Sports Illustrated’s Dan Patrick did a Q&A with Warren Buffett in the February 3 edition of the magazine. (It’s a synopsis of Buffett’s recent appearance on Patrick’s radio show, which you can watch on YouTube here.)
Among the Omaha jokes (it was a pre-Super Bowl conversation and Peyton Manning was starting to look like Nebraska’s best pitchman with his play calling), Buffett may have given out the single best piece of financial and health advice ever. Here’s the exchange as it appeared in the magazine:
Dan Patrick: What’s the biggest mistake people make when it comes to money?
Warren Buffett: Not learning the habit of saving early, and then trying to get rich quick. It’s pretty easy to get well-to-do slowly. But it’s not easy to get rich quick.
Wait a second. Was Warren Buffett talking about personal finance in that exchange? Or long-term health? Or both?
This theme is coming up in the finance world – or maybe I’m just noticing it now. I recently went to fool.com to look up some basic investment information and came upon their “13 Steps to Investing Foolishly.” It would probably get a good rating from Mr. Buffett for its no-nonsense, simple advice. Here’s the step that really spoke to me: number three. “Treat every dollar as an investment.”
Every dollar is an investment in your future. Not every dollar you invest. Every dollar that comes into your life. What will you invest it in today?
I love this stuff, because health works in exactly – exactly! – the same way. Every meal, every workout, every healthy choice counts. The apple instead of the donut for the morning snack, the walk instead of the cigarette for the afternoon break, going to bed early after reading a real book with real pages in it instead of mindlessly surfing the Internet for meaningless head chatter all night long. It all counts.
Every choice. Every single thing we do to take care of our health matters. If we make deposits every day, the compound interest over time is astonishing. We just have to prioiritize it, make the time, do the work. It doesn’t have to be a massive amount of time – three or four hours a week, tops, will get the job done on the exercise front. But the payout is nuts. We wake up at 70 or 80 years old having had a super quality of life up to that point – and looking ahead to a super quality of life for another decade or two. Imagine that. Those deposits today pay those kinds of dividends tomorrow. It’s the real deal.