Wealthy Observations From The Golf Course

by J. Money on Wednesday, January 20, 2016

vintage parking lot cars

I was at a meetup the other day, and after chit-chatting for a bit one of the guys in the group asked me what I did for a living (shocker – when does that NOT ever come up in life?).

I told him I blog about money online, and not only did he “get it” right away, but his eyes lit up! Turns out he was thinking of starting a blog of his own, and after we got to talking a bit he shared a handful of his own financial observances with me.

Which I told him not to blog about until I did :)

It seems my new friend spends 8 months a year on upscale golf courses teaching players – both noobs and professionals alike – on how to be a better golfer. And throughout the years he’s noticed the difference between those who have been wealthy for a while (what he deems the Ultra Wealthy) vs those who have just recently come into a sizeable amount of money (the New Wealthy).

I should have recorded our convo because it was super interesting, but here were the major differences he saw:

The New Wealthy:

  • Younger
  • Cocky, arrogant, flashy
  • Always showing up in fancy cars (Maseratis, Ferraris, Porches) with fancy watches (Rolexes) and fancy attire

The Ultra Wealthy:

  • Older
  • SUPER nice (one of the first things he said!)
  • They wear and drive whatever they want – a mixture of old/new/practical/expensive (says you’d have no idea whether they were wealthy or not just by looking at them.)
  • 95% of them are thin and athletic (he thinks due to spending time and money on health-related items vs materialistic ones. Many tell him they work out a lot and try to eat as healthy as possible.)

Now perhaps the Ultra Wealthy once started out as the New Wealthy and eventually worked themselves out of all that nonsense, but either way it was interesting to hear. And pretty much backs up the entire Millionaire Next Door mentality too.

But the REAL fascinating part here – and the one that makes for a great experiment! – is when my friend noticed that BOTH types of wealthy keep their cars spotless inside and out. No matter the value of them. He wondered if this was part of their success and a millionaire habit, or merely coincidence?

So he started checking out all the parking lots where he lived :)

He walked around a handful of Walmart lots (“the messiest of them all”), Target lots (“50/50”) and then varying restaurant lots as well. And by and large the more expensive the spot was, the cleaner the cars were. Particularly on the inside (i.e. no junk scattered all over the place and everything nice and tidy).

Now obviously none of this is scientific and just based on one dude’s observations (plenty of wealthy/smart people shop at Walmart!), but still – what an experiment! I would have never thought to compare such a thing, especially in relation to money.

But of course the next day I had to test it for myself :)

So I hit up Target where I had errands to run anyways, and sure enough it was roughly 50/50, with maybe a few more messier cars than clean (60/40?). I wanted to hit up Walmart next, and then figure out where the nearest golf course is (it would have been much more fun seeing the extremes if any existed here!), but sadly time only permitted so much.

But I think we know what we’ll be doing THIS week! Haha… And you guys should join in :)

The next time you’re out, jot down the store and the % of cleanliness across the lot, and then drop your data down below and we’ll start compiling a global map of it all. And then afterwards we’ll hunt down all the car owners and ask them what their net worth is to prove once and for all if this is correct! *Evil laugh*…. LET’S GET TO IT! (Haha… Just kidding. Maybe.)

Validity or not, though, no harm in keeping your property nice and tidy, eh? There’s a reason one of the best selling books out right now is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. A clean surrounding = a clean mind. Which all leads to a more productive and happier life.

Now if only I followed my friend to HIS car to see how wealthy he was!

**********
PS: My car screams DIRT POOR and MILLIONAIRE at the same time… The paint is chipping off and it hasn’t been washed in years, but the inside’s immaculate! Perhaps that’s why I’m HALF a millionaire? ;)

[Vintage parking lot pic by Alden Jewell]


PS: Some of my favorite tools:
personal capital Personal Capital (FREE) -- If you’re looking for a robust financial tracker, Personal Capital is the way to go! They’re like Mint, but on steroids and have much better tools for investment and net worth tracking. // Full review
digit.co Digit (FREE) -- A super easy (and automated) way to save. Every day Digit analyzes your income and expenses and will push money aside for you any time it sees extra sitting there. I've saved over $4,000 myself using them so far! // Full review
acorns Acorns -- Having trouble finding money to invest? Check out Acorns – they round up all your transactions to the nearest $1.00 and drops the difference into an investment portfolio for you. Easy way to start investing! // Full review

{ 100 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Petra January 20, 2016 at 6:07 am

Hmm, I wanted to show my boyfriend the first part, with the observation that old/ultra wealthy people don’t show it, because he just expressed his worry to me that people will deem him poor because we live in a small house and have an older car. (I definitely like it that way, it helps our net worth grow and our little house is quite comfortable and the car reliable).

