Imagine becoming a multi-millionaire on jobs that never paid you more than $11 an hour. A man in New Jersey did just that, in a striking rebuff to these over-leveraged times.

Paul Navone was a thrifty man, a mill worker, who never made more than $11 an hour. He only shopped at thrift stores and never owned a TV or a telephone. Not too surprisingly, he never married or had children, and his only "extravagances" are breakfast at McDonald's and used CDs.

He started off earning 75 cents an hour at the age of 16, and almost immediately started saving as much money as he could. He paid cash for a home, living in half and renting out the other half. He says he used the rent money for his living expenses and saved nearly all of his wages.

Eventually Navone acquired two more rental properties, but then started investing with a brokerage. Even with all his savings, he still lives in a small, modest house. He says he was never interested in television, and spends his leisure time listening to music and reading newspapers.

Now he's trying to give something back. And he's started giving away his money to schools: $1 million to Cumberland County College and $1 million to St. Augustine College Preparatory School. Navone says he wanted his money to produce value, and schools were the perfect choice.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

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