Financial Advice and Life Lessons to Learn From 10 Successful Billionaires

Financial Advice and Life Lessons to Learn From 10 Successful Billionaires

Written by Kale Havervold
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated December 6, 2017

Many of us spend more time thinking about being a billionaire than we’d like to admit. Not having to worry about money and be set for life has to be a good feeling, but becoming financially successful doesn’t happen overnight. Improving your financial situation often takes time and dedication on your part, and self-made billionaires are a perfect example of that.

These individuals worked long and hard to make their dreams a reality, and are now reaping the benefits. This article will take a look at some amazing life and financial lessons that you can learn from some of the richest people on the planet. While these pieces of advice and lessons are not guaranteed to turn you into a billionaire, they can most definitely give you the necessary information to make positive changes in your life, whether financial or otherwise.

Speaking of self-made success stories, check out our article on Lil’ Dicky’s “Save Dat Money”.

“Start Investing and Saving Early” – Carlos Slim

Time is one of the biggest factors that will determine how financially successful you are. There is a good chance that if you start saving and investing as a teenager, you will be more financially healthy down the road than someone who put off saving or investing for one reason or another. Thanks to the beauty of compounding, even if you saved/invested less than someone else, but for a much longer period of time, you are likely to still come out ahead.

However, don’t be discouraged if you are a bit older and haven’t been saving or investing. The sooner you start, the better off you will be, even if you are getting a later start than most. This is a piece of advice that was put into motion by Mexican businessman (and former richest man on the planet) Carlos Slim. When Slim was only 12 years old, he made the very adult decision to invest some money in a Mexican bank and earned 200 pesos a week by working hard for his father’s company. It is never too early to start and even if you are older, there is no better time to start saving and investing than right now, your future self will thank you.

“Have a Budget and Stick to it” – Chris Sacca

Chris Sacca is a brilliant start-up investor and was an early backer of many extremely successful companies including Uber, Twitter, Instagram, and others. He is a self-made Billionaire and has a wealth of knowledge relating to finance and life itself. His financial lesson is a very simple one, and it is, don’t spend. While his message is aimed more towards a younger person, the advice is valid for everyone. He believes that the best thing young people (or anyone) can do is to stop spending money on unnecessary things. Being cheap now and keeping your priorities in check means much more freedom later in life. Too many times we spend money on things we probably didn’t need and while treating yourself every now and then is okay, don’t make spending money you could be saving a habit.

Want to learn how to budget properly? Read this.

“Live Well Within Your Means” – Ingvar Kamprad

This is a big one and is a big reason there aren’t more billionaires and millionaires in the world today. It is very important that you spend less than you make, and if you get a raise, do not adjust your cost of living to match it. Most of the time, if people make a lot of money or get a big raise, they adjust their lives and spending to accommodate that new wage. This means that while they are making more, they are also spending more, so really haven’t made any progress from where they were before. Some people might even take this too far and put themselves into debt purchasing things they think they should be able to afford.

Click here to know 10 Ways to live within your budget while saving for the future.  

Instead, if you come into some money or get a raise, do your best to keep your cost of living around the same, and you will be amazed at how much you have in the bank every month. One great example of someone who puts this lesson of “living within your means” into action is the founder of Ikea, Ingvar Kamprad. While he is a billionaire and can basically do whatever he wants in terms of money, he still drives an incredibly old car, and even flies economy class. While some would say he is overdoing it, it is better to be doing what he’s doing than it is to overspend and have nothing in savings to show for all of your hard work.

“Set Goals For Yourself” – Richard Branson

Making progress in your financial situation without goals can be difficult and feel totally hopeless. If you do not know where you are trying to go, you will never get there. Instead of being aimless, set yourself some financial and life goals and you will soon find yourself making progress. These can be daily goals, weekly goals, yearly goals or anything else you can come up with.

One billionaire who is no stranger to setting goals for themselves is Richard Branson. His first business venture was a magazine, then a record store and now he controls more than 400 different companies in nearly every industry on the planet, including Virgin Group Ltd. He has said it’s never a bad thing to have a dream and go for it, and he lived that advice several times over in his life. No idea or goal is too small or big, whatever you want in life or finance, set a goal and then work hard for it.

Learn how to be the CFO of your own life by reading this.  

“It’s Not Where You Come From, It’s Where You End Up” – Oprah Winfrey

Unfortunately, some people just get dealt a bad hand when it comes to their life situations. While being successful when born into poverty or with some other issue affecting you might seem impossible, it most certainly is not. It might be difficult, but there are many examples of people who started in dire situations and still went on to achieve success in their lives.

A perfect example is that of Oprah Winfrey. She was born into severe poverty with a teenage mother, and for years, had to wear dresses fashioned from potato sacks. However, she worked hard for decades, dealt with the grind of everyday life and now, Winfrey is one of the richest and most successful people on the planet. So no matter what situation you currently find yourself in, be methodical. It might take you awhile, but you can eventually dig yourself out of any hole.

