Index Funds: How to Invest and Best Funds to Choose – NerdWallet

Everyone gushes about index reciprocal funds, and for effective reason : They ’ re an easy, hands-off, diversify, low-cost way to invest in the stock grocery store.

Index fund definition

An “ index investment company ” is a type of investment fund that mirrors the operation of a market index, such as the S & P 500. A market index tracks the performance of a choice group of securities. For case, the S & P 500 grocery store index measures the performance of approximately 500 large-capitalization companies in the U.S. You ca n’t invest in a specific market index itself, but you can invest in an index fund that tracks it. Your index investment company will likely perform very closely to how the index itself performs. Because exponent funds passively track an existing index ( rather of employing a director who picks specific stocks to include ), they typically have lower fees than actively managed reciprocal funds. index funds besides tend to generate higher investment returns than actively managed funds.

How index funds work

To understand how an index investment company works, it ‘s authoritative to understand the dispute between active agent and passive management. active management is when an investment director actively chooses when to buy or sell specific investments. Since there is person doing the work of choosing these investments, the management fees for actively-managed investments tend to be higher. many reciprocal funds use active voice management strategies. passive voice management, on the other hand, is a scheme where a fund coach builds a portfolio of investments that reflect an existing index, such as the S & P 500. This way, the performance of the index store normally closely mirrors that of the index, no hands-on management necessary.


S&P 500 

index funds with low costs for May 2022

By far, the most popular class of index funds are linked to the S & P 500. hera are some of the best index funds pegged to the S & P 500 .

Index fund minimum investment Expense ratio
Vanguard 500 Index Fund – admiral shares ( VFIAX ) $ 3,000 0.04 %
Schwab S & P 500 Index Fund ( SWPPX ) No minimal 0.02 %
Fidelity 500 Index Fund ( FXAIX ) No minimum 0.015 %
fidelity Zero Large Cap Index ( FNILX ) No minimum 0.0 %
T. Rowe Price Equity Index 500 Fund ( PREIX ) $ 2,500 0.15 %

Data current as of May 9, 2022.

Vanguard 500 Index Fund Admiral Shares (VFIAX)

besides known as the Vanguard S & P 500 Index fund, this fund was founded in 1976 and is the grandfather of all index funds. Like the early S & P 500 funds on this list, this fund gives exposure to 500 of the largest U.S. companies, which make up about 75 % of the U.S. lineage market ’ s full measure.

Schwab S&P 500 Index Fund (SWPPX)

As research firm Morningstar notes, this is one of the cheapest and most accessible S & P 500-tracking funds out there. Launched in 1997, this Schwab fund charges a scant 0.02 % expense ratio and requires no minimum investment, making it attractive for investors implicated about costs.

Fidelity 500 Index Fund (FXAIX)

Founded in 1988 ( once known as Institutional Premium Class fund ), Fidelity removed this fund ‘s investment minimum so investors with any budget size can get into the low-cost index fund action.

Fidelity Zero Large Cap Index (FNILX)

In the race for the lowest of the low-cost index funds, this Fidelity fund made news program by being among the inaugural to charge no annual expenses, meaning investors can keep all their cash invested for the long run.

T. Rowe Price Equity Index 500 Fund (PREIX)

Founded in 1990, the fund ’ s expense ratio is competitive with early providers, but the $ 2,500 minimal may be steep for beginning investors.

Index fund costs

index funds may be less expensive than other funds, but they can even incur some costs .

  • investment minimum. The minimum required to invest in a common fund can run angstrom high as a few thousand dollars. once you ’ ve crossed that doorsill, most funds allow investors to add money in smaller increments .
  • Account minimum. This is different than the investment minimal. Although a brokerage ‘s account minimal may be $ 0 ( park for customers who open a traditional or Roth IRA ), that doesn ’ thyroxine remove the investment minimal for a particular exponent fund .
  • Expense proportion. This is one of the main costs of an index investment company. expense ratios are subtracted from each fund stockholder ’ randomness returns as a share of their overall investment. Find the expense proportion in the reciprocal fund ’ s prospectus or when you look up a quotation for a common investment company on a fiscal locate .
  • Tax-cost ratio. In addition to paying fees, owning the fund may trigger capital gains taxes if held outside tax-advantaged accounts like a 401 ( kelvin ) or an IRA. Like the expense proportion, these taxes can take a pungency out of investment returns .

