Saturday, March 08, 2008

Where is the real money made?

I am a regular listener of the Clark Howard radio show. One of his common caller issues is the listener who has recently attended a hotel ballroom seminar pitching strategies to attain great wealth and is concerned that they are about to be "ripped off". These strategies come in different forms; buying manufacturers receivables, purchasing foreclosed real estate, buying over priced investments, and home based-businesses to name a few. The common denominator amongst all of them is the request for further outlays of cash; payments of hundreds and sometimes even thousands of dollars are necessary to receive additional courses, books, tapes, mailing lists and other materials to make this money making endeavor successful. Clark’s response is always the same; if this was such a great money making idea, the presenters would be off making millions, not hawking their techniques in hotel ballrooms.

I couldn’t help but be reminded of Clark’s response as I read Warren Buffett’s biography, “The Making of an American Capitalist,” by Roger Lowenstien. One thing that stood out from the beginning of Buffett's investment career was his aversion to giving stock tips. In the beginning years of Berkshire Hathaway he would not keep his investors informed as to where their money was invested and only provided return updates on an annual basis. Much of the investment purchasing he made for Berkshire Hathaway was accomplished by quiet accumulation.

Think about these questions the next time someone pitches a get rich quick scheme to you. Where is the money really being made? Is it by using the actual techniques being pitched or is it in the pitch itself? Warren Buffett became the richest man on the planet by investing in stock, not pitching subscriptions for stock tip guides in hotel ballrooms for a monthly fee of $19.95.

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