Each year, Warren Buffett—a folksy folk who has built a $60 billion fortune on pure folksiness—writes a letter to shareholders that is prized for its folsky wisdom. This year, he shares some news that even you, the poor average bastard, can use.
Buffett's company, Berkshire Hathaway, is a holding company of a whole constellation of businesses, worth well over $100 billion. It's been painstakingly assembled and managed by Buffett and his underlings over the course of decades. You might think that he would be hiring the world's most sophisticated money managers to take care of his fortune after he's gone. But no! From this year's letter:
What I advise here is essentially identical to certain instructions I've laid out in my will. One bequest provides that cash will be delivered to a trustee for my wife's benefit. (I have to use cash for individual bequests, because all of my Berkshire shares will be fully distributed to certain philanthropic organizations over the ten years following the closing of my estate.) My advice to the trustee could not be more simple: Put 10% of the cash in short-term government bonds and 90% in a very low-cost S&P 500 index fund. (I suggest Vanguard's.) I believe the trust's long-term results from this policy will be superior to those attained by most investors – whether pension funds, institutions or individuals – who employ high-fee managers.
There you have it: you, the average idiot, can, with a simple online account, construct a low-cost portfolio that Warren Buffett himself says will beat what worthless expensive money managers in nice suits can likely get you. Do it, why not?