How to invest in index funds

Investing in index funds is easy. here ‘s a agile summation of how to do it :

1. Pick an index

When you ‘re investigating an index, it ‘s important to consider several different factors. here are some things to keep in mind :

  • company size and capitalization. index funds can track small, medium-sized or boastfully companies ( besides known as small-, mid- or large-capitalization indexes ) .
  • Geography. There are funds that focus on stocks that trade on extraneous exchanges or a combination of international exchanges .
  • commercial enterprise sector or industry. You can explore funds that focus on consumer goods, engineering, health-related businesses .
  • Asset type. There are funds that track domestic and foreign bonds, commodities, cash .
  • grocery store opportunities. These funds examine emerging markets or other nascent but growing sectors for investing .

Despite the array of choices, you may need to invest in only one. Investing legend Warren Buffett has said that the median investor need alone invest in a broad stock market index to be by rights diversified. however, you can well customize your allotment if you want extra exposure to specific markets in your portfolio ( such as more emerging market exposure, or a higher allocation to modest companies or bonds ).

Index examples

index common funds track assorted indexes. The Standard & Poor ’ s 500 index, besides known as the S & P 500, is one of the best-known indexes because the 500 companies it tracks include large, well-known U.S.-based businesses representing a wide crop of industries. But the S & P 500 international relations and security network ’ t the only index in town. here are some early options :

  • Nasdaq Composite : Follows more than 3,000 equities listed on the Nasdaq livestock commute and is largely tech-focused .
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average : Measures 30 blue-chip companies in the U.S. and covers all industries except for department of transportation and utilities .
  • Wilshire 5000 : Includes all of the publicly traded companies with headquarters in the United States and available monetary value data ; frequently called the “ entire stock market index. ”

» Looking for other ways to invest ? here ‘s our guide to investing in stocks. ad

Fidelity Merrill Edge E*TRADE

NerdWallet rating  NerdWallet ‘s ratings are determined by our editorial team. The scoring rule for on-line brokers and robo-advisors takes into score over 15 factors, including history fees and minimums, investment choices, customer patronize and fluid app capabilities .

NerdWallet rating  NerdWallet ‘s ratings are determined by our editorial team. The scoring rule for on-line brokers and robo-advisors takes into score over 15 factors, including report fees and minimums, investment choices, customer support and mobile app capabilities .

NerdWallet rating  NerdWallet ‘s ratings are determined by our editorial team. The scoring formula for on-line brokers and robo-advisors takes into account over 15 factors, including history fees and minimums, investment choices, customer support and fluid app capabilities .

Learn More Learn More Learn More

$ 0 per barter for on-line U.S. stocks and ETFs


$ 0 per trade


$ 0 per trade

Account minimum

$ 0

Account minimum

$ 0

Account minimum

$ 0


Get $ 100 when you open a new, eligible Fidelity report with $ 50 or more. Use code FIDELITY100. limit clock time offer. Terms apply .


Up to $ 600 when you invest in a new Merrill Edge® autonomous account .


Get up to $ 600 or more when you open and fund an E*TRADE account

2. Select an index fund

once you ‘ve decided which index you ‘re concern in, it ‘s meter to choose which corresponding index fund to buy. Oftentimes, this boils down to price. moo costs are one of the biggest selling points of index funds. They ’ ra cheap to run because they ’ rhenium automated to follow the shifts in value in an index. however, preceptor ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate bear that all index common funds are bum. even though they ’ ra not actively managed by a team of well-paid analysts, they carry administrative costs. These costs are subtracted from each fund stockholder ’ second returns as a percentage of their overall investment. Two funds may have the like investing goal — like tracking the S & P 500 — so far have management costs that can vary wildly. Those fractions of a percentage bespeak may seem like no boastfully hand, but your long-run investing returns can take a massive hit from the smallest fee inflation. typically, the bigger the fund, the lower the fees.

