5 retirement lessons from Warren Buffett

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The Risk Behind Buffett's Advice

When you think of great investors, the name at the top of the list is Warren Buffett. The Oracle of Omaha's insights and ideas can guide you in your own efforts to build wealth. As you consider your retirement future, here are five takeaways from the Oracle of Omaha:

1. Invest for the long term.

Many of us are short-sighted. We panic at every market crash or try to chase a quick buck. However, Buffett teaches us to invest for the long term. When Buffett buys a company, he thinks of the long-term value. He doesn't look for something that offers splashy returns in the short term. He looks for something with staying power.

When investing for retirement, you need to think the same way. You won't be able to buy up whole companies, but you can invest for the long term by buying the market through index funds, and then staying in for the long haul. Your future self will thank you.

2. Have a purpose.

Buffett has talked about the importance of having a purpose. You need to have an idea of what you want to do that gives meaning to your life. Studies show that retirees often lose their health shortly after quitting, when they don't have something to look forward to each day. Think about what you want to do with your life during retirement, and make it a new stage, rather than an end.

3. Learn from the mistakes of others.

There is no reason to repeat the mistakes of others. Instead, learn from them. Many people sold at the bottom of the market in early 2009. Those folks locked in their losses. If they had been willing to wait a few years, they would have seen tremendous gains instead. Don't panic just because everyone else is panicking, and pay attention to the mistakes that bring others down. When you learn from the mistakes of others, you are less likely to fall victim to them.

4. Don't invest in the exotic.

Buffett has talked about how he keeps enough cash on hand to meet his upcoming needs, but other than that, he keeps his money working for him. But that doesn't mean that he's investing in exotic assets. Buffett stays away from gold and currencies, and he also avoided the complicated credit default swaps that he famously referred to as instruments of mass financial destruction.

You can be the same boring investor. Focus on stocks, using index funds, and you will be likely to build wealth over time, without the stomach-churning volatility and risk that comes with more exotic assets.

5. Don't worry too much about leaving wealth to your children.

While Buffett has said publicly that he wants his children and grandchildren to live fulfilling lives, he isn't taking care of everything for them. Indeed, a large portion of his wealth is going to charity, not his posterity, when he dies.

You can learn a similar lesson. Don't be so worried about providing everything for your children that you neglect your own retirement. And don't be so concerned about leaving them a pile of money that you don't enjoy your retirement when it comes.

Jeff Rose is a certified financial planner, U.S. combat veteran and the founder of GoodFinancialCents.com.

Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report

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