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Weekend reading: The tin pot gold mine

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With recycling tin cans as his only source of income, Curt Degerman lived frugally and invested to amass over £1.1 million.

Still think you need to earn a huge salary to retire rich?

Degerman would have made a great Monevator reader, although the now-dead 60-year old took things further than most of us need to.

  • I don’t advocate readers live as a tramp to reduce their costs.
  • A shower once in a while won’t hurt, either.

There’s also the matter of where exactly Degerman would have got his Monevator fix. According to The Telegraph:

“He went to the library every day because he didn’t buy newspapers. There he read Swedish business daily Dagens Industri,” his cousin told local media at the time of his death. “He knew the stock market inside out.”

Perhaps he might have read Monevator at the library, or maybe I should make an iPad app for future Degermans?

What I won’t do is condemn him like so many have this week for his extreme tightwad lifestyle.

Yes, it seems perverse to most of us when an outwardly poor person dies with great wealth. Why didn’t he own a flat and an Xbox? Would it really have hurt to take a holiday, or to buy food instead of scrabbling in bins for leftovers?

True, but there are many ways to live in this world, and while the one Degerman chose is not for me, by all accounts he was happy. He dropped out of school early, and didn’t want to play ‘the game’. Investing seems to have been more a scorecard than a destination. I suspect that anticipation of growing his wealth made him as happy as spending it would have.

And as for his tin can collecting that’s been so ridiculed by the press, how many of us can say we left the world prettier than when we found it?

This week’s personal finance blog posts

I wrote about the UK Chancellors’ debate, a now-defunct savings account (sorry readers!), and what first-time buyers can buy around London for under the £250,000 stamp duty threshold.

Elsewhere, I especially enjoyed these posts:

Some good business and finance articles

  • The 25 best money tweeters (including Monevator!) – The Times
  • [Eek!] Jordan Belfort: The Wolf of Wall Street – The Times
  • UK manufacturing grows at fastest rate in 15 years – The Telegraph
  • Government bonds in the twilight zone – Buttonwood
  • Why you should embrace backyard renewable energy – FT
  • Chinese gold demand – FT
  • South Africa’s black empowerment has failed – The Economist
  • US makes huge profit on Citigroup trade – Stock Tickle
  • Stephen Fry meets Steve Jobs and the iPad – TIME

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{ 5 comments… add one }
  • 1 Financial Samurai April 3, 2010, 11:32 am

    Mate, it’s pretty sad your man collecting tin cans is dead already at 60 no I mean, think about it… if we only had til 60 to live, how differently our lives would be right now!

    I would seriously work this last year and QUIT! I’d travel forever, spend as much time as possible with friends and family. You?

    Sam
    .-= Financial Samurai on: Riding Rocketships For Greater Success =-.

  • 2 The Investor April 3, 2010, 12:23 pm

    Similar to you, yep. I am actively trying to set up a way of life asap that allows me to live as I please.

    The point here though is i think this chap seems to have chosen this way of life. It doesn’t matter what age he was when he died because he’d have lived the same at 50 or 70.

    The bigger point is most of us have a lot higher annual income and no excuses except laziness and fear to pursue financial freedom!

  • 3 Budgeting in the Fun Stuff April 6, 2010, 9:25 pm

    I’m a big believer of happy living. If this guy really got a buzz out of tin cans, there you go. I personally love socializing and can collecting would take too much time. 🙂

  • 4 The Digerati Life April 13, 2010, 10:45 pm

    Hopefully not too late to say thanks for the mention! I’m also frugal but like to reward the self now and then too. Recently, I’ve been reminded how life is short and that we shouldn’t forget to enjoy what we have. The key is balance and moderation.
    .-= The Digerati Life on: Target Date Funds or LifeCycle Funds: Pros and Cons =-.

  • 5 The Investor April 14, 2010, 9:22 am

    @TDL – I went through a similar experience about a year ago. It’s proved hard than I expected to loosen the old wallet (would be much easier in a world without crazy high house prices and still cheap looking shares 😉 ) but I totally echo your reminder!

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