Why Total Stock Market Funds are Worth Considering

July 4, 2024
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You've likely heard of total stock market funds But do you really know what they are, how they work, and more importantly, if they're the right fit for your portfolio? Let's dive in and find out!

Hey there, sophisticated investor! You've likely heard of total stock market funds, right? But do you really know what they are, how they work, and more importantly, if they're the right fit for your portfolio? Let's dive in and find out!

Think of total stock market funds as the buffet of the investing world. As the name suggests, they offer a little bit of everything: large caps, mid caps, small caps, and even the often overlooked micro caps. But the question is, are you one to enjoy a good buffet or do you prefer a more tailored, à la carte meal?

But before you answer that, let's break down what a total stock market fund actually is. In essence, it's a type of mutual fund or exchange-traded fund (ETF) that aims to replicate the performance of a broad equity benchmark. Still with me? Great!

Now, why should you even care? Well, you see, these funds offer something quite seductive – diversification. Oh, and did I mention simplicity? With one investment, you can own a piece of every publicly traded company in the country. Doesn't that just tickle your fancy?

Well, hold on to your monocle, because we are just getting started! In the following sections, we'll cover the benefits, drawbacks, and other nuances of total stock market funds. We’ll also discuss how they compare to other investment options. Ready to learn more? Of course, you are. You're a sophisticated investor, after all!

What are Total Stock Market Funds?

Ever tried to catch all the fish in the ocean with one net? That's what total stock market funds are all about, except the fish are stocks and the ocean is the stock market. These funds aim to capture the performance of the entire stock market by including every publicly traded stock in the portfolio. It's like having a little piece of everything in your investment pie. Impressive right?

But hold on a sec, how can you possibly own every single stock? Good question! Here's how they do it:

  1. Indexing: Total stock market funds follow an index, like the Russell 3000, which includes just about every US publicly traded company. It's like following a recipe for a stock market soup, with a dash of this company and a pinch of that one.
  2. Diversification: Instead of betting on the performance of a single stock, these funds spread the risk across many. It's like placing small bets on all the horses in the race instead of going all in on one. The goal? To capture the average return of the whole market.
Remember: Total stock market funds are not about beating the market, they're about being the market.

So, let's take a closer look at the different types of total stock market funds. Don't worry, you won't need a microscope for this one.

Types of total return funds

In the realm of investing, total stock market funds are like the all-you-can-eat buffets of the financial world. They offer a bit of everything and aim to satisfy your portfolio's hunger for diversification. So, ready to catch all those fish?

How Do Total Stock Market Funds Work?

Ever been to a grand buffet and just can't decide what to eat because there's so much on offer? Total stock market funds are like that, but for stocks! They offer a smorgasbord of virtually every publicly traded company in the United States. So, how do these funds work, you may ask? Let's dive in!

Well, imagine you're at said buffet and instead of choosing individual dishes, you're served a bit of everything on offer. That's exactly how total stock market funds operate. Instead of hand-picking stocks, these funds invest in a broad swath of the market, representing nearly every publicly traded company.

  1. Investing in a Broad Market: The fund manager purchases stocks that represent the entire U.S. stock market. This means you, as an investor, get to own a tiny piece of nearly every publicly traded company in the U.S. Talk about not putting all your eggs in one basket, right?
  2. Follows a Passive Investment Strategy: These funds typically use a passive investment strategy, replicating a broad market index like the Wilshire 5000 or the Russell 3000. So, there's no need for you to fret over market trends or stock performances.
  3. Offers Diversification: With total stock market funds, you're not just investing in one sector or a handful of companies. You're spreading your investments across various sectors and industries, which can help reduce risk.

However, as with all things in life, total stock market funds are not without their quirks.

“Remember, the price of diversification is that you're guaranteed to own both the best and worst performers in the market.”

But hey, think about it this way -  you're also guaranteed not to miss out on any of the top performers. Now, isn't that a comforting thought?

So, to sum it all up, total stock market funds are a convenient, low-cost way for investors to gain broad exposure to the U.S. stock market. It's like having the entire buffet spread out on your plate.

Key Takeaways

Pros and Cons of Funds vs Stocks

What do you think, ready to dive into the buffet of total stock market funds?

