The Richest Woman In America Spent $5 a Week And Had 1 Dress

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Imagine this: one morning you wake up a multi-millionaire. He’s probably surprised to see you there, a little cranky, and calls the police. Oops sorry, I mean you wake up AS a multi-millionaire. Yeah that sounds like more fun. So, what would you do? Buy a yacht or a garage full of sports cars; maybe a diamond tiara and a cruise around the world? All this would sound tempting to just about anyone, but not Hetty Green, who was the richest woman in America and wore one black dress for years. Hetty, or Henrietta Green, whose maiden name was Robinson, was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1834. Her father, Edward, owned an extremely successful whaling company. Her mom also came from a well-off family. Instead of playing with dolls, Hetty learned all about the stock market and business from the age of six. She would read financial papers to her nearly blind grandfather, and follow her dad to work. Both her family and her school taught Hetty one important thing: you don’t need that much to get by in life, and the goal of making money is to save it, not spend it. The girl, who had an obvious talent for Math, oversaw all the family accounts by thirteen. Even her teen years, when hormones tend to take over, didn’t really affect her. Hetty invested $1000 out of the $1,200 spending allowance she was given at 16 to mingle in New York society. She managed to somehow survive in the Big Apple with the remaining $200 and have a good time at all the parties and balls. At some point she realized there were a lot of gold diggers around, and when Hetty came home without a fiancé, she told her dad that if she ever had to get married, it would be to a guy with his own fortune. She helped him manage the family business, and was becoming more and more of a financial guru. After her mom passed away in 1860, Hetty moved back to New York with her dad, who was going through a mid-life crisis and was hoping to find a new wife. Henrietta didn’t want that to happen, and ironically, while trying to ruin her father’s love life, she found one for herself. Edward Henry Green, one of Hetty’s father’s business partners, was twelve years older than her and was a successful investor, trading with the Philippines. It’s hard to judge if it was love from Hetty’s side. Knowing her true passion was finance, and logic was her best friend, you might think she just realized Edward was a perfect match for her. In 1865, Mr. Robinson passed away, leaving his daughter a million dollars and a trust fund of four million dollars. The last words he uttered to his daughter were: “I have been poisoned. You will be next”. Well isn’t that harsh! Believing him, Hetty made a storeroom closet into her bedroom and hard-boiled eggs that can’t be poisoned her main meal. They say she also kept a pistol in bed. Two weeks after the death of Mr. Robinson, Hetty’s aunt passed as well, and once her will was announced, a five-year court case started for Henrietta. She was furious that her aunt didn’t leave her a two-million-dollar fortune like she promised, but only $65,000 a year in interest. So Hetty made a fake will and brought it to court, claiming that her aunt dictated it to her. Five years and thousands of dollars in legal fees later, Hetty received around half a million dollars that she happily invested in “greenbacks” – bonds issued by the government. You’ll find out how that worked out for her later. Now that she was one of the richest women in America, Hetty decided it was time to do what society expected of her and get married. In 1867, after making him sign a prenuptial agreement that said he wasn’t after her fortune, she tied the knot with Edward Green. They moved to London for a few years. The family lived at the Langham hotel, and this is where their kids were born. Edward, whom everyone called Ned, was born in August of 1868. Three years later, Hetty gave birth to a daughter whom they named Sylvia, after her aunt. Edward Green had the prestigious job of director of three banks in London, but his wife surpassed him even at that time. Remember I mentioned “greenbacks”? Not many people believed in their success, but Hetty had an exceptional financial gut, as you know, and was positive they would bring her another million dollars. And, she wasn’t mistaken. So she made another million by 1874. This was the year the Greens returned to the US. They didn’t go to New York, but moved into Edward’s family home in Bellow Falls, Vermont. This is where and when Hetty’s stinginess really took off. America’s wealthiest woman would bargain with shop owners over every price. She reused envelopes; and it wasn’t because she cared about the economy. When it got cold, she wouldn’t buy winter clothes, but wore layers of newspapers under her coat to keep herself warm. She refused to pay the bills