What You Can Learn About Frugality From Warren Buffett

by heather

Ok, that title may seem like an oxymoron, right? After all, what does the world’s richest man know about frugal living?

Well, if you’re anything like me then you’ll be amazed at just how much he does know about frugality. I mean, Warren Buffett was living and breathing frugality eons before frugality was cool. He was living frugally even when he had his first million in the bank, and still doing it when he made his first billion.

How do I know all this? Well, I just got done reading “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life“, by Alice Schroeder.

Let’s Start With the Bad…

Here is my only piece of negative criticism: the book is a tome. I mean, it’s almost one thousand pages long, and basically covers every business deal, every friendship, and every major and minor decision that Warren Buffet ever made.

For those of you interested in learning how Warren Buffett made his billions, and want to hear about every step he made along the way, this is a very good thing.

If you’re merely curious about “The Oracle of Omaha” and want to know a bit about his life, the sheer size of the book is going to be a bit overwhelming. I mean, it’s so hefty that tonight I’ll be using it as a weight to press the water out of my tofu for dinner. That job is usually reserved for heavy plates or dictionary-weighted books.

In my opinion, however, that’s the only bad thing about the book.

On With The Good…

The remarkable thing about “The Snowball” is that it’s an extremely personal inside look at Warren Buffett’s usually secretive life. I admit I didn’t know much about the man before I began this memoir, other than the fact that he’s a billionaire with an uncanny ability to pick winning stocks, but now I would classify him as someone to be looked up to and admired.

And, his fortune has nothing to do with this.

The reason I was most impressed with Buffett is because of his life’s philosophy. He believes strongly in living simply and frugally. I mean, he has enough money to buy a small, well populated country. And yet he still lives in the same house he bought back in the 1950’s. He still wears the same, ill-fitting suits. He still spends his evenings reading the newspaper, drinking Coke, and playing bridge.

In short, he lives like the old nice guy next door does. His incredible fortune has not done that much to change his life, other than allow him to donate most of it to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Why You Should Read This Book

You should read this book because it’s proof that you can have a very happy, rewarding life and live simply at the same time. Buffet’s example is one we should all look up to.

Here’s a good story that particularly stuck out to me: growing up, his kids had to work for their allowance. I mean, Buffett was a millionaire by his mid-20’s, but growing up his kids never knew how rich they really were.

If they wanted their dad to buy them something, most of the time he’d say no. And it’s still not that much different today. Buffett doesn’t really believe in inherited wealth, which is why he donated almost his entire fortune to charity.

He helped his children with their education costs, but not with much else. They’ve gone on to live their own lives, and make their own names for themselves. He taught them to work hard and do their own thing.

There’s a lot of great life lessons in “The Snowball”. If you’re interested in investing, then you’ll get an intimate, inside looks at Buffett’s strategies, and how they’ve developed through the decades. If you’d like to learn how to live frugally (and if it’s worth it in the first place), then there are a lot of poignant stories that prove the point.

My unofficial rating is 4 out of 5 stars, and the only reason it didn’t get a perfect score is because it’s incredibly detailed, almost exhaustingly so. But, I still highly recommend checking it out. You’ll definitely have a new respect for the man once you’re done.

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Hazel Woods » Blog Archive » What You Can Learn About Frugality From Warren Buffett
January 7, 2009 at 5:01 pm

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