stash too – didn’t know you were up there killin’ me like that, well played :) You’re even stealthy amongst us finance people! Haha…

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150 Dave December 17, 2017 at 10:36 am

My wife and I left the consumerism crazy train 10 years ago. Used to have 1 luxury vehicle MB, live in the right neighborhood in an expensive house. Now we have a nice townhouse in a modest neighborhood. Our primary vehicle is an 04 Explorer bought 7 years ago from a friend for $12k. Now with 90K miles still looks great and runs like a champ. Organic free trade coffee brewed at home daily saves us $$$. We eat in most evenings. My cell phone is a 4s which does need replacement. Waiting until the bitter end to buy a new one. It is amusing hearing comments at Sales meetings such as “which museum did you steal that phone from”? Little do they know in 2 years I will be retired and FI at 60. After raising 3 children and paying for the majority of their college we are blessed to be crossing the FI finish line well before 65! #luvflyingundertheradar

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151 J. Money December 18, 2017 at 3:07 pm

YEAH YOU ARE!!! No easy feat!

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152 Scott @ Vetted Opps December 20, 2017 at 5:39 pm

I love this article! I can totally relate. I have been an entrepreneur for over 20 years and over the last 17 years, I did achieve FREEDOM. However, no one would have known because I went into “stealth mode”.

I have lived a very minimal life, have driven used cars, have had an older cell phone and I was saving $20,000 to $30,000 per month! Now I was not being greedy, I still gave to my church and did the occasional “fun” things but no one has known how much money I was making and saving. It has been much fun.

Anyway, I couldn’t agree more with what you say in this article. Freedom is much better than flaunting blowing wealth.

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153 J. Money December 22, 2017 at 6:26 pm

“I have lived a very minimal life, have driven used cars, have had an older cell phone and I was saving $20,000 to $30,000 per month!”

Love the contrast in this! Haha… You are a stealth wealth KING. Very nice to e-meet you, man :)

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154 Sean @ FrugalMoneyMan December 29, 2017 at 2:56 pm

You beat me! I cap my PB&J limit to 3 times a week!

This is hilarious though, but it’s crazy how true it is. When I was younger I thought one of my uncles was one of the most boring/dull/strange individuals in the family. Then I got older and noticed that when we went to Florida as a family for a week, he would stay for an EXTRA 3 weeks after we left! I then found out that we was low key STUPID RICH/BALLING. He is just a very quite humble dude that doesn’t show it off.

As for me, I still rock the same basketball shorts I had during JV (notice how I didn’t say varsity…) basketball almost 10 years ago and the same soccer sweats from high school. Now I just need to increase my PB&J intake and get on your level!

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155 J. Money December 29, 2017 at 4:20 pm

Haha… I did notice the “JV” vs “Varsity” line there ;)

Awesome your uncle was so stealthy!! Another part that needs to be taught in our high school Millionaire 101 classes! That you don’t have to show it all off to be rich!

I wonder how much he had/has, do you know? You should do an anonymous profile on him for your blog and ask him all the questions you’ve ever wanted ;)

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156 Sean @ FrugalMoneyMan December 29, 2017 at 8:30 pm

I never thought of that, thats an awesome idea! You may see that coming soon:)

He did divulge at Thanksgiving to me that he had $140,000 in cash during 2009 and through it ALL in the Vanguard Dividend Growth Fund (taxable account)…Needless to say after hitting the jackpot of this unreal bull market since 2009, that $140,000 grew to around $460,000. He’s UPSET that this year was so good because his returns put him in a higher tax bracket hahaha…Those are the problems I can’t wait to have!

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157 J. Money January 1, 2018 at 7:33 am

Oh jeez, haha…

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158 Chris @ FinancialLifestyleSuccess February 20, 2018 at 2:48 pm

I enjoyed your article and can relate to the “clothes with holes”.

I looked at my wardrobe not too long ago and realized I had sweaters that were 10 years old that I am still wearing every year.

I have met 3 millionaires in the last 20 years and you would have never known. They drove old trucks and wore old clothes, never flaunting their wealth.

So I told myself if they can do it so can I.

There is a lot of people around you everyday that have wealth and you will never know it!

Great site! I bookmarked it.

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159 J. Money February 21, 2018 at 6:30 am

Hah! Always nice to meet a fellow hole-wearer :)

Thanks for stopping by – glad you’re enjoying the site!

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160 Katie March 2, 2018 at 1:30 pm

I know I am late to the convo – :) – but really, while I can get on board with so many of the comments – I just can’t get on board with the “holes in the clothes” (that are worn outside of the house).

I don’t think that holes in the clothes makes someone look like they don’t have wealth – I think it makes them look, well, lazy. Don’t everyone yell at me at once, though, ok? :)

I am coming from the perspective as a HR manager. I don’t expect name brand, fancy clothes. I do expect clothes that are in good repair and that are well fitting. With all the clothes in the thrift shops, it is unimaginable to me that people cannot have appropriate attire that fits well without holes.

But when I see holes – I don’t immediately think someone doesn’t have money. I think they are too lazy to get appropriate clothing, or that they have too low of self-esteem to believe they deserve clothes that fit without holes.

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161 J. Money March 2, 2018 at 1:58 pm

Haha… good thing I don’t have a 9-5 anymore :)

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162 Scott @ Vetted Opps November 23, 2018 at 9:06 pm

Hi J Money…

I loved this article. I too have tried to live by the principles you state here. Even though I have the money, I never buy new cars. I always buy cars that are a few years old and never anything that stands out. Just the run of the mill Ford Fusion.

I can also relate to the clothes with holes. My wife is always asking “why do you continue to wear socks with holes, you can afford to buy new ones?” HAHA I just laugh and say, I’m still doing fine and it doesn’t bother me.

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163 J. Money November 26, 2018 at 9:50 am

You keep rockin’ those socks, good sir :)

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