Carol Loomis published a book on Warren Buffett covering the years 1966-2012 of his life. The book is called Tap Dancing to Work. The first time I read this title I thought that it was just some clever marketing title to grab attention, but once I found out the meaning of the title it meant quite a lot to me.
Warren Buffett has ever since the 1970’s been an obscenely rich man. He had an inflation adjusted wealth of around $80,000,000 in the early 1970’s. The most interesting thing is that 95% of that wealth was tied up in Berkshire Hathaway shares while around $4-5 million was used for his personal accounts. To this day Buffett has rarely sold shares of Berkshire Hathaway for personal spending, and he has let his shares grow into what made him the richest man in the world at one time. His net worth peaked at somewhere around $90 Billion during Berkshire Hathaway’s all-time high. His personal accounts that made up a very small percentage of his net worth are all he used to support his lifestyle. The rest of the money, the billions and billions of dollars, he has never needed to call on to support his lifestyle. It has been like an account full of monopoly money that Warren Buffett plays the game of investing with, and he plays it very well. Because his lifestyle is supported by other investments and personal accounts, he can “tap dance to work” without any real worries about money. He knows he has his desired lifestyle secured, and the rest of the money is just icing on top that he enjoys running one of the best businesses in the world with.
Throughout my life I have found motivation to seek great wealth in order to obtain material things. In particular fancy cars, nice clothes, big houses, et cetera. My favorite Ferraris include the Ferrari 355, F40, and F50. However, the more and more I live life and invest my own money, the more I realize that material things are not the greatest things in life. Sure, I will probably own a million-dollar home at some point in my life and I may have an exotic sports car or too, but I don’t see those things in the same light anymore. I would only ever buy those items if they were an increasingly small percentage of my net worth. In the meantime, until I get to that point, I am enjoying the real gems of life. My best friend will be returning from her Austin medical rotation in about two weeks and I cannot wait to sit around with her and just talk over some tea. She has perfected the art of making great tea. Her and I have often sat on the beach alone at night together just talking about life, the experiences we have had and will have. Those moments are priceless in my memory. After I take my psychiatry shelf exam, I will be returning home to see my Mom and brother. One thing we love to do is visit the park in town that gets decorated with Christmas lights and a big Christmas tree during the holidays. We generally go out there with our sheltie dog and take pictures in the snow and laugh at ourselves and the things we do. It’s a wonderful time of the year for me when I get to see them.
My main investment portfolio may be akin to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. I maintain my lifestyle independent of any investment income that I make. In that regard my investments are “monopoly money” just like the majority of Buffett’s net worth. Hopefully, I will never need to use it or want to use it. Although I know that I will eventually use it to retire on. After all, that is my number one goal…to retire at age 55 and live off of my investment income stream. That isn’t to say that I will stop growing my net worth though as I will likely not spend the entirety of income I make every year when retired.
I have noticed a change in the way I view life. I used to strive to build my wealth in order to buy nice things and enjoy the best the world has to offer, but now I simply invest and grow my net worth because I enjoy the game of investing so much. So much so that I would rather continue to invest rather than spend my money and forego the opportunity cost of investing it. The older I get the more I realize that the times with my friends, family, and day to day randomness are what makes everyone’s life unique and special. One day hopefully I can live life worry free of money just like Buffett. In the meantime, I will keep playing the game of investing so that I too can “tap dance to work” one day.