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The Old School Frugalists

The last generation of frugal millionaires saw the careful preservation of cash and conservative personal finance as essential to survival. These rich individuals gained their wealth slowly through careful planning and extreme saving. By living below their means, these individuals created freedom in their lives, and a buffer from the economic problems over the last decades. Precursors to the newest generation of frugal, yet generous millionaires, the following individuals broke many myths regarding the way that wealth can be generated and spent.
Joseph Leek—Insurance Salesman

Final Savings: $1,613,000 [ad]


Who: Born in 1912, Joseph Leek made his career as an insurance salesman. Joseph Leek’s family never knew of the 1,080,040 British Pounds he had amassed during his lifetime. His entire estate was left to the charity Guide Dogs for the Blind. His donation will provide the funds for raising and training 19 guide dogs, significantly improving the lives of the visually impaired.

How He Did It: Joseph Leek was not a millionaire because of extraordinary business success. Leek worked as an insurance salesman for the majority of his life. After retirement, he gained the majority of his wealth by being careful with his money, and investing wisely in the stock market. He lived in a home worth an estimated 40,000 British Pounds. He traveled by bicycle when he could, and used a 20-year-old car for other transportation. Leek shopped for clothing at charity shops, and even saved electricity by watching television at a neighbor’s home. He lived a life of simplicity and structure. His daughters say his favorite quote was: “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”

What We Can Learn: An appreciation for simplicity, conservation and a resistance to waste can result in significant savings over the long term. Certainly the life of Joseph Leek was out of the ordinary, but the ideals he lived by make a good model for those looking for financial stability. Live within or below your means, take saving seriously, and stay committed over the long term.

Mary Guthrie Essame—Nurse

Final Savings: $10,457,000

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