- Warren Buffett said the key to avoiding mistakes is to “write your own obituary,” and live up to it.
- Buffett was doling out life advice and investing tips at a shareholder’s meeting on Wednesday.
- Avoid debt, stay in the game, and be kind to others, Buffett urged the crowd.
Warren Buffett, 92, says the key to avoiding major mistakes in life is to write your own obituary and reverse-engineer it.
Buffett was speaking to investors at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting on Saturday, where he and the firm’s vice-chairman, fellow billionaire Charles Munger, answered questions on succeeding in life and growing wealth.
At the meeting, a 15-year-old boy asked Buffett and Munger for advice on avoiding mistakes.
“You should write your obituary and figure out how to live up to it,” the Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO answered.
“It’s not that complicated,” Buffett told the crowd, saying his tips were “straight out of Ben Franklin.”
Buffett explained that he believed in the importance of avoiding mistakes that “take you out of the game or come close to take you out of the game.”
Prudent investors should “never have a night when you’re worried about investing,” said Buffett, who’s worth $113 billion, per Bloomberg’s estimate.
Stay away from debt as much as possible, especially credit card debt, Buffett added. “I’ll make an exception in terms of a mortgage on your house,” he said.
“But why get behind the game if you’re effectively paying 12 or 14 or whatever percent you’re paying on a credit card?” Buffett said.
The billionaire gave another piece of more specific advice — to pause before insulting or attacking others instead of reacting in the heat of the moment. “Tell someone to go to hell tomorrow,” he said, citing the late media mogul Thomas Murphy.
“Think what great advice it is when you screw your life forever by telling somebody to go to hell or something else in 30 seconds, and you can’t erase it,” Buffett said.
“You don’t need to vilify anybody in order to make a point on subjects of discussion,” he added.
And be kind, Buffett urged the crowd.
“I’ve never known anybody that was basically kind that died without friends. And I’ve known plenty of people with money that have died without friends, including their family,” he said.