Accumulating A Fortune on $11 an Hour

The seventh of eight ways entrepreneurs, investors and savers have made a million. Find out how they did it and read all eight.

Millionaire Lesson No. 7

It doesn’t take a fortune to build one. Saving a little at a time is an established path to accumulating wealth.

You don’t need to earn much to make millions. Paul Navone, 78, never made more than $11 an hour as a quality-control inspector in a glass-container factory. But last year he gave $2 million to two New Jersey schools. He has about $1 million more saved for his retirement.

Navone, who lives in Millville, N.J., was hired by Wheaton Glass when he was 16. After taking a break for Army service, he returned and moved in with his older sister (paying her for his room and board) until he scraped together $6,500 to buy his own duplex at age 23. He lived in one half and rented the other. Eventually, he bought two other properties in Millville and two in Atlantic City.

Subscribe to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Be a smarter, better informed investor.

Save up to 74%

Sign up for Kiplinger’s Free E-Newsletters

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice on investing, taxes, retirement, personal finance and more - straight to your e-mail.

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice - straight to your e-mail.

Sign up

Income from his rentals paid Navone’s living expenses. "I never spent any of my wages," he says. He owns no phone or TV. He collects Hummel figurines -- dozens of the ceramic pieces decorate his home. But for the most part, he squirreled his money away in savings and investments, and he gives credit to "four very good brokers." Navone invested in "a little bit of everything" and stuck with a buy-and-hold strategy. He is partial to utility stocks, with their steady earnings and dividends (which he always reinvests).

When he retired two years ago, Navone couldn’t help wondering "what all this accumulation was going to amount to." He decided to give part of his fortune to St. Augustine College Preparatory School, in Richland. His current broker, Douglas Smithson, of Wachovia Securities, suggested that he also speak to Cumberland County College, in Vineland.

Last year, Navone donated $1 million to the college for its nursing-education program and $1 million to the high school for a swimming pool. "I never had the pleasure of a swimming pool," he says. "I used to go to the swimming hole at the gravel pit."


1. The Video That Took on a Life of Its Own

2. Know When to Make the Call

3. Pounce When the Time Is Right

4. It Started Over Cocktails

5. A Thirty-Year Plan to Make a Mil

6. Breaking With Family Tradition

7. Accumulating A Fortune on $11 a Hour

8. Suddenly It Clicks