Why Invest in Total Stock Market Funds?

Ever found yourself staring at a smorgasbord of investment options, feeling like a kid in a candy store? Well, total stock market funds might just be the ticket to satisfying your financial sweet tooth. But why, you ask? Let's dive in!

Effortless Diversification:

First off, investing in total stock market funds is like ordering a combo meal. You get a taste of everything! These funds offer exposure to a wide range of sectors, from tech-savvy silicon valley companies, old-school manufacturing giants, to high-flying aerospace firms. This diversification helps to spread your risk and can provide a good return on investment. It's like getting a neat, pre-packaged investment portfolio without even breaking a sweat! How cool is that?

What's more, if you wanted to go and do this on your own, you'd have to individually go out, purchase each stock and rebalance on an ongoing basis. That may be feasible with 20, maybe even 50 stocks. However, at 3,000+ it's nearly impossible! This instant diversification means you can set and forget your portfolio all for a low-cost.

Low Cost:

Next up is the cost factor. Who doesn't like to save a few bucks, right? Total stock market funds generally have lower fees than other investment options. Less money spent on fees means more money in your pocket! To put it simply, it's like buying a wholesale box of chocolates instead of the pricey gourmet ones. You still get to enjoy the sweetness, but at a fraction of the cost.

Long-Term Growth:

Finally, total stock market funds are often linked to long-term growth. They're like the tortoise in the race - slow and steady, but eventually winning the race. You might not see a sudden spike in your investment, but over time, these funds have historically demonstrated solid growth. It's like planting a seed and patiently watching it grow into a beautiful tree.

Now, let's put it all in a nutshell with a handy table.

Benefits of Total Return Funds

So, there you have it! Investing in total stock market funds offers the tantalizing promise of diversification, cost-saving, and long-term growth. It's like finding the golden ticket in your chocolate bar! Now, who wouldn't want that?

Total Stock Market Funds vs Individual Stocks: Pros and Cons

Ever wonder why investors and financial advisors keep harping about total stock market funds? Or why some bold souls still prefer individual stocks? Let's dive in and dissect the pros and cons of each to help you make an educated decision about where to park your hard-earned money.

Let's start with the darling of the investment world: Total Stock Market Funds.


  • They're like a buffet of stocks. A little bit of everything. With total market funds, you're automatically diversified, reducing your risk.
  • Don't have time to play stock market whack-a-mole? No worries. These funds are managed by professionals who eat, sleep, and breathe stocks. They do the heavy lifting so you don't have to.
  • Rebalancing your portfolio? It's like hitting the auto-update button. The fund does it for you.


  • Got a hot tip about a stock? Too bad, you can't capitalize on it, because your money is spread across the market.
  • Management fees can eat into your returns. Remember, nothing comes for free, not even convenience.

Now, let's shift the spotlight to the risk-takers' favorite: Individual Stocks.


  • You call the shots! You decide where your money goes. You're like a captain navigating your own ship.
  • Hit the jackpot with a high-performing stock? Celebrate! Your rewards are potentially unlimited.
  • Stock dividends can be a sweet source of income.


  • It's like riding a roller-coaster. The highs can be thrilling, but the lows? Not so much. Investing in individual stocks can be risky.
  • Remember the saying, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket"? It applies here. If you're not diversified, your portfolio could take a hit.
  • Analysing individual stocks can be time-consuming and complex. You’ll need to be on your toes and watch the market closely.
So, total stock market funds or individual stocks? The choice, my friend, depends on your risk appetite, time commitment, and financial goals. There's no one-size-fits-all solution.

Total return funds vs individual stock pros and cons

In the end, it's not about choosing one over the other. It's about finding the right mix for you. Now, go forth and conquer the stock market world!

Diversifying Your Portfolio with Total Stock Market Funds

Ever wish you could just snap your fingers and instantly own a tiny slice of every public company in the United States? Well, rub that magic lamp because total stock market funds are your wish come true! They're the no-fuss, all-in-one, just-add-water solution to diversifying your portfolio. But hold up, what exactly are these magical funds?

