Billionaire Academy: Wealth Building Lessons from the Super Elite

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Today I'd like to turn the dais over to the financial elite. The gods of wealth building peering down on us from Mt. Olympus.

I'm talking about billionaires.

To put it mildly, they are a different breed -- and they have quite a bit to teach us.

The super wealthy definitely handle taxes differently. One example: When Mitt Romney ran for President, his IRA was worth somewhere between $20 and $101 million.

That's a pretty astounding number, especially given that individual IRA contributions are capped at $6,500 annually.

Yet Romney's IRA wealth isn't even in the same league as Yelp founder Max Levchin, whose IRA was recently calculated to be worth $138 million.

Are numbers like these available to the typical investor? Not unless you're the owner of a red hot startup or master of a world-class hedge fund.

Romney and Levchin and their fellow titans of industry take advantage of a specialized set of loopholes that allow them to build these freakishly large retirement accounts.

The tax benefits, of course, are phenomenal.

These mega-IRAs are so huge, President Obama is about to propose a change to existing law. He wants to limit the maximum size of any IRA to around $3.4 million.

Clever use of arcane tax law may be the province of the ultra-wealthy, yet there are plenty of wealth building lessons we can learn from the exceptionally successful.

So let's talk about what billionaires have to teach us.

Lessons from the billion dollar Cavalier

Dan Gilbert is a lucky guy. He's worth four billion dollars, give or take a few hundred million. He owns the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers. He gets to shoot around with LeBron James.

He's also a brilliant entrepreneur -- a pioneer of the online mortgage business.

At this point, Gilbert can afford to rest on his laurels. Yet he's taking on some of the toughest, riskiest work of his career. He's funding startups and trying to resuscitate the Detroit real estate market. Gilbert ...

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