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Four eccentric billionaire spending habits
Bill Gates
Bill Gates, a co-founder of Microsoft Corp. and now one of the world's leading philanthropists, may want to use technology to help people live healthier, but he isn't strapping on a "smart watch" himself anytime soon. Speaking with editors of Politico on Monday, Gates said, "No, no, no, it's a $10 watch," when the magazine's Mike Allen asked if the billionaire was wearing a "health watch" that could monitor blood pressure and similar conditions. - photo by Justin Sullivan, istockphoto.com

Bill Gates, a co-founder of Microsoft Corp. and now one of the world’s leading philanthropists, may want to use technology to help people live healthier, but he isn’t strapping on a “smart watch” himself anytime soon.

Speaking with editors of Politico on Monday, Gates said, “No, no, no, it’s a $10 watch,” when the magazine’s Mike Allen asked if the billionaire was wearing a “health watch” that could monitor blood pressure and similar conditions.

Since Gates didn’t say what brand of watch it was, there’s no easy way to confirm his claim. But his response illustrates a trait not uncommon to many of the ultra-wealthy -- frugality when it might not seem necessary.

Take the case of Swede Ingvar Kamprad, founder of global furniture titan IKEA. Reported to have a personal net worth of $28 billion, Kamprad, 88, drove an old Volvo for two decades before he was convinced to get a newer car, according to Forbes. The entrepreneur flies economy, lives in a modest bungalow (Britain’s Express newspaper reported) and encourages employees to write on both sides of a piece of paper, as he does, according to the Odd Phobia blog.

His motto: “It is better to be a bit stingy than throw money out of the window.”

While billionaire Warren Buffet might be known as the “Oracle of Omaha” for his successful investments, the Nebraskan still lives in the modest home he bought in 1958 for $31,500, the Daily Mail reported.

Buffet, who also owns a $4 million mansion in Laguna Niguel, California, enjoys a modest lifestyle in Nebraska’s largest city. “ ‘I’m happy there. I’d move if I thought I’d be happier someplace else,’ “ he reportedly told the BBC in 2011, the newspaper said. “I’m warm in the winter, I’m cool in the summer, it’s convenient for me,” the Daily Mail reported Buffet saying. “I couldn’t imagine having a better house.”

And Bill Gross, a self-made billionaire -- $2.3 billion, according to Forbes magazine -- may have enough money to build one of the world’s top collections of United States postage stamps, but he wouldn’t be caught dead carrying a smartphone.

“Our modern age is becoming more virtual than physical, which I find increasingly depressing if only because I’ve failed to keep pace. I don’t even own a cellphone,” Gross wrote in June on the website of PIMCO, the investment firm he co-founded but left last Friday to join Janus Capital.

“I can’t help but be struck by the thousands of cellphones attempting to capture, in near unison, a moment in time that can be texted to hungry audiences,” Gross added. “My view is that there is time stored in that cellphone but its vintage may be somewhat sour, as compared to the sweetness of the here and now.”

Email: mkellner@deseretnews.com, Twitter: @Mark_Kellner