While everyone’s keen to take a few pages out of Warren Buffett’s book for investing and making billions, fewer seem interested in learning other important life lessons from the master, including how to be your own man and why frugality is a virtue.
Indeed, millionaires who don’t even come close to Buffett’s billions live lives of luxury that are tainted by a “keeping-up-with-the-Jones’" mentality of trite showing off, while Buffett himself still lives in a house he bought in 1950s for around $31,500 dollars at the time.
He’s worth some $87 billion dollars, and while everyone knows it, he’s not interested in baselessly flaunting it, nor is he trying to make up for other shortcomings in his life by doing so. He knows who he is, and moves around this world free from the trappings of fame, fortune and ego.
He’s frugal—first and foremost—no matter that he managed to add another $10 billion to his net worth just in the past year.
The house he has lived in for decades is now worth around $650,000. And while his eating habits may make some cringe, everything else about his spending traits speaks to the modesty of truly good taste.
The list of what Buffett needs to live his ideal life is modest, even in comparison to middle class Americans tiring themselves out with trying to fill a void with the stuff of luxury. It includes:
• A Cadillac XTS, worth around $45,000 or so, and only his second car since 2006.
• A flip phone (no smartphones for this billionaire investor)
• 20 suits made in China, in defiance of Wall Street’s favorite designers
• $18 hair cuts
• A ritual $3 breakfast, every morning, from McDonalds (coupons, when available)
• 5 Cokes a day
• Occasional golf, but no fancy clubs
• A “disgusting pile” of books
• A private jet (his one concession to billionaire-hood, but he’s got to be able to get around fast as he continues to build his billions)
But the most important thing on his life list is this: Freedom. And that seems to include freedom from internal pressure to show off.
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“I don’t need any more because it doesn’t make a difference after a point,” he once said. “In fact, it’d be worse if I had six or eight houses.”
And that is how he views freedom. Possessions begin to own you after a while, and Buffett’s wants are simple, if not strategic.
Nor will there be any gold-diggers hanging around his family. Buffett will only leave each of his three children $2 billion, with the rest going to philanthropy.
He’s not being mean, either. This is another of life’s important lessons. He plans to leave his children “enough money to that they would feel they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing”.
While Buffett knows this world well, and his investments clearly prove that, he lives in a parallel universe that is free from the trappings of technology. Though he’s invested heavily in Apple, he still only uses a flip phone, and is said to have only sent one email in his life.
In a way, it’s all rather cynical, but the rest of us are to blame. Buffett’s making tens of billions of dollars betting that the rest of us don’t understand freedom in the same way. He’s betting that we are fully trapped in technology and show-off luxuries—and he’s winning the bet.
In other words, Buffett’s frugality isn’t ours, and that’s exactly why he’s the third-wealthiest person in the world. Perhaps something to keep in mind this Christmas.
By David Craggen for Safehaven.com
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