Warren Buffett and his house

The story of an investor, a little house and integrity.

Those who know me know that I’m a big fan of Warren Buffet. I love his philosophy and investment style. I love his way of conceiving finance but even more his inexplicably calm and humble being. If he is the biggest investor in the world there is a reason. Reading his biography, I discover a surprising fact about him: the Oracle of Omaha (as journalists and media have defined him for his ability to predict the financial future of companies) has lived in the same house for over 60 years. A modest house which he bought in 1958 for 31 thousand dollars now worth 500K. Considering that he is a $87 billion tycoon this thing is impressive if you think about it.

But how is it possible that one of the richest men in the world leads a frugal life away from luxuries, vices and straits, expensive cars or all the greatest devilries a man with a heritage almost equal to the GDP of Paraguay and Uruguay put together? First of all I’ll tell you another anecdote about the Oracle: until he was 40 years old he drove a Volkswagen Beetle that was smashed up despite being a multimillionaire. When asked by a journalist why he didn’t buy a Ferrari or Porsche he replied: “Well, I prefer to invest my savings to become even richer”. Definitely a respectable philosophy.

But now we come to the house which, besides being a demonstration of its personality, also preserves the little good that has remained in the world of finance: integrity. What do I mean by integrity? I mean staying the same regardless of how much money you have, it is certainly not for everyone.

Think about it for a moment, how many people do you see around who as soon as they exceed 50K of turnover of their startup or company feel from one moment to another superior. They start to change their skin like snakes and forget the humility, putting on the mask of pride. And you wonder why the third richest man in the world lives in a modest little house, has no driver, goes to McDonald’s for breakfast (alone) every day and drives a 40K Cadillac. While the boy who gets caught by easy pride at the second invoice he emits. In my opinion, one of them is making a mistake, who do you think?

– Federico Palmieri

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