How to amass millions? Don’t spend your money

Photo: University of New Hampshire

If Robert Morin didn’t want part of his millions — he left a $4 million estate — to go to the University of New Hampshire’s football stadium, he probably wouldn’t have left behind a will that had no restrictions on how his alma mater used the money, other than the $100,000 to the school library, where he worked for 50 years.

The university is using $1 million of Morin’s money for a new video scoreboard at UNH’s football stadium and that’s got people upset, NPR reports.

In response to that allocation, New Hampshire graduate Claire Cortese wrote a critical blog post that was highlighted by Inside Higher Ed. In it, Cortese writes, “I doubt any student will look back in ten years and say ‘man, that video scoreboard – that really impacted my experience at UNH in a meaningful and beneficial way.’ ”

Cortese also notes that the school’s football stadium recently reopened after a $25 million renovation.

School officials say the money for the library was the only “dedicated gift” in Morin’s bequest, meaning that the rest of the estate was unrestricted; Deborah Dutton, vice president for advancement and president of the UNH Foundation, says, “Unrestricted gifts give the university the ability to use the funds for our highest priorities and emerging opportunities.”

Let’s not miss the big story here, people. A man amassed a $4 million estate by living frugally! And — maybe — missing out on a few things.

If you want to leave a legacy that will educate the next generation, that’s it.

The Manchester Union Leader’s story on Morin, who cataloged items at the school library, makes us want to do more than complain about how his millions were spent. It’s makes us want to consider how we spend our lives, and what defines a life well lived.

Morin’s financial adviser, Edward Mullen, said the library worker was able to accumulate so much wealth because he never spent any money. Mullen started working with Morin in the early 1970s, and said by the 2000s he had saved quite a bit of cash in his checking and savings accounts. There was almost $1 million in his retirement account alone.

Mullen said Morin had an older vehicle and, despite being a millionaire, he ate frozen dinners.

“He never went out,” Mullen said.

How did he spend his life other than cataloging DVDs and books?

He watched some football. He read, in chronological order, every book published in the United States from 1930 to 1940, the Union Leader said, noting he excluded children’s books, textbooks and books about cooking and technology. He reached 1938 when he died. That was also the year he was born.

He also watched videos — 22,000 of them by the time he died, his friend said. That suggests he cataloged all of those, too. He started his book-reading project after his TV broke.

We can only assume he lived the life he wanted to live. Nonetheless, when he died, no public service marking his life was held.

His obituary, which was only five paragraphs long, revealed that he had two relatives. There are only four entries on the guestbook of his obituary.

He apparently didn’t want to leave anything to his relatives. Why not?

We suspect — and we’re only guessing here — that the answer is much sadder than the fact part of his life will go into a nice scoreboard at a football stadium.

Related: The Mysterious Gifts of Robert Morin