Author Topic: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in  (Read 20057 times)

NumberJohnny5

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Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« on: January 31, 2015, 06:52:31 PM »
Short version between the asterisks, underneath that are examples. Feel free to skip and add your own thoughts/examples (even if you repeat what I said, a lot of people will skip the bulk of this post).

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Often we need to blend in with those around us, whether we're trying to blend in with people who spend less than us, or with those who spend more. Perhaps you're living in the ghetto and want a Lexus, or work at a big law firm and drive a decades old Honda Civic. You'll stick out like a sore thumb in both scenarios.

At times we may WANT to stick out. We want to cause a scene, we want people to look at us and say "How does he/she do that? I want to be more like him/her!" Other times though, we just want to keep our heads low and look like everyone around us. That's my goal for this thread. Hopefully we'll get some ideas on how to look like we're spending less than we are, and/or spending more than we are (sometimes, to properly blend in, we have to appear to do both depending on each situation).

Note: I'm not suggesting that anyone spend significantly more than necessary on items, or deprive themselves of items/experiences that might be seen as too expensive. Rather, I'm trying to get examples where you can either make the same thing look cheap or expensive, or do something similar that can be perceived as cheaper/spendier (that's a word, right?).

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I'll start by giving a scenario where you can easily emphasize the spendier parts, or the cheapskate parts (hopefully you won't be an actual cheapskate, but you can APPEAR to be one).

You take the kids to Disney World (hey, stop face punching, I'm just giving a scenario and NOT saying anyone should actually do so, though I will admit to going quite a few times). You decide that instead of spending hundreds per night to stay on (Disney) property, or $50+ per night to stay off property (plus the $15 or whatever parking, plus gas and time to drive there and back, etc.), you'll spend $50-$60/night to camp at Fort Wilderness. You're on property, can use Disney transportation, don't have to pay parking if you drive to one of the parks, etc. You bought 10-day park hopper no expiration tickets that have the water park 'n more option (so, an extra 10 days of minor parks, i.e. the water parks, arcade, etc.). You can use them all at once (in which case, why pay for no-expiration?) or over the course of many many years (you could go to a major park once per year for ten years, and a minor park once per year for another ten years...I think that'd be silly but you could do it).

Here's how to present it as though you're poor (and don't worry, plenty of poor people go on vacations they shouldn't be able to afford, and try to justify it as "too good of a deal to pass up"):

To save money you camped in a tent. You made PB&J sandwiches for lunch. You spent three days at the parks. You went to a timeshare presentation (you can even word it as "We went to a timeshare presentation, and got tickets to go to the park" which SOUNDS like "We went to a timeshare presentation where they gave us tickets to go to the parks"). What, you hate timeshare presentations? No problem, just make sure the presentation you go to is a Disney presentation. No hassle, no pressure, just some snacks and some goodies for each person attending (first time was super-duper fast passes that gave passes for the current time, instead of way in the future; next time was the same OR $15 gift card per person, btw they count kids as people). You also didn't go to any character dining in the parks, because that just takes away time from the rides. Well, there you have it. You camped in a tent, went to a timeshare, ate PB&J sandwiches, and no expensive Character Dining (or any food in the parks for that matter). At least, that's the impression you're giving.

Here's how to present the same scenario as though you're spending money like it's going out of style:

You stayed on (Disney) property. If they ask, it was at Fort Wilderness, and they have some pretty nice cabins there (not that you stayed in one, but the cabins are indeed nice). You spent 1.5 weeks at Disney (any day spent on property is time spent at Disney). Mention that you paid extra to go to the Halloween/Christmas party (you can go in around 3-4pm and stay late, it's pretty good for the arrival day). You did Character Dining (not in a park, you did it at Fort Wilderness on the "cheap", but they don't have to know that). Mention the restaurants you bought food at in the park (the one or two times you bought a cheap snack). Now you've spent 1.5 weeks (or a week, or two, whatever) at Disney while staying on property, you paid a ton of money to eat in the parks every day, did Character Dining, went to the extra ticketed party, etc.

One may give the impression you spent hundreds, the other gives the impression that you spent thousands. The true cost is somewhere in the middle, though closer to the hundreds than the thousands.

Scenario #2. You need a reliable car (we're assuming you actually need a car, whether you're in a super rural area, or need to drive clients around, whatever).

The poor way:

Look for a low-mileage, well maintained Toyota (Camry, Corolla, whatever) that has all the super upgraded stuff that's important to you (leather seats if that's your thing, upgraded suspension, JBL/Bose/Harmon/BS radio system, oh and of course the undercoating). It is close-ish to a similar Lexus, but looks more "working class".

The rich way:

Again, you want a well maintained car. But get the base model Lexus instead. It may not be much better than the suped-up Toyota, but it's a Lexus. It's obviously a luxury car that you paid a lot for.

Scenario #3. You're buying a luxury watch (ok, maybe ONE face punch allowed, but if you're in a profession where appearance matters, this might actually be important).

The poor way:

Ok, face punch away. But for whatever reason, you're getting a luxury watch that'll last decades (maybe you want to pass it down to your kids, or just appreciate a quality timepiece and that's your one indulgence, or whatever). Do NOT buy a Rolex. Get a lesser known brand (Tudor is owned by Rolex, and has a Swiss movement, but it's not made in-house). A good option that looks cheap(er) is a Grand Seiko. It displays the Seiko name very prominently on the dial, and Grand Seiko in smaller print. Quality is equal to or greater than an equivalent Rolex (and the price can be on par with a Rolex as well). But Seiko is a watch you can buy at the drug store for under $100, maybe a couple hundred if you go all out. Few will know that your watch is worth more than their car.

