Click here to sign up for Motley Fool Stock Advisor!

3 Stocks That Will Help You Retire Rich

There's a secret to getting rich in the stock market. It's a secret that's not hard to discover, but it is hard to follow through on. Yet, it's a secret that many perfectly ordinary people have followed to make millions -- sometimes without even their closest friends realizing the extent of their wealth.

If you're reading this report, you're not satisfied with your current financial situation. Whether you've never invested a penny in your life or just haven't gotten the returns you deserve from your investments, by the time you get to the end of this report, you'll know what you need to do to get on the path to a richer retirement today -- including three stocks that can help get you there.

But first, I want to look at one real-life example of how a woman with only a modest income from an ordinary job built up a fairly impressive retirement nest egg -- along with the huge mistake she made that kept her from becoming truly wealthy.

Not your average money-launderer

More than 15 years ago, America was introduced to a woman named Oseola McCarty. She was a sterling example of a hard-working American, a Mississippi-born woman. Born in 1908, Oseola faced many of the same economic challenges that everyone in her generation did, from the ravages of the post-World War I recession to the Crash of 1929 and ensuing Great Depression. In addition, Oseola also had to deal with the discrimination that came from segregation in the South.

But none of those challenges kept this modest washerwoman from making do. From dropping out of school in the sixth grade to help her sick aunt to taking on odd jobs whenever she could get them, Oseola grew up with a thrifty lifestyle that she kept her entire life. She never married, choosing to live in a small home, never owning a car, walking everywhere she needed to go.

And more importantly than anything else, Oseola had one habit that would prove to make a huge difference in her finances: Whenever she could, she would set aside part of her meager earnings toward savings.

Specifically, Oseola did what many people do today: She put her extra money in the bank. Over the decades, her nest egg grew -- slowly but surely -- earning interest that she never spent. Once her bankers noticed that her account balances had grown into a substantial sum, they stepped in to help her find higher-yielding investments, including bank CDs and conservative mutual funds.

A few years before she died, Oseola set up a trust to give part of her life savings to the University of Southern Mississippi for scholarships. What shocked millions of Americans was the fact that despite surviving on far less money than most, Oseola built up an estimated $150,000 in savings over her lifetime.

So, where's the mistake?

Sure, $150,000 might sound like an impressive feat, especially for someone who faced all those challenges. Given that well over half of all Americans have less than $25,000 saved toward their retirement, Oseola certainly beat the average.

Yet despite that good fortune, Oseola missed out on even greater riches. The reason: by choosing the bank instead of stocks, she put a tight lid on how much her money could grow.

By contrast, many others of modest means did much more by knowing one simple secret: Over long periods of time, the right stocks produce far more wealth than you can earn in bank accounts. Gilmore and Golda Reynolds used that secret to leave $22 million to their hometown of Osgood, Ind., after their deaths. Jay Jensen used it, turning an honest middle-class teacher's salary into several million dollars. Gladys Holm used it, as a secretary who paid attention to her boss' stock picks and building up an eventual bequest of $18 million to a children's hospital.

Why stocks are the secret

Now unless you've been living under a rock for the past decade, you might think that investing in stocks is hopelessly out of fashion. After all, between 2000 and 2009, the stock market lost half its value, with investors