Specific Mutual Fund Investment Ideas For Beginners

Although I get asked regularly to do so, I’m always wary of making specific investment advice . I’m haven’t passed any securities exams, and I have no financial letters after my name like CFA, CFP, CIC, or ChFC. I’m just a SRDO – Some Random Dude Online.

At the same time, I also appreciate the fact that people like to hear some specific suggestions in order to jumpstart their own research. It’s like being told “go buy a good used car” versus “check out the 2002-2004 Honda Civic (7th Generation, but not the 1st year) with less than 60,000 miles on it.” It’s not the perfect answer for everyone, and you may not even buy that car, but it gives you something to work with.

With that in mind, this is what I would tell my sister to invest. Not you, because I don’t know you. :) She’s in her early 20s, recently out of college, working in her first professional job, and trying to balance renting in a big city, being young and trendy, paying back student loans, and oh yeah! – also retirement. She’s busy, doesn’t feel like reading the books I recommend just yet, but has some extra money now to put away for the future. So what does big bro tell her?

Get investing! You need to do this now so you can:

  1. Reduce your risk in the long run

  2. Get used to the ups and downs of the stock market (so you don’t just bail out later).

Option 1: No Money Down?
Set Up An Automatic Transfer at TIAA-CREF or T. Rowe Price


If she’s doesn’t have much to start with but is willing to set aside $50 every month, you can open an account at T. Rowe Price or TIAA-CREF with no initial investment minimum. If you’re in your 20s, look at the T. Rowe Price Retirement 2045 fund (TRRKX) or TIAA-CREF Lifecycle 2040 (TCLOX). Both seem to be solid companies with good customer service. They will get you “in the game”, are very low-maintenance, and will leave you with plenty of time to refine your tastes afterwards.

The good thing about starting low is you’ll get gradual exposure to the volatility of the market. In the beginning, it took me a while to get used to the fact that my balance could easily be much lower than it was yesterday. That can be very disconcerting for those only used to bank accounts.

Option 2: Think Long Term
Open Up An Account at Vanguard

I make no secret that I really like Vanguard. They have reliably low expenses, are fair and upfront about their fees and how they are compensated, and they are client-owned. Although they may have some higher fees in the beginning, I believe that over the long run their low expenses and indexing-expertise will result in superior performance. This is a company that I can see sticking with for the next 50+ years. So here’s one strategy using Vanguard for any account size:

Less Than $1000 – If she has less than $1,000, I’d tell her to just stick it in a high-yield savings account. Set up some automatic transfers from her checking account after each paycheck, and start building that up until you have…

$1000-$3,000 – Here, the only fund that’s available is the Vanguard STAR Fund (VGSTX). You can open up with $1,000 to start and add in $100 more at a time. It’s an okay fund, currently with 63% stocks, 25% bonds, and 12% cash. The point isn’t to get the perfect asset allocation right away, it’s to get get started. Again, see the two main goals above.

$3,000+ – When you get to this amount, exchange your shares into the Vanguard Target Retirement 2045 Fund (VTIVX). Since it’s in an IRA, there are no tax consequences or paperwork to worry about. See my post comparing Vanguard and T. Rowe Price Target funds for why I like it the best.

For all Vanguard IRAs, there is a fee of $10 a year for each fund account with a balance of less than $5,000 (waived with high overall balances). Use the $10 as a specific savings goal – “I will eat out one less time this week, saving $10″. Then write Vanguard a check for the $10 separately, so it’s not taken out of your Roth IRA balance. You want all that money compounding away! These fees are now waived with e-statements!

With all of these options, it is always a good idea to set up automatic transfers to avoid the “I forgot again because I was busy” factor. Also, feel free to call any of these companies on the phone. You should get a helpful human quickly, I always do with Vanguard.

Anyways, I hope these suggestions provide some good starting points for your own research. I sure hope my sister listens to me! As always, comments are welcome.

