OMAHA, Neb. — The long-delayed cartoon featuring financial lessons from billionaire Warren Buffett will finally debut this weekend at Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting and online.
Buffett said he hopes the series will teach kids good financial habits early on, so they won't have to learn the lessons later through expensive experiences.
"I just hope that they become more financially savvy and start thinking about certain principles of saving and learning and that sort of thing at an earlier age than perhaps they would otherwise," Buffett said to The Associated Press Wednesday.
The "Secret Millionaire's Club" cartoon is designed to teach kids about key financial principles such as avoiding debt, supply and demand, and the importance of pursuing your dreams. Some of the messages are similar to the advice Buffett gave the 44 groups of college students he met with over the past school year, but they've been reworked for a younger audience.
"They're fairly simple lessons, but sometimes simple is best," he said.
The series focuses on four kids who find some baseball memorabilia worth millions that they sell to save their community center. Buffett helps the kids manage the money they have left after saving the center.
Buffett said he knows the series won't reach every kid, but he hopes some significant percentage of kids learn from it. The success of the animated project will depend on how well it can entertain and educate at the same time.
"If it's successful, it could be more important than the Berkshire Hathaway annual reports," Buffett said.
Millions of people have already read Buffett's annual reports over the years, but he said the cartoons may have a greater effect if it helps kids form good habits early. Buffett said most of the people who read his shareholder letters already have their financial habits well established.
"If you've got the right habits earlier on, it makes a big difference," Buffett said.
The first airing of "Secret Millionaire's Club" will be before more than 35,000 people at Berkshire's annual meeting on Saturday as part of the humorous movie that opens the event. Then Buffett and Berkshire' Vice Chairman Charlie Munger will spend more than five hours answering questions.
Cartoon creator Andy Heyward has been creating humorous cartoons for Berkshire's annual meetings since the 1980s, and his previous company also made well-known cartoons such as "Inspector Gadget" and "Strawberry Shortcake."
Originally, the cartoon was supposed to be released on DVD in the fall of 2006. But the sale in 2008 of the company that originally developed the series, DIC Entertainment, delayed the release.
Heyward's new company, A Squared Entertainment, is working with AOL to promote the 26 episodes of the "Secret Millionaire's Club" online. Online games and a cell phone application are planned.Download the 2009 Warren Buffett Letter & 2009 Annual Report to Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders
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