Smart Reasons to Save, Use and Invest Money

The Secret Life Of The Joneses

I always though my neighbor next door was a lot like my family.   I was wrong!

The Secret Life of the Joneses, Across The Street

Apparently, our neighbor across the street had a secret life that I was unaware of!  Over the years, I should have realized that they were wealthier than I thought from the clues that they revealed. 

Here are some of the clues:

  • Once at a party, the neighbor that I thought was like the Joneses , revealed to me that he refinanced his mortgage down to a 10 years loan!  I was impressed because I was paying extra on my mortgage too, and only had 5 years left.  But the way they spend their money, I assumed the were like the typical Joneses, meaning that they were buying things largely on credit.  But when I heard that my neighbor bought a 10 year mortgage, that should have set off some flags.
  • Their son (7 years old at the time) once told my son that he wants his dad to buy our house too (because of my son’s toys).  I always wondered what he meant by that, but I just dismissed it as kid talk
  • Three years ago, they both bought 2 new cars at the same time.
  • I’ve seen both the neighbor and his wife out on the port scanning the newspaper ads section like it was made of candy.  I guessed that they were looking for houses to buy for rental property.
  • Once at another party, the neighbor mentioned that he created and sold wine on the side.  He claimed that it was mostly a hobby, but he did have a real label and sold the wine at stores.
  • I noticed that the my old neighbor also was very handy around the house!  He even replaced his entire front door insert by himself.  Somehow he must have learned how to do construction work!  Most likely from houses that he owned as rental property?

So I learned that sometimes those who spend like the Joneses next door, are really just wealthier than you realize because of side jobs and real estate!

Have you ever had a rich neighbor, that you didn’t know were rich until much later, or after they moved like mine? 

-MR

20 Responses to The Secret Life Of The Joneses

  1. It sounds like they have more money than you originally thought; maybe they really are living below their means which allows them to invest in rental properties and side businesses. All I can say is good for them!

  2. I bet my neighbors are loaded because they refuse to spend money on yard work or fixing up their house! They must be stashing money somewhere.

    Actually, I have found quite the opposite. Many people I thought must be loaded just spent like they had money, and didn’t actually have any!

  3. Now you have two choices:

    1) Get jealous and envious, and vote to raise taxes on them or just simply stew at home.
    2) Find out what their secret is, and emulate them. 😛

    I’ve had more of Everyday Tips’ experience. The ones with the nice TVs etc…. also tend to not have much savings or actual wealth.

  4. @Little House
    They were good people and I was happy for them too.

    They spending the most in the neighborhood, the newest cars, stainless steel fridge, etc…

    I thought they were the typical Joneses because I knew what both of their jobs were. But, what I didn’t calculate was their income from side jobs!

    Kudos to them, not all Joneses are really Joneses (lol) 🙂

  5. @Everyday Tips
    I’m use to the same type of logic, so for this family to spend money and have it, has really thrown me for a loop!

    Just for them to qualify for a half a million dollar loan (after the great recession) tell me that they’re loaded.

    But they are also hard working and smart. So sometimes, you can have your cake and eat it too 🙂

  6. @Kevin@InvestItWisely
    I’ll go with door #2 (lol).

    After you see friends and neighbors that have money by working harder and smarter, it motivates people (including me) to drive harder and smarter!

  7. My next door neighbor growing up. My parents and I lived in a neighborhood where everyone did well enough and our next door neighbor always looked like a mess and drove a van that barely worked.

    As I got older my parents explained what he did and it turned out he was worth well into the $20 or $30 million dollar range. It was an eye opener for me.

  8. @Evan
    Wow, that is a great story! I think when you get to a point where things get run down, and you can afford to fix it… That either miserly or just plain cheap.

    If you haven’t blogged about that fellow in that past, it would make a great story! 🙂

  9. @Budgeting in the Fun Stuff
    Yeah, it was a shocker to me! i guess if I had though about it hard enough I could have figure it out.