Comments

  1. Excellent article!
    It’s nice to see a blogger reveal actual “go-get-it” advice.

    Thanks
    -Edgar

  2. excellent advice. I agree that starting with T. Rowe Price with 50 bucks a month is the way to go and once it builds to 3k, then you can transfer the funds if you prefer vanguard.
    I just wouldn’t recommend sending in a separate 10 dollar check, I really think most people don’t want to complicate their life anymore than it really is. If you max out the Roth IRA each year, then you’d only have to pay the 10 dollars once as well.

  3. Great post! I’m graduating next semester and was thinking on how to invest some money I have. I just sent my application to T. Rowe last week actually to open a Roth IRA account.

  4. Another good “no-money down” and automatic transfer site is of course Sharebuilder. And there’s all those promotions that provide extra cash, like the CostCo one that you mentioned recently.

  5. Steve the K says:

    A note about Vanguard. The minimum additional is $100 if you send a check, but if you do the automatic investment plan, it is $50 minimum.

    If you want to do it bi-monthly, schedule the monthly investment but then go into the schedule and skip every other month. But heck, like you say, she’s willing to do $50 per month, so that’s no problem.

    Then again, at $50 per month, it will be 20 months before you get the $1000 to invest in the Vanguard STAR fund. I’d say, scrounge extra hard for the first Grand, then coast on the $50 per month. :-)

    Steve, SRDO

  6. Thans,
    I did open vanguard, and invested 1000$ in STAR Fund with an individual type of account. Needed a kick start with some info like this.

  7. The Vanguard 2045 has a yearly cap of $4000, right? Can you suggest something with no (or at least a higher) contribution amount? I already max out my IRA and want to invest more. Thanks.

  8. Ah, this brings up a question I’ve really wanted to know the answer to!

    I’ve seen mutual funds I wanted before where if you buy it through the company you have to pay a monthly fee, and shied away from it (even though I know it’s small compared to the amounts of money I’m talking about, I guess…).

    I’ve wondered, though – if I just buy the same mutual fund through my TDameritrade account (which has no maintenance fees), am I somehow secretely getting charged the same or a larger amount but just in some way I can’t see – like, I get a worse mutual fund slightly by not buying it through the company (fee structures are different, or something)? Or is this really just an easy way out of the problem?

  9. Serenity23 says:

    I’ve been reading, but not commenting for a while. This was a great post b/c I am just starting out investing and it’s hard to find info on starting out with minimum funds. Often times the hard part is just to get yourself started. Thx! I enjoy your site.

  10. Ashley Barton says:

    For anyone who would like additional Mutual Fund advice, there is a great radio program called the Mutual Fund Show hosted by Adam Bold. Adam Bold is the founder of the Mutual Fund Store, a fee based investment adviser. The show is not an infomercial for his business, and he gives good sound advice to all callers to his show. It is worth listening to if you are a beginner or an experienced investor. Archives of the show without commercials can be found on the show’s website: http://www.mutualfundshow.com/

    Clips of specific mutual funds that are discussed on the show can be heard here: http://www.mutualfundshow.com/funds/index.asp

  11. Great Post. It is good to encourage people that have not started yet to start invest, now. And it also good to remind everyone to continue to investing.

    Hm, Its good idea to write a $10 check to paid for the fee. I wonder how exactly you do it. Call them up and ask for send them a check for the $10 fee?

  12. Regarding the $10 check, yes that might be too much trouble. I just wanted to make sure to point that out for people who like to do my sort of ‘mental accounting’. In order to do it, I believe you simply wait until the fee is charged, and then write them a check for $10 with the words “IRA custodial fee” + account number on it. However, I can’t be sure so please call them. They always pick up in under 30 seconds for me.

