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Warren Buffett: The Smartest Thing You Can Do With Your Money Today

By Patrick Morris - Jul 26, 2014 at 12:46PM

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Over the years Warren Buffett has given a lot of advice about where we should put our money. But exactly where that is will surprise you.

This article was updated on April 11, 2015.

Much has been said about where Warren Buffett puts his money. But do you know where Buffett thinks you should put yours?

After all, one of the reasons Buffett has been so successful is his ability to invest in big-name companies such as Coca-Cola, and countless others, at just the right time. That's part of the reason Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A -0.08%) (BRK.B 0.09%) has grown from a small textile firm valued at $18 million into one worth nearly $350 billion.

Yet his advice on where we should put our money will surprise you.

In the following video, Buffett speaks to the beauty of the U.S. economy, and how one of the most successful strategies is finding an index fund that simply matches the returns delivered by the S&P 500 offered at a low cost. 

He says far too many people "jump in at the wrong time," or simply make investments they shouldn't because they haven't been able to truly grasp the dynamics of the business and its relative value. Buffett suggests that in the same way he can't write prescriptions, many people shouldn't attempt to beat the market by trying to pick winners and losers.

And this isn't just his advice to others, but in fact to his family as well. In his latest annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, Buffett provided an honest admission of where the fortune he was leaving to his wife would go:

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.

So why should we listen? Consider that a recent paper by Vanguard revealed "68% of U.S. large-cap value equity funds [i.e., mutual funds] underperformed their benchmarks over the ten years ended December 31, 2013."

In other words, if the majority of professional investors can't even outperform the market, it should come as no surprise Buffett suggests individuals shouldn't try either.

At times we think we must attempt to beat the market just as Buffett has. But there truly is value in simply joining him in it by putting our money into index funds. While they may be boring, they're undoubtedly valuable.

Patrick Morris owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and Coca-Cola. The Motley Fool recommends Berkshire Hathaway and Coca-Cola, owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, and has options on Coca-Cola. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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