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Leadership > Billionaires

6 Valuable Lessons About Money From the World's Most Famous Billionaires

Find out what Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Jack Ma think about managing all that cash.
Prince Williams | Getty Images

Managing your money, for both your business and in your personal life, can be a daunting prospect. With the new year, many of us are thinking about how we can best allocate our resources and set budgets that will help reap the biggest rewards. But how should you be thinking about the best way to take care of your funds? Take a page out of the playbook of some of the worlds biggest billionaires.

6 Valuable Lessons About Money From the World's Most Famous Billionaires

1. Make an investment in yourself.

Aurelien Meunier | Getty Images

This tip makes a lot of sense coming from someone as dedicated to lifelong learning as Bill Gates. In a 2014 Reddit AMA, one user had this question for the Microsoft co-founder: What is your best personal financial advice for people who make under $100,000 per year?” Gates simply replied, “invest in your education.”

6 Valuable Lessons About Money From the World's Most Famous Billionaires

2. Remember your net worth isn’t your self worth.

Steve Jennings | Getty Images

Though Laurene Powell Jobs might be most easily recognized as the widow of the late Steve Jobs, she is a businesswoman in her own right. The philanthropist is worth $20 billion and is the founder of nonprofits College Track and the Emerson Collective, which focus on education, conservation, immigration reform and supporting underserved communities. “My relationship with money is that it's a tool to be self-sufficient, but it's not something that is a part of who I am,” Jobs told Walter Isaacson.

6 Valuable Lessons About Money From the World's Most Famous Billionaires

3. Start early and stay steady.

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Mexican businessman and philanthropist Carlos Slim is worth $67.9 billion. He was the richest person in the world from 2010 to 2013, but he apparently still keeps the books containing his childhood budgets in his office. When he was 10 he started a checking account and two years later was buying shares of the National Bank of Mexico. Slim has said of weathering adversity, "I learned from my father that you continue to invest and reinvest in your businesses, including during crises.”

6 Valuable Lessons About Money From the World's Most Famous Billionaires

4. Don’t borrow money.

Lacy O'Toole | NBCU | Getty Images

The "Oracle of Omaha" Warren Buffett is known for being thoughtful with his investments and how he approaches money. One piece of advice that he gave during a speech at the University of Notre Dame in 1991 is proof of that: “I’ve seen more people fail because of liquor and leverage -- leverage being borrowed money. You really don’t need leverage in this world much. If you’re smart, you’re going to make a lot of money without borrowing.”

6 Valuable Lessons About Money From the World's Most Famous Billionaires

5. Sign all your checks.

Kevin Winter | Getty Images

Although Oprah recently went to the bank for the first time in 29 years to deposit a $2 million check, you better believe that even though she may not be able to remember her pin number offhand, that she knows exactly what is coming in and going out of her accounts. In a 2013 interview with Rolling Stone, tennis phenom and entrepreneur Serena Williams recalled the simple financial advice the media mogul gave her that she still takes to heart. “Oprah told me a long time ago, 'You sign every check. Never let anyone sign any checks.'”

6 Valuable Lessons About Money From the World's Most Famous Billionaires

6. Remember that money won’t solve everything.

Wang HE | Getty Images

Alibaba founder Jack Ma is now the wealthiest man in China, but before his riches, one of Ma's earliest gigs out of college was earning $20 a month as an English teacher. During a conversation at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2014, Ma said that millions of dollars can be a “headache” because of the attendant responsibilities. In an interview with Bloomberg in 2017, Ma had this to say about his $49.5 billion net worth: "I don't have time to spend money. People say, 'Jack, you can spend money better than government, better than the other guys.' So you have all the assets. How can you spend better? Increase my own private assets? How much many can you spend in your life?”