Total stock market funds, my dear reader, are mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that track a broad market index. In plain English? They give you a piece of the entire U.S. stock market pie. Delicious, right?

Think about it like a buffet. You could spend all day picking out individual dishes, or you could grab a little bit of everything with one simple choice. That's the beauty of total stock market funds.

So, what makes them so special? Why should you consider them for your portfolio?

  • They're diversified: With a total stock market fund, you're spreading your risk across the entire market. Not just a few sectors or a handful of companies. You’re getting in on everything from tech titans to consumer goods giants.
  • They're low cost: Because these funds track an index, they generally have lower expenses than actively managed funds. That means more money stays in your pocket.
  • They're simple: No need to be a Wall Street whiz or have a finance Ph.D. to understand these funds. They're straightforward, easy to understand, and a breeze to invest in.

Feeling convinced? Good! But like any investment, these funds come with their own set of risks and rewards. Let's break it down:

Risk and rewards of total return funds

Still with me? Fantastic! By now, you should understand that total stock market funds can be a powerful tool for diversification, offering a simple, low-cost way to own a piece of the entire U.S. stock market. Just remember, investing is not a sprint, it's a marathon. And you, my friend, are in it for the long run.

Top Total Stock Market Funds to Consider

So you're the sophisticated investor who's heard the buzz about total stock market funds, huh? You're wondering what's the fuss all about, aren't you? Well, buckle up buttercup, because we're about to dive deep into the world of total stock market funds.

Now, a total stock market fund is a type of mutual fund or exchange-traded fund (ETF) that aims to replicate the performance of a broad market index. Put simply, you get a piece of the entire stock market pie. Intriguing, isn't it?

Let's get into the meat and potatoes now. We're talking about the top total stock market funds you should be eyeing like a hawk on steak. Here are some top contenders:

  • Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTI) or VTSAX for the mutual fund version
  • Fidelity Total Market Index Fund (FSKAX)
  • Vanguard Total World Stock Index Fund ETF Shares (VT)
  • iShares Core S&P Total U.S. Stock Market ETF (ITOT)

Let's break these down a bit, shall we?

Top total return funds
Keep in mind, my savvy investing friend, that while these funds offer broad market exposure, they also come with the risk inherent in stock investing. As the old saying goes, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket."

What Makes Up a Total Return Fund?

  • Dividends: These are a portion of a company's earnings that are paid out to shareholders. Who doesn't like a bit of extra cash, am I right?
  • Capital Gains: The increase in the value of an investment. It's like watching your money grow on a tree!
  • Interest Income: This is the income earned from debt instruments such as bonds. It's like getting paid for lending your friend money, only this time, it's a company.

So, now that we've got that out of the way, let's talk about how you can add these magical funds to your portfolio.

Building A Total Return Fund Portfolio

Ever sat in your armchair, gazing out the window, pondering how on earth to build a total return fund portfolio? Well, look no further my financially astute friend! You are in the right place! With Investipal's ETF Portfolio Builder, creating your total return fund portfolio is as easy as pie. Shall we dive in?

First off, let's talk about the components of a total return fund portfolio. What's in the mix, you ask? Well, typically, there are three main ingredients:

  • Domestic Stock ETFs: Your bread and butter, these are the foundation of your portfolio. They make up the majority of your investment and offer a steady return.
  • International Stock ETFs: Think of these as your spice – they add a dash of diversity to your portfolio. They may be riskier, but they can also bring higher returns.
  • Bond ETFs: The comforting vanilla ice cream to your spicy investments. They provide stability and can help you weather any financial storms.

Alright, so we've got our ingredients. Now, how much of each do we need? Here's where Investipal's ETF Portfolio Builder comes in handy:

"Investipal's ETF Portfolio Builder helps you balance your investments by showcasing proportions based on your risk tolerance and investment horizon. It's like a personal chef for your finance, chopping and dicing your investments into the perfect portfolio salad."

So, how does your portfolio look after the Investipal treatment? Let's look at an example:

And there you have it! A well-balanced, total return fund portfolio, all thanks to Investipal's ETF Portfolio Builder. So, what are you waiting for? Time to dive into the world of total return ETFs and watch your investment grow.

Let's Kickstart Your Growth

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