Personal Finance

7 more pieces of financial advice from billionaires

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Everyone’s financial journey looks different. You may be saving money for a certain financial goal, while your best friend is focused on something else entirely.

Yet there are still some principles and underlying mindsets that we can all apply to our finances, no matter what we’re reaching toward. And as people who are doing well financially, billionaires can offer some general advice that can be useful even to those who don't own private islands or overseas bank accounts.

If you caught our first series here, and are still fascinated to see what the rich have to say about getting rich, here are seven more tips from billionaires sharing financial insights

Bill Gates

1. Education is important.

Bill Gates notably dropped out of Harvard, yet he still believes in the power of education. During a Reddit AMA, a user asked what financial advice the Microsoft founder would offer someone making less than $100,000 annually.

Gates’ reply? “Invest in your education.”

A college education can open up more career paths, and it may also help you earn more money. People with a bachelor’s degree make an expected average of $1,173 every week. Comparatively, employees with a high school diploma but no college degree can expect to earn $712 per week — and their unemployment rate is nearly twice as high.     

Education extends beyond school, too. Professional conferences, online courses and certifications can all provide you with strong learning and networking opportunities. Just make sure to do your research to ensure you’re participating in a worthwhile event. 

Mark Cuban

2. Pay off your credit card in full.

A few things in life are certain: death, taxes and Mark Cuban advocating against using credit cards.

The billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks and frequent Shark Tank star has advised people to cut up their credit cards and suggested that if you use credit cards, you don’t want to be rich.

While completely eliminating credit cards may not be realistic — they can provide plenty of benefits, like building up your credit score or offering reward cash and points — Cuban’s advice does highlight an important message. 

If you use a credit card, aim to pay off your balance in full each month. Credit card interest tends to get really high, really fast. And as Cuban notes, it’s tough to invest in something that consistently pays back 18, 20 or 30 percent each month — which is often the amount credit cards charge in interest. That’s why paying off your credit card is among the smartest investments you can make. 

Chase Coleman III

3. Invest in what you believe in

One of the best hedge fund managers of his generation, Chase Coleman III rarely speaks with the press or at events. However, he sent a 20-year anniversary letter to clients in 2021, and there’s some fascinating retrospective thinking inside.

You may not vividly remember life some 20 years ago, but the internet era was just beginning, and Coleman wanted to hop onboard the tech train shortly after the dot-com bubble burst. Coleman’s mentor, Julian Robertson, said he didn’t believe much in tech, and it wasn’t the place to be. But he did believe in Coleman, and he seeded his mentee’s tech-oriented strategy, providing him access to capital, networking and trading infrastructure. 

Coleman ended the letter by announcing the creation of the Tiger Global Philanthropic Adventure, which pledged an initial $220 million to fight against inequality and poverty. Another new venture — this one with a positive global impact.

Throughout life, you’ll have opportunities to put your money toward different things. It might be investing in the stock market or into real estate, or it may be supporting a friend’s business or a charity. The important thing is to invest in things you like and believe in. Don’t simply hop into a situation because it’s the trendy thing to do.

David Tepper

4. Keep your emotions in check.

David Tepper is a hedge fund manager and owner of the Carolina Panthers. His team played in eight one-possession games, so he’s certainly experienced his fair share of emotional rollercoasters. Yet Tepper is a big believer in not letting emotions dictate decision-making

“Fearful environments affect the market,” Tepper said. “It is important to not mix emotions when it comes to investment and refrain from making emotional decisions about investments.”

Tepper also advises patience and trying not to panic, especially when you’ve done your research. That applies to investments in stocks and bonds, but also when choosing your insurance companies or making big purchases, such as a new home or car. If you’ve put in the time to analyze your decisions and aren’t making an emotional choice, you’ll be just fine.   

Mackenzie Scott

5. Make data-driven decisions

In 2020, Mackenzie Scott donated more than $4.1 billion in gifts to 384 organizations across all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. How did Scott and her team discover these organizations? By using a data-driven approach.

“We leveraged this collective knowledge base in a collaboration that included hundreds of emails and phone interviews, and thousands of pages of data analysis on community needs, program outcomes, and each non-profit’s capacity to absorb and make effective use of funding,” Scott wrote.  

When you’re making a decision, don’t be afraid of data. For example, if you’ve been driving only half the number of miles you usually do, telematics might be the best insurance choice for you. If you travel often (for work or pleasure), a credit card that offers mileage reward points could be worthwhile — just remember to pay it off in full each month, or there could be costly effects.

Chris Hohn

6. Appreciate a simple life.

The British hedge fund manager Sir Chris Hohn tends not to offer many interviews, so it was probably a bit of a shock that his 2014 divorce included a courtroom full of media. This event also included some insight into Hohn’s life. 

During the proceedings, Hohn — who at one point was paying himself more than $1.2 million per day — said he lived “a very simple lifestyle” and that “my life is actually about charity.” Even the judge commented that Hohn’s life was less “jetsetting” and more “Swatch.”

We often tend to overcomplicate things in life, but there’s a reason why “keep it simple, stupid” is a common phrase. Sometimes the simplest path is also the most rewarding, whether you’re bundling your home and auto insurance for a discount or automatically investing a portion of your money into a high-yield savings account or index fund every month.

Dave Ramsey

7. Don't forget about retirement.

Okay, this one is cheating a bit, since Dave Ramsey’s net worth isn’t quite at a billion dollars. But his financial advice is important, so we’re including it here.

“Investing 15%, consistently, can pay off in a big way. Like, a million-dollar way, literally,” Ramsey says. “That’s why 15% is the bar for how much to save and you shouldn’t settle for anything less.”

Ramsey recommends investing in a 401(k), 403(b) or Thrift Savings Plan (if you’re a federal employee). Many employers will match contributions up to a certain amount, which is free money! Ramsey also suggests fully funding a Roth IRA, though if you earn more than the threshold, your contributions will be limited or restricted.

Whether retirement is right around the corner or still several decades away, it’s important to regularly save for it. Most retirement accounts let you set up your savings to be taken directly from your gross pay, so you won’t even notice that money is gone. That added money will come in handy for future medical expenses, retirement trips or unexpected purchases.

Want even more financial advice? Don't forget to check out these tips from other billionaires.

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Joey Held

As a writer, Joey Held has specialized in business, marketing, sports, music and insurance topics for more than a decade. He's also a podcaster and author of Kind, But Kind of Weird: Short Stories on Life's Relationships. His first car was a Buick Regal with an inconsistent radio but pretty good gas mileage.