9 subtle ways to tell if someone is wealthy, even if they try not to show it

Ethan Sterling by Ethan Sterling | July 8, 2024, 11:49 am

Wealth isn’t always displayed with flashy cars or designer labels. In fact, the truly wealthy often keep their riches under wraps.

The trick is in the subtleties. There are small, often overlooked clues that can reveal someone’s financial status, especially when they’re trying to keep it low-key.

These signs aren’t about bragging or social status. They revolve around habits, attitudes and lifestyle choices only those with significant wealth can afford to make.

Ready to become a wealth detective? Here are nine subtle ways you can tell if someone is wealthy, even if they don’t make it obvious.

1) Watch their spending habits

Wealth isn’t solely about the size of your bank account; it’s also about how you choose to spend it.

While some may see splurging on luxury items as a hallmark of affluence, many truly wealthy individuals don’t feel the need to flaunt their riches.

Instead of flashy purchases, they might opt for experiences or investments, less influenced by trends and societal expectations. Their decisions prioritize value and long-term benefits over fleeting status symbols.

That’s not to say they’re frugal. They’re willing to invest in quality items built to last. However, these purchases are often subtle and not intended for show.

2) They value time over money

I once had a friend named Mark. He wasn’t the type you’d immediately label as wealthy. He drove an old car, dressed simply, and lived in a modest home.

One day, while chatting about weekend plans, I mentioned I’d be mowing the lawn and doing some yard work. Mark just grinned and said he’d be taking his kids to the park.

“But what about your yard?” I asked.

Mark shrugged, “I hire someone for that stuff.”

That’s when it dawned on me: Mark’s wealth wasn’t tied with his possessions. It was about something much more valuable—his time. He could afford to delegate tasks, freeing him to focus on what truly mattered to him.

Wealthy folks often prioritize time over money. Outsourcing isn’t about being lazy; it’s about optimizing life for what they cherish most—experiences, relationships, hobbies, or passions.

3) They don’t flaunt designer labels

Jonathan Sanchez, a self-made millionaire and founder of Parent Portfolio, told CNBC he’s a stickler for a modest clothing budget, keeping things simple.

“I only buy new items when I need to replace clothes with unforgiving holes from normal wear and tear,” he explained. 

That’s the thing about the super rich—they’re all about stealth luxe. Instead of flashy displays, they prioritize quality and comfort over brand names. And this approach isn’t limited to clothes—it extends to their cars and homes too.

So, if you’re trying to spot signs of wealth, don’t be fooled by the absence of designer labels. It might just be a sign of someone quietly confident in their financial status.

4) They’re not in a hurry

Ever notice how the truly wealthy never seem rushed? That’s no coincidence. They’ve honed the art of patience, recognizing that good things often unfold gradually.

Whether it’s patiently awaiting an investment’s growth or leisurely indulging in a lunch, the wealthy rarely feel the need to rush. They possess the financial liberty to embrace life at their own rhythm.

Rather than sprinting from one commitment to another, they relish experiences and prioritize quality over haste. Thus, if you spot someone luxuriating in life’s moments, it could be a subtle indicator of their wealth.

5) They have a specific way with words

Wealthy individuals often have a different way of communicating. Their language tends to be more positive, focusing on opportunities rather than obstacles. They talk about what they can do, not what they can’t.

For instance, you’re more likely to hear them say things like “Let’s find a way” rather than “That’s not possible”. They see problems as challenges to be overcome and are always looking for solutions.

This positive, proactive language is a subtle indicator of their mindset – one that has likely played a part in their financial success. If you notice someone consistently using this type of language, it could be a sign of underlying wealth.

6) They give generously

One of the most heartwarming signs of wealth isn’t measured by possessions, but by generosity.

Numerous affluent individuals demonstrate remarkable generosity, frequently contributing significant portions of their wealth to charitable causes.

Yet, it’s not merely about the size of the check. It’s about a sincere commitment to using wealth for a greater cause

Wealthy individuals are aware of the transformative power of their resources, so they don’t hesitate to invest in causes that align with their values.

7) They’re not impressed by status symbols

My dad was quite the businessman, but you wouldn’t guess it from his appearance. He drove an old truck, dressed plainly, and lived in a modest home.

I once asked him why he didn’t splurge on a fancy car or a bigger house. He simply replied, “Son, those things don’t impress me. I don’t need to flaunt my wealth to feel accomplished.”

That conversation really stuck with me. True wealth isn’t about flashy displays. It’s about feeling content with who you are, recognizing your value, and not seeking validation from others.

8) They have a long-term perspective

Wealthy folks often see time in a unique way. Rather than just focusing on making quick money, they’re all about building lasting wealth for the future.

That means they’re more likely to put their money into things like education, health, and real estate, rather than splurging on short-term thrills.

For them, true wealth isn’t just about having cash now; it’s about securing their financial future and leaving behind a meaningful legacy.

9) They have a sense of financial peace

One of the most telling signs of wealth is a profound sense of financial peace.

Wealthy individuals aren’t plagued by paycheck-to-paycheck living or the stress of making ends meet. They’re free to make choices based on desire, not affordability.

This peace resonates throughout their life. It’s found in their composed demeanor, confident decisions, and ability to relish life without financial fretting.

It’s not about a specific bank balance, but having enough to live comfortably, support loved ones, and chase dreams unhindered by financial barriers.

Wealth is a state of mind

Wealth isn’t just about dollars and cents—it’s a mindset.

These subtle cues reveal more than just someone’s bank balance; they reflect their outlook on money and life. It’s about valuing time, prioritizing experiences, and enjoying the freedom to choose.

True wealth means living life on your own terms, free from financial worries.

And above all, it’s about feeling content with what you have, knowing you’re already enough.

So, when assessing someone’s wealth, look deeper. True riches are often right in front of us, waiting to be noticed.