Dec 05

A good income doesn’t always lead to a good outcome.

Being smart with money has little to do with your income and a lot to do with how you behave with it.

Let’s meet two people who will show just how true this is…

Jesse Livermore was the greatest stock trader of his time. Born in 1877, he was a trader before most people knew that was possible. By 30 he was worth the inflation-adjusted equivalent of $100 million.

Jesse was already a well-known investor by 1929 when the US stock market crash that year ushered in the Great Depression. In a stroke of luck (and maybe a dash of genius) Jesse had shorted the market the week of the crash, betting stocks would decline. 

When most lost everything, Jesse had his best ever day of trading, ending up fabulously rich.

In the next 4 years, overflowing with confidence, Jesse made larger and larger bets and eventually lost everything in the stock market.

While Jesse was very good at getting wealthy, he was equally bad at staying wealthy. Even if you don’t see yourself in the “wealthy” category, the lesson applies to all income levels. 

Getting money is one thing. Keeping it is another.

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In contrast to Jesse’s big wins and life-changing failure, we have Ronald James Read. 

His remarkable Wikipedia entry begins “Ronald James Read was an American philanthropist, investor, janitor, and gas station attendant.” 

Ronald was as low-key as they come. He fixed cars at a gas station for 25 years and swept floors at a department store for another 17. He lived simply and frugally. A friend recalled his main hobby was chopping firewood. 

He died at age 92, and this is when Ronald made headlines. 

This humble former janitor left $2 million to his stepkids, and more than $6 million to his local hospital and library.

People who knew him were baffled. Where did it come from?

There was no lottery win, no inheritance…no windfall of any kind.

Read saved what little he could and invested it thoughtfully. Then he waited decades on end, as tiny savings compounded into more than $8 million.

From janitor to philanthropist simply by practicing frugality and patience.

You can have an enormous income, or a humble one. What matters most is what you do with it.

avraham byers

Something to think about:

Where would you place your behaviors around money? Are you more like Jesse, or Ronald…maybe something in between?  Let me know what you think, reply to this blog and share your thoughts.

About The Author

Hi, I'm Avraham (pronounced Av-Rum.) I'm a reformed spender, financial coach, and the founder of Avraham Byers Financial (I'm better with money than coming up with company names.) In a funny and non-preachy way, I teach people how to take control of their finances without giving up their smoked butterscotch lattes.


  1. Nina Polo
    December 7, 2022 at 2:49 am ·

    Yes, I definitely relate to this. What I get the most of the stories of these two people is a recall that even if you don’t have a lot of money, your attitude towards it can make a big difference. Are you like a child unable to respond? Or are you a more mature adult that is willing to make the distance, taking care of her money and build a future. Is not until so recently that I realized that I might not be able to control how much money I make in a year, my attitude and habits are always something I can be intentional about. Thank you for this Avraham!

  2. Avraham Byers
    December 7, 2022 at 4:39 pm ·

    Love how you said this Nina “Is not until so recently that I realized that I might not be able to control how much money I make in a year, my attitude and habits are always something I can be intentional about.” So true!!!

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