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Rich People Aren’t Always Selfish Schmucks Who Say “Have Fun Staying Poor”

by | Sep 26, 2022 | Money, Personal Finance

 Rich people cop a bashing.

A lot of it is noise generated by the echo chamber of Twitter bums looking for something to do or complain about.

There are people who have a lot of money and are lovely folks. Here are a few to change your mind, or reignite your faith in humanity.

The gentle postal worker with a heart of gold

Most of you have never heard of Theodore Johnson.

He’s a smalltown guy who fought in World War 1 and had bad hearing from all the guns going off.

What’s remarkable about old-dog Theodore is, according to The New York Times, he never earned more than $14,000 per year. Yet his net worth in 1991 was a whopping $70 million.

Not bad for a postie.

Theodore worked for U.P.S and invested around 20% of all his paychecks in the company’s stock. He wanted to own part of a business, not just be a ‘salary man’ employee. Smart.

$36 million of that money went to fund further education for people who struggled to afford it. He did an enormous service to his community in 1991 at the age of 90. I suspect he’s dead now but couldn’t find any record.

If he is still alive then he’s not only a great investor but potentially Jesus.

One thing old man Theodore did wrong, though, was invest solely in one company. Ideally you want diversification in case Elon Musk buys your one business investment and claims there are too many bots 🙂

Takeaway: invest 20% of your income in businesses and you’ll eventually become a middle-class millionaire.

The $8 million janitor from Vermont

Ronald Read is another gentlemanly dude you’ve probably never heard of.

As a kid he hitchhiked to school. In World War 2 he joined the US army and got shipped off to the spaghetti homeland of Italy.

The pasta tasted good but he was glad to get the hell out of there after the war and return home to Vermont, USA. Ronald worked as a gas station attendant and mechanic for 25 years.

All the man-cars made him tired so he retired. One year into retirement he took a part-time job as a janitor for the next 17 years.

In 2014 Ronald’s big secret got revealed. His estate was worth a whopping $8 million despite him working Plain Jane jobs his entire life.

He should have been cruising the streets in a Lambo with that kinda cash. Not Ronald. He liked to invest in dividend-producing stocks. He had a diversified portfolio of stocks across about 95 different companies.

His rule was to stay away from businesses he didn’t understand, which is why he ignored the entire tech sector.

Blue chip stocks such as Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, JP Morgan, and General Electric were more his cool cat style. Simple … like him.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons (Pictured: Ronald Read)

Not every stock Ronald touched turned to gold.

In 2008 he owned part of the now deceased Lehman Brothers. Poor guy. The loss didn’t do much to his investment portfolio though because he was nicely diversified. He had no concentration risk in a single industry either.

Upon his death Ronald made headlines when he gifted $1.2m to Brooks Memorial Library and $4.8m to Brattleboro Memorial Hospital

His goal wasn’t to get rich and flex on Instagram with his pipe.

Ronald just wanted to leave the world slightly better than he found it. Wikipedia now labels his career as a philanthropist rather than a gas station attendant or a janitor.

Takeaway: investing doesn’t need to be fancy to make you a secret blue-collar millionaire. Oh, and the best wealth is quiet wealth.

The woman who legitimately stole her bosses’ secrets

Sylvia Bloom worked as a secretary at a Wall Street law firm for 67 years.

In that time she could have easily trained as a lawyer. Yet she didn’t and that was her biggest regret.

What she did do is something so badass, I can’t believe it.

In her day a female secretary would run the life of her male boss. She got to see every aspect of their life — including their investments.

When her bosses asked her to make stock purchases she would do as she was told. But after she made their stock purchases she would do exactly the same ones but under her own name.

Perfectly legal.

Over the years those investments made Sylvia an $8m fortune. Sylvia was a humble woman who grew up in The Depression, which made her deeply empathetic to the suffering of others.

She didn’t like fancy things and happily took the subway to work without a fuss. Even her husband had no idea of the quiet fortune she had made.

When Sylvia died people learned of her secret fortune. She made the largest donation in 125 years of $6.24m to Henry Street Settlement for disadvantaged students. Another $2m went to her former university and a scholarship fund.

Takeaway: being poor can help you use money to help others avoid the struggles you faced. And doing it quietly is badass!

Final Thought

Each of these millionaires are average people.

They don’t scream “look at my Lambo” or wear fur coats that a hundred dead animals had to die for to make so they can look rich.

Each of us has the opportunity to become quiet millionaires next door when we invest a sizeable chunk of our income, diversify, invest in what we’ve researched, and stay patient during the ups/downs of the economy.

Money amplifies who you are. Choose quiet wealth accumulation that leaves the world better than you found it. That’s true wealth.


This article is for informational purposes only, it should not be considered financial, tax or legal advice. Consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.

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