When deciding whether or not to invest in a company, billionaire Warren Buffett looks for businesses that will continue to have a competitive advantage decades down the line. This "buy and hold" strategy is why Buffett says long-term investors in Apple shouldn't obsess over iPhone X sales.
"Nobody buys a farm based on whether they think it's going to rain next year," he said on CNBC's "Squawk Box." "They buy it because they think it's a good investment over 10 or 20 years."
Simply put, Buffett decides a business is worth investing in because it will last, not because it's doing well right now. He purchased See's Candies with longtime business partner Charlie Munger in 1972 and spent more than $1 billion on Coca-Cola stock in 1988 — both of which turned out to be good bets and both of which he still owns today.
"Put together a portfolio of companies whose aggregate earnings march upward over the years, and so also will the portfolio's market value," Buffett wrote in his 1996 letter to shareholders. "If you aren't willing to own a stock for ten years, don't even think about owning it for ten minutes."
While not everyone will garner the same results as Buffett on the stock market, his core principle can be applied to almost every purchase we make: Invest for the long-term.
When deciding whether or not to buy a home, one of the first questions to ask yourself is: How long do I plan on staying here? The longer you live there, usually, the more valuable an investment real estate becomes.
"As a renter, you can easily spend half a million dollars or more on rent over the years ($1,500 a month for 30 years comes to $540,000), and in the end wind up just where you started — owning nothing," self-made millionaire David Bach writes in "The Automatic Millionaire." "Or you can buy a house and spend the same amount paying down a mortgage, and in the end wind up owning your own home free and clear!"
The same goes for clothing, appliances, furniture and anything else that you use on a daily basis. While it's tempting to skimp and get the cheapest option, especially if you're on a tight budget, over time, nicer items may hold up better, making the initial outlay worth it.
Think of it in terms of cost per use. For example, say you invest in a $200 blazer from a high-end store. If it's a wardrobe staple and you wear it twice a week for the whole year, that's 104 days of wear. Divide the cost, $200, by the number of days, and you end up with less than $2 per wear. Not a bad deal, especially if you feel great in it.
Whether you're shopping for a new pair of jeans or in the market for a new car, apply the Buffett rule to your next purchase: Is this something worth holding onto?
If the Oracle of Omaha serves as any example, the discipline to buy things only when you really, really like them pays off.
This is an updated version of a previously published article.
- A 36-year-old who learned to invest like Warren Buffett explains Buffett's No. 1 rule
- Here's exactly what an index fund is—and why it's Warren Buffett's favorite way to invest
- Warren Buffett explains one thing people still don't understand about bitcoin
Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook!