I’ll admit it, if I were worth a billion dollars, I would definitely not be sparing with my money. Good intentions aside, I would have many pairs of shoes, long self-indulgent holidays and several houses. I don’t think I’d need a life of excess but a life of restrained opulence would definitely be on the money.
I’m sure (at least I hope) I’m not alone in this. And, of course, there are a lot of billionaires who do just that- spend their money in a wonderfully luxurious and offhand manner that us punters can’t even truly fathom. But there are some billionaires who live lives of modesty and frugality. Katie Adams of Yahoo! Finance put together a list of the Five Most Frugal, here are the highlights.
47 billion dollars. Just repeat it to yourself, 47 billion dollars. I genuinely can’t even fathom that amount of money. If a million dollars is hard to comprehend, a billion dollars almost impossible, then how one person thinks about his wealth and assets at 47 billion dollars is actually entirely beyond me.
Yet Buffett lives in the same house he and his wife bought 50 years ago in Nebraska for $31,500. He doesn’t own a yacht, burger and fries remain his favourite meal. The success of Berkshire Hathaway seems, at least in part, to be a combination of real frugality and the enjoyment of investing well. And so herein is a lesson for us all. No wonder Obama likes having him as a friend so much.
Who knew that telecommunications in Latin America would be profitable? Carlos Slim, the wealthies man in the world at a cool $53 billion net worth, sure did. Born in Mexico and qualified as an engineer, Slim was worth $40 million by the time he was 26. Married to the same woman for 32 years until she died in 1999, and still living in the same home, Slim hasn’t let his status as the richest man in the world get in the way of some modest living.
I have a bit of a crush on the ol’ Ingvar. I do, I admit it. Not only because I love his IKEA stores and the cool ice trays in the shape of jigsaw puzzles, but because he generally seems like a delightful man. He flies economy when on business, and if he needs to get around town at home, he’s likely to be found on the bus or driving a 15 year old Volvo. See, he’s impossible not to love.
Irish-American. Youth spent in the wake of the Depression. Worked from the ground up. If that doesn’t spell frugality, nothing will. Chuck Feeney, the founder of Duty Free Shoppers, is not only a billionaire, he is also one of the world’s biggest philanthropists, only behind Ford and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. My favourite quote from him is in response to a query as to why he doesn’t buy many shoes; “you can only wear one pair of shoes at a time”.
Owner of a chain of grocery stores and worth a nice $5 billion, half of which was made during the otherwise-dismal 2009. Meijer is a fan of the budget hotels, and driving cars until they cark it.