Sunday, November 29, 2009

Low Cost Index Funds are the Way to Go for Most People

This blog is intended mainly for family and friends who want (or need) to learn more about investing. If people outside of that circle find it interesting or useful, then great.

To get things rolling, I'll mention that I'm a big fan of using low cost index funds as the core of an investment strategy. Academic research has shown that low costs are the best predictor of long term performance, and that it's highly unlikely that you'll be able to "beat the market". Therefore, the winning long term strategy is simply to own the market at the lowest cost. Note that by "the market", I don't mean just stocks (stock funds), but also bonds (bond funds).

Vanguard has the broadest selection of low cost index funds, but Fidelity and Schwab offer a few stock index funds with comparable or even lower costs.

Especially for someone just getting started with a small amount of money, Schwab is good, since their minimum investment for their index funds is only $100 (Vanguard's minimum is $3000), and their fees (expense ratios) are competitive. My 15 year old daughter Alyssa has been investing much of her allowance in a couple of the Schwab funds (Total Stock Market Index and International Index). Schwab has also just come out with some ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds) that you can buy and sell with no commission in your Schwab account.

For those with more money, and who want to use one vendor, I recommend Vanguard, since they have a better selection of lower cost bond funds than either Fidelity or Schwab (or any other financial institution I know of), as well as a broader selection of low cost stock index funds (value, small, small value, REIT, etc.). This allows you to assemble a more diversified, low cost portfolio.


  1. Hey Dad,

    Great start to the investing page! I'm not sure how people can ask questions? I'm guessing they just comment on your existing blogs. I'm letting Jen and Michelle know about this page and they are bookmarking it so they can ask you questions!

    Love you,


  2. Yep, just post a question in a comment, and I'll answer if I can.