But reading the next part, about how wealthy people take care of their car, and then thinking of his car … doesn’t look like he’s wealthy at all. It’s a mess, most of the time. Or *should* I show this article to him and tell him that true wealth is shown by having a clean car?

Reply

2 J. Money January 20, 2016 at 10:12 am

Haha… I think you should just show him and then ask what he thinks :) None of this is really scientific, but it’s cool to think about for sure..

And most importantly – if you like your smaller house and car, keep rocking it! I’m the same way over here – I much rather grow my net worth and be comfy in my home than stressed all the time about maintaining fancy stuff…

Reply

3 Brian @DebtDiscipline January 20, 2016 at 6:09 am

Sounds like an overall organization / clutter thing with those people with dirty cars. I’ve run into a few friends who keep their cars a mess and generally they lack organizational skills and that typically translated into all areas of their lives including money.

Reply

4 Cristalle January 23, 2016 at 1:35 pm

Yes! The state of the inside of a car (clean, messy, etc.) could just be a proxy for another variable like organizational skills or discipline which do have an impact on wealth building. So, its not the clear car, per se but the attributes of a person who keeps a clean car. I know I am more motivated now to keep my car clean ;)

Reply

5 superbien January 25, 2016 at 11:14 am

I was actually wondering if wealth might be getting conflated with gender, since I believe (without knowing for sure) that more golfers are men, more Walmart shoppers are women, and women disproportionately drive the kids around… And kids spawn mess. It’s a theory at least. Either way, fascinating observation.

Reply

6 Lindsay VanSomeren January 20, 2016 at 7:11 am

Clearly, I’m never destined to be rich. :) Although, I have gotten better over the years, and I currently don’t even own a car!

This does remind me of a great Albert Einstein quote though:

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

Reply

7 J. Money January 20, 2016 at 10:21 am

ZIIIIIIING!

Reply

8 Mrs DN @ The Dollar Notes January 20, 2016 at 7:15 am

I have observed the exact same thing not with cars though but with stuff! I work with families. Usually the families that really struggle with money, hoard stuff but don’t take care of the things they already own. It doesn’t matter how expensive the object (or furniture) they have obtained, it’s a wreck in no time because they are in the hunt of a new “bargain”. Whereas the client’s that don’t have financial struggles, they mostly keep their belongings in good shape and are not always looking for ways to obtain more stuff.

Reply

9 J. Money January 20, 2016 at 10:22 am

Fascinating!

Reply

10 superbien January 25, 2016 at 11:39 am

I went from a high school of blue collar but smart/motivated kids (& parents), to a university of mostly old money and new money (plus us scholarship kids, who mostly didn’t fit in).

It was fascinating how often, in college, people would say scathing that someone was “nouveau riche,” while people strove to be more Old Money (without actually being that shabby). Nouveau riche (new rich) was the flashy insecure kind of rich, like rappers and dentists, whereas Old Money could afford nice things, but didn’t stress about having shiny new clothes, cars, electronics, etc.

It was actually really helpful to me, as a poor kid among the wealthy to ultra wealthy, to realize that I didn’t have to try for conspicuous wealth – I could focus on actual finances, and be discreet with any wealth I gathered.

Reply

11 J. Money January 25, 2016 at 3:28 pm

LOVE THAT! Seems like this mentality is in all different pockets of society?

Reply

12 Danny January 20, 2016 at 7:18 am

As a caddy at a golf club on and off for 20 years, I completely agree with this golf teachers’ list of the new vs. ultra wealthy. I’d only add two more things to this list:
1) You can tell who is ultra wealthy as they will be at the golf club almost every day, as the new wealthy person has to continue to work to maintain their lifestyle.
2) During downturns in the market (late 1990’s bubble, 2008, etc.) there are large drops in membership mostly due to the new wealthy no longer being able to afford it, or even the ultra wealthy person jumping to another golf club to find a better deal.

Reply

13 J. Money January 20, 2016 at 10:26 am

Makes sense to me!

