According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Hetty Green may have been the biggest miser who ever lived. Her father died when she was thirty leaving her an inheritance of more than $100 million in today’s money. Though it was unusual for a woman to be involved with banking and investments at the time, she concentrated all of her efforts and attention on growing the family fortune.
Her focus on money drove a wedge between her husband and their two children. And the family was scattered. Known for eating cold oatmeal to save money for heating and washing only the hem of her dress to save money on soap, she was sometimes called the “Witch of Wall Street.” When her son, Ned, broke his leg as a boy, she tried to have him treated in a free clinic for the poor, before treating him at home. His leg would later have to be amputated. When she died, Hetty Green was worth the equivalent of some 4 billion dollars today, but she was alone and miserable.
“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” 1 Timothy 6:10