Category Archives: Intelligent Consumerism

Customer Service Saved the Sale

Very few purchases are as stressful as buying a new car.  Next to buying a house, a car is the second largest purchase that most people make.  Since it is such a large purchase, it is wise to do some research before you sign on the dotted line.

We recently decided that we were going to buy a new car.  My wife and I live in North East Pennsylvania.  While there are parts of the country that do receive more snow than we do, we start to get snow in November and this year it kept snowing until late April.  As the result of our long snow season, we find that Subaru is our best option.

The all-wheel-drive comes in handy on bad road conditions.  In the past, Subaru did not provide very good miles per gallon (MPG) for the size of their cars.  Now, with the CVT transmission, they average around 30 MPG.  In my opinion, that is good for an all-wheel-drive car.

We decided that we wanted a Subaru Outback.  The Subaru Outback matched our needs.  We like to go to our local lakes and the Outback is rated to tow up to 2,700 lbs.  That is more than enough to pull our kayak trailer.

As a member of the financial independence community, I am extremely frugal.  I don’t like spending money, but when I do, I shop for the best value.  I view salespeople as competition.  That is especially the case for big-ticket purchases like a car.

My approach to car shopping is simple.  I know the make and model of what I want before I head out to buy it.  I know how much I want to spend.  As the result of KBB, the value of my trade in is already known. 

To find a car, I just type in what I am looking for in Cars.com.  It is based on year, brand, model, budget, and I search for certified used.  The distance that I am willing to travel is 150 miles. Based on where I live, the 150-mile distance covers both New York City and Philadelphia where there are high volume dealers that offer better prices.  The last part of my search is to sort by lowest mileage on the car.

After I performed that search, the first car that came up was a 2017 Subaru Outback Premium with 4,000 miles for $24,995.  When I looked at what the average price for the same exact car, the closest that I was able to find was one for $27,500, but it had 30,000 miles.  I am willing to drive two hours to save $2,500 and to get a car with 26,000 fewer miles.

Now that I picked out the car, I reached out to the dealer.  I told them that I wanted to buy the car.  My initial call was on a Tuesday.  I made an appointment for the following Saturday.  They did inform me that they could not hold the car but would reach out to me if it was sold. 

Over the course of that week, I had communicated with the car dealer every day.  There was at least one email per day and a few phone calls.  Friday rolled around, and they sent me an email to verify my appointment.  We were all set.

When Saturday arrived, my wife and I drove down to Allentown, Pa to buy our new car.  The dealer was right off of the highway and easy to find.  I thought that it was going to be a simple process.

When we arrived, I asked for the salesperson who I was dealing with.  When he came out, he had bad news.  He told us that the car was sold that morning.  I was annoyed, and my wife was pissed.  She asked him, why did they not call us?  He apologized and said that they have other used Outback’s and would find us another car.

At this point, I had a feeling that I was not going to buy a car from this dealer.  I looked at their online inventory and they did not have any deals that were as good as what I came down for. The salesman asked if we wanted to see their used inventory and I just played along.

He showed us about 10 used Subaru Outback’s that they had in inventory.  One was $1,000 cheaper than the one we drove down for but had 43,000 miles on the odometer.  That was a no.  Most of what they had were the Limited model that was a step above what we wanted to buy.  They were nice.  The Limited had more features like leather and other fancy crap, but they were $30,000 and higher.  I saw one that I liked and asked if he could get it down to $25,000.  He did not think that he could do it.

At this point, I was already looking for a new car on my phone.  I found a very similar deal in New Jersey.  It was only 40 minutes away and I was ready to drive there.

The salesman knew that we were not interested in what he was selling.  I flat out told him that I drove 60 miles for a specific deal.  We only buy cars every 8-10 years and I am willing to travel to buy a cream-puff used car.

He asked if we were willing to sit in his office while he went and spoke to the Sales Manager.  I was not mad at them for selling the car I came down for.  It is just business.  However, I was not going to pay any more than what I budgeted for and was not willing to accept a car with more miles.

He disappeared and left us in his office.  My wife was already over the experience and thought the deal was a basic bait-and-switch.  I was programming the other Subaru Dealer into Google Maps and ready to drive to New Jersey.

About 10 minutes passed and the salesman came back.  He asked what we thought about buying a brand new 2018 model.  I thought to myself, here comes the bait and switch.  He is going to try to sell us a $30,000 plus car.

