Yes Virginia, There is a Money Tree

The proverbial saying ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’ is used by many a parent in denying some wished for item to their children.

Well, kids, your parents lied to you – money does grow on trees. The trees are your investment accounts.

A money tree starts out growing slowly, so small at first that you don’t even think it is there. You have to plant it, feed it, water it and care for it to make it grow big enough to notice. You have to give it space and time (lots of time) to grow into a huge money producer.

You can do this. I did it. Many others have done it.

As examples, consider the following, from The Fool’s article Ordinary People, Extraordinary Wealth.

“Monsignor James McSweeney.  Earning a sub-poverty-level income for decades as a Catholic priest, he focused on his investments in his free time, and was worth nearly $1 million when he died.

Genesio Morlacci. This 102-year-old former part-time janitor and dry cleaner left $2.3 million to Montana’s University of Great Falls.

Gilmore and Golda Reynolds. They seemed like ordinary next-door neighbors in Osgood, Ind. But when they passed away, they surprised the town by leaving it the $22 million they’d accumulated by investing in stocks over many years.

Drey, Jr. This retired teacher spent a lot of time researching companies at the Boston Public Library. Upon his death, he shocked the library by leaving it $6.8 million.

Jay Jensen. Another retired teacher, Jensen has lived frugally, investing steadily in blue-chip stocks for some 40 years. He never earned more than $46,000 per year, but he turned that into several million dollars, most of which he’s giving away.

Florence Ballenger. Ms. Ballenger was another teacher who lived frugally but well (often traveling around the world). Through investing, she and her husband accumulated more than $6 million.

Gladys Holm. She was a Chicago secretary whose salary peaked at $15,000 before she retired. Her secret was paying attention to what stocks her successful boss was buying and selling, and often following suit to a smaller degree. Upon her death, she left $18 million to a children’s hospital.

Donald and Mildred Othmer. The Othmers were members of a smart group of people who bought shares of Warren Buffett’s company, Berkshire Hathaway, and held on for decades. They invested about $50,000 in the 1960s, and upon their deaths in the 1990s, their estate was worth an amazing $800 million.”

How to grow your money tree.

No matter who you are, where you were born, what your genetic makeup or any other factor, you have the opportunity to grow your own money tree.

Key to success are staying healthy long enough to accumulate and having at least a bit of discretionary income.

Start by taking care of yourself 

Mentally, physically and spiritually. You have to stay healthy and motivated for many years to grow a money tree. Put your roots into healthy soil and suck up the best nutrients you can find.

Next, learn a needed skill or offer a needed product or service.

Figure out what is important to you and how you can get some income from it. Learn from books but learn from doing and observing as well. Adding branches to your knowledge base will help you leap into opportunity.

Keep your needs and wants in check.

The less you spend, the less income you will need to begin accumulating. You don’t have to make hundreds of thousands of dollars, you just have to have some money left over after taking care of your obligations. One way to do this in a two income family is to live off of one income and bank the other. We did that.


Tax yourself. Pay yourself first. Figure out what you need to live and put the rest in a secure account. Put the holiday gift of cash into your account. Put the savings you made at the grocery with coupons into the savings account. My spouse was exceptionally persistent in putting every $20 birthday check into our savings account, year after year after year.


Once you have saved a base amount, branch out to put additional money into the stock and bond markets, real estate and other types investments that will grow your money faster than a secure savings account. Our investments have gone up and down over time with the market. We don’t panic because we know we can make do with out the investment money. We have enough to live on from other sources and an emergency fund.


Put the dividends and capital gains to work buying more shares. We still (even as retirees) reinvest many of our dividends and capital gains.

Keep saving.

Consistent additions to your investment accounts are the fertilizer and water that will make your money tree zoom to maturity. For 2 years, I did a payroll deduction into my investment account and bought shares of a mutual fund with it. At the end of that time, I had over $100,000 worth of that fund.

Care for your investments and savings.

A tended tree will do better than an ignored one. Carefully monitor your life situation, the investment firms you use, the securities, real estate assets or collectibles you own to ensure that you stay on top of potential failure and look ahead to potential reward in a growing area.

I’m not going to tell you it is easy. Growing your money tree will take life long dedication, persistence, and learning as well as some sacrifice. But it pays off! Our net worth has grown since we both retired – because we have invested and the investments are doing well.

Do you have a money tree?


Yes Virginia, There is a Money Tree — 2 Comments

  1. Loving those inspirational stories! My new plan is to definitely “shock” a public institution by leaving them loads of money when I pass away!! Something else to add to the LONG-term goals!

    Greta advice here that is very simple to understand and to follow. I wonder why more people don’t….! :S

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