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Secret millionaire donates her fortune to Lake Forest College. Here's how she did it.

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AP Photo/Seth Wenig/file

(Read caption) Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett is interviewed in New York, Feb. 22. Mr. Buffett, worth an estimated $40 billion, is known for his frugality, much like secret millionaire Grace Groner.

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Grace Groner's life doesn't sound like the stuff of financial legend. After graduating from Lake Forest College in 1931, in the throes of the Depression, she found a job as a secretary for Abbott Laboratories, where she would work for the next 43 years. In 1935, she invested in three shares of the company’s stock, each then worth $60.

That decision would made Ms. Groner a millionaire seven times over. But her riches didn’t change the course of her life. She never altered her lifestyle to reflect her growing bank account. Almost no one knew of her wealth.

Remind you of someone?

The secret millionaire shares certain traits with Warren Buffett, CEO and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, whose fortune is estimated at $40 billion.

Here’s how you can follow the lead of these humble rich to grow your own fortune:

1. Live below your means

Groner lived in a tiny one-bedroom cottage she inherited from a friend. She didn’t own a car and bought her clothes at rummage sales. Mr. Buffett lives in the same Omaha, Neb., home he purchased in 1958 for $31,500.


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