Stealth wealth and why I’m a sock puppet

My about me page tells you a little about who I am and why I practice stealth wealth savings accumulation. I thought I would churn out a short little post that goes into a little more detail about why I am blogging, why I reveal lots of personal information, but at the same time remain completely anonymous. Maybe I’m scared someone might find out I have a beard!

I also want to talk about an interesting concept that Financial Samurai calls “stealth wealth.” Although my family’s net worth is relatively low when compared with those making up the personal finance blogging community, we still have considerably more assets than many of the highly-paid people that surround us everyday. Trust me, they complain about how little they have All. The. Time. I wouldn’t hear the end of it if they started learning about out little plan to check out of the workforce within the next ten years.

So who am I, why blog, and why am I a sock puppet?

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Who I am

I am a college professor in the USA that teaches in one of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. I also run a recently successful consulting business in this same field. I rock a beard, and I do have a doctorate, which gives me the privilege of going by the pseudonym Dr. Beard. That said, no one calls me doctor or beard in real life.

As my disclaimer states, I have ZERO qualifications to offer financial advice. I have no degree or relevant experience in finance. What I do have is personal experience, which I guess gives me some credibility in personal finance. I’m not really qualified for that, though, because I’m just as capable of screwing that up as anyone else.

So what do I have to offer, then?

Well, I have built an academic career writing long, boring, and excruciatingly detailed articles for a reading audience of about eleven people scattered throughout the world. That probably makes me well qualified for blogging!

I also offer a more “normal” take on personal finance than you might find running around the internet. I haven’t reached financial independence, so you can follow me on the journey. I’m not an extreme frugal-phile, since my family maintains some fairly normal spending behavior. Better than the average bear, but I’ve never once fretted about LED light bulbs and we’ve never hung dried our laundry. I also don’t make money blogging, or consulting about blogging, or blogging about blogging. There is no massive online empire here, nor am I really trying to build one.

I don’t make insane amounts of income, but I am a professional with a higher than average income. So I really can’t relate to someone trying to support a family of four on $35k a year. I’ll try, but I will probably fail spectacularly.

Basically, I’m a fairly average mid-career professional with a fairly average financial picture. If that’s you, too, then maybe we can learn something together.

Why blog?

I do it for motivation. I also do it as a means to grease the groove for my other writing. It would be nice if I had some little mission about saving the world by spreading lessons on personal finance, blah blah blah. But it’s just not true. I blog for very, very selfish reasons.

I also blog because it can be fun. I have a little bearded money dude as a logo. I get to write about silly stuff like beard oil and awesomeness. I can lay out my plans for the future in writing, forcing me to really get the numbers, timelines, etc. correct. Tables and graphs are what nerds consider fun. It’s weird.

Stay motivated. Start your own blog!

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Why anonymous?

I work for a university. I also think that most high school graduates would be significantly better off if they did NOT go to university. I’m going to want to write about that. When one of my jobs is recruiting students into a university program, one that I know will have a <40% retention rate and cost tens of thousands of dollars for no real gain for the student, then saying those things loudly might ruffle some feathers. Hey, I have tenure and the academic freedom that comes with that, which is great. But it’s still better not to unnecessarily piss off the people that sign your checks.

As mentioned, I also have a consulting business that is gaining in prominence. I am frequently working with companies and school districts. I go into primary and secondary schools regularly. I’m hired often times by public employees overseen by PTA groups that like to get pissy about pretty much anything. Sometimes I work for Christian organizations. Googling my name and seeing it connected to frequent mentions of the word “shit,” my lack of any particular religious belief what-so-ever, my past fumbles with debt and money, and my association with a greedy little money beard dude might not be the best way to engender trust among some of this set.

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Stealth Wealth

I also like what Financial Samurai says about stealth wealth. I’m not particularly interested in advertising my personal net worth gains. That kinda makes it difficult to write a blog about my journey to financial independence, doesn’t it. EVERYONE knows I’m growing a luxurious beard because its right there on my face, but the money thing? Not so much.

Everyone around us thinks its cool we’re dropping a car from our life and paying off credit cards. Of course, they could never do such a thing for [Insert Reason Here]. But nobody thinks we’re crazy. Tell them you’re saving up a cool $1 million over 10 years, and they’ll laugh.

I just don’t like having those conversations with my friends and co-workers. So, when they Google me, it’s best they find my professional work and not a silly little blog about beards and money. So stealth wealth it is.

Besides, we certainly don’t look like we’re rich. And even when we do hit our goals, we STILL won’t look like we’re rich. Because we won’t be rich the way many people perceive richness to be. “You’re free from having to work for money, sure, but you don’t have a boat!”

So I’m a silly little internet troll. I hide behind a silly little logo to protect my families privacy, which gives me more freedom to be completely open on this blog. It allows me the freedom to write about our successes AND or embarrassing failures.

Stealth wealth and why I’m a sock puppet

8 thoughts on “Stealth wealth and why I’m a sock puppet

  1. Clint says:

    Awesome B&M or should I call you BM for short….nah that nickname is kind of dumpy…how about bmoney…

    Idk but I’ll figure it out. Anyway I liked how you are just being you. Authenticity is great to find in this culture so I’ll continue to read as long as you continue to produce.

    Again, thanks for the great article and right now I just looked up and signed off as dr. Beard so that is your handle I guess.

    Have a great day Dr. Beard.

