In 2015 I told myself repeatedly I was going to the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder conference in Omaha, Nebraska. I read 1500 Days and Planting Our Pennies reviews of last year and practically drooled over the thought of attending what some call the capitalist Woodstock. My excitement level was high, but I needed to ask myself the more important question: What would Warren Buffett do?
I was ready to go but did not know where to start. I needed a few things since Warren Buffett does not set up shop in Chicago to host his annual shareholder meeting. Essentially I had 4 moving parts to obtain:
The great news is Mr. 1500 days was in town and as luck would have it was on his way there from Chicago, check mark on the ride to Omaha. I’m sure he would want gas money or all of the dinosaur figurines I could find, but either way, I’m in!
I was lucky enough to secure a Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder pass from Richmond Savers, who if you have not checked out I highly suggest doing so. If you are into travel hacking this is the way to go. I was so proud of myself I was halfway there to my goal. My plan was to make the entire trip on $200 or less, that’s when things started getting a little more difficult.
Securing a ride back to Chicago was all over the place for me. I was trying to get a ride to Kansas City so I could get a cheap one-way flight, per Warren Buffett’s direction of course. After failing to secure a ride, I realized I could just take a train from Omaha to Chicago, which could actually work, I’m not sure why I didn’t think of this sooner. Here I am feeling like a genius again, well a little bit, but here’s where I failed.
After looking at Airbnb, (if you sign up using this link I may receive a travel credit from Airbnb, that’s my transparency guarantee) the prices for what I was looking for were just too much, I couldn’t see paying $150 night to sleep in a bed a couple of miles away for 2 nights, which led me to a new destination called Couchsurfer, why not a free couch to sleep on or even a bed.
Long story short, with a week left to go the guy I was waiting on a decision from my Couchsurfer request and if he would be in town that weekend, unfortunately, it didn’t work out. I had 11 days to figure everything out when I realized I needed to ask myself a question: What would Warren Buffett do if he were me?
There came a time last week, that I started thinking that traveling to Omaha, Nebraska to see Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger might not be the best use of my money, in fact, it might be a bad use of my money.
I was in student loan debt but closing in on paying it all off, the plan was to be finished in April, but now I am projected to pay it off by the end of June. Even that payoff is coming down to the dollars and cents of being able to pay it off by then. So a $200 trip or potentially more could derail this in a flash. I decided to ask Warren Buffett what I should do, here’s what I imagine he would say:
Looking at the first statement, while it involves credit cards, is very similar to what can be said about paying interest on a loan, you can’t make any financial progress that way.
While my student loan interest rate is much smaller at 3.63%. My monthly payment and debt load still are in the way of my financial progress, including this trip, my 401 (k) contribution, H.S.A., and IRA to name a few.
I mean who knows a couple of years ago I would have just put my trip on a credit card and paid the 18-20 percent, foolish I know.
The side of the equation we do not want to be on is always owing money to someone. When you do a net worth calculation, you take your assets minus your liabilities and assuming you are winning this battle a positive number will equate out.
If your liabilities are greater, like they were for me a few years ago I would always be trying to dig myself out of trouble and believe me I have been.
I use Personal Capital to track my overall net worth. Signing up via this link is free and as an added bonus we will both earn a $20 Amazon gift card if you add at least one valid investment account (brokerage, 401k, IRA, etc) containing a balance of more than $1000 within 30 days of registering.)
My liabilities started with a pretty extensive list: credit cards, student loans, personal loan, car loan, and today I’m not even including mortgages because that still counts, the bank wants their money!
If it’s easier to stay out of trouble then the right choice would be to skip the annual conference but let’s not jump to conclusions, let Warren finish.
If we all listened to this statement from age 18-65, I think every one of us could be millionaires. I had to ask my self a real simple question:
What do you want more, to pay off your student loans or attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual conference?
This made my decision, I without a doubt wanted my student loans paid off. I don’t want to wait another day or even another minute if I don’t have, even if that means missing out on the potential to see Warren Buffett talk for a few hours, to me I want to win more than I want to hear from someone who is a winner.
If I would have gone on the trip I might be paying off my student loan in July or August and I don’t want that. When you are finishing a race, you don’t hope that they extend it a couple of extra miles, NO you sprint your a$$ off and finish the race as fast as you can. That my friends is where I am today, sprinting down the finish line of the student loan debt repayment marathon.
The last statement I wanted to be a reminder to myself today and every day forward. The past and new forming habits will carry me throughout my life.
The Berkshire Hathaway annual conference trip would not have broken me financially. The habit of making a small sacrifice today for an even greater pleasure just a few short months away are the habits I want to form today and every day forward.
I don’t want to form a habit of taking the easy way today to only endure pain in the future. During the last days of June, I plan to go back to this post and smile a little knowing that I created a financial habit that kept me on track toward my big win of paying off my student loan debt.
Warren Buffett isn’t really known for his advice on staying out of debt, but rather his investment prowess. However, I think we all can take a little bit of advice from Warren and make some pretty sound financial decisions on the topic.
I didn’t get to see Warren Buffet or enjoy the Berkshire Hathaway extravaganza in 2015, but I really do think I listened to what Warren Buffett would do in my situation. Who knows maybe I’ll see him next year and I can ask him myself.
Have you ever asked yourself, What would Warren Buffett do in your situation?