The Motley Fool

This Billionaire Went Nearly Broke by Choice

Man with no money. Businessman holding empty wallet
Image source: Getty Images

Chuck Feeney is the co-founder of the retail sector giant Duty-Free Shoppers. As you might expect with his position, he was a wealthy individual. The one-time billionaire spent several decades amassing a massive fortune and has now decided to give it away.

Feeney closed his 38-year-old Atlantic Philanthropies by giving out all his cash to various charitable purposes, bringing peace to Northern Ireland to modernizing the healthcare system in Vietnam. His most recent donation was the US$350 million he spent on turning New York City’s Roosevelt Island into a technology hub.

Billions in philanthropy

Chuck Feeney has a long-standing reputation for his charitable works. His donations include a total of US$3.7 billion allocated towards education and another US$870 towards the fight for human rights and social change. He was one of the most significant forces that drove the success of Obamacare with $76 million in donations.

The now 89-year-old Feeney said that he would set aside US$2 million for his wife and himself for retirement. He truly has given away all his wealth, minus the amount he planned to retire with. Feeney has also sold his massive properties to live in a relatively simple and small apartment in San Francisco.

The philanthropic work he has done over the years has inspired many others, including Warren Buffett. Warren Buffett refers to Chuck Feeney as the model that influenced the likes of Buffett and Bill Gates.

Making your fortune

Feeney decided to give away all the wealth he accumulated over the last several decades and kept only what he felt that he needed to see out the rest of his life. What would you do if you amassed such a fortune yourself? You can find out by making millions of your own.

While it may be challenging to exactly emulate Chuck’s rise to become a billionaire, it is not impossible to retire with more than what you might need. One of the ways you can get rich is if you start as early as possible in stock market investing and staying invested.

One stock that can help you achieve a substantial bank balance is Toronto-Dominion Bank (TSX:TD)(NYSE:TD). TD is not the kind of investment that will grow your wealth through capital growth. The company is a bet for you to increase your wealth very little at a time through safe and reliable dividends.

The goal with TD is to get high but safe dividends that accompany slight price appreciation over the decades. TD is trading for $60.80 per share at writing, and it offers a juicy 5.20% dividend yield to its investors. Investing your money in the stock can help you earn a substantial amount in a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) over the years for tax-free, passive income.

Foolish takeaway

The pandemic hit the entire economy quite hard. TD and its peers had to increase credit losses provisions in anticipation of the more significant potential of bad loans due to the weak economy amid the global health crisis. The move affected its share price, and it is trading for an almost 20% discount to its pre-pandemic levels.

I think adding a reliable dividend stock like TD to your investment portfolio and unlocking the power of compounding can help you achieve millionaire status by the time you retire. What you plan to do with it is up to you.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Fool contributor Adam Othman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

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