'Oh my God': This secretary in Illinois built a $7M fortune starting with $180. The one powerful technique that made Grace Groner rich — and can change your life too

'Oh my God': This secretary in Illinois built a $7M fortune starting with $180. The one powerful technique that made Grace Groner rich — and can change your life too
'Oh my God': This secretary in Illinois built a $7M fortune starting with $180. The one powerful technique that made Grace Groner rich — and can change your life too

Grace Groner worked as a secretary for medical device giant Abbott Laboratories for 43 years. She lived in a tiny one-bedroom cottage, didn’t own a car and bought her clothes at rummage sales.

So when she passed away in 2010 at the age of 100 and left her estate to her alma mater, Lake Forest College in Illinois, the story made headlines. "Oh, my God," the school’s president said after finding out the amount, the Chicago Tribune reported.

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Groner built her wealth using a very simple strategy. While she was working at Abbott in 1935, she decided to purchase three shares of the company. At the time, they were trading at around $60 each, for a total investment of $180 — a fair amount of money back then, but far from an extravagant investment.

She held on to those shares. When the stock split, she didn’t sell them. When the company paid dividends, she used the cash to buy more shares of Abbott.

Fast forward decades later and that small $180 investment had grown to more than $7 million.

The strategy for people who want to earn passive income from stocks is simple, but powerful: Find stocks that pay strong dividends, let them sit and reinvest the regular payouts.

Of course, not all dividend stocks are the same. Here’s a look at three companies with long track records of paying reliable — and increasing — dividends.


Coca-Cola (KO) is a classic example of a recession-resistant business. Whether the economy is booming or struggling, a can of Coke is affordable for most people.

The company’s entrenched market position, massive scale, and portfolio of iconic brands — including names like Sprite, Fresca, Dasani and Smartwater — give it plenty of pricing power.

Add solid geographic diversification — its products are sold in more than 200 countries and territories around the globe — and it’s clear that Coca-Cola can thrive through thick and thin. After all, the company went public more than 100 years ago.

More impressively, Coca-Cola has increased its dividend for 60 consecutive years. The stock currently yields 2.89%.

Johnson & Johnson

With deeply entrenched positions in consumer health, pharmaceuticals and medical devices markets, healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) has delivered consistent returns to investors throughout economic cycles.

Many of the company’s consumer health brands — such as Tylenol, Band-Aid, and Listerine — are household names. In total, JNJ has 29 products each capable of generating over $1 billion in annual sales.

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Not only does Johnson & Johnson post recurring annual profits, but it also grows them consistently: Over the past 20 years, Johnson & Johnson’s adjusted earnings have increased at an average annual rate of 8%.

The stock has been trending up for decades, all while returning an increasing amount of cash to shareholders. JNJ announced its 60th consecutive annual dividend increase last April and now yields 2.88%.

Procter & Gamble

Procter & Gamble (PG) has an even longer dividend growth track record than Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson: the company has raised its payout to shareholders for 66 consecutive years.

That streak is a testament to its entrenched position in the consumer staples market. P&G has a portfolio of trusted brands like Bounty paper towels, Crest toothpaste, Gillette razor blades and Tide detergent.

These are products that households buy on a regular basis, regardless of what the economy is doing. As a result, the company can deliver reliable dividends even in tough times.

The latest dividend hike was announced in April 2022, when the board of directors approved a 5% increase to the quarterly payout to 91.33 cents per share. The stock currently yields 2.41%.

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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.