Warren Buffett, one of the richest men on the planet, once said: “Money has no utility to me. Time has utility to me.”
In a 2016 interview on Bloomberg’s The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations, the Berkshire Hathaway chairman said if there were anything on his bucket list, he would have done it already.
“Money in terms of making trips or owning more houses or having a boat or something — it has no utility to me whatsoever.”
That's quite a statement coming from a man whose net worth, at last check, was sitting at more than $100 billion.
But Buffett insisted that what he truly values is the time he has left.
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Aged 86 and still working hard at the time of the interview, Buffett chuckled at the idea of doing things many people his age do such as relax, play shuffleboard and enjoy retirement.
“They spend all week planning their haircut, usually,” he laughed. “I get to do, everyday, what I love with people that I love. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
The business juggernaut admitted his greatest pleasures in life are running his business, making winning investments and, of course, spending time with his family.
He said he views his life-long enterprise Berkshire Hathaway “like a painter regards a painting — the difference being that the canvas is unlimited. There’s no finish line at Berkshire and it’s a game that you can continue to play.”
Winning at the game of life doesn't necessarily mean you have to earn billions and run a business empire like Buffett. Here are some other ways you can turn time to your advantage.
Money can buy you time
Buffett said “money has no utility” for him, but he understands how it does for the average American who might not want to work until they’re 93 years old like him.
If you save and invest your money wisely during your working life — by making the most of high-interest saving accounts, tax-advantaged investment accounts, like a 401(k) or an individual retirement account (IRA), and diversifying your investment portfolio with traditional stocks and bonds and real estate — you can set yourself up for success in retirement.
Ideally, that means you can enjoy free time in your golden years to do the things you love with the people you love.
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Buffett said he wasn’t interested in owning multiple houses or a boat, but if that’s how you enjoy spending your free time — chilling at a lake house and taking your grandkids out for a spin on the water — money can make that possible. Likewise, it can help you to retire early and give you confidence that you have the means to live comfortably in your later years.
What’s more, if you’ve planned your finances so that you can retire early and live off your savings and any dividends, that may also mean you can delay taking Social Security, which means that you’ll receive higher monthly payments when you do eventually start claiming benefits — with the maximum amount available to those who start age 70 or older.
It’s easier said than done to set yourself up for a long, successful and financially fruitful retirement, but there are ways you can put your money to work so that you don’t have to in later life.
Give your investments time to grow
During the 2016 interview with Rubenstein, Buffett also said: “My life has been a product of compound interest.”
Simply put, the earlier you can start investing, the better off you’ll be, because you can reap the benefits of compound interest. Essentially, it gives you interest on top of interest, so your deposits pile up interest, and the interest piles up interest, too.
Here’s an example of how it works. Let’s say you invest $100,000 in a fund or account that delivered an average annual growth rate of 10.15% over a certain period of time.
Using that 10.15% figure, your $100,000 investment would grow to $110,150 in one year. The year after that, your shares would be worth $110,150 X 1.1015 = $121,330. The year after that, $133,645 and so on. As you can see, when you earn interest on your interest, that can lead to exponential growth over time — and you can speed up that process even further by reinvesting any dividends that you earn.
Keep in mind, however, that the market fluctuates and you will not get the same rate of return every year.
Buffett is a true advocate of the power of compound interest. As a renowned value investor, he’s known for his buy-and-hold strategy — often holding onto stocks for decades and watching them grow.
You don’t have to be an investing mastermind like Buffett to make the most of compound interest, and you don’t have to invest large sums of money to reap the benefits.
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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.