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Five surprising facts about billionaires

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Wealth and luxury is what we’re all about here at Luxury Lifestyle Magazine and, as such, our audience is an exclusive and privileged one. Though even the super-wealthy have their aspirations. So in this article we look at the world’s biggest billionaires, who they are, where they’re from, and what they can teach us about wealth management and global financial trends.

America No Longer #1

Perhaps the most surprising fact of all is that America is no longer the top dog of the global economy. When ranking the biggest companies in the world you’ll be surprised to realise that the top three aren’t American companies, they’re Chinese banks. In fact, Chinese banks make up four of the top ten biggest companies, alongside five American companies and, at tenth place, Japanese auto firm Toyota.

So, five out of ten, America still wins then, right? Well not exactly. See, although America is still home to the richest billionaires (who we’ll get to in a moment) the country with the most billionaires is actually China. And we don’t expect that trend to reverse any time soon.

Super-billionaires Are Often Quite Thrifty

With vast fortunes eclipsing that of many nations, one would expect these super-billionaires to spend extravagantly, but this is not the case. And nobody embodies the frugal billionaire model better than Bill Gates.

All through the go-go 90s Gates eschewed the excesses of his peers and instead ate burgers, drove a small hatchback and got $5 dollar haircuts. Despite giving vast amounts of his wealth away to charity, Gates is still richer than many nations. 38 nations, at the latest count and rising, yet despite this, he’s still as tight as ever.

“I don’t like spending a lot of money on clothes or jewelry for me”, he once told a Q&A session on Reddit, but also added “I do like to buy nice things for my wife.”

It’s a similar story with Mark Zuckerberg, another tech billionaire not known for his fashion sense. Despite being one of the richest men in the world, he still lives in his trademark hoodies and jeans and drives a VW hatchback. He’s also started following Gates’ lead when it comes to giving to charity.

Many Want To Pay More Taxes

With taxes, tax-rates and, of course, tax returns, making headlines in the US lately it may come as a surprise that many super billionaires insist on paying MORE tax, not less.

Warren Buffet is another perfect example of the thrifty billionaire. He drives a regular Cadillac and also admits to filling up on junk food like a regular Joe. Like Bill Gates he’s as well known for his philanthropy, as he is for his business acumen.

He also wants to pay more taxes.

In fact, the Oracle of Omaha and Berkshire Hathaway CEO felt so strongly on the subject he even took out an op ed in the New York Times back in 2011 called “Stop Coddling the Super-Rich” lamenting the fact that he’s taxed at a much lower rate than his own employees. His stance was surprising, but even more surprising was the level of support he received from fellow billionaires.

It’s A Man’s World

Every year the people at Forbes release their list of the world’s richest individuals – and suffice to say it’s something of a sausage fest. Once again the top ten richest this year were all men, with only three women in the top 30, all of whom inherited their fortunes. Overall only six women were in the top 50 richest. In other words, there’s some serious room for improvement and here’s hoping will start to see far more self-made women going forward.

Currently, the world’s youngest billionaires are both female; Katharina Andresen, aged 20, and her sister Alexandra, 19. They inherited their fortune from their father, Norwegian investment tycoon Johan Andresen.

The Rich Live Longer

Or so it seems. Perhaps it’s the access to top notch healthcare, or maybe it’s just that the rich sleep better not having to worry about bills and money woes. Then again it might just be good old fashioned stubbornness – you can’t take it with you, so you might as well hang on to life, and your vast fortune, for as long as possible.

Whatever the real reason is, it does make you think. Of the world’s biggest billionaires, 223 are over the age of 80, and 50 of them are aged 90 or more.

The oldest of them all is David Rockefellar, born in 1915 – which currently makes him 101 years old! His net worth of $3.1 billion, while substantial, is a far cry from that of his grandfather, the legendary John D. Rockefeller, who is widely regarded as being the richest man who ever lived.

Billionaires – Not What They Seem

So, the world’s biggest billionaires aren’t what you’d expect. They’re often quite frugal. They generally tend to live longer and many want to pay more taxes. They also like to give enormous amounts of money to charity. So hardly the miserly tycoons of old, nor are they the clichéd playboys living a life of excess. Instead they’re smart, very capable and take very special care of their money and investments. Plus, although the majority of them are still old white guys, demographics are changing as global capital pivots eastward.

Image credit at the very top of the article: shganti777/