You folks have been sending me a lot of Warren Buffett stuff lately. I appreciate it. Buffett is one of my financial heroes, and I love to soak up his advice. Because I don’t have room to highlight all the Buffettology that comes my way, I’d like to briefly point out two of the stories.
First, Vincent sent me an article from Fortune magazine about what Warren Buffett thinks. A lot of people like to put words in Buffett’s mouth, but he’s not shy about sharing his secrets. If you really want to know his philosophy, the best thing to do is listen to him speak (or read what he writes). Fortune sat in with a group of business students as Buffett talked to them about economics and investing. My favorite Q&A:
What advice would you give to someone who is not a professional investor? Where should they put their money?
Well, if they’re not going to be an active investor — and very few should try to do that — then they should just stay with index funds. Any low-cost index fund. And they should buy it over time. They’re not going to be able to pick the right price and the right time. What they want to do is avoid the wrong price and wrong stock. You just make sure you own a piece of American business, and you don’t buy all at one time.
Buffett has said this time and time again, which is why I’m baffled when people use Buffett as a reason to not diversify. I am not Warren Buffett. Neither are you. Unless you have Buffett’s combination of patience and intense research, you’re better off putting your money in an index fund. (As one reader recently noted, if you can afford to buy a share of Buffett’s company, Berkshire Hathaway, you’re getting the best of both worlds: a diversified portfolio picked by Warren Buffett!)
Meanwhile, Tim Clark at Soul Shelter shared some billionaire lessons in prosperity-building. Clark’s brother attends Berkshire Hathaway events in Omaha every year, and provided the following anecdote from the 2006 shareholders’ meeting:
One shareholder asked a question along the lines of “how should I study investing in order to build wealth in my spare time?”
Buffett replied that, for most people, the bulk of their income is going to come from earning power in their chosen profession. Therefore, from the standpoint of building wealth, free time is better spent sharpening one’s professional skills rather than studying investing.
I also love the story from Clark’s brother about seeing Warren Buffett and Bill Gates dining together in a cheap Omaha steakhouse. Buffett’s frugality is legendary. Sure, he built his wealth through shrewd investments, but he kept his wealth through thrift. Buffett is a reminder that frugality is not a dirty word.
Previous Buffett-worship at Get Rich Slowly:
- The billionaire next door: The wisdom of Warren Buffett
- Questions and answers with Warren Buffett
- In defense of Warren Buffett
I’ve saved a couple other Warren Buffett pieces to share in the future, including his advice for market downturns.