    Ah, that reminds me of a point that I forgot. I would be wary of Sharebuilder and other sites that charge commission for every trade. If you put in $50 per month and get charged $4 per trade, that’s a front load of 8%, which is horrible. Even if you use another plan, you’ll have to see how much you invest at at time. I would try to make the commission at most 2% of the trade amount, if not 1% or less.

    Jim – No, the Vanguard 2045 doesn’t have a $4k cap. IRAs have a $4k annual cap. You can definitely max out your IRA and put more money in the 2045 fund in a regular taxable account.

  13. I just checked, and T Rowe Price currently charges $35 for an IRA transfer-out fee.

  14. Fidelity is also a very respectable brokerage and has the same type of set-up as Option 1, they also have target retirement mutual funds.

  15. If you qualify to be a USAA member, they have a $20 a month option on some of their mutual funds for no account minimum. (Option 1)

    or

    You can start an account and buy into many of their funds with just $250 (Option 2)

    No account fees.

  16. Well, with Sharebuilder, you can reduce the cost of purchases by subscribing to one of their plans. I think the Standard provides 6 automated purchases for $12 a month. I think where Sharebuilder really gets ya is if you want to sell. That’s when the fees hurt – $15 a pop and some of my holdings are really small. As a result, I’m going to move my account out of there (Ameritrade’s $100 bonus and 45 free trades will cover my “account out” fee and let me unload little ones for free.) However, I don’t regret starting with Sharebuilder at all.

    I have a copy of a report comparing the different online brokers, with all their fees, disadvantates, advantages, ratings, etc. It’s really handy, but I can only access it online through a link that was emailed to me. Otherwise, I have it saved as a pdf. If there would be a way to share it, I’d be happy to do so.

  17. Ashley Barton says:

    A great starter fund I learned about from the Mutual Fund Show is the Excelsior Value & Restructuring Fund (UMBIX). It has great historical track record and has a very low initial purchase minimum of $250 for IRA accounts. Subsequent investments can be done for as little as $50. For someone just starting out who doesn’t want to or can’t take the $3000 minimum leap that Vanguard requires on most of its funds, this is an excellent alternative.

  18. Question: I have some noble friends who with their 4 siblings wish to make contributions towards a fund that will be used by their parents to go do charity work in asia or south america for 1 year. They want to have $15,000 to give to their parents in 11-12 years. What is an easy way for several different people to add money to the same account, and have that account bear good interest?

  19. At $12 a month for Sharebuilder, you’d still have to be investing $600 a month for the fees to be 2% of your investment, or $1200 every month for 1%. It may work for some people, though.

    Fidelity lets you do a SimpleStart IRA with $250 initially I think.

    After looking at the Mutual Fund Show, I don’t think I’d be a big fan. The advice about getting no-load funds is good, but there seems to be too much chasing of recent returns. I personally wouldn’t recommend UMBIX either, it’s has an expense ratio over 1%.

  20. I agree with King. I use Fidelity, and they have great service and great funds, albeit with a little bit higher minimums. If you plan on investing a lot of money in index funds in the next few years, I think Fidelity’s Investor Class funds have lower expense ratios than the ones I’ve seen over at Vanguard, but it starts at $10,000.

    Regarding retirement funds, correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t you essentially paying extra fees because you’re paying for 1. the retirement fund fees AND 2. the fees for the mutual funds that compose that retirement fund? Of course if you get these maintenance funds, you can basically stick money in it and not worry about allocation, but I can essentially do it myself by adjusting what I buy. I’m in the same shoes as your sis, so I’m invested in over 90% (most of it international and small cap) stock, but as I grow older, I’ll just put more into stable bonds and less in stocks.

    You are right though, the main key is to start early. While picking good allocations and investment strategies can have a large effect on your endpoint, most people will benefit simply by investing early and taking advantage of compound interest.