3. Decide where to buy your index fund

You can purchase an index fund directly from a common fund company or a brokerage. Same goes for exchange-traded funds ( ETFs ), which are like mini reciprocal funds that trade like stocks throughout the day ( more on these below ). When you ‘re choosing where to buy an index fund, consider :

  • fund choice. Do you want to purchase index funds from versatile fund families ? The boastfully reciprocal fund companies carry some of their competitors ’ funds, but the excerpt may be more specify than what ’ s available in a rebate broker ’ s batting order .
  • convenience. Find a single supplier who can accommodate all your needs. For exercise, if you ’ re just going to invest in reciprocal funds ( or even a mix of funds and stocks ), a reciprocal fund company may be able to serve as your investing hub. But if you require sophisticated stock certificate research and screening tools, a rebate broker that besides sells the index funds you want may be better. ( If you do n’t have a brokerage account, here ‘s how to open one. )
  • trade costs. If the commission or transaction fee international relations and security network ’ metric ton waived, consider how a lot a agent or fund company charges to buy or sell the index fund. reciprocal fund commissions are higher than stock trade ones, about $ 20 or more, compared with less than $ 10 a trade for stocks and ETFs .
  • impingement investing. Want your investment to make a difference outside your portfolio ? Some index funds track benchmarks that target companies with a concenter on environmental or social department of justice causes. Learn more about impact invest .
  • Commission-free options. Do they offer no-transaction-fee reciprocal funds or commission-free ETFs ? This is an important standard we use to rate rebate brokers .

4. Purchase shares of the index fund

In order to purchase shares of an index fund, you ‘ll need to do so from an investment account. You can then open an investment account, such as a traditional brokerage account or a Roth IRA, through the brokerage house you picked in step 3. You can then buy the fund from that history. When you go to purchase the fund, you may be able to select a fixed dollar total to spend or choose a numeral of shares. The share price of the index store, and your investing budget, will likely determine how much you ‘re volition to spend. For example, if you have $ 1,000 you ‘d like to invest in an index investment company, and the fund you ‘re looking at is selling for $ 100 a share, you ‘d be able to purchase 10 shares. » Want to cut to the furrow ? See our picks for best brokers for reciprocal funds.

Other index fund considerations

index funds have become one of the most popular ways for Americans to invest because of their rest of use, clamant diverseness and returns that typically beat actively managed accounts. Some extra things to consider :

  • Is the index fund doing its problem ? Your index fund should mirror the performance of the underlying index. To check, look at the index fund ’ s returns on the reciprocal fund quotation page. It shows the index store ’ south returns during several time periods, compared with the performance of the benchmark exponent. Don ’ thyroxine panic if the returns aren ’ thymine identical. Remember, those investment costs, even if minimal, affect results, as suffice taxes. however, bolshevik flags should wave if the fund ’ s performance lags the index by much more than the expense proportion .
  • Is the index fund you want excessively expensive ? Invest in an exchange-traded fund that tracks the index. rather of having to buy the main-course common fund, you purchase fair a slice of the fund. ( here are some pros and cons of investing in ETFs versus common funds. )
  • want to buy stocks alternatively ? If you want to be hands-on with your investments, you may want to explore stocks. Learn how to trade stocks with these bit-by-bit instructions .

Can you lose money in an index fund?

As with all investments, it is possible to lose money in an index fund, but if you invest in an exponent investment company and hold it over the long-run, it is much more likely that your investment will increase in value over time. You may then be able to sell that investment for a profit.

Is now a good time to buy index funds?

now is always a better clock time to invest than late, even if the marketplace is volatile, because of compound interest. If you earn $ 100 in interest, that $ 100 will start earning concern itself, compounding your entire reelect. If you ’ re planning to invest for the long-run, dips or highs in the market become less relevant. If you ’ re disquieted about buying an exponent fund at a eminent, keep in heed that if you ’ re invested in that fund for many years, that high will look much smaller down the road. Check out our investing calculator to explore how an investment in an index store or other security could grow over time .

reference :
Category : How

Related Posts

How to Calculate Credit Card Interest Rates

interest rates are one of the ways to work out how much it will cost you to use your credit card, along with other charges and fees….

What debt collectors can & cannot do

If you are dealing with a debt collector, you have protections under the law. A debt collector must not mislead, harass, coerce or act unconscionably towards you….

Can You Afford a New Home? How to Determine Your Homebuying Budget

Can You Afford a New Home? How to Determine Your Homebuying Budget As with any major purchase, determining what you can afford before you look for a…

Why Did My Credit Score Drop?

Why Did My Credit Score Go Down When Nothing Changed? sometimes your mark does change based on factors outside of your control, but most times your behavior…

Why Do I Owe Taxes To The IRS & How To Avoid Them

Are you wondering why you owe indeed much in taxes this year ? Want to make certain you never owe a big tax bill – or any…

The 5 reasons why your credit score might suddenly drop

Select ’ s editorial team works independently to review fiscal products and write articles we think our readers will find useful. We earn a perpetration from affiliate…