Secret millionaire donates her fortune to Lake Forest College. Here's how she did it.(Read article summary)
Grace Groner surprised everyone by leaving $7 million to her alma mater, Lake Forest College. But secret millionaires, even Warren Buffet, share these wealth-building traits.
AP Photo/Seth Wenig/file
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 companyâ€™s stock, each then worth $60.
That decision would made Ms. Groner a millionaire seven times over. But her riches didnâ€™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?
Hereâ€™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 didnâ€™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.
2. Let it ride
Groner let her investment â€“ three shares of Abbott stock â€“ grow untouched, a strategy of investing often touted by Buffett. While most stocks wonâ€™t see the type of returns that Groner saw, â€śvalue investingâ€ť â€“ which Buffett has come to define as â€śfinding an outstanding company at a sensible price" Ââ€“ and reinvesting the dividends will let you take advantage of the power of compound interest.
Groner was more circumspect than the megabillionaire. While Buffettâ€™s wealth is well known due to the public nature of his position, only Gronerâ€™s attorney knew about her vast reserves until she passed away recently, giving her $7 million estate to her alma mater.
Wealth is not the same as income. If you make a good income each year and you spend it all, you are not getting wealthier. You are just living high. Wealth is what you accumulate, not what you spend.