You may think you can spot the signs of wealth at a glance — surely just look for the designer clothing and purses, yachts, fancy cars, gigantic mansions and diamonds dripping from fingers, right? Not necessarily.
In fact, there are many signs of wealth you wouldn’t notice or think to look for, and some that are actually quite hidden. Experts explain what some of these unrecognizable signs of wealth actually are.
Real wealth isn’t just about having a fat bank account; it’s about feeling secure and stress-free about money, according to Jeff Rose, a CFP and founder of Good Financial Cents.
“Think about it: a whopping 72% of Americans, in a Charles Schwab survey, said that being wealthy means having peace of mind,” Rose said. “So, it’s less about how much you’ve got and more about feeling good about where you stand financially.”
Wealth can bring a certain kind of mental and emotional freedom that others just don’t have, and that’s not something you can see necessarily by looking at a person.
Generosity and Philanthropy
Many affluent individuals are deeply involved in philanthropy, Rose pointed out.
“The Giving USA report highlighted that in 2022, Americans gave over $499 billion to charity, with a significant chunk coming from the ultra-wealthy.”
This also might not be something wealthy people talk about-they may just do it quietly.
Valuing Experiences Over Things
The wealthy often prioritize experiences over material possessions because they have everything that money can buy.
Rose said, “A study by Harris Group found that 72% of millennials prefer to spend their money on experiences rather than material things. This trend isn’t limited to millennials; many wealthy individuals across age groups see the value in experiences, whether it’s travel, education, or unique opportunities.”
Private Banking Services
Among the less obvious signs of wealth are access to private banking services, according to Julia Mathers, a marketing executive at Pasha Funding.
“People who are wealthy often have access to private banking services, such as private banking accounts and tax-advantaged investments. This is because they have the financial resources to take advantage of these services.”
Isabella von Steiger, CFA with Live Casino, said that one of the less obvious but highly telling signs of wealth is time affluence.
“Unlike most people who are tied down by their 9-to-5 jobs, the truly wealthy often have the freedom to spend their time as they please,” said von Steiger.
This can look like extended vacations, leisure activities, or the time to focus on personal development without worrying about the immediate financial impact, she expended.
“This is not only an indicator of wealth but also of sound financial planning and the presence of passive income streams.”
Frequent networking and association with other financially stable individuals can also serve as a hidden sign of wealth, von Steiger said.
“Networking events and exclusive clubs aren’t just social activities but are also opportunities for business and investment, aspects that are a priority for the wealthy.”
Keeping More Instead of Spending It
We often associate wealth with flashy purchases like fancy cars, extravagant homes, and expensive jewelry, said R.J. Weiss, CFP and founder of the personal finance site, The Ways to Wealth.
“However,” Weiss continued, “real wealth is essentially what you keep, not what you spend, and this aspect of wealth is often unrecognizable to others. You will find few individuals announcing they have $2,000,000 invested in index funds, but you’ll see plenty purchasing a $2,000,000 home to display their financial status.”
While money may not be able to buy happiness, it does buy a certain kind of freedom, Weiss said.
“The true hallmark of wealth is autonomy — the freedom to make life choices without financial constraints. This can manifest as the ability to take time off work, pursue hobbies, or help out family and friends financially. It’s the capacity to decide based on your desire rather than your financial circumstances.”
A Properly Diversified Investment Portfolio
Wealthy individuals often manage their finances with astute investment strategies, according to Mark Stewart, in-house CPA for Step By Step Business, which includes holding a diversified portfolio that includes stocks, bonds, real estate, and other assets.
Stewart said, “This approach minimizes risk and maximizes returns over time, demonstrating financial acumen.”
Financial Safety Nets
The wealthy aren’t worrying about living paycheck to paycheck like most of us, said Adam Garcia, CEO of The Stock Dork.
“Those who are wealthy usually have a safety net of significant savings and diversified investments that help them to weather financial setbacks without much stress. Their ability to cover unexpected expenses or invest in opportunities when they arise can be a signal of their financial well-being.”
Access to High Quality Education
Access to high-quality education and opportunities is another less apparent indicator of wealth, Garcia pointed out.
“Wealthy families often prioritize education and provide their children with the best schools and extracurricular activities. This investment in knowledge can result in long-term success and career opportunities, creating a cycle of affluence that might not be immediately recognizable.”
Healthy Work-Life Balance
Most people struggle to find the right work/life balance. However, Garcia said this is something the wealthy often have nailed down, as they have a greater likelihood to pursue passions and hobbies.
“Financial security allows individuals to enjoy more leisure time and explore their interests. While this may not be immediately obvious, it’s a privilege often reserved for the wealthy, as they have the resources to allocate time to personal fulfillment and self-improvement.”
More From GOBankingRates