“Avoid the pitfalls of leveraging, overborrowing, and overspending”

Warren Buffett may have learned a few things from one Hetty Green.

According to Kirkus Reviews’ report on “The Richest Woman in America: Hetty Green in the Gilded Age” by Janet Wallach (Talese/Doubleday, $27.95), Green was rejected by her parents but learned business from her grandfather.

By 1916, she had accumulated a $100 million fortune — and in those days, $1 million dollars was real money.

Wallach wrote that Green’s methods and philosophy of wealth were similar to those today of Buffett, who is chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. of Omaha.

Green kept cash on hand for purchases and emergencies, as does Buffett, and made money during the financial disasters of 1873, 1893 and 1908 by buying when others panicked and selling when prices reflected full value.

Her Quaker background gave her independence and made her, shall we say, careful with her money. She gave to charity but “ruthlessly foreclosed when a note was due and unpaid,” the book review said. “When her husband needed a bailout from one of his ill-advised speculations, she demanded his properties in return.”

Among her rules, according to the biography: “Never use another’s money, never take on a partner and avoid the pitfalls of leveraging, overborrowing and overspending.”


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