Nouveau Riche (6 Tips for Handling First Generation Wealth)

Oh, the trials and tribulations of the nouveau riche.

From programming prodigies, to real estate moguls, to pre-teen celebrities, it’s not hard to find an example of first generation wealth rearing its ugly platinum and diamond encrusted head in this day in age. It’s only natural, some might say, to go a little nuts enjoying the benefits of a newly stacked bank account, but there is something to be said about the sustainability (and reduction of eye rolling onlookers) that comes from adopting some old school tips for all that new money.


1. First things first – eliminate your debts!

I 100% judge anyone with a closet full of Louboutins and $8K in student loans. Pay off your mortgage, pay off your credit cards, pay off your car note – there is no better investment than making yourself debt free!

2. Don’t turn yourself into a walking billboard.

You know the Instapost I’m talking about. Hold your purse so we see the double C’s, stand backwards and look over your shoulder so we catch those red bottoms, and hashtag everything that doesn’t feature a logo just so we know, am I right? Understated elegance is the caveat of a woman with real wealth as opposed to sudden cash flow. That’s not to say you should forego your personal style, but personal style is very different from making sure everything you own has a name worth discussing. Less is more, and more is less … money that is.

3. Your social media is not one endless ad for excess.

This goes hand in hand with the logo obsession seen in #1, and is a testament to the fact that the greatest downfall of the nouveau riche is a strong tendency towards conspicuous consumption. Don’t go broke trying to impress people you don’t even like by showing off material things you don’t even need.

True story from your friend Elle: I have a friend who OWNS a yacht – not charters, but owns – who can’t swim and is afraid of water. She has taken pictures on it docked (for the gram) but refuses to take it out into the water.

Driving around in a $300,000 car means you have $300,000 less in the bank. Have fun, but play smart.

4. Protect your assets.

Even if you’re not broadcasting every newly acquired asset online, it’s still worth making sure you protect the assets you do acquire from being lost to creditors who will surely come out of the woodwork once word of your newly defined status starts to spread. Make sure you’re not an easy target by getting your team to work out strategies that provide the best level of protection for you and your family. This can be as simple as funneling your assets through the use of trusts or LLCs.

5. Do put together a financial team that you trust both in terms of capabilities and character.

With some solid money management skills and the right team in your corner, you can steer clear of the most common risks and pitfalls of the nouveau riche. Handpick an attorney, an accountant, and an investment advisor, to work together and manage your best interests. Let them function as your board of directors and hold each other accountable for the checks and balances of your accounts. A handy side benefit? Refer anyone asking for loans or donations to your finance team, who are already well equipped to vet (and decline!) anything that comes to the table.

Sorry Auntie Joyce, you have to run that by my team …

6. Whatever your bank account, mind your manners.

This might be a personal grievance, but it’s worth noting just the same. Servants are not your slaves, people in customer service don’t need to kiss your ass, and if I hear you scream “Do you even know who I am?!” in a public arena, I am mortified – for you. Because that means one of two things: either they didn’t know who you were, or they did, and it still didn’t matter, because you’re actually not better than anyone. Imagine that.

The way you treat people is not a statement of their station or character. It’s a statement about yours.


Money doesn’t come with an owner’s manual, but for those just getting in the game, it does come with some pretty prime examples of what to do to keep it, and what not to do to end up on the wrong side of a bankruptcy claim. Govern yourselves accordingly.

Comment below, and share your examples of gag-inducing, eye-rolling noveau riche habits!

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