The World’s Richest Frugal People

(This is a guest article by Lewis Bennett*)

Wikipedia defines frugality as, “the acquiring of and resourceful use of economic goods and services in order to achieve lasting and more fulfilling goals.” A lot of people would use the word “cheap” but don’t say that about anyone on this list of some of the world’s wealthiest people because they also happen to be some of the most frugal.

  • Despite having a net worth of $62 billion and being the world’s richest man, famously frugal investor Warren Buffett still lives in the same home he bought for nearly $31,500 some 50 years ago.

  • John Caudwell used to ride his bike 14 miles to work everyday and cut his own hair because he didn’t want to be bothered going to the barber despite having amassed a fortune of over $2.2 billion. Caudwell also purchased all of his clothing off the rack at British retailer Marks & Spencer.

  • Jim Walton, member of America’s richest family and Wal-Mart scion, reportedly drives a 14-year-old Dodge Dakota despite having a net worth of $16.4 billion.

  • Retail Tycoon Frederik Meijer, worth $2 billion is known to drive cars with very high MPG and prefers to only stay in budget motels.

  • Gene Burd, a 76-year-old journalism professor at the University of Texas has donated over a million dollars to financial foundations but walks 6 miles to work everyday, lives in a very tiny apartment, picks up pennies on the ground, and wears shoes that he found in the trash.

  • Ingvar Kamprad built a $33 billion fortune after founding Ikea but the Swedish tycoon drives a 15-year-old Volvo, tries to avoid wearing suits, and flies coach. It’s also said (surprise, surprise) that Kamprad furnishes his home entirely with affordable Ikea furniture.

  • Indian billionaire Azim Premji worth upwards of $17.1 billion drives a Toyota Corolla and stays in the company guesthouse rather than 5-star hotels when he’s traveling on business. At a lunch honoring his son’s wedding he even served the food on paper plates.

  • We would be amiss to not mention some of the highest earning dead celebrities who are perhaps the most frugal of this list due to their inability to spend :) For example, top earning dead musician, Kurt Cobain made about $50 million last year. Elvis Presley made $42 million despite having died in 1977 and, in third place, Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz earnings were about $35 million.

*About the author: This list was compiled by Lewis Bennett, writer for an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) site.

*Image Credit: Photograph by riptheskull [via Flickr Creative Commons]

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Grant Baldwin said...

Great examples to follow...

If you're not frugal when you have $20, you'll never be frugal if you have $20 billion...

the weakonomist said...

My future father-in-law used to do business with WalMart and met Mr. Walton. The stories of his frugality are true. The idea that he doesn't want to spend more than he has to was the founding principle of WalMart itself.

AJC @ 7million7years said...

Well, you need to ask yourself two questions:

1. Did these people become rich solely because they were frugal?

2. Is their current level of frugality sensible, given their net worth?

Frank Polenose said...

Walk 6 miles to work every day!?! I'd never make that age if I did that!

Frank Polenose of Debt Help

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I know this lady who makes a lot of money (a lot) and she works very hard for it. With her well earned money she buys herself huge (huge) diamond rings, goes on many vacations, buys the best clothes, and has a few cool cars. Now she's looking to buy a lake house in addition to her 3000 square foot house overlooking the river. She says she's frugal because she lives below her means, not getting into debt at all. Does "frugal" apply in this case? Does being frugal mean you're always budgeting for groceries or having to save for the smallest luxuries?

Bob at Dollar and Dollar said...

Based on the stories of rich people I read, most people who work hard to become from rags to riches are always frugal even after earning billions.

QUESTRADE COUPONS - All Coupons, discounts, promo codes, offers, and reviews said...

Grant makes a good point...It is the mentality that drives these people...For most on your list who amassed their fortune from scratch those are the "true" millionaire/billioaires since to amass such wealth you tend to be frugal in the beginning to drive every dollar to its fullest potential. Because they got so use to that lifestyle it continued throughout.

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I forgot to add that also because although they are super wealthy to them they are just "them"...they are looking to conitnue playing this game of getting more money and so to do that you need to continue to save and be frugal.