He told us that he spoke to his Sales Manager.  The best that they could do was to sell us the exact same car that we drove down for except it was brand new and cost $25,300.  It took me about 1 second to review the offer and I said, “you got a deal”.

The Sales Manager came over and told us that he wanted us to leave the dealership satisfied.  He knew that we drove over 1-hour and he felt that he had to offer us a better deal than we came in for.  He reduced the price on the brand-new car from $29,500 to $25,300.

Even though our initial opinion of this dealer felt shady, they ended up saving the sale.  I wish that I could tell you that it was the result of my negotiation skills, but it was not.  My wife and I were just willing to walk away and never come back.  The Salesman and Sales Manager both knew that.  To save the sale, they had to sharpen their pencil on a new model to close the deal. They did what they had to and it was one of the best displays of customer service that I ever experienced.

I was more than satisfied with this deal.  More importantly, my wife was satisfied.  It is her new car.

Even though they had to drastically reduce the price, they saved the sale.  As the result, they made the customer happy.  Without knowing it, they benefited by me sharing this positive experience with my friends, family, and everyone who reads this blog.

As the result of their excellent customer service, I highly recommend Ciocca Subaru in Allentown, Pennsylvania. They are about 60-miles from Philadelphia and about 90 miles from New York City.  If you live in the Mid-Atlantic Region and are looking to buy a Subaru, I would contact Ciocca Subaru.

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The House We Did Not Buy

Buying a house is a major decision.  For most people, it is the largest major financial decision that they will ever make.  There are many aspects to consider when deciding on a house.  Do you want to live in a city, the suburbs, or in a rural area?  Finding your dream house and neighborhood can be a major undertaking.

My wife and I have lived in our current house since we were married.  She bought the house from a relative before I was in her life.  It is nice house and we live close to many of her relatives.

The house did need some upgrades when I moved in.  It was built in 1964 and much of the house was outdated.  After I moved in, we remodeled the kitchen, bathroom, added a deck, as well as many other upgrades.

The house was about 1,200 square feet and we wanted a little more room.  We added a nice 320 square foot addition.  That addition is our sitting room and we spend most of our time in there.

The house is almost paid for.  We only owe about $30,000 on the mortgage.  The house was appraised for $226,000 in 2012, so we have a nice amount of equity in the house.

By staying in this house, my wife and I have avoided lifestyle creep.  Having a small mortgage and low taxes enabled us to have a high savings rate.  If we upgraded to a $500,000 house, we would not have been able to save 50% of our gross earnings over the past 10 years.

We are not planning on retiring until 2028.  After we retire, we are planning on buying a house on a lake because we enjoy kayaking, boating, and fishing.  We are planning on staying in Pennsylvania for 9 months per year.  For the winter months, we plan on becoming snowbirds and head south for the winter.

A major life event caused us to rethink our plan.  A close family member recently passed away following a four-year battle with cancer and other major health issues.  Watching him suffer made us think about living more in the present and not focusing on what our life will be like in retirement.

We decided to look at some houses that were for sale on the lakes that are close to where we currently live.  The nice thing about living in the Pocono Mountains is that there are many nice lakefront homes.  The region is also known for private gated communities that attract people from New York City, Philadelphia, and Boston who buy weekend homes in these developments.

We started by looking online.  What I found did not surprise me.  Most of the lakefront houses were very expensive.  Older houses that were lakefront cost $400,000 and needed upgrades.  The newer houses are much more expensive.

Our next move was to look for a house that was not lakefront but had lake rights.  This was a more modest priced market.  Houses that were only 5-years old were less than $350,000.  That was more in our price range because we would be putting about 60% down on the house.

We found a few that we really liked and decided to spend a Sunday looking at these houses.  The first few were nice but way too big.  We do not need or want 4,000 square feet of living space.

After looking at 5 houses we were starting to get tired.  It is fun to look at these houses, but also overwhelming.  Before we called it quits for the afternoon, I wanted to look at one last house.

The last house was a little less expensive.  It was listed at $258,000.  This house was in a private community that is only 8 miles from where we currently live.  It also comes with lake rights to a private 150-acre lake.  It is a serene lake that does not allow outboard motors.  Only sailboats, kayaks, or boats with electric motors are allowed.  It is also a catch-and-release lake that is stocked with bass, trout, catfish, and walleye.

For me, it was love at first sight.  For my wife, she really liked the house, but more legwork was needed before we decided.  We both agreed that we needed to do our due diligence and not buy a house after our first visit.

