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9 Can’t-Miss Secrets Behind Warren Buffett’s Wealth

9 Can’t-Miss Secrets Behind Warren Buffett’s Wealth

Studying the success of investors like Warren Buffet is a cottage industry. A search for “Warren Buffet” on Amazon shows over 700 book titles. As one of the most successful investors in history, it makes sense to explore the principles and ideas he used to achieve his wealth. What characterizes Warren Buffet?

1. He Is A Dedicated Student of Investing

For investors simply looking to earn average returns, Buffet recommends investing in index funds (e.g. a popular type of index fund invests in the S&P 500 stock index). What if you want to join Buffet in seeking to very high returns, in excess of the market?

Be prepared to study and learn to follow in Buffet’s footsteps. Buffet’s study of investing goes back decades to his time as a student at Columbia when he studied with Ben Graham, author of The Intelligent Investor. Learning the details and methods of investing are the first secret of Warren Buffet’s wealth.

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2. He Stays True To His Principles Even When They Are Unpopular

Do you remember the “Dot Com” era of the late 1990s? From an investing standpoint, the Dot Com era was strange indeed. Many people bought shares in companies that had little revenue or profit. At that time, Buffet avoided these trendy investments. That decision led some to question his judgement. In 2001 BBC article, Buffet points that, “investors had been hypnotised by the staggering ascent of tech stocks and ignored everything else, including whether the businesses they were investing in were making money.”

3. He Improved His Communication Skills Through Training

In order to have money to invest, Buffet understood that he had to increase his income and professional skills. When he was in his early 20s, Buffet took the Dale Carnegie course to improve his speaking skills. To keep his skills sharp, he then took up a part time teaching role at the University of Omaha. Public speaking is a skill that most people can learn with practice and training.

4. He Reads For Hours Each Day

“I read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge builds up, like compound interest.” – Warren Buffet

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Daily reading is a key habit for Buffet as he seeks new information and opportunities. He reads far and wide: multiple newspapers each day, large numbers of financial reports on potential investments and books. For example, he reads The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times every day (his billionaire business partner Charlie Munger prefers The Economist).

Reading reports, books, newspapers and other material each and every day is much like compound interest. Over time, the knowledge he learns compounds and yields greater insights. Daily reading is a wealth secret that anyone can practice with the right discipline.

5. He Practices Value Investing Principles

“Only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years.” – Warren Buffet

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There are many different investing approaches on the market: dividend investing, index fund investing, value investing, and so forth. Buffet’s approach is fundamentally based on the value investing principles developed by Ben Graham in the mid 20th century. According to Investopedia:

Value investing: The strategy of selecting stocks that trade for less than their intrinsic values. Value investors actively seek stocks of companies that they believe the market has undervalued. They believe the market overreacts to good and bad news, resulting in stock price movements that do not correspond with the company’s long-term fundamentals. The result is an opportunity for value investors to profit by buying when the price is deflated.

The great challenge lies in identifying the intrinsic value of a company and then having the courage to put your money on the line.

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6. He Builds Wealth Slowly

Unlike the technology entrepreneurs of today, Buffet earned his wealth slowly over many decades. Attempting to get rich fast is a recipe for disaster that tends to lead people to taking foolish risks.

7. He Limits Personal Indulgences

Buffet is well known for spending relatively little of his fortune. For example, he still lives in the same house in Omaha that he purchased in the 1950s. Buffet is an expert at resisting lifestyle inflation. After all, if he spent all of his fortune, there would be less available to invest.

8. He Knows His Limits

Despite the potential opportunities, Buffet has steered clear of investing in high technology companies. Why? Buffet argues that investing in innovations tends not to produce good returns. In a famous 1999 Fortune Magazine article, Buffet pointed out that the automotive industry was one of the most innovative developments of the 20th century, changing the daily life of millions of people. Yet, a very large portion of American automobile companies have disappeared – a fact that should give pause to investors. Given the difficulty of successfully investing in innovative companies, Buffet tends to avoid them.