I wanted to talk to this dude for hourrrrs about what else he’s seen over the years, but hopefully we’ll meet up again and we can do round II here :) It would be awesome to be outside enjoying the weather for a gig too!

Reply

14 Danny January 20, 2016 at 11:47 am

Nice! I hope that you get to talk with him again :)

Having a side hustle where you get to work outside has really recharged my batteries. I’d recommend it to anyone that has the opportunity to do so.

Reply

15 Roy Largo @ Band of Savers January 20, 2016 at 7:24 am

Sounds like I’ll be cleaning out my car the next chance I get. This is something that I hadn’t ever consciously thought about either but now that it is mentioned and I’m remembering some of the cars that I’ve sat in in the past I can totally see the validity of this observation.

Reply

16 Mrs. Mad Money Monster | @madmoneymonster January 20, 2016 at 7:37 am

I have noticed that the highest paid people at my place of employment (I work for one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world-so these ppl get paid a lot of money) drive immaculate/expensive cars. They also park them on an island in the far end of the lot. My car looks like I have a six-year old. Wait…I do have a six-year old. I love keeping my car immaculate, but Mini Monster usually has other plan. *sigh* Eventually my car will match my wealth. :)

Mrs. Mad Money Monster

Reply

17 tracy January 20, 2016 at 9:05 am

Me too! My car looks like I have a three-year old. Wait. I do have that three-year old. I miss how immaculate my car USED to be. Someday again… ;-)

Reply

18 J. Money January 20, 2016 at 10:27 am

Haha… true all around here too! (Though double the kids = double the mess :))

Reply

19 Dee @ Color Me Frugal January 20, 2016 at 8:03 am

What an awesome experiment! I’m totally going to share this with my husband, who tends to leave crap all over the inside of a car no matter what he’s driving! I’m the “car neatnik” in the family. Maybe this means we balance each other out financially???

Reply

20 Mortimer January 20, 2016 at 8:19 am

Pretty interesting observation, that I think translates into a lot of areas. But to stick with parking lots, a friend of mine often points out how grocery stores in poor areas always seem to have carts littered all over the place, but premium stores in ritzy areas almost never do. Seems that taking care of your space is a high value habit!

Reply

21 superbien January 25, 2016 at 11:17 am

I think you’re onto something. I’d guess part customer behaviors, and part ritzier places paying for someone to care for the carts. Whole Foods especially has a whole cadre for parking lots.

Reply

22 Mike @ TipYourself.com January 20, 2016 at 8:25 am

Interesting observation indeed. I wonder if it comes down to choice. A wealthy person is driving the car they truly want. They can buy any car. So the one they are currently driving (fancy or not fancy) is the exact car they want to drive. So there is more pride??

Reply

23 J. Money January 20, 2016 at 10:30 am

Possibly! Either that or they have $$ to pay to always have them clean inside and out? Haha… But probably more of an engrained habit of keeping stuff clean and tidy so they can focus more/be presentable. At least that’s my two cents..

Reply

24 theFIREstarter January 20, 2016 at 10:48 am

That was the conclusion I came to as well. Or even if they didn’t pay anyone else to do it they’d theoretically have more time to do it themselves as not needing to work so much!

Regarding the rich/poor areas or parking lots this is a variation on the broken window theory. It’s interesting so check out the wiki page if you haven’t heard of it yet:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_windows_theory

Reply

25 J. Money January 20, 2016 at 11:57 am

Yeah!! Love that! I remember something similar in that book Freakonomics too (or was it Tipping Point?). Something about cleaning up the areas more and getting rid of graffiti helps reduce overall crime since most of the smaller stuff attracts it. Fascinating stuff to think about.

Reply

26 superbien January 25, 2016 at 11:24 am

I believe that broken window theory – as engaging as it is in theory – has been thoroughly debunked, as its enactment coincided with overall crime reduction already in play, and mainly involved criminalizing and harassing marginalized people of color, poverty, disability, and mental health. Not one of our brighter moments, societally. http://socialistworker.org/2013/10/10/broken-windows-is-a-broken-idea

Reply

27 Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies January 20, 2016 at 8:27 am

I think that translates to the exact opposite when I think of my students (they’re my constant frame of reference). Most of the time, the kiddos who have very little have the tidiest lockers, treat their belongings with the most respect, and keep everything just so. One of my students bought himself a pair of Jordans…and carries them in the shoebox so they don’t get dirty on the bus.