The next day, I called the realtor to set-up an appointment to tour the house.  The realtor was nice as well as transparent.  She gave me some interesting details about the house.  In 2010, the house sold for $389,000 and is now listed for $259,000.  I did not want to admit it, but that was the first red flag.

I asked why there was such a deep discount on a 10-year old house?  She said that the taxes doubled because of a county reassessment.  There is also a homeowners association (HOA) that charges $2,500 per year.  The total annual cost of the taxes and home owner’s association fees would be $8,200.  We now pay $2,700.

I was not happy about the major jump in taxes and fees.  It was, however, not a deal breaker.  I was smitten with the privately stocked lake.

The next evening, my wife and I decided to take a ride over to see our potential new house.  We were excited.  Our excitement, however, did not last.

We pulled into the driveway and got out to walk around the house.  It was not currently occupied by the owners.  We only took about two or three steps and we saw the neighbors Doberman Pincher as he came barreling towards us.  Luckily, the dog’s owner was in his yard and called the dog back.

The Doberman caused me great concern.  I am not afraid of big dogs, but my wife and I have a little dog.  His safety trumps everything.

I was happy that the neighbor was outside.  He came over and spoke with us.  He seemed like a nice guy.  He was young.  I would guess in his early 30’s.  We spoke about the house and of course what the fishing was like at the lake.  I asked him about the homeowners association.  He said they are not too bad to deal with, but he gets in trouble with them often.  He said that he gets in trouble with the homeowners association for driving his ATV and snowmobile at night.

On our drive home, I was still thinking about fishing on a private lake every evening after work.  At this point, my wife decided that she did not want to buy the house.  She did not say anything to me on our drive home because she did not want to bust my bubble.

That evening, I could not sleep.  My anxiety was out of control.  I did not fall asleep until after midnight.  The house was very nice, and I loved the lake.  Deep down, I knew that it was not a good fit.  All those red flags would not go away.  They kept running around in my mind.  I could not justify all of these issues.

As a member of the financial independence community, I do not like to pay taxes.  I love fishing but hate taxes.  Having my taxes go up almost 200% did not sit well with me.

The second source of anxiety was our dog.  We don’t have children, so our dog is our baby.  He currently has his own two-acre field to enjoy without worrying about being eaten by a Doberman.  I would never do anything to put him in an unsafe situation.

The third warning sign was the neighbor.  He did seem like a nice young man.  However, I am not willing to put up with him driving his ATV at night.

When I awoke, my wife said that she wanted to talk.  She told me that she loved me and wanted me to have a lake house.  I worked and saved for over two decades and she wanted me to be happy.  She just felt that this house was not for us.

I told her that I agreed with her.  There are many reasons why my wife and I have a happy and successful marriage.  We love each other, communicate well, and think alike.  If a situation is not right, it is wrong.  The house was not the right fit for us.

We could have afforded the house.  It might have caused our saving rate to go from over 50% to 40%.  That does not sound like a big deal, but I am more interested in saving and reaching early retirement than owning a lake house at this point in my life.

We have not since looked at any other houses.  It was too emotional of a process for me.  At this point, I think that we are going to stay in our current house until we retire.  I have said this before, once you become a saver, you will never be a spender.  As a saver, I will have to settle for fishing at our local state parks and public lakes instead of a private lake until we retire.  Life can be much worse.

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Basic Economic Concepts for Consumers

Gone are the days when you just use to go out and shop with very little knowledge of what you are having, we use to have our faith on the salesperson but now, now there is a significant shift in our course of actions.

Modern customers know that the person guiding them about a particular product is getting paid to do what he does, he has to sell their product no matter what and here where people start to question that whether the product is worth buying?

Customers now are more familiar with their power than before and like to know about the dynamics of the product even without leaving home. Several reviews are there on the websites to help the people to make better judgments.

Following are the three concepts that I believe every consumer must be aware of for better economic understanding.

SCARCITY

As a human our needs are endless, one day we may be crying over no food at all, but another day when we have bread we would ask for eggs. The next day we would have eggs and bread, but we would find the milk missing, and this will continue until our own end. The list is never-ending, you may think it would end but it would not, that is how we human work.

The gap between our limited resources and our endless wants is known to be scarcity. Scarcity requires people to list down their needs and wants separately and then to figure out how to satisfy their needs first and only then their wants. British economist Lionel Robbins defined scarcity as

Economics is the science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses.

