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November 06, 2007


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i dont want to steal this guys thunder BUT...

is he a parking lot attendant that sits in a booth and collects a "toll"? or is he a valet parker? if he is the latter, he would be paid a $20,000 salary but likely is making another $15,000 + in cash tips that he is probably not reporting as income.

additionally, he is 65 years old. you would not have to invest very much annually to end up with a $500,000 portfolio after 45+ years of potential employment.

i dunno, maybe its just me but im not impressed.

Good for him. It is not what you make, it is what you keep.

You are not impressed? Why not? I don't think guy gets $15,000 in tips because people just are not that friendly...anymore.
I think you are missing the real point. Alot of people (including myself) complain about not having enough money to invest or save. So, we just continue on with our miserable excueses. Now here is a *older gentleman that doesn't make much but was able to save and invest. It just shows what can be done with little money. Sometimes it's the stories like this that can help and change someone's life.
I know it helped changed the way I viewed things. Even though, I have been reading about persoal finance and investing for about two years, I still feel stuck because I'm not making what I thought I would make after college. So, seeing this a friendly reminder.
So, again, I think it's very impressive...on so many levels.


You're being way too hard on this guy. Even if he is making, say 35K...that is still not a whole lot of money. And the majority of people, even at the 35K to 50K income level NEVER amass anything close to 500K in financial assets.

So even if his income is unerreported, it is still a major accomplishment.

He also raised several children as well.

Just another great example of the power of compound interest. Although I would be no means call him rich, he is certainly better off than the majority of people heading towards retirement.

Bryan, I'd like to see you live in Baltimore on $20K/year as well as being dyslexic (FTFA). That's also probably what he makes "now", 44 years ago he was making less. Saving $500K is not an achievement to be lightly discarded, even if he was making tips. Kudos to Earl for doing what most of couldn't do.

the essence here is spend less than you make. I did that and retired at 56. I was making in the 200,000 area and spent in the 120,000 area...did that for about 10 years and invested the difference so nice chunk at 57.
Frequently the bread winner will need to actually hide what they are making from other family members as it is likely some will miss the point of savings, I think its in the genes.

Pretty remarkable, thanks for sharing.

It wouldn't be remarkable for someone higher income, but given the low income it is exceptional. It is enough to replace his work income entirely.

Let's say Bryan is right...I wonder why more than a few people I know who make $100,000 [or more] a year don't have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of?

If a guy is making $30,000 a year, is happy and has $500,000 in his retirement account, why isn't everyone doing it?

I would like to think that what Earl did is rather simple and smart, but he is NOT the majority of this country. We would like to think so in our bubbles, but there are people everywhere making tons of money all the way down to making nothing that didn't have the fortitude and smarts that Earl had. It might not sound like a lot, but I think it's a remarkable story.

Again, in this day in age, it's a shame that this type of story sticks out like this, but it is a sign of the times that no one has any vision for their future.

I guess in short...

If this isn't a big deal, why is it a big deal? Why did this get an article in a magazine/paper if it's common stuff?


If he's dyslexic have you considered the possibility that he has $005,000 and not $500,000?

Sorry- bad joke.

Considering he's 69 I'd suspect most of his big net worth increases came via the stock market in the last 5 years. But $500K isn't going to make him rich although he should be equipped to stop working now and fully replace his $20k a year income.

-Big Cheese

It's nice to see that he has done so well even though he is/was earning the average income.

However... 69 years old... what good is it to have a large portfolio if you are too old to enjoy it and will die within the next ten years (give or take a decade)?

I'm sure that what everyone is really wondering is how to become rich before half of your life is already over.

Please post more links to average income stories of people "striking it rich". Maybe eventually one of us will happen across one that is more helpful.

Thank you for thinking in the right direction... average people with average incomes becoming rich... even if this one is a story of too little too late.

It's all about THINKING you make MORE than enough. $35,000 at most with side jobs/tips is still a below average household income. So for this man to have saved $500k IS impressive as this means he would have had to have saved $150/month every month for 40 years (just think about what he was making in 1970!) Granted, it's all relative and this is just 10% of his income (which is the minimum that everyone SHOULD be saving.) However, when you think about some of the population who make 3 times more than him and have a negative net worth, it IS impressive.

