Success Stories: $500,000 From A $20,000 Salary

As part of exploring our main question—can I get rich on a salary—I am going to try to find and report on people have done it. Maybe not "rich," per se, depending on how you define that. But people who kept their day jobs (or night jobs, for that matter) who achieved what I (perhaps arbitrarily) consider to be remarkable financial success.

Kiplinger’s brings us the story of “Mr. Earl,” as his friends call him. Mr. Earl is 69. He is a parking-lot attendant who makes $20,000 a year—and assumably has been in that position or generally made about that much money his whole life. As of the time of the article (September 17, 2007), his net worth was more than $500,000.

How did he do it? Mr. Earl sounds like he was both a meticulous saver and a talented investor. He describes having taken on odd jobs on top of his day job and sticking to a budget. He also seems to have concentrated his investments in his picks of individual stocks—mentioning IBM (his first purchase of exactly one share in 1981) and ExxonMobil (one of his current interests). Mr. Earl also made use of the power of compounding and acquired his wealth over a period of many years—if I read it right, 44 years.


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