The rich way:

Rolex. If you need super high-end, maybe another luxury brand that's not as "common." But Rolex will tell people you have money. Buy a fake if you want (but it better be a really good replica). Buy a real one (bonus points if you find an older one that still looks great, was recently serviced, and is thousands cheaper than a new one). If you can buy a non-Rolex, used ones are often significantly less expensive than a new one (something that retailed for $5k might cost $1k a few years later).

Mobile phones.

The poor way:

I want to say to emphasize that the phone was cheap (under $100, if lucky it came with a year of airtime) and that you're only paying ~$20 per 90 days. Unfortunately, to fit in with those poorer than you, you might need to say how "cheap" the $100 phone was and insinuate that you're on an expensive monthly plan. *Shrugs*

The rich way:

You got a good deal by paying $100-$300 for your phone, and you have lots of data (180MB per 90 days is a lot to you). Bonus if you "upgrade" every year or two. You could buy a high(ish) quality clone of an expensive model, but I won't get into that.

Some quickies:

You buy a projector. Cheap = It only cost in the hundreds and you painted a screen on the wall. Expensive = Emphasize the super qualities of the projector such as HD, and the wall was custom painted (by you).

You buy a solid wood dining room set. Cheap = You bought it used. Expensive = You bought an antique.

You buy a Dell laptop. Cheap = You bought it refurbed from Dell, and Dell has some really good deals on laptops starting at ~$200. Expensive = You bought it direct from Dell (don't mention refurb, and only mention price if it was expensive).

House. Cheap = You bought a fixer-upper and did the work yourself. Expensive = You have hardwood floors (that you bought cheap and installed yourself).

Shoes. Cheap = Not Nike/Reebok/Adidas/Sketchers or whatever brand is considered "in". Expensive = You bought a high end luxurious brand (that will last a decade, can easily be resoled, and will end up saving you money).

Peanut Butter. Cheap = Store brand. Expensive = Natural and/or organic (I've seen Walmart brand natural peanut butter).

Shirt. Cheap = Bought it at the thrift store. Expensive = Came from a higher-end store (does Target and Macy's count?). Don't have to tell them that the retail store donated it to the thrift store and you bought it for $5 with the tags still on it.

Turkey. Cheap = Bought several while they were on sale and stored in the freezer. It's April, turkey again? Expensive = It's April, turkey is out of season, and you just made a huge meal that rivals many people's Thanksgiving dinners.

Few more quick ideas, and I promise I'll stop.

Do you drink soda? First, STOP, it's unhealthy! If you refuse to follow my superb advice, here's an idea to blend in at the office. Buy a six pack of whatever soda is stocked in the office vending machine. Drink them (unless it's a type you hate, maybe your spouse can drink them?). Buy a cheap 2-liter of the soda of your choice (bonus points if it's generic). Rinse out the bottles, refill them, and it looks like you're spending $1.50-$2 a pop (a pop, get it? No?). Yay, you fit in!

Buy a Starbucks coffee mug. Put whatever coffee you like in it before you leave home. Don't like coffee? Ok, hot chocolate then. Show up to work, hey, you spent money at Starbucks just like everyone else! Note: This does not work if there's no Starbucks in your (obviously tiny) city.

If you find yourself in the possession of several take-out containers, use them to take leftovers to work. I.e., you can make an awesome chicken salad at home, put it in a (very well cleaned out and sterilized, and whatever else I need to say for legal reasons) take-out container, and it looks like you ate at an expensive restaurant.

401k, what's that?

IRA, is that the tax department or the Ireland thing?

You'll never get to retire.

If you're retired, find a way to describe something you do as though it were a job. Have a website? You host websites. Manage your retirement savings? You're a financial planner (and no, you're not taking any more clients).

Whether you're trying to look rich or poor, complain about the government and taxes.

That's enough from me. I'd love to hear what ideas others have!
« Last Edit: January 31, 2015, 09:01:21 PM by NumberJohnny5 »

JLee

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2015, 07:14:55 PM »
I've never been one to worry about blending in, but I'm curious to see what suggestions come up. :)

sheepstache

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2015, 07:18:48 PM »
I don't know if I'm playing the game right, but I'll try:

Rich: Buying a new outfit to go on vacation. Or wear everyday clothing but have it sport obvious American brand names. Wear spaghetti strap tank tops and other casual beachwear-type clothing even when visiting cultural exhibits.
Result: Get treated like a tourist, be seen as rich, possibly get mugged.

Poor: Wear your old business casual attire that's a bit too stained or worn for office work.
Result: You'll still look like a foreigner, but people will assume you work in the country, possibly as an impoverished ESL teacher. Avoid getting overcharged and/or mugged.

wtjbatman

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2015, 07:23:00 PM »
I'm going to blend in by pretending I read that freakin huge original post. But really... I didn't.

NumberJohnny5

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2015, 08:28:41 PM »
I don't know if I'm playing the game right, but I'll try:

Rich: Buying a new outfit to go on vacation. Or wear everyday clothing but have it sport obvious American brand names. Wear spaghetti strap tank tops and other casual beachwear-type clothing even when visiting cultural exhibits.
Result: Get treated like a tourist, be seen as rich, possibly get mugged.

Poor: Wear your old business casual attire that's a bit too stained or worn for office work.
Result: You'll still look like a foreigner, but people will assume you work in the country, possibly as an impoverished ESL teacher. Avoid getting overcharged and/or mugged.

