8. S&P 500 index funds
Overview: An S&P 500 index fund is based on about five hundred of the largest American companies, meaning it comprises many of the most successful companies in the world. For example, Amazon and Berkshire Hathaway are two of the most prominent member companies in the index.
Who are they good for? If you want to achieve higher returns than more traditional banking products or bonds, a good alternative is an S&P 500 index fund, though it does come with more volatility. An S&P 500 index fund is an excellent choice for beginning investors because it provides broad, diversified exposure to the stock market. An S&P 500 index fund is a good choice for any stock investor looking for a diversified investment and who can stay invested for at least three to five years.
Risks: An S&P 500 fund is one of the less-risky ways to invest in stocks, because it’s made up of the market’s top companies and is highly diversified. Of course, it still includes stocks, so it’s going to be more volatile than bonds or any bank products.
It’s also not insured by the government, so you can lose money based on fluctuations in value. However, the index has done quite well over time.
The index rallied furiously after its pandemic-driven plunge in March 2020, but performed poorly in 2022, so investors may want to proceed with caution and stick to their long-term investment plan.
Rewards: Like nearly any fund, an S&P 500 index fund offers immediate diversification, allowing you to own a piece of all of those companies. The fund includes companies from every industry, making it more resilient than many investments.
Over time, the index has returned about 10 percent annually. These funds can be purchased with very low expense ratios (how much the management company charges to run the fund) and they’re some of the best index funds.
Where to get them: You can purchase an S&P 500 index fund at any broker that allows you to trade ETFs or mutual funds. ETFs are typically commission-free, so you won’t pay any extra charge, whereas mutual funds may charge a commission and require you to make a minimum purchase.