Warren Buffett Flipped His Neighbor’s $67,000 Life Savings Into A $50 Million Fortune — This Would Be Worth Over $500 Million Today

In 1965 in Omaha, Nebraska, a common predicament facing many middle-aged couples was navigating the complexities of retirement planning. This was the case for Dorothy and Myer Kripke, who thanks to their saving habits and modest inheritance, found themselves in a somewhat advantageous position compared to their peers. 

By that year, they had accumulated approximately $67,000, a sum equivalent to around $664,000 today, when adjusted for inflation. The challenge they faced was ensuring their savings grew enough to support them through retirement. After much deliberation, Dorothy Kripke suggested a solution to her husband, advising him to entrust their savings to a friend and neighbor known for his reputation in money management: Warren Buffett. No Warren Buffett in your life? SmartAsset's free tool matches you with up to 3 financial advisors that serve your area in minutes

Dorothy Kripke, struggling with a brain disorder that often left her bedridden, received compassionate support from Buffett’s wife, Susie, who regularly took her to physical therapy. During periods of wellness, the Kripkes and Buffetts would gather for bridge games, nurturing a friendship that transcended neighborly ties.

As their bond deepened, the Buffetts welcomed the Kripkes into their home for Thanksgiving dinners, serving tuna salad to accommodate their friends’ kosher dietary requirements while other guests enjoyed turkey. 

At the time, Buffett was a 35-year-old Omaha native just beginning to make his mark in the world of finance. Despite initial reluctance because of concerns about imposing and the potential awkwardness of mixing business with friendship, Myer Kripke finally agreed to his wife’s suggestion. 

Without hesitation Buffett agreed to manage the Kripkes' savings, emphasizing his preference to work with people he could maintain a friendship with regardless of the investment outcome.

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Investing with Buffett proved to be life-changing. Over the following decades, the Kripkes' investment grew exponentially, turning their initial $67,000 into $25 million by the mid-1990s, equivalent to about $50 million today after adjusting for inflation. 

The couple reportedly owned 833 shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. stock. Had they maintained ownership of these shares until Dorothy Kripke died in September 2000, their value would have increased to $50 million, which is around $90 million today when adjusted for inflation. 

After Myer Kripke’s death in April 2014, their shares were worth an estimated $180 million, equal to over $324 million at that time when adjusted for inflation. 

As of April 5, 2024, the price of a single share of Berkshire Hathaway stock was $631,255.02, which means their shares would be worth approximately $525.8 million today if they were never sold. 

This growth was part of Buffett's wider success, as Berkshire Hathaway saw its assets swell to manage approximately $500 billion, securing Buffett's place as one of the world's wealthiest people with a net worth of over $135 billion.

Despite their newfound wealth, the Kripkes led a life of modesty. They continued living in a simple three-bedroom apartment in Omaha and maintained a lifestyle characterized by humility and generosity. 

In 1965, before consulting with Buffett, the Kripkes had established a significant nest egg for their retirement. However, the amount might be considered less than what is recommended for a comfortable retirement by today’s standards, according to  The Wall Street Journal. Current financial planning suggests aiming for a savings target of $1.3 million to support a 30-year retirement starting at age 67, factoring in an inflation rate of 4% and a conservative after-tax rate of return of 5%. This strategy is projected to generate an annual income of approximately $50,000 from an investment portfolio. 

To ensure you are on the right track with your retirement savings plan, consulting with a financial adviser is highly recommended. A professional adviser can provide tailored advice, taking into account personal financial situations and goals, to help navigate the complexities of modern financial planning and investment strategies.

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