from lawyers and doctors. In 1882, when her son Ned, who was 14 at the time, dislocated his knee, she didn’t take him to a good doctor. Instead, she tried a hospital for the poor and then home treatment. As a result, his leg was amputated. Ned, however, never blamed his mother for it. When her husband’s mother passed away, Hetty refused to let reception guests use expensive crystal, as she feared it would be stolen by visitors or servants whom she constantly accused. Hetty’s stinginess, of course, affected her family life. Basically, it was the reason for her split-up with Edward. In 1885, the financial house John J Cisco and Sons went bankrupt. Edward was the biggest debtor of the firm, and Hetty was one of the investors. He hoped that Hetty would forgive him his debts because they were a married couple, you know. But Hetty was positive financial and family affairs were two completely different things and refused to do so. Her husband went bankrupt, and the couple split up. Hetty eventually paid Edwards’s half a million dollar debt, by the way, but she didn’t want to get back with him anyway. By 1900, Hetty had an annual income of around seven million dollars, while average American families made $500. Yet, the split-up with her husband made her even more frugal (and you’d think you couldn’t go any further with that). Hetty let her son Ned go off on his own, and now lived with her daughter, Sylvia, on around $5 a week. Hetty controlled Sylvia because she feared that all men were only after her money. They moved from apartment to apartment since Hetty still feared someone was after her, trying to poison her. And if you think they were luxurious apartments in Manhattan, you’d be wrong! The place she stayed at the longest was in Hoboken, New Jersey. It was small, cold, and quite miserable. And while they stayed there, the name by the bell on the front door was “Dewey” – after Hetty’s beloved dog. By the way, while the millionaire herself would normally have oatmeal or eggs, she’d always feed her dog good steak. That’s a good boy. Hetty never gave up her passion for the stock market. She had her money in a few banks and, since she didn’t want to rent her own office, she’d just go pick one of the banks each day and demand a free desk to work at. Fearing she would otherwise take her millions elsewhere, the banks agreed to it. In 1898, Edward Green got sick, and it was clear he wouldn’t recover. Sylvia persuaded her mother to forgive him, and so Hetty spent the last years of his life with him. After Edward passed away in 1902, she swore she would only wear black for the rest of her life. She never broke her promise. While it sounds beautiful and romantic, the reality was that she didn’t wear different black clothes, but the same dress day by day. Some people believe the reason she did it was practical – black needs less cleaning than other colors. And when she did take her black dress to the dry cleaners, she only paid for the hem to be cleaned. As a result, her clothes grew moldy. Add the smell of the onions she constantly chewed on for good health and imagine what the richest woman in New York looked and smelled like. She stayed true to herself up to an old age, and when she got hernia, she only agreed to see a doctor when it was so bad she couldn’t walk. When the doctor told her she needed surgery for $150, she was shocked and tried to bargain with him. Hetty passed away in July of 1916 after having a few strokes. Her children inherited her fortune, which was estimated between 100 and 200 million dollars. Sylvia, who only escaped from her mother and got married at the age of 38, donated her share to relatives, friends, and charity. Ned spent his money in a more extravagant way – on luxurious estates, yachts, jewelry, diamond studded chamber pots, and ladies. It was maybe because she only wore black for a long time, or because of her financial wizardry, that people called Hetty “The Witch of Wall Street”. Years after her death, her name was still a synonym for “miser”. Are you good at saving money or do you just spend it all come pay day? Let me know down in the comments! If you learned something new today, then give this video a like and share it with a friend. But – hey! – don’t go all Ebenezer Scrooge, I mean Hetty Green just yet! We have over 2,000 cool videos for you to check out. All you have to do is pick the left or right video, click on it, and enjoy! Stay on the Bright Side of life!
Views: 766,038
Rating: 4.8383808 out of 5
Keywords: Hetty Green, Witch of Wall Street, richest woman in America, rich people, crazy rich, thrifty woman, stingy woman, crazy story, true story, financial guru, how to save money, big money, successful woman, successful investment, crazy about money
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Length: 10min 26sec (626 seconds)
Published: Thu Jul 11 2019
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