9. He Started Earning Money As A Teenager

Growing up, Buffet was determined to earn money. When he was seventeen years old in 1947, he earned $5,000 delivering newspapers (equivalent to $52,000 in 2013 income terms according to Measuring Worth). Making money and managing money effectively are skills that take time to develop. Buffet did himself a favor by starting young

Featured photo credit: Dollars/RabidSquirrel via pixabay.com

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Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is a Project Management Professional and Founder and CEO of Project Management Hacks.

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Published on May 7, 2019

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

When it comes to stocks, I bet you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

Everyone who’s not a financial expert has been there. I’ve been there. But, time is passing and you need to be crystal clear with how you’re investing for your retirement.

Otherwise, it’s back to work until you can afford not to. So, how can you invest for retirement when you’re not a financial expert?

You take the time to learn the fundamentals well. If you do, you can grow your wealth and retire happy. The best part is that you don’t need to be a financial expert to make smart investment decisions.

Here’s how to invest for retirement the smart and stress-free way:

1. Know Clearly Why You Invest

Odds are you already know why should invest for retirement.

But, maybe you know the wrong reasons. It’s time you get clear on why you’d like to retire. Here are some questions to help you get started:

  • Will you spend more time with your family?
  • What does retirement mean to you?
  • Are you looking to launch that business you’ve been holding off for years?

Everyone wants to retire but not for the same reasons. Once you’re clear for why retirement is important for you, you’ll focus on making it happen.

Investing in the stock market allows you to take advantage of compound interest.[1] All this means is that your money earns money on top of its interest. A reason why investment in the stock market is one of the best ways to plan for retirement.

2. Figure out When to Invest

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”– Chinese Proverb

It’s true if you’d had started investing when you were 10 years old, you’d have a lot more money than you do today.

The reality is that most people don’t start investing until it’s too late. So, if you’re currently waiting for the perfect time to start an investment, it would be today. Open your calendar and block out 2 to 3 hours to choose how you’ll invest for retirement.

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A quick way to get a snapshot of where you stand is to use Personal Capital. Input all your personal information and spend some time setting your retirement goals. Once completed, you’ll know where you stand with your retirement.

Having a savings account for retirement isn’t planning for retirement. Why? Your money loses value when you factor in US inflation.[2]

3. Evaluate Your Risk Tolerance to Create the Perfect Portfolio

Investing your money well depends on your emotions.

Why?

Because when the market drops most people panic and withdraw their money. On average, the US stock market yields an annual 6% to 7% ROI (return on your investment.) But, this won’t happen if you’re worried about short-term loses.

Before you invest your next dollar, know your risk tolerance.[3] Your risk tolerance determines the number of risky and safe investments you’d have.

Regardless of your investing style, you need to view investing for retirement as a long term game. Know that some years you’ll lose money but recoup this in the long-term.

Avoid watching market-related new. Also, create a double authentication to log in your investment account. This way you’re less likely to withdraw your money.

4. Open a Reliable Retirement Account

Depending on your circumstance, you may need to open a new brokerage account. This is the account is where you’ll invest your money.

If you’re currently working for a company, odds are that they offer a 410K investing account. If so, here’s where you’ll invest most of your money. The only problem with this is that you’re limited to the stock options that are available.

You do have the option to open a separate IRA (individual retirement account.) Here are some of the best brokers:

  1. Vanguard
  2. TD Ameritrade
  3. Charles Schwab

5. Challenge Yourself to Invest Consistently

Committing to invest for retirement is hard, but continuing to do so is harder.

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Once you’ve started investment for your retirement, you run at risk from stopping. Often you’ll want to contribute less, so you’d have more money in your pocket.

That’s why it’s important that you create a budget that allows you to invest each month. If you’re working for a company, you can set a percentage for the amount you’d like to contribute each month. Most people by default contribute 1% but aim to contribute 10% to 15%.

Be the judge for how much you can afford to contribute after covering important expenses. To stay motivated, use Personal Capital to view your net worth.

A benefit to contributing money to your retirement account is not taxed. For example, if you earn $100 and invest 10%, you’d contribute $10, then get taxed on the remaining $90. As of 2019, the most you’re able to contribute towards your 401K is 19K but this can change.

