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Stealth Wealth Moment
Old 07-28-2014, 01:10 AM   #1
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Stealth Wealth Moment

Before I relate the little incident that happened to me today, let me preface my story by saying that as a faithful adherent of LBYM and stealth wealth, over the years I’ve had my shares of interesting moments with people who behave towards me in a certain way based on their perception and assessment of my financial situation.

Today I went to a local bank branch to get some spending cash from the ATM. When I was backing my beat-up 14-year-old car out of my parking spot, another car backed into me. I actually saw it coming on the rear view mirror and stepped on the gas pedal to get out of the way, but it was too late.

When I got out of the car to inspect the damage (it was minor---one side of the rear bumper popped out of its slot from the impact), the driver of the other car (a late model luxury German sedan---you know, the kind that anyone can lease for a few hundred a month) got out---I will call him Mr. Big---took one look at my car, and started shouting that there was no damage to my car and that he wouldn’t give me any info other than his phone number.

I was offended by Mr. Big’s belligerent attitude and responded that if he refused to provide the information as mandated by state law under such circumstances, I would call the cop and report a hit and run. This set Mr. Big off and he began shouting that I was trying to scam money from him and then added the classic line of “you have no idea who I am.” Mr. Big had, of course, no idea that I had enough assets to buy a few hundred of his fancy ride; to him I was just a little nobody with a beat-up car.

I was about the call the cops when Mr. Big’s companion, a lady, stepped out of the car to diffuse to situation. She was pleasant and exchanged information with me willingly, and while we were doing so, Mr. Big proceeded to engage what I would call the automobile equivalent of alpha male prancing/chest thumbing by revving his engine and circling the parking lot in his fancy ride. I am not sure if the bystanders were suitably impressed; I was not.

I told my wife what happened after I got home, and she laughed and said that when it comes to being involved in an accident, it’s good to have a beat-up car and be perceived as poor (or at least not well off). This way the other party won’t try to scam me, as no doubt Mr. Big feared when he ran into me. Had I been driving a car more commiserate with my means, perhaps I would have been the one to fear being scammed.

As for the damage, Mr. Big’s companion agreed to settle it without going through insurance company by giving me money directly after I get an estimate. I am thinking about getting my beat-up car fixed, but maybe not. After all, why blow a perfectly good cover? Instead, I think I will use the money for my planned trip to Easter Island next year.

Any similar stories from members of the forum?
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Old 07-28-2014, 06:06 AM   #2
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Maybe not on stealth wealth, but about a bumper:

Spouse car in parking lot was backed into and the plastic bumper was mashed in. The perp was a tradesman in a company truck. He was about to drive away when witnesses stopped him as my spouse came back to her car. Info was given, so claim could be made. End result: Nothing. No claim, bumper not fixed, it is still severely mashed in. Spouse just doesn't care about it because she is going to drive the car until it falls apart anyways.

Maybe when something like this happens, the solution is exchange vehicles and the at-fault party gets the damaged car fixed while the other person drives the at-fault party's vehicle.
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Old 07-28-2014, 07:01 AM   #3
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"...a late model luxury German sedan---you know, the kind that anyone can lease for a few hundred a month"

PLEASE let me know where I can get one for a 'few hundred a month'!!
My lease is....errr....let's just say....considerably more than that.
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Old 07-28-2014, 07:19 AM   #4
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Nobody uses settlements to actually FIX their minor body damage! It feels too much like a windfall lottery just hit. Better to spend that money enjoying your Easter Island vacation.

BTW, at least now you DO know who Mr. Big is. :-)
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Old 07-28-2014, 07:23 AM   #5
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In heavy city traffic I was sideswiped by a Cook County state's attorney in her county car. She was very apologetic, saying she was distracted because she spent her day laying off people at the office. Because of the traffic, I waited to the next day to get the police report.

