Curious about the spending habits of the richest people on earth? You’re definitely not alone, friend. Thanks to the Forbes World’s Billionaire List, it’s pretty easy to keep a watchful eye on the financial portfolios of the world’s wealthiest people these days, day-to-day. And as we’ve learned year after year, most of them only seem to be getting richer as time goes on.
Having more money than can ever be spent in a lifetime is a unique problem that very few people experience. In this case, we’re talking about the 0.01%. That type of wealth also comes with certain societal responsibilities. And so, many millionaires and billionaires continue to become philanthropists, often putting piles of their hard-earned money towards charitable causes. In fact, the richest of the rich have signed The Giving Pledge, vowing to give the majority of their wealth (if not all of) of their whopping salaries to good causes within their lifetime.
With philanthropic efforts and beyond, the wealthiest people in the world continue spending their money in jaw-dropping ways that only they can. But before we talk about billionaires’ big spending habits, let’s take a look at who the biggest earners in existence are and what they’re working with.
Who Are The World’s Richest People?
The world’s billionaires had an estimated combined wealth of more than $13 trillion in 2021. It was up to an estimated $5 trillion in 2020. According to The World Inequality Lab’s annual World Inequality Report, “billionaires saw the steepest increase in their share of wealth on record in 2021.”
Fortune says that the world’s richest people now own 11% of global wealth, “marking the biggest leap in recent history.”
As noted by Forbes, these are the five richest people in the world right now:
- Tesla founder, SpaceX founder and CEO, and new Twitter owner Elon Musk has a net worth of $218.1 billion
- Amazon founder and former CEO Jeff Bezos has a net worth of $132.8 billion
- LVMH Moët Hennessy Chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault has a net worth of $150 billion
- Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has a net worth of $124 billion
- Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffet has a net worth of $118 billion
And without further ado, here’s how the world’s richest people are currently spending their staggering fortunes.
According to the financial experts at Forbes, the United States continues to have the highest number of billionaires on earth, led by Musk and Bezos. China follows closely behind, but they’re currently not ranked in the top ten. But when you do the math, the US and China are home to more than half of the world’s billionaires.
Luxury brands cater to the rich and famous, and real estate is no exception. As noted by the Real Estate Investor Goddess, 90% of millionaires in the U.S. have invested in real estate, “and so should you.” From tax benefits to passive cash flow, the benefits are undeniable. And the billionaires would likely agree. Flip through Jeff Bezo’s massive real estate portfolio to get a mind-boggling glimpse of what I mean.
Elon Musk once owned seven homes, but the Tesla founder recently sold them all and vowed to own “no house.” The properties he sold are said to be worth tens of millions. Reportedly, he’s now renting an Austin, Texas mansion for $50,000.
Musk has claimed to live a “minimalistic lifestyle,” and while I will forever have trouble wrapping my mind around that one, I guess it’s important to consider the source. Musk has had quite the come-up since he created PayPal. As of this moment, he’s the richest man on the entire planet. I suppose he could be a lot more frivolous, all things considered. But I digress.
More money, more luxury transportation. The mega-wealthy have never been shy about their private planes, massive yachts, and car fleets. A billionaire’s gotta get around safely and swiftly, after all. And most of them are doing it in style.
Unfortunately for the earth, accumulating more and more ways to get around also means using more and more fossil fuels. According to researchers at Indiana University, billionaires likely have carbon footprints several thousand greater than the typical person getting from A to B.
Reportedly, Bill Gates’s car collection’s estimated net worth was $130 billion as of 2021. Let that sink in for a second. Now take this in: he is not the only one with a garage worth billions.
Per Car Wow, Elon Musk “has spent his money on some interesting cars over the years. Not only has he owned a McLaren F1, but Musk bought *that* Lotus Esprit from the Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me for almost £600,000.” Bernard Arnault drives a BMW 760Li, has a $73 million private jet, and like most billionaires, a massive yacht.
Tech tycoons seem to be in constant competition for who has the biggest yacht. In 2022, Jeff Bezos unveiled his shiny new superyacht. As noted by the New York Post, Bezo’s latest yacht is 471 feet and will take about $25 million a year to run.
With all of that said, Warren Buffet is said to be “a one-car man” and Jeff Bezos drives a Honda Accord (and a spaceship, but more on that pricey purchase in a minute.)
Private Islands and Huge Chunks of Land
As of 2020, Jeff Bezos owns 420,000 acres. According to the Austin BizJournal, Musk’s land holdings in Texas alone “are almost 3 times the size of downtown Austin.” As for Bernard Arnault, “he owns château Saint-Rémy-des-Landes in Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines, Chateau Cheval Blanc in Bordeaux and mansion in Saint-Tropez. In 2000, Bernard Arnault purchased Nyn Park, a piece of land of 129 hectares about 30 kilometers North of London, and built a luxury villa,” per ElegancePedia.
One of the main things all billionaires spend money on is privacy. And what’s more private than your very own island? Bill Gates purchased the Grand Bugue Island of Belize back in 2006. The 314 acres of island is said to be worth $25 million.
The Fountain of Youth
No amount of money can make human beings live forever. And we certainly can’t take it with us. However, billionaires have begun to invest in the fountain of youth, so to speak. From blood transfusions to cryogenic freezing beds, the wealthy have been finding innovative ways to potentially elongate their lifespan and achieve superhuman levels of health.
So who knows, maybe they will get to spend their billions in their (potentially longer than usual) lifetime.
Billionaires aren’t the only non-astronauts who have dreamed of going to space. But they’re the only earthlings who can feasibly afford it. Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Richard Branson were all famously in a race to space, shelling out billions of dollars into their personal space programs.
Branson won that race, but Bezos had our heads spinning when he coughed up $5.5 billion to spend four minutes in suborbital space. Like the other space-bound billionaires, he declared it a childhood dream finally achieved. Elon Musk plans to do much more than merely marvel at space, and currently has his sights set on Mars.
According to NPR, Elon Musk has been hinting that a crewed mission could head to Mars in 2029. At the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, he told the audience it was definitely possible “in our lifetime” and then tweeted “2029” two days later. While no one can say for sure when it will happen, including Musk, he is open about the fact that he’s continuing to work towards it, no matter the cost.
How Much Are The World’s Billionaires Really Spending?
According to Insider, the “average” billionaire can typically spend about $80 million a year without flinching. Much of what they do spend goes into private jets, real estate, private islands, luxury transportation, travel, smart investments, and most recently, space travel. Reportedly, yacht purchases had a sharp upturn among the insanely rich in 2021.
In the Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report, it notes that worldwide sales of “art and antiques” climbed to a staggering $64.1 billion among the wealthy in 2019. Pricey purchases in the realm of priceless art continue to be a lucrative and sought-after investment among the rich.
Billionaires continue to dabble in philanthropy year after year, sometimes creating their own charitable organizations. Perhaps one of the best uses of their fortunes, millionaires, and billionaires are keeping their word, donating large sums of their personal wealth to charity. But there’s plenty more where that came from.
Forbes has ranked the most philanthropic billionaires, decided by those who give away 20% or more of their wealth. The list goes as follows: Warren Buffet, George Soros, Julian Robertson jr. John Arnold, Amos Hostetter Jr., Gordon Moore, and Lynn Schusterman. Ranked on the opposite end of the spectrum, Musk and Bezos, the two richest people on the planet, are said to be the least charitable of all billionaires, reportedly giving away less than 1%.