Are index funds really worth it?
The Bottom Line
Index funds are considered one of the smartest types of investments, and for good reason. Investing in index funds has long been considered one of the smartest investment moves you can make. Index funds are affordable, enable diversification, and tend to generate attractive returns over time.
Attractive returns: Like all stocks, major indexes will fluctuate. But over time indexes have made solid returns, such as the S&P 500's long-term record of about 10 percent annually. That doesn't mean index funds make money every year, but over long periods of time that's been the average return.
The average stock market return is about 10% per year, as measured by the S&P 500 index, but that 10% average rate is reduced by inflation. Investors can expect to lose purchasing power of 2% to 3% every year due to inflation.
The point isn't to compare active and passive strategies, but rather to make sure you understand that index funds aren't necessarily safe investments. You can lose money if investments in the index lose value. Since many of those indices are financial markets, you should expect them to go down from time to time.
Disadvantages include the lack of downside protection, no choice in index composition, and it cannot beat the market (by definition). To index invest, find an index, find a fund tracking that index, and then find a broker to buy shares in that fund.
He wants ownership in quality companies that are extremely capable of generating earnings. Buffett isn't concerned when he invests in it whether the market will eventually recognize a company's worth. He's concerned with how well that company can make money as a business.
However, an index fund does not have that flexibility as it has to be fully invested in the index at all points of time. While index funds are free from the fund manager bias, they are still vulnerable to the risk of tracking error. It is the extent to which the index fund does not track the index.
Be sure to compare different index funds or ETFs to be sure you are tracking the best index for your goals and at the lowest cost. But, like any investment in the stock market, index funds are subject to market risk. The value of the fund will go up or down with the index it tracks.
Over the long term, index funds have generally outperformed other types of mutual funds. Other benefits of index funds include low fees, tax advantages (they generate less taxable income), and low risk (since they're highly diversified).
What is the 80 20 rule for index funds?
Now, here the ETF returns may make for 80% of your total portfolio returns. In other words, the idea behind the 80/20 rule is that if you focus on the best performing 20% of your investments, chances are they will outperform the remaining 80%.
Once you have $1 million in assets, you can look seriously at living entirely off the returns of a portfolio. After all, the S&P 500 alone averages 10% returns per year. Setting aside taxes and down-year investment portfolio management, a $1 million index fund could provide $100,000 annually.
Ideally, you should stay invested in equity index funds for the long run, i.e., at least 7 years. That is because investing in any equity instrument for the short-term is fraught with risks. And as we saw, the chances of getting positive returns improve when you give time to your investments.
Even the top investors put their money in index funds.
In fact, a number of billionaire investors count S&P 500 index funds among their top holdings. Among those are Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, Dalio's Bridgewater, and Griffin's Citadel.
Financial Advisors' Fees Are Too High to Use Index Funds
Up until this point, the portfolios were made up of various high-fee mutual funds – all of which attempted to outperform the market in one way or another.
One of the main reasons is that some investors believe they can outperform the market by actively selecting individual stocks or actively managed funds. While this is possible, it is not easy, and many studies have shown that the majority of active investors fail to beat the market consistently over the long term.
ETFs are more tax efficient than index funds because they are structured to have fewer taxable events. As mentioned previously, an index mutual fund must constantly rebalance to match the tracked index and therefore generates taxable capital gains for shareholders.
The important thing to remember about index funds is that they should be long-term holds. This means that a short-term recession should not affect your investments.
Individual stocks tend to be far more volatile than fund-based products, including index funds. This can mean a bigger chance for upside … but it also means considerably greater chance of loss. By contrast, the diversified nature of an index fund generally means that its performance has far fewer peaks and valleys.
The 90/10 strategy calls for allocating 90% of your investment capital to low-cost S&P 500 index funds and the remaining 10% to short-term government bonds. Warren Buffett described the strategy in a 2013 letter to his company's shareholders.
How to invest $50,000 in 2024?
- Open a brokerage account. ...
- Invest in an individual retirement account (IRA) ...
- Contribute to a health savings account (HSA) ...
- Look into savings accounts and CDs. ...
- Buy mutual funds. ...
- Exchange-traded funds. ...
- Purchase I bonds. ...
- Hire a financial planner.
|2023 performance (%)
|5yr performance (%)
|Sands Capital US Select Growth Fund
|Natixis Loomis Sayles US Growth Equity
|T. Rowe Price US Blue Chip Equity
|MS INVF US Growth
It might actually lead to unwanted losses. Investors that only invest in the S&P 500 leave themselves exposed to numerous pitfalls: Investing only in the S&P 500 does not provide the broad diversification that minimizes risk. Economic downturns and bear markets can still deliver large losses.
Experts agree that for most personal investors, a portfolio comprising 5 to 10 ETFs is perfect in terms of diversification.
Investing in an S&P 500-tracking fund is one of the simplest and most effective ways to keep your money safer. The index itself has a long history of earning positive returns over time and recovering from downturns.