The smart investing strategy a janitor used to build an $8 million portfolio

In this December 2011 photo, Connie Howe pours coffee for Ronald Read, left, and Dave Smith during the Charlie Slate Memorial Christmas breakfast at the American Legion in Brattleboro, Vt.
Brattleboro Reformer | AP Photo

As one-time Vermont-based janitor and gas station attendant Ronald Read displayed, you don't need to earn a six-figure income to become a multimillionaire.

Unbeknownst to even his family until he died at age 92 in June 2014, Read had quietly built an $8 million portfolio. He bequeathed most of it to his local hospital and library.

The lifelong resident of Brattleboro, Vermont, maintained a frugal lifestyle and never spent money unless he had to. But it was his smart investing strategy that reaped such astounding financial rewards.

Investing like Vermont's secret millionaire stock-picker
Investing like Vermont's secret millionaire stock-picker

He was a good stock picker and had the control to buy and hold stocks for the long haul, a strategy billionaire investor Warren Buffett recommends.

"The money is made in investments by investing," Buffett told CNBC, "and by owning good companies for long periods of time. If they buy good companies, buy them over time, they're going to do fine 10, 20, 30 years from now."

Read, who owned at least 95 stocks at the time of his death, "didn't always hit home runs," The Wall Street Journal reported in 2015. "His portfolio included shares of Lehman Brothers Holdings, the financial firm that collapsed in 2008, for example. But he was willing to stick with his picks for many, many years."

One such pick was Pacific Gas & Electric, which he bought 39 shares of in 1959. "The shares were worth about $2,380 then," the publication reported. "They were worth about $10,735 at his death, taking into account subsequent stock splits of 2-for-1 and 3-for-1 that increased the share total to 234."

Just like in virtually every other aspect of personal finance, you shouldn't rely on investing to "get rich quick." It's a long-term game, and one of the best things you can do for your investments is leave them alone.

As Buffett says, "If you aren't willing to own a stock for 10 years, don't even think about owning it for 10 minutes."