stealth wealth
n. A form of wealth in which a person's lifestyle and purchasing patterns do not reflect — or appear not to reflect — their socioeconomic status.
Monday mornings will never be the same again. Now it will be even more impossible to drag yourself out of bed and into the office at the beginning of the week. The reason? The latest trend on London's society circuit — the Sunday Night Party. … For most normal people who have a job to go to, the SNP is just not an option. 'Being a regular Sunday Night Partier is just another form of Stealth Wealth,' says one cultural commentator. 'Like wearing an understated cashmere jumper that only the cognoscenti recognise. If you attend a Sunday night party, you are implicitly saying you don't have to get up the next day.'
—Miranda Levy, “Thank God It's Sunday,” The Independent, March 04, 2001
1991 (earliest)
So, from the window booth at the Pines, we ponder this curious 4000-pound hunk of metal Buick has named Roadmaster. It's certainly not as, er, distinctive as its Chevrolet counterpart, the Caprice. It's plain. Attractively plain, though. A Buick example of 'stealth wealth.' The kind of car a urologist can drive without his patients referring to him as 'ol' Doc Moneybags.'
—Nick Pivot, “Highway 41 Revisited,” Auto Week, September 16, 1991
The NASDAQ's in free-fall mode and the "long boom" (as Wired magazine shouted from one of its covers a couple of years ago) is now officially a bust. So most people whose wealth was created via the technology sector probably don't have much to be stealthy about these days. The nouveau riche have become the nouveau pauvre. Still, it's good to know we'll always have Old Money around to practice stealth wealth. This will be particularly true during the upcoming recession (er, sorry, the upcoming soft landing) when flaunting one's riches will be unseemly, to say the least. In fact, it appears as though stealth wealth was coined sometime during the last recession, since the earliest citation I could dredge up comes from 1991.
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