I’m totally going to peek into cars when I’m out running errands later today!

Reply

28 J. Money January 20, 2016 at 10:31 am

Oh wow!! That’s too funny he keeps them in a box! haha…

Yeah – poke around and then report back, please :)

Reply

29 Mr. & Mrs. Dividend January 20, 2016 at 8:28 am

This is a pretty entertaining article! Our car isn’t dirty, but not entirely clean ;) So I guess I match my wealth half way? :D

Reply

30 Craig January 20, 2016 at 8:36 am

Great observations! Anyone else wish it worked the other way around? Clean your car and money shows up! Although, I usually find about ~$1.67 in change whenever cleaning it.

How many people are going to look extremely suspicious this weekend looking into other’s windows? Just tell them J. Money sent you :)

Reply

31 J. Money January 20, 2016 at 10:31 am

Only if their car is clean. I don’t want anyone mad coming after me! :)

Reply

32 Terry January 20, 2016 at 8:45 am

I used to work with a guy who had a couple of rental properties in a fairly rough neighborhood. When you showed up to look at one of the rentals, he would stroll by your car and look inside. If it was a mess, you were not renting his house.

Reply

33 J. Money January 20, 2016 at 10:32 am

Wowwwww…. He knew what was up!

Reply

34 superbien January 25, 2016 at 11:27 am

That’s pretty clever, actually.

My trick is to have a dog sling in the back seat (protects the seats, protects them from falling if I hit the brakes too fast), and I put cups/cans/trash on the back floor, where it’s hidden. Mwahaha :)

Reply

35 Lisa O January 20, 2016 at 8:52 am

That is very interesting…I just wonder if it doesn’t have to do with living a simplified life. With having money, you have whatever you want but that isn’t made up of tons of junk. Usually wealthy is more about experiences than material items. I bet you would find some pretty tidy wallets & purses too!

Reply

36 Kathy January 20, 2016 at 9:21 am

Perhaps the reason the ultra wealthy have pristine cars is that they are older and they don’t drive children around every day. As far as the new wealthy goes, would you let your kid in a Ferrari?

Reply

37 J. Money January 20, 2016 at 10:33 am

Haha… true true…

Reply

38 Kristy January 21, 2016 at 7:19 am

LOL….that’s exactly what I was thinking!

Reply

39 Hannah January 20, 2016 at 9:23 am

I think those are fascinating observations, though I haven’t exactly noticed the same thing. Growing up, the wealthiest familes always were the most likely to schlep kids from one activity to the next, so their cars were always full of duffel bags and sports gear though they didn’t allow their kids to eat in the car, so there’s that. I also grew up in Minnesota, so cars were only clean in the summer.

Reply

40 Free to Pursue January 20, 2016 at 9:27 am

“Cars are only clean in the summer.” LOL! I can relate, being from “Winterpeg” Canada and all.

Reply

41 Free to Pursue January 20, 2016 at 9:24 am

There’s a difference between washing your car to show off/for work and washing your car because you want to protect and care for what you invest in. Most of the people I know who have a chronically clean car is the former and not the latter. These folks have no money. I know because I used to be one of them. (It’s also aligned with the stat that 90% of cars are purchased with some sort of credit vehicle).

We are not car washers (anymore) and that’s why we buy only one colour vehicle: silver. We wash for maintenance reasons but not much else. As well, if our focus was on a clean car as opposed to life experiences, we wouldn’t shlep 160lbs-worth of dogs around on a regular basis ;).

I’d argue that we do take better care of our possessions when we have fewer of them (flashy or not). This is attributable to two main reasons: we notice them more and we have more mental space to care for them, both of which means we value them more overall.

Love Kondo’s book BTW. Couldn’t put it down!

Reply

42 J. Money January 20, 2016 at 10:34 am

I’ve been reading a few pages every few days… I like small easy books like that but hate when they’re over so I take my good ol’ time digesting them :)

Reply

43 Free to Pursue January 20, 2016 at 12:52 pm

If there’s a book to savour, that would certainly be one of them. It’s about so much more than discarding/managing our stuff.