I was thinking more along the lines of, you're doing a similar activity but want to t make it appear like you're spending what a poorer person would spend, or what a richer person would spend.

I.e. $5k luxury watch. Seiko or Rolex. Both are similar quality, but one screams "I spend upwards of hundreds of dollars on my watch" and the other screams "I'm rich! I'm rich! I'm either up to my eyeballs in debt or I'm filthy rich!"

On your vacation example, I'll add this. If you don't want to be hassled much, don't wear something obviously expensive (such as a Rolex, they know how to spot that) and travel with young kids. Not that I'd use them as a shield, but there's a big difference when I go out alone in a place like Belize vs with my kid(s).

I'm going to blend in by pretending I read that freakin huge original post. But really... I didn't.

I think you'll blend in better by admitting to not reading all that. Believe it or not, the first draft was longer.

retired?

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2015, 08:48:53 PM »
I'm going to blend in by pretending I read that freakin huge original post. But really... I didn't.

Echo!

Some initial posts are so long it's ridiculous to expect others to read them.  I keep this in mind when I respond.  You want it read, you keep it concise.

It's easy to skip a response and participate, but a post of this length borders being useless altogether.

NumberJohnny5

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2015, 08:55:23 PM »
I'm going to blend in by pretending I read that freakin huge original post. But really... I didn't.

Echo!

Some initial posts are so long it's ridiculous to expect others to read them.  I keep this in mind when I respond.  You want it read, you keep it concise.

It's easy to skip a response and participate, but a post of this length borders being useless altogether.

I tried to put the really important stuff in the beginning, examples were underneath. So feel free to mention something that fits the "how to fit in with people spending less/more than you."

I'll try to amend the original post to make that clear. Way more than half was examples.

Edit: I edited the original post, tell me if that's better. Or should I just remove all the examples and make a separate reply?
« Last Edit: January 31, 2015, 09:03:43 PM by NumberJohnny5 »

fields

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2015, 09:09:44 PM »
I think I'm missing the point of this. WHY would someone go to these lengths (in either direction) ?  Why not do what you do, and let people think what they think?

NumberJohnny5

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2015, 09:25:53 PM »
I think I'm missing the point of this. WHY would someone go to these lengths (in either direction) ?  Why not do what you do, and let people think what they think?

Because some of us may not want to stick out. Those of us who want to blend in may not know how.

Since many here have a similar personality type to me (INTJ/INTP), I'll assume that many have difficulties trying to "fit in" with the crowd around them. Even when we try, we often fail.

In my own life, there have been issues with (supposedly) close family members, due to finances. If we had portrayed the typical "struggling to make ends meet; economy sucks and there's nothing we can do about it; that darned gubment always keeping us down" we'd have better relations with a large percentage (over 50%) of our family. And by "better relations" I mean "actually talking to each other."

One can argue whether or not those type of people are worth trying to keep in your life. The point of this thread is IF you have already decided you want to blend in and be accepted by the people around you, then here's some pointers.

Another point that's been brought up multiple times in these forums is when people need to "act the part" of being successful. For example, if you're a lawyer and the firm doesn't want an old rusted out car in the employee parking area. Or you work in finance and your potential clients judge you on what watch you're wearing. Yeah, it may seem stupid to spend an extra $3k on a car, but spending $12k on a used Lexus vs $9k on a comparable Toyota might be a wise decision (and it's definitely better than forking out $60k).
« Last Edit: January 31, 2015, 09:27:45 PM by NumberJohnny5 »

Bateaux

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2015, 11:02:26 PM »
I bought a Casio G-Shock for $39 when I was penniless.   It was better than my previous wind up Timex.  I wore that watch till my net worth was about 500k or so.  With a net worth well past 1M now I still wear a G-Shock.  I drive a 2003 Dodge Van.  My suits are off the rack.  My wife still clips coupons. She drives a 2008 Accord.
We are solidly upper middle-class.   We have the right to be whoever we want to be.  With FU-Money you aren't forced to impress.   A few hours ago I was on Burbon Street in New Orleans watching a Mardi Gras Parade.  I was drinking PBR beer I bought for under a dollar a can.  I couldn't have been happier.  Now I'm in my own bed.  Four gallons of gasoline, 3 cans PBR and a free parade.  $10

M from Loveland

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2015, 11:09:27 PM »
I bought a Casio G-Shock for $39 when I was penniless.   It was better than my previous wind up Timex.  I wore that watch till my net worth was about 500k or so.  With a net worth well past 1M now I still wear a G-Shock.  I drive a 2003 Dodge Van.  My suits are off the rack.  My wife still clips coupons. She drives a 2008 Accord.
We are solidly upper middle-class.   We have the right to be whoever we want to be.  With FU-Money you aren't forced to impress.   A few hours ago I was on Burbon Street in New Orleans watching a Mardi Gras Parade.  I was drinking PBR beer I bought for under a dollar a can.  I couldn't have been happier.  Now I'm in my own bed.  Four gallons of gasoline, 3 cans PBR and a free parade.  $10

That's the way to go.

NumberJohnny5

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2015, 11:40:15 PM »
Hey, if you want to be disowned by your family and/or get fired because you didn't bring in enough clients (because they were too stupid to realize a person with a Honda bought when the first Bush was president is actually BETTER at finances than the person with the new Mercedes), so be it.

I think most here agree that the tipping system in the US is fucked up. It would be great if it was abolished and servers paid a decent wage. If everyone stopped tipping tomorrow, then the whole system would change within a month. That'd be great. But just one person trying to change the system? Well, you'll be chastised and called many names such as cheap bastard. That's just the way it is.

