He's worth $47 billion. His company owns everything from a train company, a brick business and a fleet of for-hire private jets. He has the ear of the president and his words move the stock market. He's Warren Buffett and he is the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, a company that started as a textile business, became an insurance business and now has under its wing a variety of endeavors.
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The Buffett Name
It's hard to believe that some people haven't heard the name Warren Buffett, but it's true. Part of the reason for that is that he's known for not being known. He lives in the same house that he purchased in 1958 for $31,500 (which is now worth $700,000) and until recently, he made very few public appearances. He also drives his own car and has no security, never travels on private jets although he owns the largest private jet company, and rarely socializes with the Wall Street elite.
He's famous to anybody who calls him or herself an investor. When he speaks the stock market moves. During the recent recession, it was announced that Warren Buffett had made a $5 billion investment in Goldman Sachs and this helped give confidence to a very shaky stock market.
His annual letter to investors in his company Berkshire Hathaway have been required reading by finance students for decades and where most other guests on CNBC are interviewed for five minutes or less, he often gets a lot more.
Buffett's Money in Perspective
Although he doesn't act like the third-richest man in the world, if we do the math, Mr. Buffett has a lot of money. Here are just a few examples that show how much money is in his wallet.
If he were to spend all of his money buying Honda Accords, he could purchase 2,350,000 cars.
If he wanted to purchase the best seats in the stadium for this year's Super Bowl, he could purchase a ticket for 7,833,333 people. That's enough to fill Cowboy Stadium 98 times.
The world's tallest building is currently Burj Khalifa in Dubai. It is over 160 stories and has over three million square feet of floor space. Mr. Buffet could afford to build 31 more Burj Khalifas around the world.
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If Mr. Buffett were to spend all of his money on iPads, he would purchase eight to ten times more iPads than Apple sold in 2010.
He could purchase every team in Major League Baseball and still have a sizable amount of money left over.
He could purchase The White House 186 times.
He could buy Facebook - but only once.
The Buffett Perspective
While all of these facts may be impressive, don't expect any of these to happen. Warren Buffett, who is conservative with his spending, has other thoughts about his money. He says that he doesn't have a need for extravagant possessions and what's his favorite activity when not working? Go home, make some popcorn and watch TV. When asked, he said this about his money:
"If I wanted to, I could hire 10,000 people to do nothing but paint my picture every day for the rest of my life... But the utility of the product would be zilch, and I would be keeping those 10,000 people from doing AIDS research, or teaching, or nursing … There's nothing material I want very much. And I'm going to give virtually all of [my money] to charity when my wife and I die."
The Bottom Line
Every investor or anybody looking to live a more financially responsible life should study the words of Warren Buffett. It has only been over the past few years that he has begun to speak publically about his views on money. When asked why, he said that he believed that he had knowledge that people "may" want to hear. Like most of what he says, that is vastly understated. (For more related reading, take a look at Rules That Warren Buffett Lives By.)
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