Breaking the Mold: 5 Regular People Who Became Millionaire Investors

If they can do it, anyone can do it…. And aren’t we all “anyone”?

I offer proof.

Five investors with no innate advantage: no insider information, no exceptional intellect, no extraordinary skills, no flamboyant personality, and no meaningful inheritance.

And yet all five invested to accumulate wealth that required seven or eight digits to measure.

I do mean “anyone.”

This is no men’s club. The women, too, have proven their investing mettle.

Ladies, first, and you’ll see what I mean.

Anne Scheiber left a $22-million fortune when she died at age 101 in January 1995.

Scheiber was an IRS auditor, but not for too long. When she retired at age 51, she retired with a $3,150 annual pension and $5,000 in a savings account.

That’s all she needed.

During her extended retirement, Scheiber would accumulate positions in over 100 stocks. She bought mostly blue-chip dividend-paying companies. Prominent names included Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO), PepsiCo (NASDAQ: PEP), Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), Abbott Labs (NYSE: ABT), and Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE: CL).

Most were dividend growers. The more the dividends grew, the more Scheiber invested. She continually added to her diversified stock portfolio. The results speak volumes, as the world discovered after Scheiber punched her last ticket.

Grace Groner worked for 43 years as a secretary for Abbott Labs. In 1935, she bought three specially issued Abbott shares for $180.

And that’s it. Groner never sold an Abbott share. She also continually reinvested the dividends she received in additional Abbott shares.

Thanks to continual reinvesting and numerous stock splits, Groner would accumulate 100,000 Abbott shares by the time she died in Jan. 2010 at age 100. Her shares were valued at $7 million at the time of death.

Phyllis Stone followed Groner on a similar one-stock trajectory.

Stone worked at Mobil Oil for more than 35 years. Mobil merged with Exxon in 1998. Stone’s Mobil shares were converted to Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) shares.

The name may change, but the strategy remained the same. Stone continually reinvested her dividends in more Exxon Mobil shares.

When Stone died at age 91 in January 2013, she left an estate worth more than $6 million. Her investment portfolio included tens of thousands of Exxon Mobil shares.

You could politely assert that Ronald Read was “occupationally challenged.” Read earned a living in two primary occupations: gas station attendant and janitor.

Nevertheless, when the 92-year-old Read passed away in June 2014, he passed owning an investment portfolio valued at $8 million.

Read was a whiz at picking stocks and reinvesting his dividends. His safe deposit box was filled with original stock certificates – AT&T (NYSE: T), Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), CVS (NYSE: CVS), and Deere (NYSE: DE) included – at the time of his death.

Last but not least, I offer the story of an Omaha, Nebraska-based investor. It’s not the one who springs to mind when “investor” and “Omaha” appear in the same sentence.

Jack Gsantner died in February 2012 at age 84. Gsantner was a former billing clerk at Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP) who drove old cars and drank cheap beer. (I like him already.)

Gsantner was also an astute income investor.

At the time of his death, Gsantner owned shares in nearly 80 companies and mutual funds. Most were dividend payers. Exxon Mobil and AT&T were featured stocks.

Gsantner also sought income elsewhere. Court documents showed he owned at least 20 rental properties.

All told, Gsantner’s assets were valued at $5.3 million at the time of his death.

Did any of our “Fab 5” multi-millionaires perform heroic investing feats to accumulate their wealth? I aver they didn’t.

They embraced the grind and kept at it through thick and thin (especially the thin). Dividend reinvestment was key.

The only nit I will pick is with Groner and Stone. Both were fortunate to invest with one company – Abbott Labs and Exxon Mobil, respectively – that had staying power. Had they been employed by General Motors (remember, GM went bust a decade ago and wiped out its equity) or Bear Stearns, the outcomes likely would have been far less remunerative. Therefore, I recommend a bit more diversification.

Other than that, I enthusiastically recommend their strategy of continually investing for income and then continually investing the income into more income-producing investments.

I realize everyone wants to get wealthy, and get wealthy yesterday. This is the reason people gamble, treasure hunt, gold prospect, play the lottery, speculate in penny stocks.

But consider this: Only one thing occurs immediately and sticks – death. Everything else that occurs immediately, goes away immediately. So consider adhering to the long-and-winding road less traveled.

Good Fortunes,

Steve Mauzy

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