There is nothing free in this world. Take breathing as an example, we take breathing as free of cost but give it a good thought. We breathe in this air of industrial revolution with so many poisonous gases all around. These gases expose us to so many diseases that make us end up in a hospital bed, and we all are familiar with the bills that are charged by hospitals. So we end up paying for breathing too. Now as we understand that air is not free also, the government has another thing to invest into with the limited money to invest in. Here is where the government has to decide which thing should be given preference regarding investment.

DEMAND AND SUPPLY

The market works with this phenomena; demand and supply is the key to be found, and you have a properly functioning system to yourself. But make no mistake, a constant check and evaluation is a must.

What happens is manufacturers determine what their products’ demand is and then only they could know how much supply is needed. And the slight shift in the change of the supply can make a drastic difference to your product.

For instance, if you are the monopoly in rice manufacturing or as a group all you rice manufacturers decide to supply lesser rice for a period this will make your price boom in days as people will sense scarcity. But if one of you sells there product with the same or cheaper price than the traffic of customers from rest of the companies will flow your way hence, more demand for you more supply for them.

As shown in the figure, the increase in demand increases the supply and price and the decrease in demand decrease the supply and price

MARGINAL UTILITY

Marginal utility is one of the core concepts in economics because it helps the economist to determine the demand people have and supply producers have to make. The negative marginal utility is when the consumption of a product decreases, and the positive marginal utility is when the consumption of a product is increased.

This concept helps the economists to determine what things and ways people get happy and satisfied and how that affects their decisions for buying any commodity.

Economists also came up with the law of diminishing marginal utility. This phenomenon claims that the first unit of a product holds more utility for the consumer than the second one, like, when we feel thirsty and have a glass of water, we feel satisfied, the next unit of consumption gives us satisfaction but not as the first unit did. And if we keep on drinking, the pleasure will only turn into displeasure.

Economists’ claims that every individual wants to reach the highest level of satisfaction to get the total utility to make their purchase worth it but total utility differ from product to product and person to person.

For instance, maybe a shampoo brand is perfect for me, it makes my hair look good, but when I bought it for my daughter, she ended up with frizzy hair all day. Here I may love that brand but she did not. This is how different our demands can be.

Author Bio: Sarah Smith has been a personal finance author for the last five years. She is also an independent and very passionate finance and investment advisor. She regularly posts at www.personalincome.org.

You Can Live Debt Free

Do you dream of living debt free?  As long as a person has debt, they are working for someone else.  Unfortunately that someone else is a bank.  The ticket to be debt free is to change how you are managing your finances.

Today, debt is as American as apple pie with trillions owed in mortgages, auto loans, and credit cards. Household debt in 2017 stands at $12.35 trillion.  It is only slightly lower than the 2008 figure of $12.68 trillion. The average American household owes a little above $28,535 in auto loan debts, $172,086 in mortgage debt, and $16,000 in credit card debts.

Considering those statistics,  Americans have too much debt.  To improve their financial future, debt needs to be managed more prudently.  To become debt free, people need to be educated that debt makes them a slave to creditors.  The answer is based on becoming willing to change, finding a solution, and following it up with action. 

How to be Debt Free

Most people have similar financial goals.  Most of these goals are about achieving a better quality of life.  More specific goals include becoming debt-free, savings more money, improving personal relationships, and building a secure financial future for their family. 

Of course, everybody who is in debt wants to be out of debt.  They also want to break the cycle that keeps them going back into debt.  The majority of people never learned how to be debt- free.  In high school, students learn how to cook in Home Economics, but are not taught how to balance checkbooks, save money, and invest for their future.

High-interest credit cards are one of the key factors driving people to excessive debt levels.  Wouldn’t you rather pay yourself instead of paying creditors high-interest rates?  It is possible when you implement a couple of simple practices.  By learning a new way to manage money, you will have a brighter financial future.

Steps to Reducing Debt

One option is to consider debt consolidation if you owe money to many different creditors.  This approach allows you to combined many different credit cards or loans into one simple payment.  It also helps to reduce the pressure from collection agencies if you have delinquent debts.   

While it may seem complicated now, reducing debt is quite easy and is the first step in achieving financial freedom. All you need to do is make a few small adjustments to what you are currently doing. Doing this will help shed off the debt holding you hostage to these creditors.  It might also let you pay off your debt much quicker than you thought and prevent you from going back into debt.  Just imagine how much control you will have in your life when you stop paying creditors high-interest rates just to use their money.

