If you're middle-aged or older, you might be thinking that it's not worth starting to invest -- especially if you think you don't earn much. You'd be wrong, though.

It's never too late (or too early!) to begin investing. For a little inspiration, look to the amazing story of Anne Scheiber. Most people haven't heard of her, but she's one of the world's greatest investors. In 1932, Anne was a 38-year-old IRS auditor. Intrigued by the stock market, she forked over most of her life savings to her brother, a young stockbroker on Wall Street, who lost it.

Determined to try again, but this time relying on herself, she saved $5,000 and plunked it back into stocks in 1944, when she was 50. By the time she died in 1995 at age 101, her money had grown to $20 million. How'd she do it?

Well, for starters, she was a long-term, involved investor. She didn't buy a stock today and sell it tomorrow. She attended shareholder meetings and followed her companies closely. She bought big, consumer-brand companies such as PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP), Schering-Plough (NYSE:SGP), DaimlerChrysler AG (NYSE:DCX) (then just Chrysler), and Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO), and she reinvested her dividends. She placed her faith -- and her money -- in these growing companies and watched their earnings grow higher over the decades. And when she died, Anne donated everything to Yeshiva University in New York.

Anne wasn't totally Foolish, though -- she didn't stop enough to smell the roses. Those who knew her say she was a recluse in her small, rent-controlled apartment. Never married and painfully frugal, she wore the same coat year after year and skipped meals to save money. Fools generally enjoy not just investing and compounding long-term profits, but also family, friends, and the pursuit of happiness.

Still, Anne Scheiber's investment legacy provides a powerful example of what we can achieve if we are methodical and patient with our money.

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