What Billionaires Do After Retirement

By Claire Bradley | February 11, 2011 AAA
What Billionaires Do After Retirement

To retire as a billionaire - wouldn't we all love to be in that position? Imagine soaking up the sun on your yacht, throwing fancy dinner parties in your mansion, and traveling around the world. This may sound like heaven to you and me, but for some billionaires, their work has only begun once they collect their gold Rolex at retirement. Here are some favorite moves by retired billionaires, and who's doing what during their well-funded golden years. (Find out how to protect your assets so you can live out your dreams in style. Check out Bear-Proof Your Retirement Portfolio.)

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Charity Work
Who doesn't want to make a difference in the world, right? Billionaires are no exception, and with more than plenty to live on, many choose to share their wealth. Take Microsoft's Bill Gates: he retired in 2008 at the ripe old age of 52 to run his own charity with his wife. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation works to fight hunger, develop vaccines and improve education in America's high schools.

If you imagine these billionaires as isolated tycoons, think again: in August of 2010, forty of the wealthiest people pledged as a group to donate a whopping half of their fortunes to charity. Warren Buffett, who started the "Giving Pledge" with billionaire friend Bill Gates, estimates this movement could raise $600 billion for charities - great news for those in need.

TV Appearances
We're all fascinated with the rich, particularly self-made billionaires like Warren Buffett. It's no accident that retired billionaires often find a new job on TV, or by giving radio interviews. Buffett is even looked to for economic advice during our trying times, and he recently voiced his opinion on the government stimulus.

Billionaires often make their fortunes off their names - just think of Steve Jobs, George Lucas and other billionaires whose names and faces are as famous as their successful companies. The media loves a powerful billionaire image, so many retired tycoons find a second job in TV or radio.

Politics
It's downright popular for billionaires to look at politics for a second career after retirement: just look at Michael Bloomberg and California's Meg Whitman. After Whitman made her $1.3 billion fortune turning eBay into the success it is today as its CEO, she retired in 2008 to run for the California Governor seat as a Republican. Meg Whitman lost after spending $144 million of her own money, but has recently joined Hewlett-Packard's board - showing that sometimes, retired billionaires change their minds, and are not ready to throw in the towel just yet.

Some billionaires don't like the political limelight, but are ready to support candidates with their powerful wallets: pharmaceutical entrepreneur Stewart Rahr sold his company Kinray for $1.3 billion, and has now made it his mission to support Donald Trump in a potential presidential run. Money really is political power for some retired billionaires.

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Speaking and Consulting
They didn't become billionaires by accident, so you can imagine that many retired billionaires are sought-after consultants and speakers. What's their secret to success, and how can we replicate it? Warren Buffett is known for sharing his knowledge, and Meg Whitman spoke to a select group of recent female Harvard graduates in January. Don't expect these speaking engagements to be charity work either: many retired billionaires rake in thousands to share their knowledge across the country. Add potential book deals, and you can see there's lots of room in the media for retired billionaires.

The Bottom Line
Billionaires - particularly self-made ones like - didn't get their riches by taking the slow lane, so it's no surprise to see these second careers emerge in retirement. Money may no longer be a big motivator, but expect these well-known billionaires to be active and visible well into their golden years. (New changes to the law can have a huge impact on your nest egg. See New Retirement Plan Limits For 2010.)

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