Reply

44 Elise@ Uphill To Easy Street January 20, 2016 at 9:32 am

Woah….I guess then I must be utlra poor by those standard (or maybe I just have 2 kids who apparently have holes in their hands where cheerios fall out). Interesting concept…

The more I think about it, the level of cleanliness may have to do with the attention to detail someone naturally has. My husband’s car (and most belongings) are spotless. He takes meticulous care of them, and he also excels at work. I, on the other hand, am a mess from beginning to end and I was a TERRIBLE employee. hmm…now I’m off to do more sleuthing.

Reply

45 J. Money January 20, 2016 at 10:35 am

I’m sure personalities play a big part too :) And would venture to guess that most wealthy/successful people have similar qualities as well which helped them get to that point.

Reply

46 SavvyFinancialLatina January 20, 2016 at 9:41 am

I have a messy car but I’m very organized with my finances. I don’t wash my car very often because I see no point. There is so much construction where I live, it would immediately get dirty. I try to clean up my interior as much as possible, but I do have stuff in my car. This article may be my car act together!

Reply

47 Ashley Chorpenning January 20, 2016 at 10:20 am

I love this. Wealth is not determined by the type of car you drive. Everyone has different luxuries that they will splurge on. I guess you truly cannot judge a book by its cover.

Reply

48 Jacquelyn January 20, 2016 at 10:38 am

I can attest to being one of the messier cars…and houses. Interesting concept and might lead to some over all improvements.

I know when things are clean, I am more motivated to focus on other things. Cool concept.

Reply

49 J. Money January 20, 2016 at 11:58 am

Yup! Same here… especially in my office.

Reply

50 Timmi January 20, 2016 at 11:24 am

Well…I can tell you from personal experience that clutter in my house or car does not make me feel prosperous AT ALL.

We drive older models (paid for in cash…no debt! Yay!). Sad to say but my husband and daughter can trash a car before you can blink! My husband’s car was so bad that I didn’t even want to get into it…which was quite difficult when we had one car! Hubby has been using my car for the last two weeks and I’m cringing already

I have some Newly Wealthy and Ultra Wealthy friends…both sets of friends keep their car spotless inside and out. NW friends – expensive cars, UW friends – cheaper cars, less conspicuous

Reply

51 J. Money January 20, 2016 at 12:02 pm

I don’t have any newly wealthy or ultra wealthy friends, haha.. can I borrow yours? :)

Reply

52 Rob @ MoneyNomad January 20, 2016 at 11:26 am

I better get to work cleaning! Although I bet I’d be in the top 2% of the Wal-Mart parking lot cars. Not I just need up my game to the classy restaurant level…

Reply

53 Veronica January 20, 2016 at 11:37 am

This is an awesome post!

How interesting that the ‘ultra’ wealthy care less about what they drive and wear. It’s one of those ‘chicken or egg’ type of things-did they not care before they were wealthy, or did they learn along the way that flashy things aren’t important? Or, did them not caring about their material things actually LEAD to them becoming wealthy because their money wasn’t tied up in material goods and they were able to make smart investments, etc?

I drive a 10 year old car with a few rust spots on the outside, but the inside is detailed all the time-I guess that means that I have the right mindset after all! Mess=Stress!!!
I know someone who drives a brand new Audi, and it is the most disgusting car I’ve ever seen on the inside. That person is a ‘new wealthy’ but I guess they haven’t gotten the clean car memo yet ;-)

Get some more secrets of the ultra wealthy from your buddy-I love this stuff! :-)

Reply

54 J. Money January 20, 2016 at 12:06 pm

Haha, will do!

Reply

55 Fervent Finance January 20, 2016 at 12:18 pm

When I did own a care, it was always spotless. I am a little OCD with clutter so my trunk was always organized perfectly even though it had basketballs, blanket, ice scraper, shoes, etc. Maybe people who have their money in order also have their “house” and car in order :)

Reply

56 Abigail @ipickuppennies January 20, 2016 at 12:50 pm

Hmm… I’m a little messy, but Tim leaves a ton of garbage sitting around. Given our differing financial perspectives, maybe your friend is on to something.

Reply

57 Tawcan January 20, 2016 at 1:00 pm

Hmmm I haven’t noticed that but good observation. Now I think about it, all the execs at my work have super clean cars. I don’t know if they’re “ultra” wealthy but they drive nice cars and get paid lots of money.

Note to self: time to start paying attention to cleanness of my car.

