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How and Why to Invest with Index Funds

To diversify means to not put all your eggs in one baskets, or in this case your all your money in one stock.


Index funds enable you to diversify into multiple stocks with just one purchase. 

Learn how to diversify in 3 simple steps.


Index funds enable you to diversify your investment with just one investment. When you diversify avoid putting all your eggs in one basket (investing all your money in one stock). Diversification reduces risk and increases the probability of a positive return.


You can diversify yourself by purchasing multiple stocks that are not correlated (suntan lotion and umbrellas) or you can buy funds created for this purpose.


A stock market index offers broad exposure to a wide range of companies with one investment at a low cost.   


The value of a hypothetical basket of stocks that reflects the performance of a certain segment of the market.   In the United States, the three most popular indices are: the S&P 500, NASDAQ, and the Dow (Dow Jones Industrial Average).


As it is not possible to invest directly in an index, index funds were created to mirror the different indexes. Each fund’s performance is judged relative to its index or Benchmark.


The easiest choice is a “total stock market” index fund.  This type of index offers exposure to companies of all sizes across different industries.  


Alternatively, you may choose a fund that compliments your existing investments or choose a fund that matches your interest, such as: 

  • Sustainability 

  • Social impact  

  • U.S. companies

  • International companies

  • Technology or other industries

  • Big established companies or smaller growth companies

When comparing funds, consider:

  • Management Fee

  • Performance over time (10, 5 and 3 years)

  • Reputable issuer / fund family (such as Vanguard, Blackrock and Fidelity)  

A short list of total stock market and other index funds follows to help you get started. Simply click on the Symbol to see detailed information for each fund.


This following list is not inclusive and is provided to make it easier for you to discover options. We are focused solely on your best interest, and therefore, we do not endorse or recommend any individual fund, stock or other investment. 

Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF

Symbol: VTI

Expense: 0.04%

Benchmark/Focus: Entire domestic stock market, blue chips, mid- and small-cap equities

Holdings: 22% technology, 15% financial, 14% healthcare, 11% Industrials

Schwab Total Stock Market Index

Symbol: SWTSX

Expense: 0.05%

Benchmark/Focus: Dow Jones U.S. Total Stock Market Index

Holdings:70% large-cap (technology, financials, healthcare, consumer, industrials)

iShares Core S&P Total U.S. Stock Market

Symbol: ITOT

Expense: 0.03%

Focus /Benchmark: Total U.S. stock market 

Holdings: 3,000 stocks representing ~90% of companies traded on U.S. stock exchanges

Vanguard S&P 500

Symbol: VOO

Expense: 0.04%

Benchmark/Focus: S&P 500 Index

Holdings: Large-cap companies



Symbol: SPY

Expense: 0.09%

Benchmark/Focus: S&P 500

Holdings: Large companies, such as Apple(APPL), JP Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Exxon Mobil Corp.(XOM)


iShares Russell 3000 Index Fund

Symbol: IWV

Expense: 0.20%

Benchmark/Focus: The Russell 3000 Index

Holdings: 75% of large-cap companies


Schwab U.S. Large-Cap Growth ETF

Symbol: SCHG

Expense: 0.04%

Benchmark/Focus: Growth Stocks

Holdings: Growth stocks doesn’t mean small companies, it refers to companies with faster revenue and profit expansion than peers, such as (AMZN) and Facebook (FB).


Vanguard Small Cap ETF

Symbol: VB

Expense: 0.05%

Benchmark/Focus: Small-cap companies (<$4 billion in market capitalization)

Holdings: Smaller banks, retailers, like Burlington Stores Inc. (BURL) and utilities, like NRG Energy Inc. (NRG)


Vanguard Total International Stock Market

Symbol: VXUS

Expense: 0.09%

Benchmark/Focus: FTSE Global All Cap ex US Index

Holdings: 6,000 stocks of companies in developed and emerging markets outside the U.S.


Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets

Symbol: VEA  

Expense: 0.07%

Benchmark/Focus: International companies in developed markets only


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