Likewise, if you try to go against the norm and actually spend money wisely? You'll be chastised and called many names such as cheap bastard. You'll be mocked if you spend less than those around you. If you save for retirement, family and friends will expect you to hand them money and be outraged when you say "Hey, you make as much or more than I do, stop spending your money on stupid iPhones and pay your damned electric bill yourself!"

It'd be great if we were judged solely by the type of person we are, instead of how much money we make or how we spend it. Sadly, most people DO judge you by these criteria. Feel free to fight the system, I would love to see it completely upended. Until then, some of us need to blend in and not be judged harshly because of money. There's plenty on the site already about how to do better at money, and how to say FU to those around you. It'd be nice if there was one place where we could discuss something different, like situations where it's best to hide our financial savviness and how to do so.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2015, 11:45:15 PM by NumberJohnny5 »

sunshine

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2015, 05:25:04 AM »


Likewise, if you try to go against the norm and actually spend money wisely? You'll be chastised and called many names such as cheap bastard. You'll be mocked if you spend less than those around you. If you save for retirement, family and friends will expect you to hand them money and be outraged when you say "Hey, you make as much or more than I do, stop spending your money on stupid iPhones and pay your damned electric bill yourself!"

It'd be great if we were judged solely by the type of person we are, instead of how much money we make or how we spend it. Sadly, most people DO judge you by these criteria. Feel free to fight the system, I would love to see it completely upended. Until then, some of us need to blend in and not be judged harshly because of money. There's plenty on the site already about how to do better at money, and how to say FU to those around you. It'd be nice if there was one place where we could discuss something different, like situations where it's best to hide our financial savviness and how to do so.

Your right a lot of family and friends do not understand saving for retirement and do think if you have extra too save they may be entitled to some.  Yes cheap may come up but ironically it's the same people saying I'm cheap that turn around and say it must be nice to be rich since we vacation yearly and don't complain about bills. Ironically the being frugal and being able to vacation and pay your bills light bulb does not go on in their brain.

I used to believe it was easier to absolutely hide your financial success.  I still think it is easier to just avoid discussing it if one can.  It causes grief and occasional resettlement sometimes. For example Coworkers are all complaining about debt. They all look at me expectantly and I share I don't have any. You bet a few had snide comments here and there about being lucky or rich etc over time. We make less as a family than many of them. Ironically though I have recently gone full circle and decided   I really don't care if I fit in at all or what people think.  I decided my freak flag can fly. Either one likes me or they don't. Don't get me wrong I'm not going out of my way to not blend in. I'm just not try too either.  I do understand the premise of what you are saying though.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2015, 05:35:32 AM by sunshine »

act0fgod

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2015, 05:35:48 AM »
The title of this thread has poverty in it and I think that's an error.  Nothing you mention will relate to poverty.  The US census bureau in 2014 placed the poverty threshold as an income less than $12,000ish for a single person and less than $19,000ish for a family of three.  Generally speaking an individual who lives off that level of income and has no liquid assets will struggle to meet their basic needs.  None of the examples you list will fall into the poverty/poor category.

That being said I agree with a lot of what you said.  Specifically the fact that people make quick assessments of an individual, it's the way it is.  Unfortunately these quick assessments never get the full picture.  I'm going to make an assumption that we are in a similar financial situation, that situation is a very nice situation to be in.  Like you said the reality is people will judge us however we spend our money and that is unfortunate.  It's our money and we should be able to spend it, or not spend it, how we want. 

From my perspective an individual who feels my purchases are ostentatious, is an individual whose opinions I have no concerns about.  That doesn't mean I'm not hurt that people will judge me, it just means I know their opinions aren't really going to impact me.  There are probably lots of these types of people on this forum.  I also have family that fall into that category.

Unfortunately, as you allude to, my life can be impacted by people thinking I'm cheap.  These are the people that I have to interact with and complete financial transactions with.  So fitting in with the rich is really the only half of your examples that matters to me and that's because I want to continue making the income I do so I can stop working sooner.

All but the watch (I don't wear a watch) example you list apply to me.  E-bay or craigslist has played into a lot of those categories.

I've purchased vacations, airfare, projectors, vehicles, clothes, cell phones, starbucks mugs (my wife collects the city series from places we've visited), furniture and lots more from e-bay and craigslist.  Interestingly enough the thing I've found is places where keeping up with the jones is most important is where you will find the best deals on craigslist.  Large cities are great because there was always someone else who would pay the marked up MSRP and then sell the quality item below what I considered fair value as they went off to make their next purchase.

The area I struggle with is going out to eat.  I've yet to find a way to eat out such that I feel like I'm getting good value.  Trying to order the cheapest thing on the menu in order to minimize my losses in eating out does not work.  I've purchased gift cards for less than face value online but there aren't many upscale or non-chain places that take gift cards and people seem to judge you negatively if you pay with gift cards at these types of places anyway.

Another area we are similar is the length of our posts.

emily2244

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2015, 05:51:47 AM »
I do this. I present things the "rich way". I am so positive and talk about how awesome our life is and how our seemingly frugal choices are actually best and healthiest.  But people still feel sorry for me and think I'm poor.

fields

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #15 on: February 01, 2015, 05:58:38 AM »
I do understand the need to present as financially successful in certain fields. After 50 years as an  INTP, though, I've accepted not fitting in a good deal of the time. I've developed friendships with people I don't try to be different with, and am very grateful I don't have issues with my family.