  21. Great advice, as usual Jonathan! I have some input as far as the $10 fee goes — I just opened up a Vanguard Target Retirement 2045 Fund over the weekend myself. They have a toolbar on the side that says “Vanguard IRA Express” and it’s set up for people who want to establish a traditional or Roth IRA, have a minimum of $3k to invest, and want Vanguard to suggest a fund portfolio for their IRA. (In other words, this express option is perfect for those looking to set up the targeted retirement funds) And when you set it up, they give you the option to pay the $10 up front out of your checking/savings account directly or out of your Roth IRA balance. Of course, after reading your site, I knew to pay it from my checking acct. Thanks!

    P.S. So long as you have the important info with you (checking acct #, routing #, ssn, etc), the Vanguard IRA Express takes less than 10 minutes to set up! Really quick!

  22. Yes, Fidelity’s index funds require $10k to get in the door, but have nice low expense ratios. I hold them in my 401k. Their Freedom funds are okay, but I’d go for T Rowe Price over them.

    Thanks for the tip, Heather! Good to know Vanguard’s trying to make it easier to set up.

  23. What’s the point of Vanguard charging you $10 if your balance is less than 5000, but they require a minimum of $3000 to open a fund?

    Wouldn’t it just make sense to make the minimum $5000? (no $10 fee then)

  24. How’s everyone feel about the Ameritrade IRA? I got one of those a while back when they were offering no-fee for life of the account.

  25. I just stumbled upon your blog, and like what you have to say! I’m not sure what the Vanguard fund you recommended has in its portfolio, but I’d recommend a straight Vanguard index fund if you are in your early 20′s – you can’t beat the no load fees, and you’re young enough to have only stock for a while – until you build up enough to diversify more. This is in your IRA of course, for the long haul.

    Regarding the $10 – First of all, most other shops charge a fee, plus fees, which is why Jonathon is recommending Vanguard. About paying the fee, I’ve had my IRA with them for about 2 years. The first year you just pay it as Heather said. When your next years roll around Vanguard will mail/email you a reminder of the fee and give you the option to pay it by check or take it out of your account – so they make it as easy as it can be!

    Thanks for the post!

  26. I should add that yes, some all-in-one retirement funds put an additional layer of fees on top of the fees of the underlying funds. Vanguard has never done so. Fidelity used to, but no longer does.

    If you like to manage things yourself, definitely there are other options out there. I’m going to post my own portfolio next.

  27. Mixelflick says:

    Second the Mutual Fund Show recommendation. I recently rolled a 401k into a self directed IRA at Fidelity and used the show recommendations to set up my portfolio. I track it vs. my old 401k every day.

    So far, it’s beating the stuffings out of it.

    Also, see FundAdvice.com. Rock solid info. on indexing, asset allocation and my favorite part (if you are going to index): sample portfolios to hold if you are at TRP, Vanguard, Fidelity, Schwab etc..

  28. Ashley Barton says:

    Jonathan,

    I know proponents of indexing love to chastise any fund with an expense ratio higher than the associated index, but if you look at total returns over multiple time frames (1yr, 3yr, 5yr and 10yr) and the expense adjusted return beats the index for all those periods, why wouldn’t you buy the fund regardless of the expense. UMBIX has beaten the S&P 500, the Total Stock Market Index, and the Vanguard Value Index for all time periods out to 10+ years, why would anyone let a thing like a 1.05% expense ratio keep you out of this fund?

    If you are beholden to the church of indexing, then yes the Mutual Fund Show is not for you. But if you agree with Adam Bolds mantra, “If you are going to take the risk of the market, you owe it to yourself to be in the best funds possible.”, then I feel his advice on specific funds is very good. Yes, I know that 80% of all funds underperform the market indexes, but the converse is that means that 20% outperform the market. Of that 20% I’m only interested in the 5 to 10 that do it consistently. This is what Mutual Fund Show provides, a ongoing list of fund recommendations and if a fund begins starts lag the market long term, changes management or any other type of change within the fund that may invalidate long term historical returns, Adam provides this information and recommendations for the future.

