Here’s How Much Cash Billionaires Bill Gates & Warren Buffett Carry In Their Wallets

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May 01 2019
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Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are good buddies. Both are billionaires – Gates is the world’s second richest man (Forbes: US$101.7 billion) while Buffett the third richest man (Forbes: US$89.2 billion). Although Gates owns just over 1% of shares in Microsoft, the software company he founded with Paul Allen in 1975, he remains a board member.


Known as the “Oracle of Omaha”, Warren Buffett is the legendary investor who runs Berkshire Hathaway, an empire so massive it owns more than 60 companies – including insurer Geico, battery manufacturer Duracell, soft-drink giant Coca-Cola and charge-card American Express. Berkshire Hathaway was the most expensive stock in 2018 – US$315,000 a share.


Gates and Buffett have been best friends for 28 years, when they first met each other in 1991. Gates told Buffett to buy Intel and Microsoft stocks, while Buffett taught Gates how to manage his time by prioritizing people and tasks. In fact, Buffett donated US$2.42 billion of Berkshire Hathaway stock to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2017. Last year, he gave away US$3.4 billion, mostly to Gates Foundation.

The Rich and Famous – Warren Buffett, Melinda Gates and Bill Gates

For years, people have been joking that if Bill Gates suddenly drops a thousand dollars, he won’t bother to pick it up because the 4 seconds he uses to pick up his money, he would have already earned it back. Gates also famously reveals that his kids will inherit only US$10 million each. He says – “I definitely think leaving kids massive amounts of money is not a favour to them.”


But there’s one famous question average Joe and Jane always ask – how much cash do the billionaires carry in their wallets? Reddit AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) is the popular social media platform that people get to ask and grill billionaire Bill Gates. You can shoot him questions ranging in topics from climate change, threat to humanity, the future of education, taxes and whatnot.


Bill Gates said in 2013 that he seldom carries either cash or a wallet with him. But he revealed that his wallet only consists of a single note of US$100. In comparison, Warren Buffett carries more cash, even though the billionaire is slightly poorer than his buddy Gates. Buffett told Yahoo Finance editor in chief Andy Serwer in an interview published Monday – “I probably carry maybe US$400.

Wallet - 400 Dollars

That’s too much cash, considering the legendary investor is famous for spending only maximum US$3.17 a day for breakfast. But the reason is because his wife, Astrid Menks, is the one spending his cash. Buffett said – “My wife likes to use cash, so I just take home a chunk of cash every now and then and she doles it out. She looks at my billfold and sees whether all the 100s are gone.”


However, Buffett said that he uses cash 98% of the time – “If I’m in a restaurant, I’ll always pay cash. It’s just easier.” The frugal billionaire revealed that he has at least one credit card though – “I’ve got an American Express card which I got in 1964.” His empire – Berkshire Hathaway – owed 17.9% of American Express as of the end of 2018.


The 88-year-old investing legend still lives in the same five-bedroom home in Omaha, Nebraska, that he bought in 1958 for merely US$31,500. His office is just a 5-minute drive away. So, for the past 56 years, Buffett stops by McDonald’s and orders one of three breakfast items on the menu – costing US$2.61, US$2.95 or US$3.17.

Warren Buffett Eats McDonalds

The Oracle of Omaha said – “When I’m not feeling quite so prosperous, I might go with the US$2.61, which is two sausage patties, and then I put them together and pour myself a Coke. US$3.17 is a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit, but when the market’s down like this morning, I’ll pass up the US$3.17 and go with the US$2.95.” The US$2.95 set comes with a sausage, egg and cheese.


The investing legend is notorious for paying his breakfast with exact change. Interestingly, Buffett possesses, as does Gates, the McDonald’s McGold card, a food-redemption ticket that provides the owner with free, unlimited McDonald’s for life. But it’s unknown why he seldom uses the card for free meals at McDonald’s.


Buffett’s preference to use cash puts him in the same category of the minority in the U.S., where only 18% Americans made their purchase with cash, according to a 2018 study done by the PEW Research Center. It’s also true that using cash is a good way to save money. Researchers have found that unlike using credit cards, physically handing over money feels painful, hence making you less likely to do it.

Terror Group Al-Qaeda Target - Bill Gates and Warren Buffett

There’s another reason why the super-rich like Gates and Buffett don’t need to carry much cash around with them. Their fame or popularity makes carrying cash unnecessarily. Prior to becoming the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump admitted in 2013 that he didn’t carry a wallet because people usually gave him stuff for free.


Trump said – “You know it’s very sad. I go to a restaurant and almost every time they say, ‘Mr. Trump, it’s on me. The owner would say, ‘Mr. Trump, it’s on me, no charge, Mr. Trump,’ no I never need cash.” Singer John Lennon of Beatles famously expressed his puzzlement at the fact that the wealthier and more famous he became, the less he was expected to pay for anything.


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