Saturday, May 31, 2008

Un-Buffeted by Over-Indulgence

Granted, many are using their credit card for used Mother Nature never intended—buying groceries and gas—and how else to get these things when paychecks and interest rates are not keeping pace with the costs of basic living? But as more and more people continue to expand their revolving debt (credit card—think stuck in a spinning revolving door) for stuff they really don’t need, but perhaps have grown accustomed to during the recent spend, splurge and spoil years, kind of like a New Age Roaring Twenties, it is almost refreshing to read how someone who could probably buy half the world feels about such expenditure.

Here are some excerpts from an interview conducted by Christoph Pauly and Janko Tietz and published in Der Spiegel this weekend [,1518,556114,00.html ] . Among other things, Warren Buffett explained why he doesn’t feel the need to live large:

SPIEGEL: You have pledged about half of your fortune to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. What happens with the other half?

Buffett: In addition to the Gates Foundation, I have pledged money to four other foundations. So far, 80 percent of my stock holdings have been firmly committed to these five organizations. I have promised that I would ultimately donate every one of my shares in Berkshire Hathaway. My will clearly specifies what will happen to the remaining shares. But I can still change this decision while I'm alive.

SPIEGEL: You are the richest man in the world…

Buffett: … maybe not anymore…

SPIEGEL: Let's not argue about a few billion. How does your immense wealth affect your everyday life?

Buffett: I have everything I need. But that's also the way I felt at 25, when I didn't have that much money yet. I have a wonderful family. I have a job that I love and wonderful people who help me with it. It can't get any better than that.

SPIEGEL: You have no interest in a new mansion in Omaha, or perhaps a luxury house at the beach? After all, you've been living in the same house for decades.

Buffett: I don't need 15 houses. Owning real estate doesn't mean much to me. I don't like to think about things like that. I don't need 12 boats, or even the world's largest boat with a crew of 80. I'd have to take care of them, to worry about them. I get a lot more fun out of life without all the bells and whistles.

Yep, those bells and whistles seem to eventually rust and fall apart so maybe it is just better to not get too used to them. Just stick with the basics. The basics are priced pretty much like luxuries these days anyway.

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