Friday, December 21, 2007

Getting rich on a $20,000 salary

Getting rich on a $20,000 salary

This 69-year-old parking-lot attendant used earnings from odd jobs to
start investing. Now he coaches others on how they can invest.

By Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine

Earl Crawley, 69, better known as Mr. Earl, earns $20,000 a year as a
parking-lot attendant. But he has amassed a stock portfolio worth more
than $500,000.

How did you get started investing?

Soon after I started working for Mercantile Bank in Baltimore 44 years
ago, one of the bankers took me aside and told me I didn't have enough
education to go very far at the bank. He suggested I invest in stocks.

Where did you get the money?

I did it with good old-fashioned nickels and dimes. My mother taught
me how to budget, which made me appreciate how a little money can
grow. I saved what I could from odd jobs, such as lawn cutting and
window washing, that I did in addition to my day job. I used that
money to buy one share of IBM (IBM, news, msgs) stock back in 1981.

How did you learn how to invest?

I really didn't know enough to be scared. In school I was considered a
slow learner -- dyslexic, it's called now. My true gift from God is my
ability to listen, and that's how I'm able to ask questions and use
tips from the brokers, financial planners and bank customers I see
every day.

Do you have a formula for picking stocks?

When I first started out, I had to be conservative and take my time
because I couldn't afford to lose money. Now I look for companies with
stability that pay dividends. I read the stock pages but don't claim
to know everything about them. I have a broker, but many times I'll go
where my spirit leads me.

Any stocks you're excited about now?

I've been buying shares of ExxonMobil (XOM, news, msgs).

We've heard that you're helping others invest.

I started an investment club at my church. And I've been coaching a
couple of young men, such as bar-and-grill cook Antawn Davenport and
Dana Mouse Smith, who toured with the late rapper Tupac Shakur. They
can help spread the message that people can do whatever they set their
minds to do.

Crawley was interviewed by David Benjamin for Kiplinger's Personal
Finance Magazine.

Published Sept. 17, 2007

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