Reply

58 Joe January 20, 2016 at 1:07 pm

That’s a great observation! Our car is messy on the outside right now. It’s dinged up and dirty. I’m getting it washed this week, though. The inside is pretty good. As good as it can get with a 5 year old passenger anyway. Our house is pretty messy…
A disorganized car is a symptom of a disorganized life.

Reply

59 Sarah Noelle @ The Yachtless January 20, 2016 at 1:12 pm

Ha, that’s so interesting. I live in a city so don’t have a car, but back when I used to have one I used to keep ALL MY SHOES in the backseat because I was constantly driving from work to the gym to social hangouts, etc., without going home in between, and I didn’t want to have to remember to bring the right shoes for wherever I might end up going. I guess it was clear that I wasn’t any type of rich (nor am I today). :)

Reply

60 J. Money January 22, 2016 at 6:58 am

You could keep them all in a pretty box or bag in the trunk? That way you can start becoming rich AND have your shoes with you on all your travels! ;)

Reply

61 Kyle January 20, 2016 at 1:25 pm

Interesting take. My folks have a bunch of rental homes and to this day, besides a credit report, job status, etc, the one thing they look at when the prospective tenant shows up to take a look at the place, is how clean they keep their car. If there is car is clean, inside and out, they are almost always a very good tenant.

Reply

62 The Professor January 20, 2016 at 2:32 pm

Interesting though I’m not sure I want to try it for myself. If I walk around a Target or such looking at the inside of everyone’s cars I’d probably get arrested. But I got the idea from J$! You need to read his blog. I’m innocent I say!

Reply

63 J. Money January 22, 2016 at 6:59 am

Only one way to find out ;)

Reply

64 Justin @ Root of Good January 20, 2016 at 2:37 pm

I guess I have an ultra wealthy car. Zero junk of any kind anywhere in the car. I do carry an umbrella in the trunk and some emergency tools in the tire well. The paint is starting to fade and the headliner sags a bit but my 15 year old civic is mechanically a peach, gets routine maintenance and never has trash inside of it.

And that’s in spite of having 3 kids! They know the deal – don’t leave crap in Daddy’s car. Daddy isn’t our maid. :)

Reply

65 J. Money January 22, 2016 at 6:59 am

I guess that’s why you’re retired so young while the rest of us aren’t :)

Reply

66 Financial Underdog January 20, 2016 at 2:54 pm

I’ve noticed that there’s a big difference in arrogance/niceness between the crowd of people who inherited the money and worked for it all their life. People who inherited money/trust fund/companies seem to be more arrogant as opposed to people who came from humble beginnings.

One of my friends works as a commercial pilot for a guy who is a multi millionaire, and shuffles his guests and family around quite a bit. The stark difference in attitude between those who inherited money and those who worked always shows up he says.

Weird, eh?

Reply

67 J. Money January 22, 2016 at 7:00 am

Kinda make sense!

Reply

68 Gwen January 20, 2016 at 2:54 pm

My natural inclination is to be messy. Usually there’s a point where I say “this is totally gross” and clean like crazy before starting a long, slow decline into messy city again. This applies to all areas of my life (laundry, dishes, car) but not my finances, which are in perfect order. Right now my car looks spic and span because I drove to lunch last week.

Reply

69 Tonya@Budget and the Beach January 20, 2016 at 3:10 pm

So interesting about the cars. I’m screwed then because while my car looks OK on the outside (VW rabbit), the inside…mmm, lots of sand an volleyballs. Not sure what that says about me. A fun life?

Reply

70 J. Money January 22, 2016 at 7:01 am

It says “why haven’t you invited J. Money to come out and play!”

Reply

71 Steven January 20, 2016 at 3:46 pm

Interesting observation. Only thing that you might be careful with is one of the reasons the Ultra Wealthy have spotless cars is they don’t drive them very often. When MJ shows up in his Mercedes McLaren 400K or so, he probably isn’t driving this vehicle back and forth very often.

Reply

72 J. Money January 22, 2016 at 7:02 am

Could be! The next time you caddy for him will you ask for me? :)

Reply

73 Nate January 20, 2016 at 4:14 pm

Fascinating observations.

Could the new wealthy vs. ultra wealthy behavior be an age thing? I’d imagine someone who is in their 40s and sells their business for multi-millions is going to generally spend that money differently than that same person in their 20s.

