Symptoms of Being Old Money

In The Old Money Book, I detail the values, priorities and habits of America’s Upper Class, families who’ve had privilege and wealth for usually three generations or more.

But anyone can adopt these values and live a richer life in the process. You’ll learn to appreciate experiences over material possessions; financial independence over outward displays of conspicuous consumption; accomplishments over accolades; relationships over networking.

In the process, you may also develop certain symptoms that will tell you, regardless of your family history or personal net worth, that you are now, officially and irrevocably, Old Money.

In no particular order, they include but are not limited to, the following:

1. Shock and awe at the amount of money other people pay for poorly made and soon-to-be-out-of-style clothing. This also applies to tattoos, electronic gadgets, trendy alcoholic mixed drinks, and video games.

2. Silence and evasion when someone tells you how much money they have, or inquires as to how much money you have. “How about those Red Sox!” you find yourself almost shouting, desperately trying to change the subject.

3. Denial and reluctance when others tell you that it’s time to replace an article of clothing, a car, or piece of furniture that has positively, beyond the shadow of a doubt, been worn to death and is absolutely beyond repair. “But…but it’s only a small hole in the sole of my Topsiders…”

4. Comfort in the familiar when you finally admit that you have to replace said item. You immediately seek out the identical item and are furious that now, two or three decades later, it now costs more, is not as well made, or is no longer available at all. Why do I own 9 blue oxford cloth button down shirts that look virtually identical? I don’t know, but I do.

5. Amusement at small things deemed to be so important by the media and so-called ‘social influencers’, whatever those are.  You know what’s important in life, and you’re just waiting for other people to see through the distractions and illusions and come to the same realizations.

6. The importance of time when you realize that the money you’d spend doing something isn’t as important as the time you’d spend. You can get the money back, but you can’t get the time back.

7. Patience. When you focus on something, work hard at it or for it, and let the results happen in an organic way, many things will come to you, like a butterfly lighting on your shoulder. When people see this happen, they will tend to forget your hard work and patience and simply call you “lucky.”

8. Candor. You realize that the truth isn’t going to kill anyone, and it may be the one thing they really need to hear. This earns you the reputation of being the relative that you don’t ask a question of if you don’t really want the answer. This is a great designation because it really cuts down on the small talk and nonsense.

I’m sure you all have symptoms of your own. Feel free to share.



5 thoughts on “Symptoms of Being Old Money

  1. The joy of giving with the money one has saved by not purchasing cheap goods. Writing out cheques to the Knowledge Network (Canada’s PBS) and charities I have researched gives me great joy.

    Also, undue haste in anything. Life is to be savoured, not something to rush through.

    Your posting is excellent, as always. Number 2 is very spot on.

  2. Well said, Byron. To the list, I would add:

    1. You are invariably polite to everybody, including sales clerks, waiters and anybody who is serving you or working for you.

    2. You don’t think of yourself as dressing in a particular style. To you, your clothes are “just clothes”. Its what you’ve always worn.

    3. Your education, reading habits and travels do not seem unusual to you, but you are sometimes surprised at other people’s lack of experience or knowledge about things that you would have assumed were common knowledge. You do your best to conceal your surprise.

    4. As the economy goes through its inevitable ups and downs, you keep living in exactly the same way.

    5. You are not trying to impress anybody.

  3. I disagree with putting more value on experiences rather than possessions. There is this overly praise of the carpe diem and experiencing through expenses on travels and dinning throw at us by advertising.

    It is positive to have assets and continue to growth the legacy we received from previous generations, because you will leave it for the next ones or your beloved family members.

    Everything in a balance.

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