    Heck, he is a lawyer, and she worked as a nurse… Some I’m sure they had a lot of cash 🙂

    Great people. we’ll miss them…

  10. I had the opposite thing happen. I had a neighbor that had to move out because they couldn’t afford their house anymore.

    I later found out that all the home improvement projects, vacations, and cars they were leasing were funded by home equity. After using their house as an ATM for 10 years, they accumulated an additional $100,000 in debt…but we had paid ours completely off in that time. (same size house, almost same price)

    I totally assumed they were in the same financial boat as we were because they also had 2 kids and both worked…but then when I learned what they did, I looked back and when I added up all the stuff, it started to become clear. I too wondered how I never noticed it before then. Maybe I did, but I just assumed they earned more. For example, they leased 2, $40K cars, 3 times in 10 years, we spent $15K on 1 car in that same timeframe. When they moved goodwill came with a truck and filled it up 3 times..We don’t have that much stuff and the extra stuff we do have gets re-sold. They bought everything new, we bought everything used. They belonged to the country club, we belonged to the Y. I guess those type of decisions really do add up over time, to the tune of $100K or more. Who knew.

  11. @Sandy L
    I wonder if they just didn’t know what they were doing financially, or just didn’t care…

    I blogged about one of my best childhood friends, and his married spending habits (blog was the three little pigs series). He was making great money, but by the time the divorce was finalized, they were over $70,000 in debt, and that was after declaring bankruptcy twice before.

    People always manage to surprise me.

    • I still keep in touch with these folks as I like them personally even though I don’t agree with their spending habits.

      I was there the other day and again, I heard the money is tight argument, but there was a flat screen tv box in the trash. Then I got a tour of their new house and there were 3 tv’s in the house, 2 of which were flat screens. I think they just don’t make the connection between spending and the financial trouble they’re in. Seems simple but somewhere the wires are crossed and it does not compute.

      • I hear you on the money’s tight conversation! A pal a work is always telling me how tight things are, but with the combined incomes of what he makes and his wife, they make more than me. But then again I don’t have a pool, huge deck, $4,000 snow thrower, house generator, etc…

        He’s a smart guy overall, but yeah, you are right! It just doesn’t click for some people.

  12. Well it’s easy to think that our neighbor is rich when they buy nice cars and have lots of expensive hobbies like owning a nice boat but in reality after you talk to them, you can see that it’s not what it seems. For instance, my neighbor has a pretty nice size house and he has a boat, several luxury vehicles but after speaking with him, he told me that the boat is shared between him and 3 of his closest friends so it’s not exactly as expensive as we think and that two of his cars are actually rented cars. Yeah, he’s still pretty well off but it’s not always what it seems.

  13. @Mandy June
    Sharing the cost of the boat with three friends is a great idea! I thought about trying to get a neighborhood borrowing practice together, but our neighborhood makeup keeps shifting.

  14. I don’t know my neighbors well enough, but given that it is an apartment complex I am positive we are all in the same solid middle class.

    Your neighbors must be really living below their means, good for them! I can see how easy it is to mis-guess how much money people earn/spend. Whenever we go on vacations one of my friends comment how we are “lucky” to take such good vacations. May be we are the Joneses for them. But we are frugal on other things and spend a lot on vacations. The point is we can never guess from the outside. Behaviors can be deceptive…

  15. @Suba @ Wealth Informatics
    Ahh, very true. Not all of our neighbors live below there means. Both 2 and 3 houses down from my they own a corvette and an audi. The guy 3 houses down the other way has a Lexus.

    Trips to Las Vegas is very common.

  16. I think that I would rather have neighbours who seem discrete and modest (and pay off things on time, find other ways to make money) than those who buy super flashy cars just to pose a facade but are really drowning in debt.

    But I guess your previous neighbours were a bit of both!

    • Yeah, my previous neighbors were! They were constantly buying stuff (new dishwasher, new fridge, new …) But they were also fun to be around and had some great kids too.