BPA

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #16 on: February 01, 2015, 06:15:06 AM »
I read long posts!  If something is interesting and requires explanation, sometimes it needs length.

As an English teacher, I'd say that being concise means not being unnecessarily wordy, not merely presenting soundbites because many people don't like to focus on what is being communicated.

Because I'm a teacher, no one expects me to flaunt wealth, but even when I am confronted with mockery, I don't give a shit.  The same guy who mocked me for looking like a loser for not having a car, later resented me for having more disposable income than he did.




Miss Prim

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2015, 08:06:19 AM »
That is too bad that people feel the need to fit into a mold.  I don't give a flying you know what what other people think of me and never have.  And I wouldn't have gone into a career field based on how one is dressed, cars driven, etc. because it would be so fake to me and so much work to look the part that it wouldn't be worth the effort and possible expenses.  But, to each his own. 

I think people don't really know what to make of us as we drive old cars, wear old clothes, but have 4 acres in one of the best school districts in Michigan, grow our own food, raise chickens, take multiple vacations a year, have a cottage on a lake, a rental house and a sizable stache.  And you know what, our true friends don't care.  Our best friends live pretty much like us too, but have more acreage and more rental properties. 

I guess I could understand having to look the part for your job, but to have to pretend to be poor or rich in front of friends or family would be so superficial to me that I couldn't do it. 

                                                                                 Miss Prim

MsPeacock

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2015, 08:24:54 AM »
I have really never given any (or much) thought to this issue. Not sure why I would present myself as "rich" vs. "poor" to people. I just present myself as I am - which as far as I know hasn't caused me any problems. I guess I wouldn't go to the mall dressed in sobby worn out "poor" clothes or something - idk. Not that I go to the mall much.

Davids

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2015, 08:55:53 AM »
I don't worry about blending in with ours. I present myself as I am. I don't try to purposely appear poorer or richer. Although a few weeks back I did go to a fancy mall because we had received holiday gifts that we wanted to return. I was basically dressed in Cargo Pants and a Hoodie and in definite need of a shave and I was walking through a Nordstroms and I saw how well dressed the shoppers were and how they were all looking at the expensive clothes and I thought to myself perhaps cynically, I probably have a higher net worth than almost all of them and could easily afford a pair of expensive jeans or shoes but I would rather not waste my time.

MrsPete

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #20 on: February 01, 2015, 09:26:44 AM »
Yeah, I get the point.  Sometimes you do want to present yourself in a certain light.  Both of the following are true of my childhood:

My father worked as a CPA, and my mother stayed home with us.  We lived on the family homestead in an old farmhouse, which my parents remodeled.  I always did well in school and never questioned whether I would attend college. 

My father was unemployed, and with only a high school diploma my mother couldn't find work that paid more than welfare.  We lived in a crumbling old house that had heat only in the kitchen and living room.  With money problems always on my mom's mind, I received no support from home for my education. 

Both ARE true.  Realistically, these are both lies of omission; that is, they don't tell the whole story -- they allow the listener to "fill in the blanks", assuming more of the same. In the first one I let the reader assume that my father remained in that good job all his working life and that he provided enough for my mother to stay home comfortably; the reality is that things were great (financially) when I was a small child, but everything fell apart while I was in elementary school.  They did remodel the kitchen, but the rest of the house was falling apart -- falling apart to the point of having no heat and no water heater.  I was always a good student, but I was pretty much 100% self-motivated; my mom was fighting other fires at home and left me to my own devices.   

Occasionally you find yourself in a situation in which you want to "present well" or "present poorly" -- but not often. 

herbgeek

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #21 on: February 01, 2015, 09:42:21 AM »
Most of the wealthy people I know (read: Millionaire Next Door) buy quality regardless of the label and don't tend to talk about/rub people's face in their purchases.

For work, I do try to fit in.  I buy my clothes at a higher end consignment shop (not a thrift store) and get Ann Taylor tops for $10.  I couldn't even buy some cheap crap that would fall apart after a couple of washings at Walmart for that.  I use accessories and makeup and am the best dressed engineer in the place.  (But of course that is a low bar- most engineers are cheap/utilitarian so its so easy to exceed the norm.

For home and the rest of life, I don't bother.  My across-the-street neighbors won't deal with us because they think we're poor.  Small cars, modest house.  Little do they know we pay cash for cars, and paid off our house in 5 years, plus have a serious stache and could buy at least 2 of their house for cash, if we so chose to.  We travel more than they do, and I suspect eat better too (she's a big shopper at BJ's for processed food).  Living well is its own reward, as far as I'm concerned.

NumberJohnny5

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #22 on: February 01, 2015, 02:33:21 PM »
The title of this thread has poverty in it and I think that's an error.  Nothing you mention will relate to poverty.  The US census bureau in 2014 placed the poverty threshold as an income less than $12,000ish for a single person and less than $19,000ish for a family of three.  Generally speaking an individual who lives off that level of income and has no liquid assets will struggle to meet their basic needs.  None of the examples you list will fall into the poverty/poor category.

I'm from rural Tennessee. I know people who meet the definition of poverty. I'm well acquainted with someone who grew up well below the poverty line (my wife). A lot of my examples may not fit perfectly, but they're not as far off as one might hope. I.e., having a smartphone on a postpaid plan where you're probably spending $70+ a month. One I didn't mention is how cable or satellite is a virtual must (to be fair, way out in the woods it's much easier to get a DirecTV signal than an OTA signal). There are more newish cars than there should be, though an old beater won't look out of place (in fact, one or two new cars plus several junkers in the yard would look normal). Vacations that can't be afforded are taken. Yes, our Disney vacations are still out of place, but we're probably spending near the same amount as their "cheap" vacations to the mountains.