Also, curious if your golf instructor friend has any insight into whether the “new wealthy” he encounters actually have a high networth. You don’t actually have to be wealthy to go golfing at the country club, drive a porsche, own some expensive suits and a flashy watch….an upper middle class income and a willingness to take on consumer debt is enough.

Reply

74 J. Money January 22, 2016 at 7:04 am

For sure… I believe he told me he coaches people long term and thus gets to know the players and their backgrounds more than just an appearance type thing, but you’re right – based on looks alone it could be quite deceiving!

Reply

75 Mrs. Frugalwoods January 20, 2016 at 5:06 pm

Frugalwoods-mobile is representing well then–looks janky as anything from the exterior, but the interior is pretty clean (thanks to my frantic pre-baby binge cleaning and vacuuming the whole thing while 9 months pregnant…). Fortunately when Babywoods spits up in the car, it’s mostly contained to her person (it’s the little things). Wondering if we’re now all going to be arrested for creeping around looking in people’s cars…

Reply

76 Anum @ Current on Currency January 20, 2016 at 5:51 pm

Another reason for me to live a more minimalist lifestyle. I’ll be running errands at Target, WalMart, and Ikea this weekend so I’m going to have to put this theory to the test myself ;)

Reply

77 Financial Samurai January 20, 2016 at 7:17 pm

Very insightful about spotless cars! I guess that shows a meticulousness in people who have wealth. They know where their money is.

I just wrote a post with a whole list of mid-life crisis cars to keep spotless ahaha. I wouldn’t leave a crumb in my Lamborghini!

S

Reply

78 J. Money January 22, 2016 at 7:05 am

I’ll do it for you if you ever let me ride in one of them :)

Reply

79 Revanche January 21, 2016 at 2:17 am

What if the correlation goes the other way? What if the Ultra Wealthy started out less wealthy but had always been neat-minded? I posit this because some of our friends (of the five days of golf a week variety) came from nothing and built a very comfortable life over the course of four careers between the two of them but one of the two was always fastidiously neat and the other learned it from the military.
I’m thinking of some of the other Quite Wealthy friends we have and I don’t know quite enough of their history to know if they were always neat but I’m positive they have never left a mess in their Aston Martins. Even with a 3 year old. Though I suspect having the money to pay someone to clean up after an infant makes a big difference :)

Reply

80 madeline January 21, 2016 at 10:15 am

I think the correlation is wrong…I don’t think it’s money and tidiness. I grew up in a working class neighborhood where nobody had much money. But those families that were on the tidier side-even with six or more kids-seemed happier and more content than those living in chaos.

Reply

81 J. Money January 22, 2016 at 7:07 am

Could be a “tidier you are, the more *successful* you are” thing then? Where the golfers in this case are successful based on wealth, where as in your neighborhood it was based on happiness/content?

Reply

82 Stockbeard January 21, 2016 at 1:49 pm

I don’t own a car. This makes me a Schrodinger cat’s case of being both Wealthy and poor at the same time.

Reply

83 Formative Fortunes January 21, 2016 at 2:22 pm

Ill be sure to check out the parking lot the next time I am out. One of the things I’ve come to realize is that many people clean their cars and maintain them (fancy cars or not) because they want to protect their asset. All those cars are typically depreciating assets many people try to maintain their value by keeping tidy with the inners and out of it. My father tells me this all the time, he always keeps his car clean and it is 8 years old and still looks like a gem!

Reply

84 J. Money January 22, 2016 at 7:10 am

I think I’ve given up on cleaning the outside of mine because it’s literally falling apart and will die at any time, haha… But I always admire those who are consistent with keeping them sparkling! (except for a pair of neighbors down the street who I SWEAR wash their cars every 3-4 days… in the middle of our street with water gushing all over the place. I think they’re desperately trying to get rich fast! (see what I did there?))

Reply

85 Pengepugeren January 21, 2016 at 4:57 pm

Interesting, and there’s probably some truth to it. People who can’t keep order in their car probably can’t keep their finances in order either.

I’ll definitely start looking inside people’s cars now :D

Reply

86 Michael Jackmack January 21, 2016 at 10:02 pm

Hi J,
Just read your post, well done and what a great memory of our conversation. My car like yours screams wealthy on the inside, my bank account not so much yet. Let me know when you want your first golf lesson. See you soon my friend.
Michael J

Reply

87 J. Money January 22, 2016 at 7:12 am

Hey friend! Thanks for stopping by and chiming in! And even more so for the article inspiration – glad you approve :) Would love to take you up on those lessons one day. I heard you learn faster in the middle of a snow storm, yeah?

