The funniest thing happened to me just yesterday, something I really wasn’t expecting: somebody sincerely told me that I am rich. Which got me thinking and I had to write this post on how to trick people into thinking you’re rich (even though the title is, in the end, a bit misleading).
Either way, here’s how it happened: one of my oldest and best friends, who’s living abroad now, visited her family during the holidays. She came with her new boyfriend, who is 5 years younger (which makes him 24). And eventually, they both visited to play The Settlers of Catan (one of the greatest board games there are).
As soon as they walked in, my friend’s boyfriend said, looking around: “Whoa, dude, YOU ARE RICH! How do you do it?”
I was caught completely unprepared and my first reaction after the initial shock was to laugh at a joke I wasn’t understanding. But it turns out that he was 100% sincere. He really considered me and probably still does – rich.
And that is something that I clearly am not – as you probably know already if you’re a blog regular. I live with my mom, I drive a second hand car, I don’t afford to buy all the stuff that I want (fortunately, I don’t really need all that crap!) and my net worth is well under $30,000. And even though, despite all these, I still live a good life, at least one I am extremely pleased with, I am far, far, faaaaaar away from considering myself anywhere near rich.
So how did I (involuntarily) trick that young fella into thinking that I am rich?
It’s all about the first impression: as soon as he walked in, he saw my big screen TV which is indeed impressive but is already three years old and I got it together with my wife as our only Christmas present three Christmases ago for $550. Near the TV was my iPad.
Under the iPad, there is my old laptop. On the table, there was my wife’s laptop (a cheap, $300 laptop) and my smartphone (again, an old Samsung model). We fortunately keep the room tidy and the furniture still looks new and modern enough. Still, it’s cheap Ikea-like furniture that is already years-old.
On the table, there was a bottle of expensive whiskey that we drank from (which I have received as a Christmas gift). And for some reason, my skin tone that day simply smelled rich.
Although I didn’t ask the guy what exactly makes him think that I am rich, it couldn’t have been anything else. For some people who don’t know the big picture, anybody could seem to be rich. And then it hit me. I was rich from his point of view:
He is 24, which means he’s just out of college. He lives in a foreign country and shares a cheap room with his girlfriend, in a two room apartment that he shares with another couple. He is “between jobs,” living off his savings and whatever his parents can spare to send him.
He does not afford to have all those gadgets that he saw me have (although I NEED them all for my work and they’re all two generations old) and probably his net worth is lower than mine. Because he is 5 years younger.
I remember that back when I was in college, living in a disastrous room where my bed was a mattress thrown directly on the floor, most people seemed to be richer than me.
So being rich, just like all things in the world, is a relative. You might consider yourself poor, but you are not. You might consider yourself just average, but you are not. For some, you will always be rich. For some, you will always be poor.
What I learned from all this is that what matters – the only thing that really matters – is how you feel. I wasn’t blown away, I didn’t feel proud, I didn’t feel better, I didn’t feel special when that guy told me I was rich.
The complete opposite could’ve happened – and he could’ve told me “Dude, you’re so poor” after looking around and even though that would’ve probably hurt a little, it wouldn’t have mattered at all.
Because I know where I stand. And you know where you stand too. And no matter where that is, you should be proud of yourself. You should be proud because, just like this guy who shares a flat with three people, just like me who slept on a mattress on the floor, you started way lower than where you are right now.
And you keep going up, and you keep doing better. That’s what should make you proud!
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16 thoughts on “How to Trick People into Thinking You’re Rich”
Very timely post, C. It’s important to keep our perspective on how lucky we might be, relative to others. Compared to most of the world, most of us really are rich.
Exactly! I think this is something we should all keep in mind at all times, especially when things seem rough.
Great points, C! I think it’s only the yearning for things you don’t have that make you poor. If those things are food and shelter, then, yeah, you’re probably poor. But otherwise, it’s just a matter of mind control. Are you tempted by all that stuff or not?
There are a lot of millionaires out there struggling for more because they can’t fill the emptiness they have inside. Not everyone figures this out.
Although I still haven’t completely defeated the idea that I need more “stuff,” ever since I started to put more thought into this and realize what really is important, I’ve felt so much, much better.
Nick, what awesome wisdom here. “it’s only the yearning for things you don’t have that makes you poor”. Well said, my friend, well said.
Another awesome post, C. It reminds me of DB40’s post this week about life in America. We really all are so very, very blessed.
Yeah, I just read DB40’s article and I thought that mine comes as a nice addition to that idea.
For those curious about it, DB40’s article is here: http://www.donebyforty.com/2014/01/whats-it-like-in-america.html
Laurie makes a good point, it did remind me of DB 40s post too. Perspective is everything. Someone who has an iPad and a big screen TV here in the US would not be thought of as “rich” Heck it seems everyone has those things…whether they can afford it or not!
Big screen (or at least flat screen) TVs are starting to become a norm here too, as for gadgets… everybody has some, especially the younger folks. Indeed, it’s all about perspective.
I always thought that we should not judge a person by their cover, but I guess that is an exception today. Some people who seem very poor, dress nicely, and some people who seem like they are rich, dress poorly.
Exactly! Judging a person by their cover today will surely give you the wrong impression.
He he, we do have people who think we’re rich too, even if we’re just being able to have a decent life and work like crazy for it. Compared to many people who are struggling, we’re indeed doing OK, but we’re not rich at all. Just like you, we do have a car and some gadgets, but they’re all 2-3 years old at least (the car is 6 years old this year), we do wear some nice shoes (even if we own very few pairs) etc. But nothing out of the ordinary or luxury, since we hate anything that’s too fancy.
Our car’s 8 years old, but he probably didn’t see that outside :)) In the end, maybe it’s good to have people consider you’re rich 🙂
Nice post. C people in America has the highest per capita in the world yet are less happy than people in third world countries. Being “rich” and keeping up experiences often keep people poee.
People in the town we live in think we are rich. We definitely aren’t. We manage our budget very carefully and do our best not to over extend ourselves, which has been very close these past two months. We each have a lap top, which are several years old; we have internet at home, which is rare for our town. We even own a clothes dryer, a luxury in our town. We just buy things one or two at a time and pay them off in just a few months. But many see us as rich when we are no where close to that.
Indeed, getting things done one at a time is the secret here – otherwise you risk getting overwhelmed with debt and not making ends meet.