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

It's never too late (or 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, Scheiber 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. He lost all of her money.

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

Well, for starters, Anne 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), Chrysler (now part of DaimlerChrysler (NYSE:DCX)), and Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO), and she reinvested her dividends. Anne placed her faith -- and her money -- in these growing companies and watched their earnings grow higher over decades. And, when she died, Anne donated it all to Yeshiva University in New York.

Anne wasn't totally Foolish, though; she didn't stop to smell the roses enough. 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.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo and includes Anne Scheiber as one of her heroes. Coca-Cola is an Inside Value selection. The Fool has a disclosure policy.