During my teenage, I used to have a tough time memorizing historical facts. But once my teachers wrapped them with short stories, I found the whole exercise amusing. That’s the power of short stories. They stay in your heart forever. Since then, whenever I find the time, I lay my hands on historical “short stories to read” series.
But today’s post is not about any historical fiction or facts.
It’s all about leveraging the potential of short stories in understanding the beautiful but boring concept of long-term investing. These are the real-life short stories to read on successful investing.
Let’s jump into the World I love the most!
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For 99 long years, Russ Gremel led an extremely simple life. He grew up in a poor family after having lost everything during the 1929 Depression. This made him learn to stay happy with whatever he had since childhood.
He died in 2018 shortly before touching 100. The same year, more than 28L people died in the US alone. Only a few thousand had a net worth above $2 Million. Gremel was one of them.
Image: Russ Gremel | Source: Bored Panda
But he made global headlines when he donated $2 Million in 2017. And everyone in his town was left to surprise.
Nobody really knew how had he amassed such a huge fortune.
How Did He Get Rich?
70 years ago, while growing up in his town, he purchased $1000 worth of shares in Walgreen Pharmacy. Acknowledging the fact that Americans would always need medication, he chose to invest in the pharmacy chain.
And then, he waited. 7 long decades. He refrained from selling during the Dot-Com bubble, 2001 Twin Tower attack as well as the 2008 Recession. He paid more attention to the business and less to the stock price. All he did was keep an Eagle’s eye on its business and saw it growing exponentially. As the company’s earnings compounded, so did his tiny contribution.
During this period, he stayed in the same house that his father had bought 97 years ago. Neither he bought expensive Ferraris nor Armani suits. He never married and preferred to eat vegetable stews.
His friends recalled that he loved spending time with nature and birds.
Throughout his entire life, he lived frugally. That’s it!
Without inheriting millions and winning a Casino bet, he had built a sizeable fortune to donate. Just a classic example of successful long-term investing.
Indeed, there was no secret sauce!
Russ Gremel did it. And so can You!
Let’s jump to our 2nd story.
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Theodore Johnson was born in 1900. In 1923, he was hired by United Parcel Service (UPS) in Atlanta. For the next 28 years, he worked in the same company, rose to the corporate ranks, and retired as its Vice-President in 1952.
He joined at a weekly pay of $25. And retired at $250. In short, he never made more than $14,000 annually in his entire career.
Image: Theodore Johnson | Source: JSF
He grabbed everyone’s eyeballs in 1991 when he donated $36 Million for education. At the same time, his neighbors were shocked to know that he was worth $70 Million.
A true picture of successful long-term investing. Without any secret sauce. But how did he manage to accumulate so much?
Well, He Invested Intelligently and Then Waited!
He was a firm believer in saving at least 20-25% of his income. Whatever he saved, he invested it in buying his employer’s (UPS) stocks.
If the markets tanked, he would buy.
If the markets surged, he would buy.
If the markets stayed flat, he would buy.
Every month. Every year. Throughout his entire career of 29 years.
The day he retired, he retired with $700K worth of UPS stocks in his account. Post that, he lived a retired life of 4 decades. And utilized this precious me-time to compound his money. That too by doing nothing! Without touching his holdings, he let the compounding play its role.
But like Rome, it didn’t happen in a day.
He endured extreme pessimism during the World War of 1939. Survived multiple market crashes. Ignored the interest rate fluctuations. Stayed patient throughout his holding period. Lived frugally. And multiplied his money exponentially.
By leveraging compounding, he played a long-term game of buying right and then holding tight.
His story confirms that one can still build wealth while staying in a regular job.
Theodore Johnson did it. And so can You!
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5 years after Theodore Johnson grabbed the eyeballs, another story snatched the international headlines: “Agnes Plumb: Few Knew She Was Wealthy – Until She Left $98 Million”
Agnes Plumb, a middle-class woman, stayed unmarried throughout her life. A quiet personality. Modest nature. Loved collecting dolls. Cherished helping kids out through little charities. Never did a job. Moreover, loved talking about politics.
She died in the year 1996.
What surprised everyone was the amount of her fortune: $98 Million. An estate that she had left to donate to multiple charity organizations.
But How Did She Manage to Build Such a Huge Estate?
As per the records, she inherited a reasonable number of Kellog’s shares from her father.
After his death, he passed on the legacy to his only girl. Having learned the lesson of buying and holding from her father, she exercised the same principle with her inheritance too.
For the next few decades, she stayed committed to her Kellog’s holding.
During this time, she survived multiple situations when markets collapsed by more than 40%. Stock price corrected by more than 50-60%. Recessions loomed. Bulls were brutally attacked. Portfolios turned red. She went through all of it.
No matter what happened, she chose not to sell.
While all this happened, her modest inheritance turned into millions of shares. After a series of splits and bonuses, she ended up with 1.3 Million shares. Collectively, the total worth of those shares turned out to be $98 Million. A wealth that no one could see!
Impressive, isn’t it?
Buy and hold principle is simple. However, it’s not easy because it’s boring. But works really well when wrapped with a long-term strategy.
Agnes Plumb did it. And so can You!
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The intent behind these short stories is not to tell you to live the life of a stooge. But to leverage the time in your hand to compound money. It’s the only competitive advantage you are born with.
Little things compound over a period of time. With tiny contributions every month, build monetary wealth to buy real wealth – Time.
Use it to explore other options beyond your workplace. Pursue something that you love doing the most. And if you can’t figure something out, figure out how to figure it out.
David Perell of perell.com says: “The key to good hospitality is to delight your guests with an unexpected gift. If you run a hotel, leave a chocolate on the bed.”
Likewise, when you share good stories, share an extra one 🙂
That’s all, my dear friend. Thanks for reading!
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Cover Image: Pixabay
Dhruv Girdhar | RichifyMeClub
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