When we went to settle, she completely lied and said it was my fault and since we didn't have a police witness on the scene I had no proof otherwise.
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Old 07-28-2014, 07:24 AM   #6
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Sweet! DW's car (a Honda minivan with 130k miles on it) is scuffed at all the corners and a few other places. She claims it is the parking attendants at the underground parking at her place of work. I suspect Gremlins (maybe of the AMC variety). Occasionally, we get these kind of moments. Enjoy them very much. Sorry about the car. I was proud the other day when my daughter related how she had reached in behind a 'dent' in her bumper and popped it out right after it happened. Couldn't really see where it had been at all.
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Old 07-28-2014, 07:42 AM   #7
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I must confess I have reversed prejudice. If I see Mr. BMW I automatically assume this guys has no investable assets.

And if I know such guys in 9/10 cases that assumption is correct.
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Old 07-28-2014, 07:49 AM   #8
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Dumb question, but how do you get insurance money, rather than getting your car fixed? I've never been offered that opportunity, unless the car got totaled and they paid out. Otherwise, it would always be a matter of take it to the body shop, they fix it, and the insurance handles it. I've never been offered the opportunity of getting the cash instead.

Back in 2006, I got rear-ended in my old '85 Silverado, by a 2000 Infiniti I30 or something like that...the Infiniti Maxima, basically. I'm sure it totaled the Infiniti. Here's what it did to my truck...

It didn't even bend the bumper itself, but rather the brackets behind it. In total, it was $450 to fix, which ended up including a new bumper, brackets, and I think they replaced the license plate lights as well.

Honestly, I would've rather had the $450. But then again, maybe not. I got rear-ended again, a month later, by a 2001 Hyundai Elantra. That time, it just curled one edge of the bumper, but didn't hurt the brackets. I guess it's possible though, that if I hadn't had a new bumper and brackets put on from the prior crash, the second crash might have done a bit more damage.

I didn't even feel the second crash, though. I was in a traffic jam, let my foot off the brake to coast forward a few feet, and then stopped again. Looked in my rear view mirror and saw a Hyundai wedged up under my bumper. Driver had tried to make a lane change just a bit too close.
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Old 07-28-2014, 07:52 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by eta2020 View Post
I must confess I have reversed prejudice. If I see Mr. BMW I automatically assume this guys has no investable assets.

And if I know such guys in 9/10 cases that assumption is correct.
lol. Sadly true in many cases.
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Old 07-28-2014, 07:54 AM   #10
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I've had clerks in fancy stores ignore me, especially back when DS was little and I took him everywhere with me on weekends (I worked FT during the week). Once I needed a special-occasion dress and, after being ignored in one place, I left and went to another where they treated us better and I bought one for $300 (this would have been around 20 years ago so it was a big sale). I'm happy to say, though, that there were a couple of places where I was a regular customer where they treated DS like a human instead of a pet monkey on a leash, and I was a regular customer till one went out of business (Wallach's, where I bought clothes for work) and I moved several states away form the other one (a jewelry store where they cheerfully showed DS the most expensive item in the store when he asked that question).

Stealth wealth-I love that phrase!
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Old 07-28-2014, 08:04 AM   #11
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Kind of like being a superhero. "Mr Big" treated you like Clark Kent, when you're actually Superman.
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Old 07-28-2014, 08:04 AM   #12
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One of my friends has told me stories about a high-maintenance, unattractive 20-something that works for his company, who has a very high opinion of herself. She drives a Benz and leases it for about $400 per month I think. It's an A-class, one of those little hatchbacks that most people don't think of as a "real" Mercedes. And she has bad credit, otherwise, she'd get a better deal, I'm sure.

My friend mentioned that one day she showed up with some expensive handbag...Coach, Prada, something like that. I think it cost several thousand bucks! BTW, I think this girl still lives with her parents.
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Old 07-28-2014, 08:09 AM   #13
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The previous surf vehicle, '78 Intl. Scout, got its front bumper snagged by a lady in a hurry while parked behind the dojo. Hooked her rear wheel well when she got too close trying to cut around me. I happened to be in the car. We jumped about 6" before she screeched to a stop. It opened the side of her car like a can opener and bent the end of my bumper out about 30 degrees. I got an estimate on a replacement from a junkyard for $75 and was able to get grudgingly reimbursed in cash. I slow drove into a brick wall and straightened the bumper. No trips to any islands but still...
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Old 07-28-2014, 08:17 AM   #14
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DW and I were traveling by car one time I forget where now but after checking into our hotel I walked to one of the local markets to pick up a sixer. I didn't care for anything I found in their very limited premium beer section so I asked the clerk where the rest of the beverages where (it was a rather large store). Without even making eye contact he pointed over his shoulder saying "The cheap beer is over there. "