Imagine enjoying life instead of joining the more than 70 percent of Americans that are unhappy with their jobs because they feel disengaged, unappreciated, and overworked.  It is time you learn how to manage your finances.  Do you want long-term financial stability?  Today is a great day to change.

The Debt Snowball Strategy

The debt snowball strategy is perhaps the oldest practice for getting yourself out of debt.  It is a simple plan and it works. This popular strategy is based on ranking your current debts based on interest rates.  Focus on paying off your high-interest debts like credit cards or payday loans.  Next, pay down auto loans and student debt.  Last focus on mortgage debt.  As soon as you pay off a high-interest debt, add the same payment amount to the next loan, and continue the process until you are finally out of debt.

To find extra money to pay down debt, you have to drastically cut expenses.  This includes cutting off excessive spending on items like coffee, dining out, and vacations.  All of the money you save must be applied to deb.

This approach also requires you to stop funding retirement accounts.  Only contribute enough to capture the match that your employer contributes.  You do not want to miss out on free money.  Once your Debt-to-Income Ratio is brought down to 25%, you should start ramping up the amount that you contribute to retirement accounts.  

To calculate your Debt-to-Income Ratio, see the formula below:

Debt-to-Income Ratio = Monthly Debt Payments/Monthly Income x 100

Example: $1000 in Monthly Debt Payments/$4000 in Monthly Income x 100 = DTI Ratio of 25%

When you combine the money that you have from reducing expenses with what you were contributing to retirement accounts, you will soon realize that you can make double monthly payments high-interestst debt as you make minimum payments to other loans. 

Advantages: The snowball debt strategy works as people can free up money and pay off their debts once they follow the plan. It is also a good way of strategically reaching your desired debt-free lifestyle.

Disadvantages: The strategy requires that you reduce your contributions to your retirement accounts and sacrifice the quality of life to pay off debt. It also has a very low success rate because most people are unwilling to give up the small pleasures of life for years.

Create an Emergency Plan

When you take all that money every month and sink it into paying debts, you will be making a noticeable step towards achieving a debt-free life. However, when you run into a financial emergency or hardship, the first place you will want to turn to is to use credit cards and loans. 

Rather than using all your available money for paying debts, work on saving up three months of living expenses in an emergency fund.  Start by putting $25-$50 per week to the side.  keep this money in a checking or savings account.  By having an emergency fund, it will prevent you from using credit cards and going into debt.  Whenever you require money for an unforeseen expense, you just withdraw the funds from your bank.

Write and Follow a Plan

Write a financial plan.  Stick to your plan and use it as a guide.  Let it guide you to escape debt. It might be hard at first.  You are modifying your lifestyle.  Change is not easy, but it is necessary to make progress in your financial life.  Your written plan should spell out the steps above and include additional layers including investments, insurance, and education to make the most of the opportunities that you will be able to take advantage of after you pay off your debt.

Conclusion

While this sounds simple, it is not easy.  This is common sense information that you might have heard before.  Your debt reduction plan is your ticket to becoming debt free and it will also increase your retirement dollars. The best time to get started on this life-changing financial adventure is now.

Wearing Success on Your Sleeve

“Wearing success on your sleeve”.  That is an interesting phrase.  My close friend Chris told me a story about when he was a teenager. When he was 16, he had a job working at Burger King.  With his first paycheck, he bought a 14-ct gold bracelet.  When his dad saw the bracelet, he asked Chris why he wanted to “wear his success on his sleeve”.  Chris was just a teenager and wanted to be cool.

Chris’s dad is a highly successful personal injury lawyer.  He earns over $400,000 per year, but you would never know it.  He drives a 5-year old Toyota Camry and lives in a modest house that was built in the 1960’s.  He suggested to Chris that it is not wise to display your wealth for others to see.  He said that it just stirs up economic envy in people.  In other words, don’t make yourself a target.  There are people who find it easier to rob you than to work to buy their own stuff.

Over the past year, I have read a few articles on Stealth Wealth.  There is a great post on The Retirement Manifesto as well as Financial Samurai about this topic.  Both articles provide some tips as to why you should not wear your success on your sleeve.  Below are the reasons why I feel that it is smart to be stealthy when it comes to your success:

Be Classy

In my opinion, it is not classy to talk about how much money you have or to put it on display.  It is like talking about religion or politics with other people.  It is polarizing.  Even if you have a college education and a professional career, it will not make you more popular at work, with friends, or relatives for them to know that you can afford to buy fancy stuff.  It will just make others feel envious while you pump up your ego.