I'm going to make an assumption that we are in a similar financial situation, that situation is a very nice situation to be in.

We're currently below the poverty line. You know what they say about assuming...

...and about not getting the whole story :) .  We're currently in Australia, where the poverty line is crazy high (compared to the US). Family of four could make nearly $50k and be in poverty. We've been considered "low income" the whole time we've been here (just like in the US, you can make a decent bit above the poverty level and still be considered poor). There are times that it's beneficial to play the poverty card (i.e., my wife lets it slip to her sister that she took off the past year with her new baby; quick, mention how we're below poverty level!). There are times it's best to keep that information to yourself (they're in poverty AND taking a trip to the US, and another cruise, and...hrm, something's going on here).

Unfortunately, as you allude to, my life can be impacted by people thinking I'm cheap.  These are the people that I have to interact with and complete financial transactions with.  So fitting in with the rich is really the only half of your examples that matters to me and that's because I want to continue making the income I do so I can stop working sooner.

Finally, someone who knows what I'm talking about!

One of my points is this. You may not need to look richer than you are. But you MAY need to look as rich as you are. Make the same $100k that your coworkers make, but only spend $30k? You'll stick out. Make it appear as though you're spending the same $100k, that might help relationships between you and your coworkers. Sometimes, that's important. Sometimes, you work in an area where people are allowed (even expected) to be eccentric.

Large cities are great because there was always someone else who would pay the marked up MSRP and then sell the quality item below what I considered fair value as they went off to make their next purchase.

Not just large cities. I just bought a Nexus 4 for $120 (about $93 USD). It's two generations old, but in many ways it's on par with the latest iPhone. It's not my first though, I just sold the one we had for $160 :) . People can be so silly sometimes.

The area I struggle with is going out to eat.  I've yet to find a way to eat out such that I feel like I'm getting good value

Same. I love cheap chinese buffets, the quality of food is generally above what the purchase price is (if you go on a weekday, during lunch). For high quality food, I like cheap cruises. Spend $50-$70 per person per night, eat like a king, Broadway (inspired) shows, free babysitting (Kids' Club), AND transportation to exotic locations? Sign me up!

Another area we are similar is the length of our posts.

:)

LiveLean

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #23 on: February 02, 2015, 09:22:41 AM »
I bought a Casio G-Shock for $39 when I was penniless.   It was better than my previous wind up Timex.  I wore that watch till my net worth was about 500k or so.  With a net worth well past 1M now I still wear a G-Shock.  I drive a 2003 Dodge Van.  My suits are off the rack.  My wife still clips coupons. She drives a 2008 Accord.
We are solidly upper middle-class.   We have the right to be whoever we want to be.  With FU-Money you aren't forced to impress.   A few hours ago I was on Burbon Street in New Orleans watching a Mardi Gras Parade.  I was drinking PBR beer I bought for under a dollar a can.  I couldn't have been happier.  Now I'm in my own bed.  Four gallons of gasoline, 3 cans PBR and a free parade.  $10

I've always driven modest cars. A lesson I learned from my folks, who drove modest cars even when they could afford anything.

I'm always amazed at how many really out-of-shape people drive really nice cars. I guess they place more of a premium on driving.

I'd rather have a Ferrari body and drive an minivan (which I do) than have a minivan body and drive a Ferrari.

HazelStone

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #24 on: February 02, 2015, 02:13:41 PM »
Poor/low spending: "My husband's Jewish."

Rich/occasional high spending: "My husband's Jewish."  :P

Cooking exotic dishes* to bring to lunch also gives the impression of "spendy." Many assume you went to a restaurant, rather than are an adventurous cook or listened to your grandmothers when they tried teaching you things...

*If you put fish or cabbage in the microwave, you deserve all social liabilities you incur when people find out!

vern

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #25 on: February 02, 2015, 11:34:58 PM »
I'm going to blend in by pretending I read that freakin huge original post. But really... I didn't.

Echo!

Some initial posts are so long it's ridiculous to expect others to read them.  I keep this in mind when I respond.  You want it read, you keep it concise.

It's easy to skip a response and participate, but a post of this length borders being useless altogether.

So, I'm guessing that Tolstoy is out of the question?

innerscorecard

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #26 on: February 02, 2015, 11:42:24 PM »
I enjoyed this post and think this topic is useful. To me, what you want to do isn't appear rich or poor, but average for wherever you are. You want to be that indistinguishable and forgettable person (so you don't arouse jealousy or violent acts against you) yet also respectable (so you aren't bullied by the police or other authorities).

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #27 on: February 03, 2015, 07:43:47 AM »
Why do you care so much what people think of you? Presenting it either way, rich or cheap.  I don't understand that. 
« Last Edit: February 03, 2015, 07:47:32 AM by iowajes »

Lia-Aimee

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #28 on: February 03, 2015, 11:14:11 AM »
I'd say first, you have to be conscious of what areas you naturally save in and which areas you splurge in.  That way, you'll know what to play up and what to play down when necessary. In my example, I am very cheap when it comes to my housing arrangement, don't own a vehicle and spend a bit more than I need on my personal appearance.  Mentioning the lack of a vehicle would be a good way to appear broke, while showing up in a cashmere sweater would make me appear well-off.

I trade commodities for fun, so just talking about that is a way to appear much wealthier than I am.  On the other hand, if I want to appear lower-income, I'd mention the freakishly low price I pay for rent, or how I'll take an overnight greyhound to visit my folks instead of flying or driving, etc.

