by Matt Okeefe
Warren Buffett is one of the most famous billionaires in the world, with good reason. He’s a very impressive man, and before that he was a very impressive young man. Buffett earned a staggering $53,000 by the time he was sixteen. How did he accomplish that feat?
Here are several of his methods listed below.
1. Warren Buffett sold soda pop and chewing gum.
At the tender age of six, Warren Buffett made his first sale. He started off selling packs of chewing gum, before moving on up to the more profitable cartons of Coca-Cola.
2. Warren Buffett delivered newspapers.
At a young age, Warren did what a lot of boys did to make some money: he had a paper route. As an avid reader of the news, like the rest of the family, the part-time job was a perfect fit. But, unlike most boys, Warren Buffett juggled three different paper routes for two rival newspapers. What really made him stand out though, is how he utilized his brain doing this somewhat mindless chore. Here is an excerpt from his biography, The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life.
“I liked to work by myself, where I could spend my time thinking about things I wanted to think about […] I could be sitting in a room thinking, or I could be riding around flinging things and thinking.”
3. Warren Buffett sold golf balls.
Along with his friend Stu Erickson, Warren Buffett sold used golf balls at the Elmwood Park golf course. They got in trouble with the cops for doing it, but Warren’s parents didn’t mind. They were mostly just proud of their son’s ambition.
4. Warren Buffett sold peanuts and popcorn at football game.
A born salesman, Warren Buffett walked through the stands of the University of Omaha stadium yelling, “Peanuts, popcorn, five cents, a nickel, half dime, fifth of a quarter, get your peanuts and popcorn here!”
5. Warren Buffett sold stamps.
Buffett’s Approval Service offered stamps to out-of-state collectors… for a price.
6. Warren Buffett made money off of pinball machines.
Warren bought a broken pinball machine for twenty-five dollars, and went to his friend Don Danly to fix it. Together they started Wilson’s Coin-Operated Machine Company. They asked a local barber if they could put the machine in the back of his shop, in exchange for half the money they raised. In just a single day, enough customers at the barbershop played pinball to make four dollars. Within a week Warren had enough money to buy more pinball machines, which he negotiated into other barber shops, building a small empire before he could even legally vote.
7. Warren Buffet made money at the horse tracks… without even gambling!
Warren Buffett and his friend Bob Russell were too young to gamble, but that didn’t stop them from cleaning up at the horse tracks. They looked everywhere for discarded tickets that might be worth something. Buffet describes this in his own words,
“They called that ‘stooping.’ At the start of the racing season, you get all these people who’d never seen a race except in the movies. And they’d think that if your horse came in second or third, you didn’t get paid, because the emphasis was on the winner, so they’d throw away place and show tickets. The other time you’d hit it big was when there was a disputed race. […] By that time, people had thrown away their tickets. Meanwhile, we were just gobbling them up.”
8. Warren Buffett built a bigger snowball.
At the very beginning of the The Snowball, author Alice Schroeder writes about how Buffett would catch snowflakes at the age of nine. He’d proceed to scoop up handfuls of snow. He turned those into balls of snow, and placed what he’d collected on the ground. He pushed and picked up more and more snow, building a bigger and bigger snowball.
That’s how Warren Buffett made $53,000 by the age of sixteen: continuing to add to what he already had, until he’d cultivated a small fortune. Years later, that small fortune would grow to one of the biggest networths in the world. To speak metaphorically, it’s all due to Warren Buffett’s dedication to building a bigger snowball, one tiny snowflake at a time.