  29. Funnily enough, I used to own UMBIX. My first ever mutual fund, bec. I read about it in WSJ as one of the best funds to get into for $500 or less. It was a great fund, I made some good returns over the lean years of 2000-2002. Consider what my $$ would have done if I invested it in a S&P500 index or even VTSMX. Anyway, I did sell off my shares in UMBIX last year but ONLY bec. I bought them via ETrade and wanted to close my ETrade account. Great manager, David Williams. Don’t be scared by the 1.05% expense ratio. (It was 0.95-0.99% when I owned it).

  30. Without rehashing the active v. passive debate, I’ll just say that everyone is entitled to their own views. I’ve heard good things about UMBIX, and it could be awesome for the next 30 years too for all I know, but I think the odds are that it won’t. There’s always asset bloat and also manager David Williams is retiring in 2008.

    I personally just don’t make mutual fund decisions based on a 1,5, or 10-year performance history. And since I would not buy UMBIX myself, I wouldn’t recommend it for other people.

  31. For the Vanguard Star Fund, what type of account do you recommend? Roth IRA, Traditional IRA or Individual Account?

  32. I agree with Jonathan about respecting everyone’s opinion.

    We should be careful when comparing heavily managed funds like UMBIX with index funds or retirement funds (2045 w/ whoever). It’s almost like comparing apples to oranges.

    I have FCNTX because Danoff is managing it. Although it has perform about 2% less than UMBIX this year, my expense ratio is less than 1%. No matter what, I’d stick with Danoff only because I trust his leadership and my expense ratio is less than 1%.

    As a friendly suggestion, don’t take expense ratios lightly. If the retirement nest is worth $1,000,000, the cumulative expense ratio over the years can be significantly costly.

    If any recommendations are made to buy into retirements like the 2040′s, or index 500 funds I support Vanguard and Fidelity. However, I am bias towards Fidelity because their customer service is excellent. 8/10 service reps I speak to take their time with me and show the most patience I’ve ever received (next to IBM cutomer service). Fidelity service is outstanding.

    Fidelity requires a higher minimum ($10K) for some funds, which is tough to swing if you only have $1000 to start with, but if you can swing it I recommend Fidelity over Vanguard. My guess is that Fidelity is trying to keep some funds from bloating too fast which allows managers to allocate money more efficiently especially with the 500 Index funds since some of the components of the S&P 500 change from time to time. Time and time again I see FSMKX gain approximately .01% more than VFINX. FSMKX is about $7.7 Billion where as VFINX is about $71.79 Billion.

    Anywho, food for thought. I started my ROTH this year in March with $8000 ($4K for 2005 and $4k for 2006) and it’s up almost 20% with FCNTX (closed to new invcestors) Fidelity 2040 and MA (strict stock).

    I also recommend buying BerkshireHatheway Class B stock. That’s a no brainer stock for the next 2 to 3 years.

    For any beginners, start with 500 Index fund like VFINX or FSMKX, BRKB, or Total Market Funds.

    take care.
    PJ

  33. The Vanguard Star fund is a mutual fund and in general index funds have outperformed mutual funds so I was thinking about going with T. Rowe Price’s EQUITY INDEX 500 index fund in an Roth IRA…Slightly higher expense ratio(.35% vs. .27%,), but everything is similar except the assumption of better past performance(from indexes). The only difference is that they charge they charge low fee balance(less than 10,000) of 2.50 quarterly where as vanguard seems to charge at the end of the year($10). But I figure either way since I can only contribute $4,000 a year I’ll be recieving the fees for 2yrs with the t. rowe price acct and 1 yr with the vanguard acct given I contributue the max.

    Also, I have a question about the money market sweep accts t.rowe price makes you select which have their own expense ratios. But given that all of my money will be invested in the equity the majority of the time all I have to worry about is the expense ratios of the index , right?

