Billionaires around the world have a lot of advice to give to young, ambitious workers. Luckily for us, they're also very willing to share that advice. Here's a collection of some of the best that they've offered, from some of the most successful, and most wealthy, people in the world.
One of the most common pieces of advice given by the wealthiest people in the world should also be one of the most obvious: start early. Carlos Slim Helú founded the business conglomerate Grupo Carso in 1990 and was the richest person in the world from 2010 to 2013. With a net worth of about $50 billion, he's a guy worth listening to. In a letter from 1994 that he sent to students, he wrote, "Work well done is not only a responsibility to yourselves and society; it is also an emotional need." Besides acknowledging the basic advantage of starting early, which he did by buying shares of a Mexican bank when he was twelve, he frequently talks about success in spiritual terms. "Success," he wrote, "is the harmony between the soul and your emotions."
Living with Discipline
Another seemingly obvious piece of advice but one that's incredibly difficult to follow is to discipline yourself. Especially in the early stages of wealth building, the keys are to spend less and save more. As much as possible. More than you think is possible. Mark Cuban, billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team, wrote, "Save your money. Save as much money as you possibly can. Every penny you can. Instead of coffee, drink water. Instead of going to McDonald's, eat mac and cheese." Strict budgeting and unpleasant money-saving lifestyle choices are the difference between a money-conscious spender and a person passionate for success. Cuban also said, "Cut up your credit cards. If you use a credit card, you don't want to be rich."
Ouch. That's harsh, but even long-time billionaires maintain the need for financial discipline. Warren Buffett, for example, still lives in the same Omaha, Nebraska house he bought in 1957.
No-brainer, yes, but sometimes it helps to hear it from someone for whom it's actually worked spectacularly, rather than that high school teacher or college advisor. Elon Musk is one billionaire who, we can safely say, is genuinely interested in saving the world (in addition to building huge personal wealth). In a commencement speech in 2014, he said, "If someone else is working 50 hours and you're working 100, you'll get twice as much done." Not only does this prove unequivocally that he is good at math, but it puts simply the most obvious advice for success. Working harder will get you farther. Opportunities are an important part of many billionaires' success stories, but working hard is the soil from which their money trees grow.
Author Justine Musk gives us another, less talked about angle on the hard work principle: take care of yourself. She wrote, "It helps to have superhuman energy and stamina. …Make it a point to get into the best shape possible. There will be jet lag, mental fatigue, bouts of hard partying, loneliness, pointless meetings, major setbacks, family drama, issues with the Significant Other you rarely see, dark nights of the soul, people who bore and annoy you, little sleep, less sleep than that. Keep your body sharp to keep your mind sharp."
Passion and Creativity
These are aspects of business and financial success that are more difficult to pin down and, consequently, more interesting to explore. The adage goes something like, "Do what you love and you'll never work a day." Doing what you love is certainly important for achieving the drive and perseverance necessary for grand success, but no one's being truthful who says there's no "work" involved.
Jim Koch, founder of the Boston Beer Company (brewer of Samuel Adams Boston Lager), was the son of a brewer and one of the leaders of the craft beer craze. He loves what he does but holds no romantic ideas about never working a day. He said, "Pursue something you love, because a small business is going to be very demanding of your time, your energy — it just eats your life. And if you're doing something you love, then you will accept and even enjoy that." It eats your life—that's a graphic image. But his advice is more realistic: you'll enjoy the insane commitment and you'll accept the immense work involved because you love the process and you'll love the result. He continues, "If you're just doing it to get rich, you're gonna lose heart. I tell everyone, getting rich is life's biggest booby trap." The takeaway: "Do what makes you happy."
J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, knows the value of this and its connection to creativity. "Imagination is not only . . . the fount of all invention and innovation," she said in a 2008 commencement address at Harvard University. "In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared." The once-billionaire author has demonstrated the enormous potential value of imagination in its purest form: fiction. But its value extends to entrepreneurship and wealth building, as well.
After the executives at Apple fired Steve Jobs in 1985, Jobs began his own version of an imaginative venture. In 1986, he funded the departure of The Graphics Group from Lucasfilm and became the majority shareholder of the graphics company that would become Pixar. He helped found what is now a global leader in animation, bought by Disney for $7.4 billion in 2006. Jobs is even credited as an executive producer of Pixar's first film, Toy Story. And Apple, Inc. is no stranger to invoking imagination in its products and in its ads.
Start early. Work hard. Discipline yourself. Follow dreams. Do what you love. Exploit opportunities. Take risks. Be creative.
Without a for Dummies book on getting rich—well, there sort of is—the best we can do is listen to those who have already done it, understand their advice, and use it to forge our own paths up the treacherous climb to success.
As anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, you must prioritize curb appeal. Before a potential buyer even considers looking inside your house, they notice the outside first. Does it attract the right kind of attention? Does it take away from the feel you're going for? If you plan to sell sometime soon, you must think about these things. Here are some landscaping options to increase your home's curb appeal, so you can get the best price on your home.
Extensive Plants and Greenery
A barren front yard won't get you the price you want on your home. So, invest in at least a little bit of greenery to keep the surrounding area from looking too dead. Shrubs and bushes tie the house to the lawn that precedes it, and flower beds bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab structure. You can also strategically plant some trees to improve the overall feel of your home's exterior.
