Looking to teach your children something about finances? It turns out the world's second and third richest men have strikingly similar upbringings that led to their immense success.
Learning from the two men on top
Carlos Slim is the world's second richest man, born in Mexico City, with an estimated net worth of a staggering $67.6 billion. He controls 48% of America Movil, which has the most mobile-phone subscribers in the Americas. He also has major positions in the banking and insurance company Grupo Financiero as well as mining firm Minera Frisco.
Warren Buffett is the third richest man with a net worth of $63 billion. He's the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A)(NYSE:BRK-B), which encompasses a variety of businesses, including insurer GEICO, railroad Burlington Northern Santa Fe, energy company MidAmerican. In addition, it has $60 billion worth of total investments in Wells Fargo, American Express, Coca-Cola, and IBM, plus another $40 billion invested in other firms.
Together, the two men are worth a staggering $130 billion. And while their paths to success have been different, their childhood upbringings were remarkably similar.
The similar childhoods
While Buffett grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and Slim was raised in Mexico City, Mexico, the two have a remarkably similar start to their success.
When asked what he wanted to be when he was growing up, Slim said:
I think I always know that I was going to be a businessman, because I began to invest when I was ten or 12 years old. I began to make my first investments. I opened my checking account and I was already investing very young. I think I knew that.
Buffett has a similar story, as he was recently asked what the secret to his success was and said simply:
I found what I love to do very early...when I was seven or eight years old I knew that this particular game really, really intrigued me. And then I had some great teachers along the way.
Like Slim, Buffett made his first investment when he was 11 years old. He used $114 to buy three shares of Cities Service preferred for $38 each. Shortly thereafter, the stock fell to $27, but Buffett waited until it rebounded to $40 before he sold all three shares. Ultimately, the stock then roared to $200 a share, and Buffett quickly learned the value of buy-and-hold investing.
The leading path to success
Both men note they started their path to investing first by saving. Slim notes his father gave him five pesos every week -- worth less than 50 cents today -- and he spent less than he had and began to put his savings into a bank. From there, he suggests "you begin to think about what to do with them and you investment."
The same fatherly prompting is true of Buffett as well. His dad opened Warren's first savings account when he was six years old and put in $20. From then on Buffett began to save the money he made through "gifts, chores, and money-earning schemes" to bring the account to $120 so he could make his first investment. This is part of the reason why Buffett notes his father "was a huge influence" on his life.
What parents can teach their children
Buffett has said:
The most important job you have is to be the teacher to your children. You are the big, great thing to them. You don't get a rewind button. You don't get to do it twice. Teach by what you do, not what you say. By the time they get through formal school, they would have learned more from you than from school. Provide warmth and food and everything else.
In that advice, we can learn the critical value of teaching children the importance of saving and investing but also pursuing goals according to their gifts. And while they may not end up with as much money as some, they will likely have more happiness.
Patrick Morris owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. The Motley Fool recommends Berkshire Hathaway. The Motley Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.