  34. Ashley Barton says:

    If you are going to buy index funds, then there is no better place to open your account than Vanguard. I know lots of mutual fund companies have index funds, but I think Vanguard has the most diverse index options, with the best expenses and the minimum initial investment on most is $3000. You can see these figures on the following pages:

    Domestic Stock Funds
    link
    Aggressive Domestic Stock Funds
    link
    Intermediate-Term Bond Funds
    link

    If you aren’t planning on using index funds or you plan to use indexes and actively managed funds, I would suggest opening your account with Schwab, Scottrade or Firstrade. Schwab (www.schwab.com) and Scottrade (www.scottrade.com) offer you the ability to purchase funds from multiple fund families. IRA accounts have no account fees, and if you purchase funds that are on these companies No Transaction Fee (NTF) lists, then it won’t cost you anything to purchase the funds. Firstrade (www.firstrade.com) also provides fee free IRA acounts and provides the ability to purchase funds from almost all mutual fund families. I have had IRA accounts with each of these companies at one point of time, and all have been easy to work with and provided good customer service. I prefer Firstrade because I have the ability to buy almost any no-load fund out there without a transaction fee.

  35. Nice article. Been reading for a while, first time posting. I’m always learning something new and appreciate the time you put into your site.

  36. Just one note to keep in mind no matter what fund or investment vehicle you choose…..WATCH your money….dont just put it in there and forget about it…..at least quarterly take a look, if you dont know what to do because the market looks like crapola, transfer to a money market account until you review next quarter….here’s a good example of how NOT watching can be retirement account depletive….

    You have 1000 in account. You dont watch and a year later it is 750….you say oh well I’ll make back that 25% so no big deal. The only prob is you need to earn 33% just to break even!! (1000-250 = 750,,,,250/1000 = 25% loss, but you need 250 to break even so 250/750 = 33.33%) It gets even worse if you lose 50% (many did in 2001-2003), then you need to double or find 100% returns just to break even. Moral of story = keep an eye on YOUR money…even if you arent retiring for a few decades.

  37. this is an awesome article.

  38. Another possibility for those with little initial funds is Suze Orman’s new plan with TDAmeritrade.

    http://www.saveyourself.com/

    I’m assuming that for opening the account we’ll get some free trades so they won’t eat up the deposit amounts as a percentage, but all of the info won’t be out until 2/27.

    Thoughts?

    -Rush

  39. The details seem very vague so far. If it’s just the same $10 trades, I’d say it’s just another $100 bonus promotion and not the best option for long-term investing.

    There are definitely cheaper brokers out there with comparable or better customer service.

  40. Such as…. :)

  41. Lots of brokers are cheaper – Scottrade, SogoInvest, TradeKing, Zecco, just to name a few. I have accounts at Scottrade and TradeKing, and I like them better than Ameritrade. More details scattered around the blog :)

  42. I’ll keep researching this later this week, but off the top of your head do you do you know of any brokerages that don’t charge the hefty transaction fee for the Vanguard funds? Although I guess I could always just go directly to Vanguard – is it similar @ T.Rowe Price/Fidelity that there are no transaction fee’s on their funds if you open an account with them? Once I have more cash to work with, the ultra low cost (but high min purchase) Fidelity funds look pretty promising.

    I know Scottrade used to not charge the Vanguard transaction fee (or was way WAY lower than the $50 TD Ameritrade wants to charge me). Pretty sad that I would have to pay that large of a fee just to buy into a low cost index fund D:

    The BofA and Wells Fargo trading accounts might also have something – research pending; tips appreciated!

  43. I’m a recent college grad, and wanted to get into Investing. I do have a job, and 401k is enrolled with wells fargo. My question is this yr my tax guy suggested opening a IRA. I’ve read upon the difference btwn traditional and Roth. Now I’ve read through, and suggestions w/ vanguard, fidelety, ameritrade were given. My question is if you have 20k in savings now. Who’d you open and IRA with. If i’m limited to 4k IRA limitation this yr, what do I do with the rest?

