Investing

You Don't Have to Pay $4.6 Million to Get Warren Buffett's Best Advice

Justin Sun, a cryptocurrency entrepreneur, recently paid $4,567,888 for a private lunch with famed investor Warren Buffett. Luckily, the rest of us don't have to spend a dime to eat up the billionaire's best advice.

While Buffett doesn’t take himself too seriously—he told Yahoo Finance earlier this year that those looking for investment advice should "never listen to people like me"—the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway has nonetheless inspired millions of people who try to emulate his style of value investing and enjoy a version of his success.

Here’s some of his best advice.

'Invest in yourself'

"There's one investment that supersedes all others: Invest in yourself," Buffett wrote in a 2017 essay for Forbes magazine. He’s offered this advice several times over the years, especially to people who want to become better investors.

Investing in yourself can be accomplished a variety of ways. For example, Buffett has said one of his best investments was signing up for a $100 course to improve his public speaking skills.

You can also invest in yourself through education. Buffett became passionate about investing early in life—and, he has said at various Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meetings, he read as much as possible about investing even then. By the time he was 10, he has said, he had read all the books in the Omaha, Nebraska, public library about investing—many of them twice.

The book that changed his life is "The Intelligent Investor" by Benjamin Graham. The author “taught me about the stock market," Buffett said at Berkshire Hathaway's 2013 annual meeting.

How to put Buffett's advice to work: While your passion may not be the markets, there are still ways to invest in yourself to become smarter about your money. You could read up on what's happening in the stock market, follow the strategies outlined by some of the best investors (like Buffett), or educate yourself on why it’s important to invest in the market to achieve your million-dollar retirement dreams.

'Start young'

At the 1999 Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting, Buffett was asked how someone might replicate his success—and Buffett's response was simple: "Start young."

Time is important when investing because compounding interest means you earn interest on both the money you invest and on the returns you accrue.

"The nature of compound interest is it behaves like a snowball of sticky snow," Buffett said. "And the trick is to have a very long hill, which means either starting very young or living...to be very old."

How to put Buffett's advice to work: We can't go back in time to make our first investment in the stock market at the age of 11, as Buffett did, but we can begin as early as possible. A classic example from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis illustrates how a saver who starts earlier will have a bigger savings balance at age 65 when compared to a saver who starts later and sets aside three times more money.

'There are no secrets in this business'

The most legendary investor of our time openly shares how he's built his fortune: Buffett started early, continually added money to the market, bought shares of companies he actually wanted to own (and expected to thrive over the long term), and was, he has said, greedy when others were fearful.

"There are no secrets in this business that only the priesthood knows," he told shareholders in 2005. "It's all out there in black and white. It's a simple business."

Again, small amounts of money can reap big returns, Buffett has said: "In investing, it is not necessary to do extraordinary things to get extraordinary results."

How to put Buffett's advice to work: The not-secret to success for most investors? Index funds—which Buffett says make "the most sense practically all the time." Index funds, a form of passive investing, are a low-cost way to buy a lot of stocks at once because these funds track a market index like the S&P 500.

Buffett is such a staunch supporter of index funds that he's instructed the trustee in charge of his estate to invest 90% of his money into the S&P 500. "By periodically investing in an index fund, for example, the know-nothing investors can actually outperform most investment professionals," Buffett wrote in his 1993 letter to shareholders.

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