Ronald Read, a gas station attendant and janitor from Vermont, left behind an $8 million fortune when he passed away last year, money he amassed from investing in stocks with recognizable names.
Read stunned his local community when he donated $6 million of his fortune to a local library and hospital posthumously, as many who knew him had no idea how much wealth he had accrued over the years. Though he was known to lead a frugal life, Read built his fortune by investing in recognizable companies, particularly paying attention to the returns those holdings paid him. Read’s attorney, Laurie Rowell, noted that most of his stock certificates were found in a safe deposit box.
“He only invested in what he knew and what paid dividends. That was important to him,” she observed during an appearance on Closing Bell.
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The stocks that Read owned play out like a list of major U.S. companies. They include AT&T (NYSE:T), Bank of America (BAC), CVS (CVS), Deere (DE), GE (GE), and General Motors (GM). Financial expert Chris Hogan, of Ramsey Solutions, noted that he believes others can follow the path Read carved out, which he asserts is the product of not just solid investments, but a disciplined style of living.
“It’s a matter of living a certain way, keeping your lifestyle under control and being committed,” he asserted.
Diane Garnick, founder and CEO of Clear Alternatives, pointed out that the stock market is far different now than it was when Read began investing. She asserted that there is no clear indication that the future of the markets will play out in a similar fashion to those that occurred over Read’s lifetime, meaning there is no guarantee that his holdings will perform in the same way for others. Garnick also pointed out that after Read entered the stock market in the 1970s, he caught the tech boom, while living in a different environment for interest rates.
“One of the things that’s really important is for us to take a step back and say look it’s great that that happened over the last 40 years but there is a lower probability that it happens over the next 40 years,” she asserted.
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In order to match Read’s $8 million fortune, Hogan noted that investors would have to contribute roughly $300 a month for 65 years, assuming an eight percent rate of return.
“It can be done. In America we need to start believing back in the American dream and stop buying the stuff that’s on commercials,” he noted.
In addition to his $6 million bequest, Ronald Read left much of the money he gained in the stock market to his stepchildren and friends.
[Image: Estate of Ronald Read/ AP via NBC News]