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To the outside world, Curt Degerman was a poor can collector.

 

The aged Swede, known as “Tin Can Curt,” spent 30 years roaming the streets of Skelleftea in northern Sweden in his blue jacket and ragged pants, collecting tin cans and bottle for cash. He was, in the eyes of most people, an ordinary street bum.

 

Yet when he died he left more than $1.4 million to his cousin.

 

How did he do it? Thrift and smart investing.

 

It turns out that in between collecting cans, Mr. Degerman spent a lot of time in the local library reading business papers and studying the stock market.

 

“He knew stocks inside and out,” said his cousin.

 

He used his tin-can earnings to buy mutual funds. He also bought 124 gold bars and also grew his cash with a savings account. (He rode a bicycle and didn’t have a mortgage on his house, which also made savings easier).

 

It is the classic fairy tale of thrift and shrewd – almost.

 

Mr. Degerman died of a heart attack in 2008. His will left his entire estate to a cousin who visited him regularly late in his life.

 

Yet soon after the fortune was revealed, an uncle claimed the cash under Sweden’s inheritance law. Lawyers got involved, and the two recently settled for undisclosed shares.

 

All of which goes to show that no matter how careful someone is in making and saving money in their lifetime, they can’t control what happens afterward.

 

Do you think Mr. Degerman should have enjoyed his money more while he was alive? Or is he the perfect model of wealth creation?

 

(Courtesy of WSJ Blogs - The Wealth Report)

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