Did following your daily habits and rituals lead me to have $ 87 billion in my bank account?
10 min read
Warren Buffett did not become the fourth richest person in the world for taking rash risks and is nothing if not consistent.
Every day he visits the same McDonald's store that he has visited his entire life in the morning to buy his breakfast. He spends 80 percent of his workday reading, plays bridge most days after work, and always sleeps at the same time.
Comparatively, my everyday life as a twenty-year-old journalist living in New York is TOTALLY lacking in routine. I don't even take the same subway to commute in the morning (you may have heard complaints about this city's unreliable subway system); My work days vary greatly depending on the item I'm working on (like this one), and I never go to bed early (sorry, mom).
So when I decided to spend a day living as the billionaire investor , I knew that I would face a great challenge.
Wake up and earn money
The first momentous task: waking up at 6:45 am. Look, I'm a person who goes to the gym after work, also the night before I started this challenge, I had stayed up until 1:30 am with a friend watching the Netflix reality show Love Is Blind .
According to various interviews, Buffett arrives at work around 9:30 am, just as the stock markets open. I usually get to the office before that time, so I had to kill time. I moved around my apartment a bit and found a playlist on Spotify to inspire me.
Buffett almost always pays in cash, because, as he told Yahoo! Finance , “it's easier”. On the contrary, I generally avoid charging change at all costs (since it is not reflected in my bank balance, it seems to me that bringing a purse is like carrying Monopoly money). But today it was different: it was not an ordinary millennial, in my head it was worth more than 86 billion dollars! So what could be more natural than paying everything in exact cash? I opened the little pig where I put my change and took out cash to buy my breakfast from McDonald's.
Every day, Buffett takes a five-minute trip to McDonald's and orders one of three items: two sausage sandwiches, a sausage sandwich, egg and cheese, or a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich. He decides which one to eat based on how prosperous he feels that morning and tells his wife the price of the food he will buy ($ 2.61, $ 2.95, or $ 3.17) so she can put that amount of money in her car. If Buffett orders two sausage sandwiches, he feels bad. On a good day, you'll splurge on one of bacon, egg, and cheese.
I opened the McDonald's door with my wallet in hand and immediately had a problem: As a vegan (insufferable, I know), I only had one real option under $ 3.17. Financial markets were heading for their worst week since the 2008 financial crisis, so they undercut even Buffett's cheapest order and only caught up with me for a $ 1.95 hashbrown potato (good thing I didn't go to a McDonald's in Manhattan , or almost nothing would have been in the Buffett price range).
I carefully counted some coins and went out to photograph my dad's bag for the item. In typical New York style, a guy on a motorcycle scoffed at me, “You believe so much because you bought a potato at McDonald's!” (To be honest, I deserved it because it seemed like I was instagramming my breakfast).
I got to work just as the markets opened, timing perfectly because I was confident that the subway system would fail me as always.
Buffett is famous for drinking five cans of Coca-Cola every day, so my coworker Matt bought the first one and paid him several coins.
The CEO is known for inviting his friend Bill Gates to McDonald's for lunch, so I made the most natural replacement and took my boss, Dan Bova, for lunch (I wanted to look good on him!). The rush hour meal in midtown Manhattan meant we had to try two different McDonald's locations before we could order our copious amounts of potato chips. It was an unexpected bonding experience for us to eat together foods that generally serve as a cure for hangover. At this point, Coca-Cola was starting to gross me out. He definitely wasn't going to make it to five cans a day.
Mental rest and ukuleles
I set aside some time in the afternoon to just sit and read, emulating the man who spends as much as 80 percent of his work day doing the same thing. According to various reports, Buffett once said: “I read 500 pages every day. This is how knowledge works. It accumulates as compound interest. You can all do it, but I guarantee that not many will. ” The millionaire says the amount of time he spends reading and thinking helps him avoid making impulsive business decisions. Interestingly, it turned out that I didn't feel the usual “slump” it gives us before lunchtime and I felt energized to think more creatively after giving my mind a break. I will definitely explore this further as an alternative to afternoon coffee.
One of the many differences between Buffett and me: The millionaire learned how to successfully play ukulele in college, while I still don't know how to play a single chord with the one I bought when I was a student. However, my dusty ukulele finally had its moment of fame when I tried to recreate Buffett's more than 65 years of experience and “serenaded” my coworkers (they grimaced and applauded politely).
My tried to play bridge, which Buffett reportedly practices for up to eight hours a week. I ended up looking for tutorials on YouTube to see how it played because I had no idea. Buffett told The Washington Post : “It is a game that you can enjoy when you are 90 years old and you see a different intellectual challenge every seven minutes. It is the best exercise for the brain.”
After work, I went to dinner with a friend who also used to be a personal finance journalist. If he was going to be Warren Buffett for a day, the dinner conversation should revolve mainly around investments, money, and long-term goals.
The Berkshire Hathaway CEO's approach to investing is as stable as his daily routine. He is a firm believer in analyzing companies that demonstrate strong long-term growth potential. Buffett actively discourages trying to “beat the market” or trust an actively managed fund.
At dinner, my friend and I talked about the savings we have, our desire to have investments, the payment of debts we have and how the dynamics of money affects personal relationships. It felt good to talk about our long-term goals and ask where we want our money to take us in five to 10 years.
Closing a day like Buffett
On my trip home I heard another of Buffett's favorite songs, “Some Enchanted Evening”, while drinking his favorite smoothie (strawberry). I ran the last blocks to my apartment to get to bed at 10:45 pm and turn off the lights on time (I'm usually a girl who goes to bed at midnight). I slept soundly and woke up feeling full of energy and ready to start another day.
My last assignment as Buffett lasted until day two: stop by his favorite chocolate company, See's Candies, in Greenwich Village in Manhattan. I bought his favorites: peanut chocolate fudge with nuts whose box can be seen next to him at his company meetings. And of course I paid with the handful of change I had left.
Twenty-four hours living as Warren Buffett could have affected my physical condition since I am nowhere near becoming a regular customer of McDonald's and even as an Atlanta native, I am far from their level of Coca-Cola consumption. However, mentally, I felt energized and rejuvenated after giving my mind the space to be creative (through my afternoon reading break) and go to bed early (the wonders of eight hours of sleep!).
As for Buffett's money mindset? Although I may never get used to always paying with cash, applying his perspective of the future in the face of the market downturn kept me calm.
Investments aside, using Buffett's long-term approach to looking at life seems like a healthy way to lovingly remember the past, reduce noise, and focus on what's really important in facing the future. And, of course, taking a strawberry smoothie once in a while doesn't hurt anyone.