As the world’s most successful investor, Warren Buffett’s net worth of $59.5 billion shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
The business magnate known as the “Oracle of Omaha” has maintained this wealth by being very frugal—surprising, given just how much he has—and through sound decisions of how to handle his assets. But it all had to start—and come from—somewhere.
Warren Edward Buffett was born on August 30, 1930 in Omaha, Nebraska (hence the aforementioned nickname) and moved to Washington, D.C. after his father became a congressman. He was quite young when he began his interest in business, starting a door-to-door service that sold gum, magazines, and soda. In his childhood and teen years, he also worked in his grandfather’s grocery store, delivered newspapers, sold stamps and golf balls, and more. He first showed his acumen for investing and business in 1944 when he filed his very first tax return and took a deduction on the bike used for his paper route. He first bought stocks at age 11 and made his first major purchase at age 14: 40 acres of farmland. By 15, Warren Buffett’s net worth was already $6,000.
After earning a bachelor of science in business administration from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and a Master’s of science in economics from Columbia Business School (surprisingly, Harvard Business School rejected his application) Warren Buffett worked a in variety of businesses before becoming chairman and CEO of holding company Berkshire Hathaway.
Buffett had begun holding stock in Berkshire Hathaway in 1962 after noticing a pattern whenever the company shut down a mill. Two years later, Berkshire’s then-head Seabury Stanton made an offer to buy back Buffett’s shares; the two agreed verbally to $11 1/2 per share. A few weeks later, Buffett received the written offer, which was now for $11 3/8. Upset at the attempt to undercut him, Buffett changed his mind and instead did the opposite: he bought more of the stock, which enabled him, as majority shareholder, to take leadership of the company and fire Stanton. He then proceeded to save the company’s falling value over time by moving away from textiles into other fields, like insurance, including its current main insurance-based profit source, GEICO. Ironically, Buffett considers his Berkshire Hathaway purchase to be his biggest mistake, as investing rather than buying outright would’ve have made him far more money.
Warren Buffett’s net worth is notable in that, despite his lifetime of investing and wise business decisions, most of his wealth—99%, to be exact—came after age 50. He first became a billionaire in 1990, at age 60, after Berkshire Hathaway made Class A shares available for purchase. By 2002, he had $11 billion to his name from forward contracts and had gained another $2 billion from these contracts by 2006. Then, in 2014, at or near age 84, Berkshire Hathaway shares came to be worth $200,000. While Buffett had given away much of his stock to charity at this point, having made the announcement that he would do so in 2006, he still had 321,000 shares, which were worth $64.2 billion.
While listing every major investment and business from which Warren Buffett derives money would take far too long; the fact that we have to make a point that it’s far too much to convey probably says everything about the man’s innumerable wealth. And the funny thing is, despite his track record and having started so young, he says he owes it all to a book: Benjamin Graham’s The Intelligent Investor. One day, he will likely inspire someone even wealthier, but for now, Warren Buffett’s net worth makes him the world’s third-richest person and, having achieved most of his wealth in his old age, will likely make a run at number one.
|Net Worth at Age 14||$5,000.00|
|Net Worth at Age 30||$1.0 million|
|Net Worth at Age 44||$19 million|
|Net Worth at Age 59||$3.8 billion|
|Net Worth at Age 72||$36 billion|
|Current Net Worth||$59.5 billion|
|Average Made Per Day||$37 million (as of 2013)|
|Average Made Per Hour||$1.5 million (as of 2013)|
|Number of People Richer Than Him||2 (Bill Gates and Carlos Slim Helu)|
|Total Lifetime Donations||$20 billion|
* Note that all values are estimates.