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The power of long-term investing

Thinking long-term has several benefits; it helped a janitor on minimum wages to become a millionaire too!

The power of long-term investingAnand Kumar

dhanak हिंदी में भी पढ़ें read-in-hindi

Ronald James Read was born in 1921 and died at the ripe old age of 92 in his small house in Vermont, US.

During his lifetime, Read became his family's first high school graduate, served as a military policeman during World War II and worked as a gas station attendant and mechanic for 25 years.

Following a short 12-month retirement break, he took up a part-time job as a janitor for 17 years.

An interesting life, indeed.

But why am I wasting my time reading about this gentleman, you may think.

This is where Read's life - or afterlife - gets fascinating.

Upon his death, he made headlines across the world.

And for a good reason too. Read, the janitor, left behind $1.2 million to a library, and a further $4.8 million to a hospital!

His philanthropy accounted for 75 per cent of his total wealth.

His total fortune was an eye-popping $8 million.

Let that sink in. A person living on basic wages all his life built a fortune of $8 million - which translated to roughly Rs 50 crore in 2014 when he died!

So, how on earth did he assemble this wealth?

No, it wasn't a too-good-to-be-true lottery he won, nor was he given a generous tip by a rich man.

He actually built this fortune by putting some of his money in various investments, notably in blue-chip stocks. (Blue-chip stocks belong to large, reputed companies with a stable financial record).

That's right. He didn't put his money in get-rich-quickly schemes and instead chose the more boring route to make it big.

But it's only boring when you don't have Rs 50 crore in your bank account, right?

After all, everyone would love to be in Read's shoes right now.

So, how did Read get started? He barely earned high wages?

Here, it is easy to get swept up by the 'Great American Dream' stories. But such rags-to-riches stories don't simply occur at a mere flick of a switch.

It takes years of discipline. Not great skill, not great intelligence. But discipline...and patience.

Don't believe what you are reading? This is a quote directly taken from Warren Buffett, who is regarded as one of the most influential investors of the last 100 years:

"The good news I can tell you is that to be a great investor, you don't have to have a terrific IQ. If you've got 160 IQ, sell 30 points to somebody else because you won't need it in investing. What you do need is the right temperament."

This is why the story of Read, the janitor, is very much possible in every corner of the world.

Yes, why can't it happen to you - even if, like Read, your income may not be a lot right now? Or if you feel you are too young to invest. Or there's too much happening in your life.

The best time to invest is now. The next chapter uses hard numbers to prove there actually is no better time to invest than now.


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