Why do I do it? Wide groups of friends, and would like to fall in the middle of the pack with all of em.

innerscorecard

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #29 on: February 03, 2015, 08:40:53 PM »
Why do you care so much what people think of you? Presenting it either way, rich or cheap.  I don't understand that.

Because as I said, if you appear too wealthy, you may be physically attacked by those looking to rob you. And if you appear too poor, the authorities and police will find ways to arrest you.

Bateaux

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #30 on: February 03, 2015, 10:02:49 PM »
Innerscorecard said it best.  Appear to be the average joe.  Not flashy and not trashy.  Look like you just got off work where you just get by on your paycheck like millions of Americans do.  That's great camouflage.

HazelStone

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #31 on: February 04, 2015, 06:56:24 AM »
Why do you care so much what people think of you? Presenting it either way, rich or cheap.  I don't understand that.

Because as I said, if you appear too wealthy, you may be physically attacked by those looking to rob you. And if you appear too poor, the authorities and police will find ways to arrest you.

Also, different cultures put different weights on personal appearance/apparent wealth/respectability. If you work with or for people of those cultures, you hobble yourself if you don't account for it.

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #32 on: February 04, 2015, 07:10:04 AM »
Why do you care so much what people think of you? Presenting it either way, rich or cheap.  I don't understand that.

Because as I said, if you appear too wealthy, you may be physically attacked by those looking to rob you. And if you appear too poor, the authorities and police will find ways to arrest you.

And how is telling people you have custom floors vs. telling people you installed them yourself going to prevent either of these things?  Or saying "I stayed on property at Disney" vs. "I camped at Disney".  These behaviors are about the people who are in your daily life and have nothing to do with potential muggers or police.

Every single one of your examples seems to be about how you present the same action to people; not about changing your actions.  (Except the Toyota/Lexus which does seem to be about buying something different- but you know that cars like Toyota's are actually more likely to be stolen, right?)

innerscorecard

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #33 on: February 04, 2015, 07:50:08 AM »
Your examples? You realize I'm not the original poster of this thread, right?

I do agree that his examples are sometimes silly. But I think the spirit of the inquiry is useful for the reasons I described.

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #34 on: February 04, 2015, 10:32:19 AM »
Fine then, how about "the" examples.

In every case, it is caring too much about what people think of you.  None of them are going to prevent you from being robbed or profiled. Except maybe the not buying a Rolex.

immocardo

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #35 on: February 04, 2015, 12:35:58 PM »

  (Except the Toyota/Lexus which does seem to be about buying something different- but you know that cars like Toyota's are actually more likely to be stolen, right?)


Your use of statistics in implying that a Toyota is less likely to be stolen just because it is a Toyota is completely off base.  Due to Toyota's lower value, they are more likely to be found in areas with lower income and higher crime rates (when compared to a Lexus). 

If you have a Toyota in a rick neighborhood, I guarantee it is much less likely to be stolen than a Lexus in a lower income (higher crime) area.

Correlation does not imply causation
« Last Edit: February 04, 2015, 12:41:40 PM by immocardo »

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #36 on: February 04, 2015, 12:59:22 PM »

  (Except the Toyota/Lexus which does seem to be about buying something different- but you know that cars like Toyota's are actually more likely to be stolen, right?)


Your use of statistics in implying that a Toyota is less likely to be stolen just because it is a Toyota is completely off base.  Due to Toyota's lower value, they are more likely to be found in areas with lower income and higher crime rates (when compared to a Lexus). 

If you have a Toyota in a rick neighborhood, I guarantee it is much less likely to be stolen than a Lexus in a lower income (higher crime) area.

Correlation does not imply causation

When correcting people you should take care to make sure that you don't make mistakes yourself.
You have a number of things in that post that need to be fixed.


And are you implying that a lower income area causes higher crime?  I hope you have data to back that one up. There are high income areas that have high crime too.  Oh, but wait correlation does not imply causation   Someone once told me that.  Perhaps what you meant to say what that a Toyota in a low crime area is less likely to be stolen than a Lexus in a high crime area, and leave income out of it at all. 

MY statement, since I said nothing about crime or income of the area, made the assumption that other factors are equal. I suppose I should have stated that.  In a high crime area, the Toyota is more likely to be stolen, because it is generally easier to sell once stolen.  And no, I don't have data, but that is the trend police in my area will state. It may not be true for all areas.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2015, 01:03:40 PM by iowajes »

Louisville

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #37 on: February 04, 2015, 01:03:26 PM »
I don't think it's necessary to do anything to blend in. Even if you do care what people think about you.
Because, no one is paying attention to you anyway, you big narcissist.

immocardo

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #38 on: February 04, 2015, 01:15:50 PM »

You know.  I posted a response, but it's not worth my time to argue about this on the internet.  Do the research if you like.  I'll let the thread get back to the OP's topic
« Last Edit: February 04, 2015, 01:30:09 PM by immocardo »

Hadilly

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #39 on: February 04, 2015, 04:57:51 PM »
We're really talking about social signaling, right? Are you displaying wealth or downplaying it? It definitely has an element of performance and sometimes it can be advantageous to manipulate it consciously.

I see this all the time, whether it is people talking about social, cultural or financial capital. Do you say when asked, "my spouse works at the hospital" or do you say that "my spouse is a professor doing clinical work and running a research lab"?  The two answers give very different impressions.

Sometimes it is polite and expedient to downplay difference.

