Warren Buffett, the legendary American investor, once shared a deceptively simple truth: “Extraordinary results don’t require extraordinary effort. You just need to excel in the everyday, ordinary things.” The late Ronald Read, a retired gas station attendant and janitor from Vermont proved the profundity of this statement when his estate, upon his passing in 2015, revealed a surprising worth of $8 million.
Read’s story may seem like a page out of history, but the principles he followed to amass his wealth remain timeless and straightforward.
1. The art of frugality:
Ronald Read was renowned for his frugal lifestyle. Friends remember him driving a second-hand car and mending his coat with safety pins. His approach was simple: spend less than you earn, leaving more for investment. Mark Richard, a close friend of Read, noted, “If he earned $50 in a week, he probably invested $40 of it.”
2. The mastery of investment:
Read’s investment strategy closely mirrored that of Warren Buffett. He held onto his investments for years, even decades. His portfolio included renowned companies such as Wells Fargo, Procter & Gamble, and Colgate-Palmolive. Like Buffett, he emphasized long-term positions in undervalued companies. Time and patience were his primary assets.
3. The gift of longevity:
Both Read and Buffett benefited from extended lifespans. At 92, Warren Buffett generated a significant 90% of his wealth after turning 60. Ronald Read’s longevity, living to 92, allowed the power of compounding to amplify his wealth over time.
The lesson here is crystal clear: wealth creation doesn’t always necessitate extraordinary efforts. It simply calls for discipline, patience, and a commitment to the fundamentals of astute investing. The story of Ronald Read and the wisdom of Warren Buffett remind us that accumulating wealth is not a complex equation but a matter of consistent, strategic financial choices.