Great article, I concur!

Is he married? Does he have any children?
If so, then I 'm really impressed.

Kudos to Earl. But we're not being told the whole story. Surely this feat could not have been accomplished without a Capital One Rewards card. Or maybe he just surfed his credit card balances to one w/ a 0% intro rate. Or maybe he carefully watched his credit on He at least had to have taken advantage of Rooms 2 Go no interest, no payments till 2011! C'mon!! Are we really supposed to believe he achieved this success WITHOUT the help of a finance company?? Not even one teeny tiny payday loan?? Doubtful.

in my country, 20.000$ a year (1666$ per month)is considered very rich (one can buy a new house in just 2 year with that income)

the highest average salary for a fresh university graduate is around 250$-350$ permonth

I search because I want two learn and have that in place from this year onwards

The Earl story is doable. It's part of the MoneyTrack PBS show. The video accompanying the story seems to have him as one who monitors the parking lot of a financial district (where he picks the minds of expert)so I don't think he's getting tipped. I did similar work when I worked for Central Parking Systems and never got a tip.

Earl is married with kids and went out of his way to send them to private schooling. On one hand the video says Earl picked up part time work, yet they stick with the $20K a year figure; so I don't know if they average his salary over time or what.

But here's why I say it's doable. I'm presently in Tennessee a $12 an hour security guard. I work a 40 hour week and shun overtime. I'm single and debt-free after paying off my Kia about two years ago. I have $85 coming out of my paycheck going into my 401(k) bi-weekly. I have $350 a month going into seven T.Rowe Price mutual funds using their systematic investment plan. And I was contributing $417 a month into an IRA (which should be the $5000 Max by December). I say was because I'm now shifting that $417 into savings to try to boost my emergency fund.

Here are my basics: Rent $440 a month, electricity averages $35 a month, landline about $25 a month, Insurance [health, car & renters] $100 a month; I pay $60 a month for my High Speed Internet and $93 to DirecTV (I have five DVR's on my account). I live two miles from my job and my biggest commute is visiting my niece and nephews (14 miles one way)thus my gas bill for my Kia has averaged around $30 a month. My food bill has averaged a little under $190. I used my Microsoft Money to try to get as accurate figure as possible.

Okay, my lifestyle. I'm to use the Millionaire Next Door vernacular a "cheap date". I like watching TV. I know that's a no-no in this culture but I do (re: the DVR's). I also like reading which I do by checking out books at the library. My job is on the graveyard shift and as unproductive as it is; as questionable as it is I watch TV on my job. I also do a lot of reading on the job, too. I'm not big on clubbing. I don't drink or smoke. I'm not a clothes junkie. My Kia is 9 years old and due to my commute being so short has a little over 65000 miles on it (and I bought it used in 2001 so some of those miles were already there). I admit I'm a bit of a loner type (re: not big on clubbing).

Now, anything can happen. But saving close to 40% of my income (which I'm doing) seems like in time it could turn me into a Mr. Earl example. I do the 40% by spending less than I earn, using my Microsoft Money to account for every cent I have, reading a lot about personal finance, reducing my expenses (short commute, generic foods, fuel-efficient car, etc.).

I can hear the excuses. You don't have kids. You live in the South. You're close to your job. Okay.

I can also hear the reprimands. Watching that much TV isn't good for you, Adrian. Why don't you do something other than being a security guard? Um, okay.

I'm posting this not to be judged but to let this forum know that right now in April of 2009 a person can save and invest on a $12 an hour job. I'm doing it. I'm not Mr. Earl (yet) but I see how (knock on wood) it can happen for me.

You shouldn't watch so much TV, Adrian... Nah, just kidding! Great post!


Nice job! If you want to turbocharge your net worth growth take a second job or find a way to grow your salary- maybe you can work in a different graveyard shift that pays more... either way you are doing very well.


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