Many people instinctively roll their eyes at the thought of getting personal finance tips from rich people. After all, advice like "Buy topaz dog collars instead of diamond ones" doesn't exactly resonate with someone who has to stretch every paycheck to make ends meet. But there are some solid tips from very wealthy people that make sense regardless of your financial situation. Here are some personal finance tips from billionaires that can apply to just about everyone.
Carlos Slim Helú is a Mexican businessman who was ranked as the richest person in the world for a few years (Bill Gates regained the title recently.). Slim's personal finance tips reflect commonly held wisdom among wealth-building experts, including this very basic tip: start early. If you're 45 and struggling, this may seem irrelevant, but in your case, the advice should be changed slightly to "start now." The sooner you start managing, saving, and investing your money, however limited, the better off you'll be as long as you avoid mistakes like throwing all your investment money into one stock. Slim lived this advice, buying shares in a Mexican bank at age 12, and earning 200 pesos a week at as a teen working for his father's company.
Find Your Passion
Your bank account may be empty, but believing in yourself at the most fundamental level costs nothing. As billionaire Oprah Winfrey said, "You become what you believe. You are where you are today in your life based on everything you have believed." Change is possible whatever your situation, and the first step is believing in yourself.
Closely related is finding out what your passion in life is, whether it's sewing, animal rescue, or writing software.
Christopher Paul Gardner is "only" a millionaire, but he was a homeless single father for a time. Carmine Gallo had the opportunity to ask Gardner his secret to success, and Gardner said, "Carmine, here's the secret to success: find something you love to do so much, you can't wait for the sun to rise to do it all over again." Maybe you can't start that design business, but you can go online or go to your library and start learning about it, and the sooner you do so, the better.
You Don't Have to Game the System
Billionaire Warren Buffett lives in Omaha, and he made his investment fortune on the fundamentals: focusing on companies with strong annual cash flow, and choosing companies that aren't at risk of technical obsolescence. Buffett spent the early part of his career investing in insurance companies. It's not sexy, but it obviously worked. Whether you have $50 to invest or $5,000, sticking with the fundamentals is smart.
Simplify Your Life
This personal finance tip is similar to the previous one. Warren Buffett lives in a house he bought in 1957 for $31,500. Carlos Slim has lived in the same house for more than 40 years. Constantly pursuing things you don't need puts you on a financial treadmill, not an upward escalator.
Walking and Taking Public Transport Is Nothing to Be Ashamed Of
John Caudwell, David Cheriton, and Chuck Feeney are billionaires you probably haven't heard of, but all three walk, ride bikes, or use public transport for everyday getting around. It's easy on the bank account, and better for the environment. If these guys aren't ashamed at taking the bus, you shouldn't be either. Haters are gonna hate. Ignore them.
Cars Are Consumer Goods
Ingvar Kamprad of Ikea drives a 10-year-old Volvo, and Walmart billionaire Jim Walton drives a 15-year-old pickup truck. Don't waste time on the idea that a car is a status symbol. Sure, if you're a car aficionado, there's nothing wrong with restoring or buying that sweet ride you've dreamed about, if you can afford to. But for most people, including rich people, getting from Point A to Point B in safety and reasonable comfort is sufficient. Some personal finance tips are about distinguishing needs from wants.
When you experience financial difficulties, it can be a little much to take listening to advice from billionaires. But some very wealthy people started from very humble backgrounds. Whatever your financial situation, you can improve it, and personal finance tips offered by the very wealthy can make sense in just about any situation. Buy low, sell high, and don't waste money. Find your passion and make time for it, even if you're working at a wage-slave job. These aren't just tips for financial success, but for making the most of your life, and isn't that what money is supposed to help you do?
Photo Credits: Agência Brasil / Creative Commons 3.0 Brazil, Greg Hernandez / Creative Commons 2.0, dbking / Creative Commons 2.0, Mark Hirschey / Creative Commons 2.0, Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications / Creative Commons 2.0