“Stay the Course and Don’t Get Discouraged” – Jack Ma

Getting discouraged and giving up is something very common in the world and it is totally understandable. Sometimes, the saving game and trying to better your life situation can feel like taking one step forward and two steps back. However, it is important that you stay the course and don’t give up when things get tough. Giving up doesn’t do you any good and will just leave you in a worse financial situation than you found yourself in. Instead, maybe change up what you are doing and see if that helps keep you motivated.

Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, is currently worth almost $50-billion and is a perfect example of what perseverance can do. Ma struggled mightily in college and was turned down from Harvard a whopping 10 times. His struggles continued later in life as he was rejected for over two dozen jobs, including as a cook for Kentucky Fried Chicken, where he was the only person of 24 who was interviewed only to not get the job. He didn’t let these hardships bring him down. Instead, he kept trudging along and look where he ended up.  

“Have Money Saved For a Rainy Day” – Anthony Hsieh

No matter how secure, safe and boring you think your life might be, you aren’t necessarily immune to the many emergencies that can arise. Whether you become ill, get in a car accident, break your computer, or even lose your job; accidents happen and you need to ensure that you’re prepared for them. Having an emergency fund should be one of the first steps you take when trying to improve your financial situation. Preferably, you should store away enough for a few months worth of expenses, but anything is better than nothing. While it can be hard to get one started, simply put away $50-$100 each pay cheque or month and the balance of your emergency fund will rise slowly but surely.

Anthony Hsieh, a self-made billionaire and CEO of loanDepot, has said that having money saved for a rainy day is his best financial advice for young adults. Many experts agree with him and while some might consider it a waste to put their money in a rainy day fund, you will be very glad to have it, should you ever encounter an emergency in your life.

“Never Stop Learning” – Michael Bloomberg

Many people simply stop learning new things when they graduate from high school or college. They get their degree, start a new job, then remain stagnant for the next 40 years. On the other hand, learning new things is very important and can help in all different areas of your life. There are endless things in the world that you can learn about, so why stop in your early-20s?

Should you help your kids graduate with less debt? Find out here.

This life lesson is a favourite for self-made billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Not only is he a former Mayor of New York, but he’s also a successful businessman and philanthropist. He says that even Nobel Prize winners feel they have more to learn and so no one should ever say they have learned enough. The world is so vast and there are so many things to know (especially in the financial world), so we should never stop learning.

Here are some important budgeting tips for university students.

“There is No Substitute for Hard Work” – Mark Cuban

When all else fails, hard work can get you pretty far. Unfortunately, in this day and age, many people are afraid of it. We all want to make a ton of money and put in as little effort as possible. However, that just doesn’t work. If you want to be successful, you need to be willing to shed your blood, sweat, and tears for it. Whether your goal is getting out of debt, building your emergency fund or anything else, you need to work tooth and nail to make it happen.

One billionaire businessman who is known for his tenacity and hard work is Mark Cuban. While he is now the owner of the Dallas Mavericks and a successful investor on Shark Tank, he hasn’t always been so successful. As a child, he worked as a door-to-door garbage bag salesman each and every day. After college, he took a risk and moved to Dallas, where he slept on the floor at a friend’s place and had almost nothing to his name. He kept working hard, grinding away, and it has been nothing but good for his life.

“Keep It Simple, Stupid” – Warren Buffett

Lastly, we will take a look at some advice from arguably one of the most successful financial minds on the planet, Warren Buffett. Whereas many people feel the need to do crazy things with their investments and take wild risks, he has not. Buffett has always invested and looked for value in the same ways. Basically, he looks for organizations with a strong cash flow and for companies that have stood the test of time when it comes to remaining relevant. This advice can be used in other areas of your own life. Instead of making things unnecessarily complicated, sometimes keeping it simple and smooth is the way to go.

For more financial advice that has withstood the test of time, click here.

His advice is great, something we should all take into account. Life doesn’t need to be too complex. By simply investing in a fundamentally sound manner, you will likely find yourself ahead of those who feel the need to get crazy with their money. It might not look sexy, but it has worked for Buffet, as well as a ton of other people out there. Who knows? Maybe it will work for you too.

In his over six-year career as a professional writer, Kale has focused on writing about finance, technology, cryptocurrency, entertainment, and sports. Kale's work has been published on Yahoo, RentHop, the Regina Leader-Post,, and Kale loves to create a wide variety of personal finance-related content. Including everything from how-to guides to featured articles, to advice pieces and everything in between. Whether he’s writing about the newest piece of technology or providing tips to help people with their finances, Kale is passionate about educating Canadian consumers and making sure they have the information they need to make the best decisions.

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