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My wife and I were at church today, for the first time in couple months (I had no idea how tough it would be to get a toddler and a newborn off to church). Needless to say, we were a good ten minutes late.
It was really nice to be back there. After the service, we caught up with a bunch of our friends that we hadn’t seen in awhile.
Afterwards, when we got into the car, the first thing that my wife said to me was, “Did you notice that Chad is looking really suave these days?” If your mind is like mine, you have multiple thoughts upon hearing something like this:
- Is my wife checking out other men on a regular basis?
- Is she trying to tell me to dress nicer?
- Why was I thinking the same thing?
He was wearing the latest Bieber styles as far as I was concerned. He had a baggy but somehow form-fitting shirt on, with his skinny yet saggy jeans, and his shoes were velvet. His hair was perfectly coiffed. He had a fancy watch on, such that he could stay trendy and punctual at the same time.
I remember thinking wow, he looks like he could fit right into one of Kanye West’s music videos as an extra. I can’t even imagine how much money his outfit must have cost him.
My Immaculate Style
In contrast, I wear a uniform of sorts to church. Usually that uniform is simply an oxford shirt, khaki pants, and brown shoes. I think I look pretty decent, but those shoes are definitely worn out. In the warmer months, I just switch the oxford shift to a short-sleeved polo shirt. Honestly though, I don’t remember the last time that somebody complimented my outfit. I have yet to be accused of being a fashionista.
My wife, on the other hand, enjoys nice clothes and bring stylish. Why she decided to marry me, someone who could care less about how I look, is something that I don’t understand. But, I’m so glad she looked past my apathy towards fashion.
When I return home from church, I quickly change into ratty work-out pants and the world’s most comfortable long-sleeved t-shirt known to man, a reversible Nike basketball shirt that I’ve had for 20 years. However, the world’s most comfortable shirt also has some holes, or I should say many holes. My wife cringes every time she sees me in it. Clearly, I value comfort over aesthetics.
If you saw me out in public, you probably wouldn’t assume that I had much money at all. I drive a peppy VW Jetta. I like to eat at cheap, fast-food type restaurants. Plus, I’m always on Craigslist hunting down the lowest deals.
A Rude Awakening
I’ll never forget a time when I was teaching a financial class on budgeting. Afterwards, a guy wanted me to take a look at his personal budget. We were trying to figure out where he could trim some fat since he was in the negative each month. I was really pushing for him to re-examine his clothing budget. He responded with, “No offense, but I need a clothing budget of at least $500 a month. I could never wear what you wear.”
Admittedly, in the moment, it felt like a gut punch. However, I can’t be too mad at him for being honest.
This is where I sometimes wonder if my stealth wealth somewhat inhibits people from talking to me about money. I live a frugal lifestyle, I don’t always dress nicely, and I don’t drive expensive cars. So why would anyone assume that I am doing well financially?
I wonder if people would view me differently if I drove the latest Tesla, dressed to the nines, and splurged on the latest and greatest gadgets. Would people approach me more about finances?
Truthfully, my wife and I don’t spend much in the areas that people would see day-to-day. Where we like to spend money is on vacations. We love exploring places that we’ve never seen. We just aren’t big on sharing our adventures on social media, so people don’t always know about our travels.
I am a big fan of the stealth wealth movement. Something should be said for humility and modesty. However, at times, I do wonder if it is a double-edged sword with the broader masses.