I love real-life stories of people who get rich slowly. Paul Navone, a 78-year-old resident of Millville, New Jersey, is one of those. On December 21st, Navone donated $1 million to Cumberland County College. He still has millions left. How did he earn his money? The old-fashioned way: lots of hard work.
Navone never attended high school. He began working in local glass factories at the age of 16. In 50 years, he never made more than $11 per hour, often putting in 60 hour weeks. He never experienced a windfall; instead, he practiced thrift, put some money in savings accounts and he invested in the stock market.
“Paul never inherited money,” his broker told The Press of Atlantic City. “Paul started from zero. He just worked hard. He stayed the course even through the bad markets. Paul rarely ever took money out. He was the perfect client.” The newspaper’s editors write:
Such a life seems almost impossible to live today, doesn’t it? Get rich merely by working hard and saving and investing? Then not spending any of that investment income?
Simply accumulating wealth that way is impressive and praiseworthy. But then to start giving it way — to give $1 million to a small community college? All because of hard work, thrift and a spirit of generosity? Paul Navone is one rare, rare individual — and a lesson for us all in this age of conspicuous consumption.
Navone shops at flea markets, drives an older SUV, and rarely buys anything at full price. He doesn’t own a phone or a television. Though he’s something of a recluse, he leads a happy life — one of his hobbies is announcing a BINGO game at the local McDonald’s every Wednesday morning.
His wealth came from frugal living, wise investing, and from owning several rental properties. Navone’s story is a perfect example of the power of time. If you’re patient, your money will grow, and wealth will come.
It’s fun to watch Navone’s story develop gradually in the pages of The Press of Atlantic City. Here are three relevant articles:
- 21 Dec 2007: Retired factory worker gives $1 million to Cumberland County College
- 31 Dec 2007: Milville philanthropist has no television or home phone, but millions to give away
- 02 Jan 2008: Paul Navone: A life well-lived
As much as I admire John Bogle and Warren Buffett, it’s folks like Paul Navone who are the real personal finance heroes.