Most of the millionaires whom I have interviewed understate their true wealth. They get little satisfaction from displaying expensive artifacts which are suppose to define success in America. But there is another important reason for not conspicuously broadcasting one’s net worth. It has to do with issues of safety and security. Take for example the comments made by one of the members of a focus group interview that I conducted. Immediately following the interview, one of the respondents, a movie producer, told me, “I wrote on your screener [preliminary questionnaire] that my net worth is barely in the seven figures. I’m worth a lot more than that. I’m afraid of kidnapping and few people have any idea where I live.” And he purposely lived a long, long way from Hollywood.
The movie producer was wise in giving few, if any, cues to criminals who might wish to bring harm to his family. Yet there are many people in this country who are oblivious to how some clever thieves find prospects. For example, I recall reading about a rehabilitated master car thief who targeted those who just had a compulsion to display their success by driving very expensive motor vehicles. The car thief merely drove up and down parkway entrances and exits to country clubs and exclusive neighborhoods. When he saw a model that he particularly liked, he would follow the car home! Do you want to be followed home? If not, it may be advisable to stop acting rich.
Very often prospective targets of burglers unconsciously identify themselves and the inventory of expensive items that are in their homes. Consider the following example. Recently in our county, the police sent out bulletins about a gang of burglars who were targeting homes for sale via “virtual tours” on the Internet. Of course, the sellers of these homes are trying to maximize the exposure of their product. Unknowingly, however, they are giving a “virtual tour” of many desired items which criminals wish to add to their stash. One of the virtual tours that I recently viewed spoke volumes. The home was filled with flat screen televisions, expensive computer exquipment and a variety of silver service settings.
With the current economic meltdown there are more people than ever who are desperate to steal what is rightfully yours. We may all have to change our lifestyle to protect ourselves, our families and our resources. Broadcasting success can have its consequences, doing damage to our balance sheet and potentially to our security. True success is what enhances self esteem and pride. Like the “millionaire next door,” it is better to place a priority on being financially independent than on acting rich.