Stealth Wealth: Keeping Your Money Invisible

Without a doubt, one of the first thoughts that comes to a layperson’s mind when she thinks of ‘doctor’ is “wealth”. With doctors being historically stereotyped in well-dressed in professional attire, driving fancy cars, living in fancy houses, and large bill statements sent to patients, it is expected that doctors belong in the top 1% of America’s wealth. After all, would you want your doctor to be wearing Tevas (socks optional), a loud Aloha shirt, and driving a 20 year old Ford truck? Little do people know that doctors are not paid enough for their services, are at least a decade in financial health behind their peers, and also are unlikely have significant wealth.

Landscaping business owners, software developers, and plumbers—all of whom may have a sizable net worth—are not “expected” to portray wealth. Neither does the guy who wears torn jeans, a t-shirt, and a Hublot watch but owns several factories in Asia. Stealth wealth is easier to pull off in these scenarios.

The only thing worse than being viewed as a wealthy doctor is to actually be poor while appearing wealthy. For this reason alone, it may be worthwhile as a doctor to consider walking in the shadows for once. Below are some pros for doing so:

Pros:

  1. Service industries will take advantage of you less. I was once at a chain brake repair garage having the brake pads on my 9 year old Impreza replaced. Another customer came in with a sub-3 year old Infiniti SUV to have an oil change was offered a “free” brake inspection and was talked into an urgent replacement of his timing belt. For those of you unfamiliar with vehicle maintenance, the likelihood of a timing belt needing replacement before year 5 is exceeding low. My timing belt at 9 years is nearing replacement, but still thick enough to function.
  2. Jealousy from friends and even family can manifest when money is involved. Do you really deserve being wealthy? Oh of course she can afford that, she’s a doctor. You will be judged and criticized even more if you’re rich.
  3. Solicitors will find you no matter what. If you make yourself a bigger target go ahead.

Comments or anecdotes on reasons why you keep your wealth invisible or tips to do so? Shout it out below!

 

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  • This was so short! I kept refreshing to see if my screen had frozen halfway through loading! I could think of a few other pro’s of being stealthily wealthy:

    1. People think you’re NOT doing as well off as you are, so they are less likely to judge you for your more frugal choices if it’s a consistent pattern of behaviour.

    2. You’re likely to actually get bargains when you ask for discounts or show that you’re not happy with the price you’re being quoted. I have frowned more than a few times where I thought I wasn’t getting the best deal–and got a better one! People are more willing to negotiate with you if they don’t believe you have money pouring out of your ears.

    3. Your generosity is never taken for granted. I try (and struggle!) not to let my family and friends get into the habit of thinking I will bail them out of sticky financial situations, or foot the bill for special occasions. Because I don’t go around acting like I have money to burn, nobody expects me to bankroll everything so there is no (or hardly any) resentment when I don’t. And when I do, it’s actually appreciated that much more.

    Just a few thoughts, but I’m sure there are plenty more.

    • Smart Money MD

      Thanks for stopping by!

      I like #2. I was playing the type of Mr. Frugal at one of the local car dealerships until one of the workers recognized me as one of their doctors. I was looking into a Ford Focus at the time. I ended up not buying that car for other reasons, but there was a moment of looking like a miser in the face of public perception.