What is stealth wealth? In financial circles, it’s not a new concept. The Millionaire Next Door, a classic book we read back in the late 90’s, exemplified the idea by pointing out that many millionaires are unassuming. And they’re millionaires in part due to their simplicity of choices for housing, cars, etc. Physician on Fire wrote an explanatory post about the concept in the early days of his blog.
To us, the term wealth has rich meaning – both literally and figuratively. It’s not just about money. You can be wealthy in finances, wealthy in relationships, wealthy in health, etc. We’re constantly working toward wealth in all of these areas. Conversely, having money without self-awareness and the happiness it brings is useless. We try to balance contentment in the present situation with striving for improvements.
The stealth part is just the way we roll. As the years have passed and our careers have progressed, we’ve kept our lifestyle relatively simple. Someone in our family occasionally makes a comment like, “You’re eventually going to want that Mercedes.” Well… we do own a Mercedes now, but it’s a Sprinter crew van that we converted ourselves into a camper! Today, we’re financially independent and still earning decent income, but we’re eschewing the popular paths in spending, living, and parenting. Here’s what we’re about, and what you’ll expect more discussion of on this site:
No rush – Dawn remembers facing the choice to join the volleyball team in 9th grade. Only she was taking advanced math and English, was already taking private piano lessons at the local university and playing cello in the orchestra. While the allure of a sport was calling, it was just too much. She wanted nothing of that busy-ness. Trent refused to take any more than 12 credits per semester in college so that he could preserve some down time during his homework-heavy undergraduate electrical engineering studies. And when we started our lives together, we made it a habit to take mini-sabbaticals between schooling and career moves.
Since these early realizations, not much has changed. In our family, we like things slow. Our mornings are slow, our lives are slow, our food is slow, our travels are slow. We don’t hyper-schedule ourselves or our child’s activities. We try not to hurry, and we avoid saying “Hurry up!”. While some people do well with lots of irons in the fire, we’re both self-aware enough to know that this doesn’t work well for us. Compounding complexity is an evil time and energy thief. We strive for less choices, which make for more efficiency, thus more time and energy to spend on the things you truly value. #norush #thesimplelife #simpleliving
No flash – Even in his college days, Trent always said he’d never own a BMW (the trendiest luxury car back then). He also always wore undershirts and athletic shorts and plaid shirts in winter, with NO LOGOS please… lest anyone attempt to judge his socioeconomic status in the upper echelons. Down to our house, our cars, and our clothes, we choose un-fancy. At one point in her life, Dawn really loved spending money on trendy clothes that were more fit for a life she didn’t lead; having Aspen really changed her view of money from a bottomless purse to a finite source of life energy.
Despite our simple style, we’re not really frugal. What we are is valueist; we spend our money on things we value most and cut back on things that we really don’t care about. Practicing valueism takes self-knowledge and good communication, which we’re always working on. We’re not perfect, but being together for more than 20 years means we know ourselves and each other pretty well at this point. #noflash
No push – Children of all ages are being shuttled to and from multiple activities and commitments, in the name of “being well-rounded” for college admissions or hyper-specializing to become the next Tiger Woods. Aspen will be on no such program. If she expresses an interest in something, we’ll do our best to give her the opportunity. But beyond that, it’ll be up to her. We’re into free-range parenting and believe in letting her be a kid. We plan to support her interests through unschooling and hybrid schooling.
We believe in questioning the status quo and hope to teach our child the art of critical thinking above facts and figures. She won’t be told she has to go to college or do anything the way we did when we were of school age. But the same time, our biggest hope is to instill in her the foundations for learning and questioning that we now rely on greatly. #nopush
No judgement – Both of us learned about judgement early on in our lives. As we both tower over 6 feet tall and yet didn’t participate much in traditional team sports, we’ve been assumed to be basketball players, volleyball stars, high jumpers, models… you name the associated tall person stereotype. Even Dawn assumed that Trent, a muscle-bound 18 year old, was “just another jock” teetering on the back legs of his plastic schoolroom chair across the classroom at college freshman orientation. Little did she know they’d be placed on opposing design teams in Engineering 101 class later that year…
This shared experience instilled in both of us from a young age the value of not judging people by their appearance. Accordingly, we now strive to not judge others for their choices – in career paths, in spending, in dietary decisions, in parenting, etc. We know that our part time, simple lifestyles are not for everyone – and are especially unusual for medical and legal professionals. If anyone who reads our words is interested in how we do it, we’re happy to elaborate. And if they’re not, that’s just fine with us. We believe in the power of individualism, and the responsibility of self-awareness that comes with it. #valueism #valuest #nojudgement
So there you have it, the Stealth Wealth Family Manifesto (at least its current version) in a nutshell. What do you and your family stand for? Leave us a comment below!