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Inside the Lives of Billionaires, As Told By A Former Butler

Picture a sprawling estate, with the main house and several smaller cottages. Now, zoom in to the interior. Inside, staff are bustling about, busy caring for the house, prepping food in the kitchen and, most importantly, tending to the family.

If you think I’m describing a scene from Downton Abbey, you’re right. But this same scene takes place each day at the mansions of America’s billionaires. What may surprise you is what life is really like inside these homes.

A former butler and estate manager to one of the world’s richest billionaire families recently described what goes on behind closed doors in the homes of the super wealthy in an article in Business Insider. This butler, David Youdovin, worked for over a year for the family and gained some important insights about what really matters to the wealthiest families.

As it turns out, their priorities aren’t that different from the millions of other, non-billionaire families in the US. Take a look at Youdovin’s list of the top seven lessons he learned while working for the mega-wealthy.

1. Saving money is always important.

The way Youdovin describes it, his former employer was a testament to the idiom “a penny saved is a penny earned.” With a ten-figure net worth, this gentleman was a shrewd negotiator and not above using coupons (or, giving his housekeeper the coupons to use during her shopping trips).

Check Out: Save This Much Each Day To Become A Millionaire

2. A person’s true value has nothing to do with his net worth.

During his position as butler and estate manager, Youdovin interacted with people across various strata of wealth. What he found was that, no matter how much money a person has, if you treat them with respect, they will do the same for you.

3. Private service is not a lowly job.

The private service industry is still quite misunderstood. Some misconceptions include that staff are unskilled, uneducated, and without other employment options, and the employers take advantage of the staff with low pay. Not so. Today’s private service workers are incredibly talented, often employing the myriad talents required to successfully run a five-star resort. If a staff member is lacking expertise in an area, employers often pay to further their education.

4. Art is to be cherished.

Youdovin recounts that his novice appreciation for art was quickly catapulted by the private curators, insurers, lighters, and hangers he worked with. All of these professionals’ goal was to help the family care for its incredible collection of art.

5. Giving back is a privilege.

While Youdovin’s employer was frugal in some ways, he was an incredibly generous giver. When it came to charitable donations, every year his employer would give tens of millions of dollars to human rights organizations, hospitals, cultural institutions and environmental causes.

Check Out: Paying It Forward In Retirement

6. Health is the second most important thing in life.

Health and wellness were paramount to Youdovin’s employer, as was the health of his family and friends. To this end, he employed a full-time medical staff of doctors and nurses. This was all in addition to the medical facilities to which he gave financial support.

7. Family is first.

A tremendous fortune is nothing if you have no one to share it with. Youdovin remembers that family always came first to his employer.

Seen through the lens of what matters most, it appears that billionaires aren’t so different from regular people. Benjamin Franklin said it best: “Money has never made a man happy yet, nor will it.” All it changes is the number of zeros behind your net worth. At our core, we as people still strive for what results in true happiness in life.

Check Out: Getting To One Million

Cover Photo: Tim Jenner /

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