Well I never!
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Old 07-28-2014, 08:27 AM   #15
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I know many people look at me and wonder if I actually have a home somewhere. I am generally in my painting/landlord clothes. I suspect when they see my own home, even think it is foreclosure with the way the grass is not mowed as often as it should be.

But no one ever received a prize for looking great, exceppt in High School or in Hollywood. And my 23HP mower will cut the grass no matter how far it is out of control. So I will take my monetary savings from clothes and my time savings from mowing and reinvest it to a higher return investment.
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Old 07-28-2014, 08:28 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andre1969 View Post
Dumb question, but how do you get insurance money, rather than getting your car fixed? I've never been offered that opportunity, unless the car got totaled and they paid out. Otherwise, it would always be a matter of take it to the body shop, they fix it, and the insurance handles it. I've never been offered the opportunity of getting the cash instead.
I just tell the insurance adjuster that I want to get it fixed at a body shop of my own choosing, instead of going where they want me to. They tell me I'll be responsible for any costs over the estimate amount and hand me a check.

Back in my 20s and 30s I got rear ended several (like 5-6) times. They were mostly bumps and bruises, although the last one did enough damage that I did have to get the car repaired. The others I just pocketed the money. That all ended when DW pointed out that I tended not to ever hit the brakes coming to a stop. I down shifted and slow rolled to a stop most of the time. Once I realized the reason I was getting hit was due to not having brake lights shining I started tapping the brakes as a courtesy, and the rear ending stopped. It was a nice money making scam, but I wasn't doing it on purpose.
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Old 07-28-2014, 08:28 AM   #17
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I was impressed once when I walked into the Pfaff Porsche dealership in Toronto (I was out for a walk and was curious). I was dressed in my usual 501s and golf shirt with runners on but they treated me as if I might be laying down cash for a 911 Turbo S that day. Seems like they may have read 'The Millionaire Next Door' - well except what cars they are driving.
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Old 07-28-2014, 08:28 AM   #18
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This reminds me of an inquiry I made to a timeshare huckster off the corner of Virginia Beach during the most recent recession in 2009 or 2010. These hucksters are the folks that steer people off the street into a sales presentation. I had seen her at the same corner over the years at Virginia Beach and, as things were slow for her, I approached her and asked how business was going and how she sized up people as candidates for a timeshare sales presentation. (I actually own a timeshare at Virginia Beach at the resort she was pushing so I had some street cred with her.)

At the time, she told me that business was very slow and that this was her sole source of income, working 6-8 hours on the corner. In good financial times, she said she made around $100-125K a year, and in bad times, she made $30-40K a year. She told me she got $100 for each referral that showed up for the presentation. Referrals had to meet certain income levels -- I think for this resort, one had to have annual income above $60K. I spent around 20 minutes with her. She sized up candidates by looking at their clothing, especially shoes for women, and the jewelry on men and women, the grooming of their children, and whether one had bad teeth!
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Old 07-28-2014, 08:32 AM   #19
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Here in no fault Michigan, my MIL was sideswiped by a tradesman. His boss admitted fault and promised to pay for repairs as opposed to going with an insurance claim, even making this statement to the repair facility. Then the boss talked to his lawyer who pointed out that his liability under Michigan law was only $500, because MIL has no collision insurance. So Boss says, forget it, turn it into my insurance company.

MIL got a signed statement from repair facility attesting the Boss' promise to pay and took him to small claims court. He settled out of court. My take is that he thought because she is old and has an old car he could screw her over at will.

Lessons: Just because someone says they will pay doesn't mean they really will and don't mess with old ladies..
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Old 07-28-2014, 08:35 AM   #20
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Interesting that Mr. Big decided to settle the matter by giving you the money directly after you get an estimate instead of going through the insurance company.
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