6. Consider Where to Invest Your Money

The most common way to invest your money is in stocks, but it’s not the only way. Here are other ways to invest:

Robo Advisors

Robo-advisors[4] are fancy algorithms that’ll choose the best investments for you. Sites like Wealthfront make it easy for first-time investors to invest their money. You’d input information about yourself and set your risk tolerance.

Then, set your monthly contribution amount and your robo-advisor would do the rest. Robo-advisors charge a fee to manage your money, but less than regular advisors.

Bonds

Think of bonds as “IOUs” to whomever you buy them from.

Essentially, you’re lending money and charging interest. Like stocks, not all bonds are equal. Some will be riskier than others depending on their rating.

Here are the different types of bond categories:[5]

  1. Treasury bonds
  2. Government bonds
  3. Corporate bonds
  4. Foreign bonds
  5. Mortgage-backed bonds
  6. Municipal bonds

Mutual Funds

Picture a group of people dumping all their money in a jar that’s managed by a professional. This is how mutual funds work. The fund manager manages the money looking to earn capital gains (interest.)

One of the best types of mutual funds is index funds. Since these funds don’t try to beat the market and instead follow it, they need less research. Because of this they often charge the lowest fees and yield the best long-term results.

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Real Estate

Yes, buying a home is an investment when done correctly.

Imagine buying a home and using it as a rental property. After repairing it, you receive a monthly surplus check of $100 to $200.

This may not sound like a lot, but repeat this process enough times and you’d earn a large amount of passive income. That’s why real estate is one of the best investments to not only retire but become wealthy.

But, it requires a lot of money to start and you should expect losing money along the way as you learn the process.

Savings Accounts

Your money can still grow in a savings account. Nowadays most online banks offer a 2% annual return. Although the average inflation is higher your money will be available when you need it.

7. Master Disincline to Dodge Short Success

Investing for retirement is a long-term strategy. That’s why you need to master delayed gratification. All this means is delaying short-term pleasure for something bigger in the future. Research shows that those who have delayed gratification are more successful.[6]

So how can you master delayed gratification?

By building your discipline.

Think back to what retirement means to you. A clear purpose will help you avoid withdrawing your money during a market downturn. It’ll help you contribute more towards retirement when you’d want to waste it instead.

Your journey towards retirement will be long, so reward yourself along the way. Choose a reward that’s relevant and meaningful, so that you reinforce positive behavior. For example, after contributing more towards retirement, treat yourself to dinner.

8. Aggressively Invest on This One Investment

I’ve mentioned several types of investments but haven’t covered the most important one.

It sounds cliche but here’s why you’re your best investment towards retirement. The more you know, the more money you’ll be able to make. The more good habits you adopt, the more secure your retirement will be.

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More importantly, investing in yourself is an investment that no one can take away. There’s no market downturn nor tragic circumstance that’ll wipe your knowledge and experience.

But, how can you invest yourself?

Reading books, blogs, and anything that’ll help you learn new topics daily. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks on your commute to/from work.

Save money to buy courses and hire coaches. I used to believe hiring coaches was a waste of money when I could learn the subject alone.

But, coaches see your blind spots and hold you accountable. Hiring the right coach will help you achieve your goals faster than you would’ve alone.

Retire Happy with Excess Money

The key to a secure financial future doesn’t only belong to financial experts.

It’s possible for you and I. What if you were able to retire earlier than most people and weren’t a financial planner? What if you were able to focus on what you enjoy doing the most while your money was working hard for you?

I know this sounds impossible now, but the truth is you’re capable of taking charge of your retirement. I’m not a financial expert but I’ve learned how to invest my money by reading books and learning from others.

Investing your money is scary. So start small and invest a small amount of your money with a robo-advisor. Feel your money drop and rise for a month or two. Then, invest more and keep this up until you’re aggressively saving for retirement.

One day, you’ll wake up with a net worth you’re proud of – confident about your retirement. You now know a few strategies you can use to invest in your retirement. Will you take action to retire happy?

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Featured photo credit: Matthew Bennett via unsplash.com

Reference

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