How to invest in ETFs for beginners (2023)

Ten years ago, younger investors would have had to wait to accumulate enough capital to build an investment portfolio. Today, it's much easier to quickly learn between smartphone apps and cheap or free investment platforms without losing your shirt.

One of the best and easiest ways to build a diversified portfolio is to use exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which give you access to hundreds of stocks in one fund at very low fees.

ETFs are similar to mutual funds in this regardcarry out a set of actionsand securities in one fund. Unlike mutual funds, they are bought and sold on exchanges, can be traded anytime the exchange is open, and you can start investing in ETFs even if all you need to invest is $50.

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For example, you may own a small stake in some of America's largest companies throughSPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust(NYSEARCA:SPY), America's oldest and largest ETF$377 billionin managed assets. It is so good at covering bases that many large institutional investors own some of their shares in this ETF.

How do beginners invest in ETFs? Read on and we'll give you a roadmap to success.

Practice investing in ETFs before making a decision

Before you really invest your hard-earned money, it would be a good idea to practice using the simulated trading app. This will help you better understand the entire investment process, from selecting ETFs for your portfolio and assigning a certain percentage or weighting to each ETF, to deciding how often you can rebalance your portfolio based on your personal investment goals.

Most online brokers offer practice accounts where you can learn about investing in ETFs without investing any real savings.

For example, even if you don'tTD Ameritradeaccount, you can register yourscount paper moneyin yoursThinkorswim trading platform. It provides real-time data so you can get started on building a workable ETF portfolio. As with all new apps, it can take some time to learn the basics of the trading platform.

Another good trading simulator from an online broker iseToro, whose demo accounts allow you to practice investing in ETFs with $100,000 worth of virtual funds. Other trading simulators worth knowing that are provided free of charge by media companies include two of thesemarket watch(owned by Dow Jones & Company) and Investopedia (owned by IAC Inc.).

If you're new to ETF investing and decide to use a trial portfolio to get used to the process, it's important to set a specific period - say 2-3 months - to learn the basics. Ultimately, however, your greatest learning will come from your actual experience investing real money over time.

KISS principle

Now that you've set up a trial account, it's time to think about how broad you want your portfolio to be. For example, do you want 100% ETFs like SPY? (Capital investments providepartial ownershipin public companies.) Or would you like to include themFixed income ETFsto see how a more balanced portfolio could work? (Fixed income investments, often called bonds, pay a fixed amount of interest on the face value of the bond, periodically over the life of the bond.)

Berkshire Hathaway(BRK.B, $328.49), founder Warren Buffett told the companyletter to shareholders 2013that he had instructed his wife's estate trustee to put 90% of the amount in a low-cost index fund and the remaining 10% in short-term government bonds. This is called a 90/10 background. Research shows that this allocation between stocks and fixed income works very well for most market downturns.

So if you wantdon't complicate ityou can go togetherETFs: Atotal global stock exchange ETFasVanguard Total World Stock ETF(VT, $93.24), giving you exposure to US and international equities and ETFs to the total bond market, such asiShares Core US Aggregate Bond ETF(AGG, $99.30), which tracks Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate Bond Index, giving youwide exposureto US investment grade bonds.

A more extensive portfolio can include up to 10 ETFs with six or seven equity funds, including those focusing on US small and large cap equities, international developed and emerging market ETFs, and several other possibilities.

The bond portion may include AGG along with two or three other fixed income ETFs that include more specific investments such as TIPS (inflation protected government bonds), international bonds, and high yield or sub-investment bonds.

That's the beauty of using a trial account. It allows you to experiment as much as you like without costing a dime.

start shopping

If you have discovered the ins and outs of investing in ETFs and feel ready to invest real money in an ETF portfolio, the next step is to fund your online brokerage account and start investing.

TD Ameritrade and eToro have already been mentioned in this article. others well knowninternet brokersto help you get started, please joinKarol Szwab,E*Trade, Loyalty,miInteractive brokers.It should also be noted that each of these online brokers offer fractional stock investing, so if you only have $100 to start with, you can still buy 10 ETFs for your portfolio, with a specific weight or dollar amount assigned to them. of them.

If you are new to ETF investing, it is important to understand the costs involved.

Although many online brokers providecommission-free trading, you want to confirm how much each buy or sell transaction costs. Other considerations include whether there are minimum account amounts and fees for transferring an account to another financial institution in the future. Also check what surveys are provided and at what price. Many online brokers provide this for free.

Another cost to watch out for is the fees charged by the ETFs themselves for managing the funds. The aforementioned SPY charges an annual operating cost of0,0945%equity of the fund. So you will pay $0.95 for every $1,000 invested in an ETF. This fee is deducted from the fund's income, not from the brokerage account.

It's time to step up and invest

If you're worried it's too late to start, consider the following:personal capital study 2021the average age at which a person starts investing is 33.3 years. Research has shown that many investors fresh out of college do not have spare money to invest, with around 44% of Gen Z investors saying that limited funds were a significant factor in their decision not to invest.

The important thing to remember is that it's not how much you invest, but how early you invest. Little by little every year for 40 or 50 years.

If you are a beginner, take your time and learn the basics before getting involved in more complex trading instruments such as options and derivatives. As Warren Buffett rightly suggests, you can be successful by buying and holding just two low-volume ETFs.

related content

  • The best ETFs to buy now
  • Kiplinger ETF 20 - our favorite exchange-traded funds for every investor
  • The best bond ETFs to buy now


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