Money

Warren Buffett has been making the same salary for decades — and it's surprisingly low

Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

He might be one of the richest people in the world, but Warren Buffett has actually been making the same salary at Berkshire Hathaway for decades — and it's surprisingly low.

As the Chairman and CEO of the holding company he founded, Buffett made a $100,000 salary in 2017, according to a recent regulatory filing reported by Reuters. Meanwhile, Berkshire paid its median employee $53,510 in 2017. That means Buffett makes less than twice as much as his typical employee.

According to Marketwatch, Buffett earns no other compensation or bonus. However he does currently own 283,000 shares of Berkshire Hathaway Class A stock, which closed at $310,630 on Friday. It makes up the bulk of his nearly $88 billion fortune.

Still, as Marketwatch points out, when it comes to pay, the gap between Buffett and his employees is much slimmer than that of many other CEOs at major companies and their employees.

For example, last year, Boeing Co.'s CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, made $1.7 million salary alone, with over $18 million in total compensation (which also included almost $6 million in stock awards and over $8 million in a non-equity incentive plan), Marketwatch reports. With the median Boeing employee earning $111,204, the CEO's takeaway is 166 times the salary of the typical Boeing employee.

Meanwhile, even after a tumultuous year, Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan's total compensation of $17.4 million reportedly included a base salary of $2.4 million, while the median salary at Wells Fargo was $60,446. And PepsiCo Inc.'s CEO Indra Nooyi made over $31 million in total compensation; about 650 times more than the $47,801 median salary for its employees.

Buffett's small salary is in line with his views on wealth

Despite his billions, Buffett often says money isn't the key to happiness and he would be happy with much less.

"I'm already happy. I would be happy with, you know — certainly with $100,000 a year, I could be very happy," says Buffett on PBS Newshour.

Buffett also has frugal habits. He still lives in the same Omaha house he bought in 1958, and says he's completely content with it.

"If I could spend $100 million on a house that would make me a lot happier, I would do it. But, for me, that's the happiest house In the world. And it's because it's got memories, and people come back, and all that sort of thing," Buffett told PBS Newshour in June.

And he never spends more than $3.17 on breakfast at McDonald's.

The investor has also been outspoken about the unfair allocation of wealth in the United States. In October, when discussing the new Republican tax plan, the billionaire businessman told CNBC that he didn't think he needed a tax cut.

And last year, Buffet told PBS NewsHour, "The real problem, in my view, is ... the prosperity has been unbelievable for the extremely rich people," Buffett said.

"If you go to 1982, when Forbes put on their first 400 list, those people had [a total of] $93 billion. They now have $2.4 trillion, [a multiple of] 25 for one," he adds. "This has been a prosperity that's been disproportionately rewarding to the people on top."

It might be easy to say for billionaire, but the 87-year-old puts his money where his mouth is: He's promised to give away over 99 percent of his fortune through The Giving Pledge, which he started with fellow billionaire Bill Gates. So far, Forbes reports he has given away almost $32 billion.

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