Are You Wealthy

To be considered wealthy, you need to have zero debt and have 25 years of living expenses in savings.  Yes, you might have a good job and a large salary.  Don’t confuse a healthy income statement with a healthy balance sheet.  If you do not have 25 years of living expenses in savings, you should be focusing on acquiring wealth and stop pretending to be something that you are not.

It is None of Their Business

I am a private person.  I have a few close friends and relatives who I chat with often.  I have learned that they do not need to know my business.  It is fine if they know that I am passionate about personal finance and ask me for financial advice, but they do not need to know the details of my situation.  Maya Angelou wrote that “only equals make friends”.  If they know that we are in similar income brackets, but I have more money than they do, it could only hurt the relationship.  I value these relationships too much to put them at risk over something like that.

Safety

I do not want to be robbed.  Big houses, fancy cars, and other forms of bling will draw attention to you.  As a fisherman, I know that shiny lures attract predator species of fish.  Humans are not different.  Shiny objects attract predator species of people.

By driving a modest car and living in a modest house, you are more likely to not be detected by criminals.  You and I might know that people who lease European luxury cars and live in upscale housing developments tend to not be wealthy.  They just appear to be wealthy due to their financed success.

Odds are, most criminals do not read personal finance blogs or books.   They do not know who the true millionaires are. They just see people with fancy stuff and want to take it.  A criminal would be much more interested in jacking the BMW X5 that my neighbor drives than my Subaru with 130,000 miles on the odometer.

There’s an Accounting Coming

I am a big fan of the TV Show Fargo.  In episode-4 of season-3, there was an exchange of dialog between the antagonist V.M. Varga and the victim Emmit Stussy that captures the importance of stealth wealth in a way that is based in both fantasy and reality:

V.M. Varga: You see it, don’t you?  Millions of people bought houses they couldn’t afford, and now they’re living on the streets.  Eighty-five percent of the world’s wealth is controlled by one percent of the population.  What do you think is going to happen when those people wake up and realize you’ve got all their money?

Emmit Stussy: Hey, I just charge for parkin’!

V.M. Varga: You think they’re going to ask question when they come with their pitchforks and their torches?  You live in a mansion.  You drive a $90,000 car.

Emmit Stussy: It’s a lease, through the company!

V.M. Varga: Look at me.  Look at me. This is a $200 Suit.  I’s wearing a second-hand tie.  I fly coach.  Not because I can’t afford first – because I’m smart.  So, look at you, look at me, and tell me who’s the richer?

Emmit Stussy: Well, I-I feel like this is a trick question.

V.M. Varga: There’s an accounting coming, Mr. Stussy, and you know I’m right.  Mongol hordes descending.  Now what are you doing to insulate yourself and your family?  You think you’re rich.  You’ve no idea what “rich” means.  “Rich” is a fleet of private planes filled with decoys to mask your scent.  It’s a banker in Wyoming and another in Gstaad.  So that’s action item one, the accumulation of wealth, and I mean wealth, not money.

Emmit Stussy: What’s action item number two?

V.M. Varga: To use that wealth to become invisible.

Does life imitate art or does art imitate life?  I think that it is a little bit of both.  The Mongol hordes are not the second coming of the Bolsheviks.  These hordes are already here.  Some might be closer to you than you realize.  They are people who want to take what you have.  They are the ones who confuse your effort, sacrifice, and intelligence for luck.  They feel entitled to judge your financial success and see it as a negative.

No, the author of The Financial Journeyman has not become an extremist.  I am as moderate and apolitical as ever.  My goal is to reach financial independence and to help you do the same.  To reach that goal, we must make both smart and safe decisions along the way.

I do, however, love the great dialog that the Coen brothers produced in Fargo.  The above dialog from Fargo is meant to drive home a point.  That point is to focus on building wealth, protect yourself, and don’t buy things that will draw negative attention your way.

Conclusion

Wearing success on your sleeve is not a good idea.  It can alienate you from the people who truly matter to you.  It also draws attention from undesirables.

Instead of wearing your success on your sleeve, practice stealth wealth.  The best way to do that is to assimilate into your community.  Always try to blend in.  Be unassuming.  It is better when people do not give you a second look.

It is also helpful if people like you.  Gain popularity by being humble.  Show empathy for others.  Develop a positive reputation by volunteering, being charitable, and by being a good neighbor.

You had to be prudent to build your wealth.  You also have to be prudent to keep it.

Please share how you practice stealth wealth in the comment section.