How to Get Really Rich

Investor Hetty Green - renowned as the world's greatest miser - turned $6 million in 1865 into $200 million over 50 years. What were her secrets?

John Rekenthaler 22 June, 2017 | 12:24PM

As a teen, I read The Guinness Book of World Records cover to cover. Among my strongest impressions was the tale of the "world's greatest miser," who according to was worth millions, but was so cheap that she refused to buy soap and died while having a fit extolling the virtues of skim milk. Yes, that was Hetty Green.

As with many tycoons, Green received a very pleasant head start, inheriting roughly $6 million in 1865. Over the next 50 years, she turned that sum into something under $200 million. Such was Green's Method:

Find Securities with True, Ongoing Value

Her favourites were cash or bonds issued by the U.S. government; corporate debt secured by pledged assets; or real estate that yielded cash, such as hotels, office buildings, or land that had mineral rights. Common stocks were acceptable if she believed that industry – for example, railroads – to be sustainable.

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About Author

John Rekenthaler

John Rekenthaler  John Rekenthaler is vice president of research for Morningstar.

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