5 investing tips from Warren Buffett

It’s important to note that before you put everything into investing, Buffett would want you to pay down any debt.

From there, most of his advice this year centers around keeping true to yourself, your gut and avoiding falling into the trap of fads.

1. Investing isn’t a game

Buffett has been pretty open about what he thinks about the popularity of investing apps in the wake of the GameStop/Robinhood fiasco. His issue isn’t exactly with the apps themselves, but rather how they encourage newbie investors to treat trading like a game.

“I think the degree to which a very rich society can reward people who know how to take advantage, essentially, of the gambling instincts of the American public, the worldwide public — it's not the most admirable part of the accomplishment.”

With the right approach, low or no-commission trading apps can be very profitable — as long you don’t treat it like a game.

2.You can't beat an S&P 500 index fund

Buffett says he advises most investors to simply purchase an S&P index fund over buying individual stocks — even including his own company.

"I recommend the S&P 500 index fund. I've never recommended Berkshire to anybody because I don't want people to buy it because they think I'm tipping them into something. On my death there's a fund for my then-widow and 90% will go into an S&P 500 index fund," he said.

Buying into an index fund gives you a portion of some of the most profitable companies in the U.S. and many investors — including Buffett — recommend it for investors planning for the long term.

3. Trust your instincts

Buffett has long distrusted tech, but he finally began investing in Apple in 2016. It’s now one of his top most valuable investments.

But last year, he offloaded some of Berkshire Hathaway’s Apple shares.

"That was probably a mistake,” he says of the move.

However, one sale Buffett doesn’t regret is dumping all of his airline shares. While he “doesn’t consider it a great moment in Berkshire’s history,” the company can boast it has more net worth than any other business in the U.S. — and the airlines were the better for it too.

“I think the airline business has done better because we sold and I wish them well but I still wouldn’t want to buy the airline business,” Buffett said.

4. The present doesn’t always dictate the future

There’s no telling for sure if what’s popular today will still matter tomorrow. And Buffett says that shouldn’t be your overall goal when it comes to investing anyway.

“There’s a lot more to picking stocks than figuring out what’s going to be a wonderful industry in the future,” said Buffett.

To illustrate his point, he put up a slide of all the auto companies from decades ago that started with the letter “M.” The list was so long it didn’t fit on a single slide.

That’s because when cars started to become commonplace in the 1900s, Buffett says about 2,000 businesses flooded the industry, expecting it would have “an amazing future.”

But by 2009, he notes there were three automakers left and two went into bankruptcy proceedings.

With that in mind, don’t invest everything in what’s exciting and new. Instead, build a modest portfolio based on "needs."

5. Don’t lose a certain amount of caution

With the rise of special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) or “blank check companies”, designed to raise the funds to buy an existing company, Buffett is wary of rampant speculation taking place in the marketplace.

“The SPACs generally have to spend their money in two years, as I understand it. If you have to buy a business in two years, you put a gun to my head and said, ‘You’ve got to buy a business in two years,’ I’d buy one but it wouldn't be much of one,” he said.

He has a similar level of disdain for bitcoin, which he opted to dodge having to comment on during the meeting — despite the fact that he acknowledged how much he hates it when politicians do the same.

Buffett has also become more concerned about inflation, which has begun to accelerate lately, with increasing demand in certain areas of the supply chain.

His concern here likely stems from the fact that higher prices can cut into the value of future company profits: “We’re not going to have much luck on acquisitions while this sort of a period continues,” Buffett said.

Fine art as an investment

Stocks can be volatile, cryptos make big swings to either side, and even gold is not immune to the market’s ups and downs.

That’s why if you are looking for the ultimate hedge, it could be worthwhile to check out a real, but overlooked asset: fine art.

Contemporary artwork has outperformed the S&P 500 by a commanding 174% over the past 25 years, according to the Citi Global Art Market chart.

And it’s becoming a popular way to diversify because it’s a real physical asset with little correlation to the stock market.

On a scale of -1 to +1, with 0 representing no link at all, Citi found the correlation between contemporary art and the S&P 500 was just 0.12 during the past 25 years.

Earlier this year, Bank of America investment chief Michael Harnett singled out artwork as a sharp way to outperform over the next decade — due largely to the asset’s track record as an inflation hedge.

Investing in art by the likes of Banksy and Andy Warhol used to be an option only for the ultrarich. But with a new investing platform, you can invest in iconic artworks just like Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates do.

About the Author

Sigrid Forberg

Sigrid Forberg

Reporter

Sigrid is a reporter with MoneyWise. Before joining the team, she worked for a B2B publication in the hardware and home improvement industry and ran an internal employee magazine for the federal government. As a graduate of the Carleton University Journalism program, she takes pride in telling informative, engaging and compelling stories.

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