Reply

88 Jacob January 22, 2016 at 5:28 pm

Love the “Life CHanging Magic” book, has transformed our lives in an amazing way at home (especially with 2 kids. Less mess, less stress, happier wife and happier kids = happy hubs!

And interesting about the rich people’s car cleaning habits. Do any of them happen to had toddlers? If so, they must hire a cleaning service to come 3x a week to keep the cars spotless….i keep finding old raisin’s and random stickers everytime I open my wife’s car doors…..not sure how the rich do it!

Reply

89 Natalie January 22, 2016 at 7:49 pm

This is pretty interesting. Although, being a student and living near the ghetto, I keep my car spotless. Lessens the risk of a break-in. I’m working on that wealth-thing :)

Reply

90 J. Money January 23, 2016 at 2:39 pm

another great side effect! ;)

Reply

91 NDQ January 22, 2016 at 9:03 pm

This is a great observation. Personally, I like a clean car. Now that I know it makes me look like a million bucks…even better.

My wealthy v. poor observation is based on walking through many apartment units/buildings for sale with my Realtor. The poorest people have the most over-sized furniture and lots of it. And of course, these units are pretty tiny. So…lots of big furniture makes the place even more cramped and it instantly looks more cluttered. It’s been the rare rental that I’ve seen clean or even remotely tidy/organized.

NDQ

Reply

92 J. Money January 23, 2016 at 3:01 pm

Interesting. Had never noticed that :)

Reply

93 Michele L. January 23, 2016 at 9:18 pm

This post cracked me up- and your friend is onto something. When I think back to the cars I’ve been in, I would say that is so true!

Reply

94 Tracy @ Financial Nirvana Mama January 24, 2016 at 9:59 am

Hmm , interesting concept. I don’t know any ultra wealthy friends but if I did, I imagine spending more money to get my car cleaned. I mean, who has time for keeping a car spotless when you have side hustles/businesses, a job , family etc.

My car, well there is absolutely nothing inside mainly because I don’t normally drive. The floor is spotted with kids snack crumbs from a lack of vacuuming. If I were to evaluate my friends wealth/net worth vs car cleanliness, there isn’t any strong relationship. I think a better evaluation is to not include cars that have booster seats and car seats.

Reply

95 weenie January 25, 2016 at 6:42 pm

My friends have a mixture of old and new/expensive cars.

Almost universally, the ones with young children will have messy cars.

Perhaps in your case, the ultra wealthy are likely to have (if they have any) grown up adult children so no mess there.

The new wealthy perhaps either don’t have young children or the children aren’t allowed in their Ferraris/Porsches?

My car is spotless (no children), yet I work best with a cluttered desk (which gets cleared up by the end of the day due to company’s clear desk policy!).

Reply

96 J. Money January 26, 2016 at 6:17 am

That’s a company policy??? Hahaha…. love it!

Reply

97 Aaron January 27, 2016 at 12:15 pm

Having a new car makes you more likely to clean it and keep it that way, I think. I bought a used car about a year ago and while it wasn’t new off the lot, it was new to me and I’ve made it a daily chore to take everything out with me when I exit. I no longer throw receipts, etc on the car floor and expect I’ll clean it up every month or so.

That may be one reason why wealthier people have clean cars. They want to keep their cars clean, and keep their wealth.

Reply

98 Amy @ DebtGal January 27, 2016 at 3:35 pm

This is terrifying! The back seat of my car is a MESS, but my kid who snacks there a lot and brings all sorts of trinkets with her everywhere, is to blame for it. Do I get half of a pass??

Reply

99 J. Money February 1, 2016 at 11:55 am

Yes, I grant you a half pass until the kids get older :)

Reply

100 Mrs. SimplyFinanciallyFree February 2, 2016 at 2:50 pm

Such an interesting observation. I am now thinking of mt salt covered car sitting out in the lot. To be fair, I did get it washed last Wednesday but the roads this time of year make it impossible to keep clean. I do though try to get it detailed every year of two to keep it looking nice and get out any ground in dirt and salt from the floor carpeting.

Now I am wondering if I keep it cleaner, will I be wealthier? ;)

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: