Do you remember our old friend Ronald Read who died in Brattleboro, VT, in 2015 with an $8 million fortune?
“He lived modestly, working as a maintenance worker and janitor at a J.C. Penney store after a long stint at a service station that was owned in part by his brother,” writes Anna Prior in The WSJ. “Those who knew him talk of how he at times used safety pins to hold his coat together and sometimes parked his 2007 Toyota Yaris far from where he was going to avoid having to feed the parking meter.”
Mr. Read owned at least 95 stocks at the time of his death, many of which he had held for years, if not decades. They were spread across a variety of sectors, including railroads, utility companies, banks, health care, telecom and consumer products. He avoided technology stocks.
Friends say Mr. Read typically bought shares of companies he was familiar with and those that paid out hefty dividends. When dividend checks came in the mail, he plowed the money back into more shares, Ms. Bokum says.
Among his longtime holdings were blue-chip stalwarts such as Procter & Gamble, J.P. Morgan Chase, General Electric and Dow Chemical. When he died, he also had large stakes in J.M. Smucker, CVS Health and Johnson & Johnson.
When Your Survival Guy thinks about Mr. Read, I imagine him walking to work a happy man, knowing he didn’t have to work, he didn’t need the work, but the more he did the work, the more he saved. He probably knew every single stock he owned and was looking at the stock quotes in the weekly business section like a hawk in a tree watching a busy squirrel.
In my imaginary town, Your Survival Guy thinks about two other residents who stay up late worrying about tomorrow, who don’t have much in savings because they live high on the hog, and who die unhappy souls. Their days at work, when they do show up, involve a stack of angry phone messages they must return with complaints like:
“Why is the stock market down? Do something!”
“You told me we were safe!”
“What about that internship you promised my kid?”
“Look, I need you to do something. We have a big trip coming up, the house on the Vineyard needs to be renovated, and we’re leaving for Europe tomorrow. Call me.”
This is what Mr. Treasury and Mr. Federal Reserve’s accounts looked like.
Action Line: Who’d you rather be? Let’s talk.
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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