The story was picked up by the major news sources as a "cute"
human interest feature. You might have seen the headlines like "How
a Secretary Made and Gave Away $7 Million."
But for me, this wasn't some light news piece. This was a story
that resonated deeply with me.
I didn't know Grace Groner, from Lake Forest, Illinois. From the
stories, she was a woman who lived frugally. Her passing was of
interest because her three
Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:
grew into thousands of shares through decades of stock splits and
reinvestment. In total, her
came in at roughly $7 million when she passed.
And while I didn't know Grace Groner, I did know Lillian Calistri.
The last time I saw Aunt Lillian was in 1990. I remember that a
nephew had the misfortune of addressing her as "Lillian." She
promptly looked us all in the eye and said, "You will continue
tocall me Aunt Lillian." We were all over 25 years old at the time,
but in Aunt Lillian's world, adulthood was no excuse for bad
Aunt Lillian taught home
at Charleroi High School in Pennsylvania. After she retired in the
1950s, she moved to Tucson, Ariz. I remember thinking it was nice
that she had been able to live comfortably in her golden years --
aided by a teacher's retirement and a nest egg from the 1952 sale
of the family's ice cream business.
Here's the kicker. When Lillian died in 1993, her estate was worth
north of $5 million.
Her broker was the only one who wasn't shocked. "They should have
that kind of discipline on
," he said. Dividend reinvestment? You bet.
But there's something else to this story, and it's something that
can help you earn larger dividends soon -- helpful if you don't
have a lifetime to invest as Aunt Lillian and Grace Groner did.
They may not have realized it at the time, but both the women in
this story chose their investments wisely.
Abbott Laboratories, the company Grace Groner invested in, has paid
more than 350 consecutive dividends since 1924. In 1990, the
company paid $0.203 per share in dividends. Today, that amount has
grown 826% to $1.88 per share.
One of Aunt Lillian's investments was
International Business Machines (NYSE:
. IBM dished out its first dividend in 1913. Since then, it has
gone on to pay nearly 400 more. In the past decade, IBM's dividend
has increased 436%.
Neither ABT nor IBM had a particularly juicy
at the time these women bought their shares. But they had something
equally powerful: a corporate culture dedicated to rewarding
shareholders -- especially with growing dividends.
And those growing dividends add up a lot quicker than you'd think.
In my Daily Paycheck portfolio, I already have two classic dividend
payers that I put in the same class as Abbott and IBM --
Kinder Morgan (NYSE:
If you had put $5,000 into AT&T five years ago, you'd have
earned a 3.8% yield at the time. That amounted to $188 per year.
But today, that $5,000 investment would be paying $305 a year if
you simply reinvested your dividends. That's a 6.1% yield on your
Kinder Morgan is an even better story. Right now the shares pay a
solid 5.4%. It's nothing to sneeze at, but thanks to the company's
commitment to dividend growth, $5,000 invested just five years ago
-- plus reinvested dividends -- is now earning 12.9% on your
original investment, or about $650 every year.
Action to Take -->
It's doubtful most of us will have decades and decades to invest
like Grace Groner or Aunt Lillian. But this doesn't
we can't see our dividends grow enormously in a span of just a few
In December, StreetAuthority co-founder Paul Tracy used a dividend
reinvestment strategy to
collect more than $6,000 a month in dividends
. To learn more about how to put this strategy to work -- no matter
the size of your portfolio --
you can visit this link.
-- Amy Calistri
Amy Calistri does not personally hold positions in any
securities mentioned in this article. StreetAuthority LLC owns
shares of T, KMP in one or more if its "real money" portfolios.