  2. “BMoney”…I kind of like that Clint! But I’ll stick Doc B. for now (because I’m too lazy to type)! Liking what I’ve read so far Doc, keep up the good work. I’m a Stealthy guy too, so everything is resonating so far. Co-workers just don’t get into! Already book marked you, so I may chime in from time to time. A little background on me…married, two pretty-much adult kids, still working in the corporate world, but anticipate leaving within the next year for a life of FI. No blogs or websites…just love building our nest egg and learning. I live in a very middle average U.S. area. Just passed the big 5-0 point this past year, so will only be retiring somewhat early by many FI “extreme” standards. We did it the good old hard way, trial and error over 30-plus years of saving/investing and more recently building up our own small rental real estate “empire”, which has greatly decreased our number of working years. So I’m partial to index investing and rental properties ( not for everyone, but worked for us).

    Anyway…Maybe we’ll chat more soon. Keep writing, and I’ll keep reading! Like the site.

    1. Dr. Beard says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Thom. I’ll keep an eye out for you.

      It’s amazing. I’m surrounded by two-income families earning twice our family income that are constantly running into “money emergencies” because they have ZERO cash other than what they’re forced to sock away in their 401(a) defined contribution plans. Most of them also have no clue how much is in their 401(a)s. We have one income and live basically the same lifestyle and it has been easy finding $30k a year to sock away. Low hanging fruit. No lifestyle change. It’s amazing how much you can piss away when you’re not looking.

  3. Very true Doc! It’s a huge problem across our country these days. Instant gratification… Everyone has been trained to spend like mad to keep the engine (economy) churning. Everyone has forgotten how to delay just a little gratification for a rainy day. They simply don’t realize the risk they put their families in, and it’s so easy to solve. I see it everyday, people living paycheck to paycheck making tons of J.O.B. salary, but claiming they are so strapped… It’s ludicrous. I’m fortunate to have learned some simple life lessons early in my life, that have served me well over the years. I’ve made lots of mistakes too, don’t get me wrong, but I can now stop working tomorrow and know my life won’t miss a beat. It’s a great satisfaction most people will never experience, and yet it’s so easy to achieve for the vast majority of middle America, but yet so elusive to them.

    Most people simply aren’t willing to take the time to learn the basic concepts of avoiding bad debt, saving, and investing. Sadly our school system completely ignores the concept. So kudos for writing and bring the concepts to those willing to simply read. Keep up the good work!

    1. Dr. Beard says:

      For me it doesn’t even seem much like delayed gratification. When we looked at the stuff we consciously spent money on, we still had tons of money left. The rest just sort of disappears when you’re not paying attention. All things you never really miss once you stop buying them.

      As an example, we’ve basically been a one car family for a while. When one of us goes out, the other drops them off and picks them up just to avoid issues with alcohol and driving. My wife’s been taking me to work and picking me up anyway because we just combine it with taking the kids to school and I get to see them more. They like having both of us there taking them and picking them up. We started doing these things without concern for saving money. Why the hell have we been keeping an extra car around? No clue. But we’re getting rid of it soon and expect no significant change in lifestyle.

      In fact, the changes we’ve implemented have not noticeably changed our lifestyle at all. I think most people would find the same. At the lower income levels, yes there’s sacrifice to get anywhere close to a 50% savings rate. But when you’re pulling down $80-90k+, 50% is pretty easy when you actually look at it.

  4. Thom says:

    Great point, and I do agree, but I think it’s based in very clever marketing, designed to inundate us every moment of the day to spend unconciously into perpetual poorness. I believe, that it’s designed specifically to play on our inability to delay gratification. Most marketing is designed for convenience. We see it. We want it. We buy it. Most of us don’t even think about it when we do it. Lots of people drive two, three, even four vehicles in a family of four now. They never stop to consider the gas, the taxes, the fees, etc. for multiple vehicles, it’s just easier than figuring out how to ride-share. We stop daily for $6 coffees because we’re too lazy to fix a $0.50 cup on the way out the door in the mornings, and we tell ourselves, that we “deserve” it because we work so hard. We eat $15 lunches. It’s all around us every day. It takes a concious effort to recognize it and avoid it. But you are right, once you recognize it, the revelation is significant, and easy to avoid. But we are all susceptible.

    Cars are a great example. Eating out, stopping at the local convenience stores for gas and grabbing a high octane caffeine drink…it goes on and on. Don’t get me wrong, there is a happy medium imo. You can enjoy life and all of our awesome conveniences, and still easily retire wealthy and early. I don’t buy into extreme avoidance. I enjoy life. Heck, I love many of those conveniences! Craft beer is my favorite! (…And they are ridiculously pricey!) Most people just have little self control or recognition of their actions. A few minor changes to day-to-day spending habits or actions, like yours to ride share, and a few minor tweaks, like automated saving deductions, and a simple indexing plan for investments, and life can be enormously more rich for most. However, most will continue to miss the simple concept because they never learn. And sadly, only the blogosphere is really teaching this… It’s why I commend you and others for bringing it to the public. ( Sorry for the long rant! I hardly ever respond! Must have been a “hot” spot for me!…huh?!) Anyway, great debate!
    Enjoyed the discussion! -T

    1. Dr. Beard says:

      Debate? Ha. You’re preaching to the choir. I’m working up a post right now on what cognitive science and educational philosophy has to say about why it’s so hard to change our money habits. You can see bits in the automatic saving post. We fail people because nowhere in the standard academic curriculum is ANY of this really simple stuff taught. Nowhere.

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