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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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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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