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When we hear stories about people leaving behind estates valued in the millions, occupations such as investment bankers, lawyers, or surgeons come to mind. When it comes to the legacy of Ronald Read, however, it comes to show that a job title only goes so far toward potentially amassing a fortune.

As reported by Yahoo! Finance, Ronald Read was a retired janitor and gas station attendant based in Vermont before his passing in 2015. Remembered by those in his community as a humble, hardworking and good-natured individual, people were shocked to hear his estate was valued at $8 million. 

Read had little-to-no similarities to a stereotypical millionaire — he didn’t drive around flashy cars or live in a luxurious mansion. Instead, his story to financial success came from remarkable discipline and willpower, which those around him specified further in retrospect: 

Frugal Habits

For Read, it went beyond just keeping a budget. He was fully committed to the frugality lifestyle. Examples included his dedication to driving second-hand cars, chopping his own firewood at the age of 90, and even patching his old coats together with safety pins instead of purchasing a new one. One of his friends speculated Read was capable of saving 80 percent of his income any-given-week. 

Wise Investments 

The Wall Street Journal did an analysis of Read’s portfolio after he passed, and they discovered several multi-decade investments that provided remarkable gain over the years. Stocks included P&G, Colgate-Palmolive, and Wells Fargo. For Read, the strategy of pinpointing companies that were deemed overlooked or undervalued but keeping faith regardless showed remarkable volume benefits over the long-term. 


While far less controllable compared to the aforementioned categories, Read was able to gain much of the fortune he left behind in the latter years of his life, both through the commitment to investments and by working far longer than an average retiree. The combination of living a long life, while also not reaching into the temptation of cashing out earlier on investments, played a large role in the volume Read amassed. 

For a similar read, check out the story of this self-made millionaire janitor who invented the flavoring now used in Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.