I personally prefer to be modest most of the time. Less alienating.

innerscorecard

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #40 on: February 04, 2015, 06:50:08 PM »
We're really talking about social signaling, right? Are you displaying wealth or downplaying it? It definitely has an element of performance and sometimes it can be advantageous to manipulate it consciously.

I see this all the time, whether it is people talking about social, cultural or financial capital. Do you say when asked, "my spouse works at the hospital" or do you say that "my spouse is a professor doing clinical work and running a research lab"?  The two answers give very different impressions.

Sometimes it is polite and expedient to downplay difference.

I personally prefer to be modest most of the time. Less alienating.

There was another thread where people were talking about getting harassed by the cops and constantly pulled over because of their appearance. It's quite unfair and should not be the case in a perfect society. But we're not that and never will be. It seems to me to be practical and prudent to take steps to avoid that from happening, instead of just having it repeatedly happen to you.

DollarBill

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #41 on: February 04, 2015, 08:35:21 PM »
Good scene on Sopranos about this.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KezWri7jo8

NumberJohnny5

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #42 on: February 05, 2015, 02:03:30 AM »
And how is telling people you have custom floors vs. telling people you installed them yourself going to prevent either of these things?  Or saying "I stayed on property at Disney" vs. "I camped at Disney".  These behaviors are about the people who are in your daily life and have nothing to do with potential muggers or police.

Every single one of your examples seems to be about how you present the same action to people; not about changing your actions.  (Except the Toyota/Lexus which does seem to be about buying something different- but you know that cars like Toyota's are actually more likely to be stolen, right?)

I had a mixture of examples, I could post more if you like :)

Some were about presenting the exact same thing in a different light. Making the Disney vacation look cheap or expensive without doing anything different.

Some were about making a different, but similar choice. High-end Toyota over low-end Lexus. Luxury Seiko instead of Rolex.

Then there were the in-between scenarios. Taking a 2-liter of coke and refilling 20oz bottles, instead of just bringing the 2-liter to work and pouring a glass whenever you wanted. Getting a Starbucks mug to bring cheaper coffee/cocoa to work instead of using a regular mug. There is a small change in what you actually do, but the additional cost is minimal and the end result is the same (you'll need to visit the dentist on a regular basis).

Good scene on Sopranos about this.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KezWri7jo8

Love it!

Jamcas

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #43 on: February 06, 2015, 07:45:52 AM »
Everyone tends to think that the people around them notice every little thing about them. I don't think you should make an effort to blend in anywhere.

The word "blend" can be used to describe something boring and tasteless :)

Dee 72013

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #44 on: February 07, 2015, 04:49:24 PM »
Most of the wealthy people I know (read: Millionaire Next Door) buy quality regardless of the label and don't tend to talk about/rub people's face in their purchases.

For work, I do try to fit in.  I buy my clothes at a higher end consignment shop (not a thrift store) and get Ann Taylor tops for $10.  I couldn't even buy some cheap crap that would fall apart after a couple of washings at Walmart for that.  I use accessories and makeup and am the best dressed engineer in the place.  (But of course that is a low bar- most engineers are cheap/utilitarian so its so easy to exceed the norm.

For home and the rest of life, I don't bother.  My across-the-street neighbors won't deal with us because they think we're poor.  Small cars, modest house.  Little do they know we pay cash for cars, and paid off our house in 5 years, plus have a serious stache and could buy at least 2 of their house for cash, if we so chose to.  We travel more than they do, and I suspect eat better too (she's a big shopper at BJ's for processed food).  Living well is its own reward, as far as I'm concerned.
This is how I live also, I try to find quality clothes on clearance off season that won't fall apart. I have only a few pieces of jewelry, a couple pairs of hoop earrings, a simple necklace and my wedding ring. We bought the majority of our furniture on Craigslist but bought the couches and beds new. My car is over 14 years old but still looks amazing and I hope to keep it forever. We cook from scratch but make dining a fun experience at home. We take a few trips a year  3-4 days at a time but do them on the cheap. I have a lifetime membership to the best gym in town (walking by the river) and it only costs me a new pair of sneakers every few months and this gym is dog friendly. I think you don't have to give up on luxury to live frugally, you just have a different perspective of what luxury is compared to the norm.  Taking care of your possessions and appearance is a simple way to fit in with spending any $

Gerard

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #45 on: February 07, 2015, 05:00:50 PM »
The only time I really think about this is when travelling -- you often want to look "respectable" in some contexts (border crossings, airport lounges, museums) and "not rich" in others (city bus or walking alone at night, eating/drinking in dives). But you also don't want to carry multiple "costumes" with you (how do superheroes manage?).

For me, the trick is to simplify everything, so I have no signifiers of near-wealth (Rolex, suit) or near-poverty (logo clothing). Dress in black, black walking shoes, simple good backpack with not much in it. I think I thus come across as artsy/nerdy, possibly local, and neither scary-ghetto nor well-employed.

In terms of how I describe my experiences, luckily the people I deal with regularly don't give a shit about the status markers mentioned in the OP.

NumberJohnny5

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Re: Stealth Wealth/Poverty - How to blend in
« Reply #46 on: February 07, 2015, 05:11:15 PM »
The only time I really think about this is when travelling -- you often want to look "respectable" in some contexts (border crossings, airport lounges, museums) and "not rich" in others (city bus or walking alone at night, eating/drinking in dives)

Ah yes. The number of times (um, two) that I've been on sketchy buses in sketchy areas with many thousands of dollars in cash (buying a vehicle both times). Just act natural and keep the money in a not obvious place (briefcase, no-no; in a thermos? Maybe).