As we mentioned, your lawn is one of the most prominent features of your home's exterior. A patchy, dried-up lawn will quickly drive your home's price way down. Some of the best landscaping options for your home's curb appeal involve improving your lawn for the next inhabitant. Overall fertilization, ground aeration, underbrush removal, proper mowing—all of these lawn care tasks contribute to a greener and more lively area that invites people to see your house, rather than stay away from it.
There's nothing like a broken and disheveled pathway to make someone think twice about buying a property. Just as you want the entryway in your house to be welcoming, so too should the pathway leading up to the house be inviting. The pathway from the street to your front door provides plenty of real estate to get creative with. You don't have to settle for a boring concrete pathway. Consider something more eye catching, like a cobblestone path or intermittent brick patterns, as a way to better welcome potential buyers.
Usable Outdoor Furniture
Landscaping doesn't just involve the ground you walk on; also included are the items you use as extras to the overall look. Outdoor furniture is one such extra that you don't necessarily need but can look quite attractive if done correctly. Staging is important with outdoor furniture. Old, broken-down pieces will only look like more work to the potential buyer. A few comfortable chairs, a bench, or a table with an umbrella really go a long way to improving your outdoor aesthetics.
A good tip for deciding on curb appeal items is to decide what you personally would want to see as a part of a welcoming home's exterior. You don't need to go overboard, but a little bit of forethought could net you quite a lot of extra cash in the sale.
Many people strive to support their community by donating their time or their money. When you find a meaningful cause, you might be quick to cut a donation check. Though it's admirable to be quick to act charitably, you should be wary of several common mistakes made when giving to charity. Being mindful of these mistakes and learning tips for making informed charitable choices can help you make the most out of your generous check.
Acting Quickly Out of Emotion
Mission statements are meant to be compelling. If you're an emotionally driven individual, it's natural to pull out your wallet at the sight of a sad puppy on TV or when informed about food insecurity over the phone. Unfortunately, not all charities are as effective or official as they may seem.
Take your passion for helping others one step further by making sure your chosen charity is legit. Speaking with a representative, reviewing their website and social media accounts, and looking at testaments online can give you a better idea of whether the organization is worth your donation.
Forgetting to Keep Record of the Donation
Don't forget that you can reap some financial perks from giving back! With the proper documentation of your donation, you can acquire a better tax deductible.
If you donate more than $12,400 as a single filer or $24,800 as one of two joint filers, you're eligible to deduct that amount from your taxes. So, when a charity asks if you'd like a receipt of donation, always answer yes.
Donating Unusable Materials
Most charities can utilize a monetary donation—it's the physical donations that usually cause some issues. Providing a local nonprofit with irrelevant materials or gifting them with unusable products are surprisingly common mistakes made when giving to charity.
Always check your intended charity's website for a list of things they do and do not accept. The majority of places will provide a guideline to donating or offer contact information to clarify any questions.
Strictly Giving at Year's End
As more and more people get into the holiday spirit at the end of the year, nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations. While it's great to spread holiday cheer via a monetary donation, it's important to keep that spirit going year-round.
With regular donations, charities can more effectively allocate their annual budget. Setting up an automatic monthly donation with the charity of your choosing can maximize your impact. You can account for a monthly donation by foregoing a costly coffee every once in a while.
Knowing how much you should spend on home maintenance each year is hard to figure out and may be preventing you from buying your first home. The types of costs you'll incur depend on the house you buy and its location. The one certainty is that you should start saving now. Read on to figure out how much to start setting aside based on the home you own.
The Age of Your House
Consider several factors when budgeting for home repairs. If you've purchased a new home, your house likely won't require as much maintenance for a few years. Homes built 20 or more years ago are likely to require more maintenance, including replacing and keeping your windows clean. Further, depending on your home's location, weather can cause additional strain over time, so you may need to budget for more repairs.
The One-Percent Rule
An easy way to budget for home repairs is to follow the one-percent rule. Set aside one percent of your home's purchase price each year to cover maintenance costs. For instance, if you paid $200,000 for your home, you would set aside $2,000 each year. This plan is not foolproof. If you bought your home for a good deal during a buyer's market, your home could require more repairs than you've budgeted for.
The Square-Foot Rule
Easy to calculate, you can also budget for home maintenance by saving one dollar for every square foot of your home. This pricing method is more consistent than pricing it by how much you paid because the rate relies on the objective size of your home. Unfortunately, it does not consider inflation for the area where you live, so make sure you also budget for increased taxes and labor costs if you live in or near a city.
The Mix and Match Method
Since there is no infallible rule for how much you should spend on home maintenance, you can combine both methods to get an idea for a budget. Average your results from the square-foot rule and the one-percent rule to arrive at a budget that works for you. You should also increase your savings by 10 percent for each risk factor that affects your home, such as weather and age.
Holding on to savings is easier in theory than practice. Once you know how much you should spend on home maintenance, you'll know what to aim for and be more prepared for an emergency. If you are having trouble securing funds for home repairs, consider taking out a home equity loan, borrowing money from friends or family, or applying for funds through a home repair program through your local government for low-income individuals.