Ernest Buffett Left a Legacy

Brent Pittman —  11/14/2012

I was reading the 2011 Warren Buffett/Berkshire Hathaway letter.  Warren Buffett is like a wise old grandpa, who just happens to be one of the richest people in the world.

He gave lot of insight into the economy and financial situation today.  What struck me most of all was this letter from Ernest Buffett (Warren’s grandfather) which was on page 23.

Warren found it in a safe in 1970 while executing a will of a family member…along with $1000.  Impressive…especially since it was written in 1939 (10 years after the Great Depression started).

Lessons Learned From Ernest Buffett

  1. Warren Buffett is not a freak of investing and saving nature…he is part of a legacy of savers, businessmen, and wise investors.
  2. Emergency Funds are a must.
  3. Leaving a legacy of character , hard work, and wisdom with money can change the world.  (I wonder what my grandchildren will accomplish?)
  4. You can change your family tree.
  5. Saving money is possible during hard times. (he started this 10 years after the Great Depression before the economy began its recovery)

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Brent Pittman

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Brent is a financial coach and writer looking for the perfect donut. He believes personal finance should be both fun and accessible to anyone willing to learn.
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  • Brent, I love this letter! It is timeless! What wonderful advice and so current (except the part about leaving the cash in a safe deposit box). The banks are probably a good place for the reserves. This one is going in my next round up!!!!!

    • I like to have bit of cash about, but $1000 might be overkill.

  • John@TheMoneyPrinciple

    Clearly thoughtful planning. $1000 in those day though was quite a lot of money. Over this side of the pond we tend not to think of health care or educaton, which are generally free within the European social model, but I guess it is coming our way!

    • Austerity my friend, austerity.

      • John@TheMoneyPrinciple

        Keynes showed in the 1930s that the way out of deep recession was investment. President Roosevelt followed this path and the US never had it so good! WW2 helped of course – wars always do because governments concentrate on other things. At the moment all governments are paralysed with fear that they may drop the cup on their watch.

        The problem now is that governments are a lot more in debt than they were then so public investment is more difficult – but not impossible for governments that control their own currencies. And there is a lot of money in companies which are nervous about spending.

        Countries, led by Germany, which preach the austerity lesson should beware of history and Germany above all. When Merkel went to Athens she was greeted by people in Nazi uniforms as a comment on German actions. That was grossly unfair and obscene. The real parallel is the Versailles Treaty which imposed such austerity on Germany that it all went ape-shaped. Woodrow Wilson’s warnings were not heeded, particularly by Clemenceau who wanted ‘reparations’. He got the response less than 20 years later. Similar thinking has reared its ugly head 100 years later.

        • Looks like I struck a nerve. 😉 Thanks for your up close European perspective.

  • Emily @ evolvingPF

    What a sweet letter! How much is that $1000 in today’s dollars?

    • I hope I can leave such a letter to my kids and grandkids.

    • I did a quick survey of a few inflation calculators and found that $1,000 in 1939 would be the about $16,500 in 2012 dollars!

  • krantcents

    Savings and investing helped me achieve financial freedom. It is very important to create savings habit.

  • Mike Patti

    What a great letter. Ramsey might be on to something 🙂

  • Franci

    Inspiring what we learn from earlier generations.