  44. I am 31 years old and maried. I have 12k in my 401k with fidelity, and they do not grow much, but I do not work there anymore. Nither me nor my husband have an ira accounts. What would be the best plan for me to do with this money, Leave them in 401k or roll them over to roth ira?

  45. Inna, always roll them into an IRA so YOU have control of the funds you invest in and you can do whatever you want with the money (but don’t take it out or anything)

  46. I like Vanguard, too. If your household (every family member at your address) has $100K of combined assets at Vanguard, you become a Vanguard Voyager and they’ll let you open a free brokerage account (or many).
    So, for example, if you, your spouse & your kid’s education accounts total >= $100K and you’ve got a big chunk committed long-term in the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index fund (VTSMX), you could open a brokerage account for that holding and switch to the comparable Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (symbol VTI). You’ll have essentiall the same holding returning slightly more at a lower expense ratio.
    The trading cost is $20 per trade or .20/share (whichever is higher). So, this probably isn’t for investments less than $10K and using the brokerage is NOT a good strategy for dollar cost averaging.

  47. Can anyone let me know what is the best mutual fund that I can invest here in India??? I have some of the investments that I need to make before I pay my returns.

  48. besides putting money in a high yield savings acct. would you recommend putting money in a money market fund? taxable or tax exempt if im in the 25% bracket

  49. Scotttrade charges $17 to buy mutual funds. After reading all the comments, I wonder if I should send a check for an extra $17 when I put money in my IRA to cover the charge? I just dont want to get into trouble for putting in too much money into my IRA.

    The other MAJOR thing Jonathan and fellow investors, don’t forget that for year 2008, the max limit for Roth IRA and Traditional IRA is $5,000 EACH. After 2008, the maximum limit will be indexed to inflation. Yay!

  50. Excellent article, i have searched the internet all over for simple down to earth advice like this and its hard to find. You might be some dude online but your article is simple to understand and you don’t have a profit to gain so its easier to trust. Thank you

Trackbacks

  1. Quarter Life Blog » Blog Archive » What I’ve been reading lately says:

    [...] My Money Blog posted some specific Mutual Fund recommendations earlier this week.? I already invest in the STAR and Target Retirement 45 funds at Vanguard in my IRA, so it looks like I’m on the right track.? I am having a hard time making my contribution this year. I have barely 1/4th contributed since money was extra tight this year.? I hope to catch up in the next three months from whatever money I earn at Starbucks.? It’s tough playing catch up. You’d think I’d learn. [...]

  2. [...] In my rough guide to investing, I suggested some all-in-one mutual funds for beginners. But what if you want to go a step further and design your own portfolio? Or you have a 401k with only limited choices? [...]

  3. [...] 1) Buy an all-in-one fund, and split it up later. Since many fund companies have all-in-one target-dated funds, you can simply buy one of these until you have enough to split into other funds. Here are some specific fund suggestions, starting at only $50 per month. The fund’s asset allocation may not be exactly what you want, but it will be well-diversified, and still much better than other high-cost alternatives. Here’s what the Vanguard Target 2045 Fund looks like: [...]

  4. [...] Minimum to start: Most index funds have a minimum opening balance of $3,000. The STAR fund (VGSTX) lets you start with $1,000. More information here. [...]

  5. [...] portfolios, so I would definitely prefer for her learn on her own first. Maybe I would suggest a simple Vanguard Target Retirement fund as an auto-pilot option in the [...]

  6. [...] deposit system. I know it sounds nice to “start investing with $100″ (and here are some ways to do that), but honestly, if you don’t have $3,000, your focus should be more on saving money by [...]

  7. [...] to contributing at least $50 every month direct from their bank account. This is similar to what T. Rowe Price or TIAA-CREF does. Since they own the funds, they would still make money off the built-in management fees (expense [...]

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