The invisible rich aren’t what you’d expect—that’s why they’re invisible. They’re the super savers who focus on long-term value in their investments and live well within their means: cutting their own grass, doing their own oil changes, driving later model vehicles, shopping the sales, and buying second hand. This means despite a modest income, they have a net worth well beyond what you’d assume based on appearances alone—a net worth that allows them to confidently weather economic fluctuations and contribute to their children’s educations and futures without endangering their own.

The first lesson to learn if you hope to become a part of the invisible rich is to not confuse a flashy lifestyle with wealth and financial security. Spending money to look rich prevents you from becoming rich.

Here are the secrets of the invisible rich that will help you break free from the mindset of keeping up with the Jones’ and instead attain financial freedom. 

Secrets of the invisible rich

  1. Spend within your means. If what they have meets their needs, the invisible rich don’t upgrade their possessions just because a newer, more expensive version is available. This will inevitably involve denial of some short-term wants, but ultimately it will guarantee quality of life in the long term. When you aren’t saddled with credit card debt, a high car payment, and dozens of subscription services, you can afford to take advantage of investment opportunities, vacations you’ve wanted to take, and life-enriching experiences for you and your family.

  1. Never stop learning. Knowledge, including learned skills, is an investment that can pay out dividends over a lifetime. The invisible rich never stop learning, asking questions, or investing in themselves as their most valuable future income resource. Consider how staying up-to-date on financial and economic trends, expanding professional skills, and learning to DIY something around your house could pay you back in money saved, wise investments, and knowing which risks to avoid. 

  1. Consider lifetime earning potential when choosing a career. There may be more than one opportunity in your life to choose a career path. Those aiming to join the invisible rich should seek professions that offer the most financial security and stability and, if possible, can be started without any debt.

  1. Save and invest early and often. Part of the invisible rich’s unseen financial security is the savings and investments that are quietly adding to their net worth apart from their obvious careers and other income streams. The earlier you put your money to work through investments, retirement plans, CDs and share certificates, 529 savings plan for college, etc. the sooner you can reap the payout of compounding interest and money growing over a longer period.

  1. Take out good insurance coverage. Instead of upgrading their cable package, your invisible rich neighbor would choose to make sure they have adequate—or more than adequate—disability, life, homeowners, and auto insurance packages. The invisible rich believe the cost of insurance is worth it because it’s a form of protection for their future from unforeseen circumstances that could otherwise severely damage their financial security.

  1. Practice prudence with unexpected cash windfalls. If you receive an unexpected windfall—even if it’s only a moderate amount of cash—you can use it to start thinking and acting like the invisible rich: build up or pad your savings, max out your retirement and college contributions/savings for the year, or pay off some loans or credit card debt. Use the cash to invest in improving your lifestyle in the long run (by being debt free, having enough for retirement, etc.) instead of opting for a fast and expensive thrill purchase.

  1. Hold on to the car and house. These are probably two of life’s largest purchases, which means they should deliver serious value to your life and net worth. The invisible rich ensure this by keeping their homes and cars long after they’ve paid off the mortgage or car loan. This is the time when it pays to be a homeowner or drive a vehicle you totally own. The invisible rich make sure they get to this stage and stay there.

  1. Avoid debt. This goes along with the first secret of living within your means. Pay bills as soon as they come in, take the cost of debt more seriously when looking at investment opportunities (a car, a college degree, etc.), pay off debt quickly if it can’t be avoided, and always avoid consumer debt (i.e. credit card balances).

  1. Choose financial independence over displaying social status. This last secret is the summary and foundation of them all. If you habitually choose independence over debt, needs and value over appearances and ostentation, and the long-game over the short-, you could find yourself a part of the invisible rich.
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