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The Complete Beginner's Guide to Investing in Mutual Funds

What Mutual Funds Are, How Mutual Funds Work, and Much More

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Mutual funds are one of the most popular ways for new investors to build wealth. Whether you own them through your retirement plan, such as a 401(k) or IRA, or you buy them directly or through a brokerage account, this guide to mutual fund investing was designed to help you understand what they are, how they work, and things you may want to consider.

1. Mutual Funds 101

Mutual Fund Investing for New Investors

Before I can teach you about mutual fund investing, you need to understand what mutual funds are. In Mutual Funds 101, I'm going to show you the difference between open-ended funds and closed funds, load vs. no load funds, and more. It's a great place to start.

2. How a Mutual Funds Works

How Mutual Fund Investing Works

As part of my decision to seriously consider launching a mutual fund company, I met with banks and other financial institutions, who provided a phenomenal introduction to how mutual funds are structured and the way they actually work. By giving you a behind-the-scenes look into the makeup of a fund, you'll have a much better idea what happens once you write a check to start investing.

3. How Do I Buy Shares of a Mutual Fund?

How Do I Buy Shares of a Mutual Fund?

Once you a ready to begin investing in mutual funds, you actually have to go about buying your mutual fund shares.  There are three popular ways this is done in the United States.  This overview will help you understand each of them, and some of the advantages certain methods have over others.

4. What Is a Mutual Fund Sales Load?

What Is a Mutual Fund Sales Load?

When you buy your first mutual fund, you may encounter something known as a sales load.  There are front end loads, back end loads, deferred loads and declining loads.  That may sound complicated, but it is really important you understand what these terms mean because buying the wrong type of mutual fund can take thousands, or even tens of thousands, of dollars directly out of your pocket.

5. Are Low-Cost Index Funds the Best Mutual Fund Investment?

Index Funds Mutual Funds

Many professionals believes that low-cost index funds are a better investment choice for those who want to grow their wealth without a lot of hassle. How are index funds different? Should you consider investing in them instead of actively managed mutual funds? Here are some thoughts that you might want to consider.

6. 10-Part Guide to Picking the Best Mutual Funds

Finding the Best Mutual Fund Investing Ideas

How do you pick the best mutual funds? I wrote this step-by-step guide to illustrate some of the things to think about and look for when building a mutual fund portfolio. It should be useful as you make your way through what can seem like an endless list of potential fund investments.

7. Don't Forget to Watch Out for this Huge Hidden Mutual Fund Tax!

Index Funds Mutual Funds

There is a hidden mutual fund tax that could cause you to owe massive amounts of money to the IRS even if you lose money investing in a mutual fund. Most new investors don't know how it works, or even what to look for to spot this potential danger. Don't even consider mutual fund investing until you've learned the cause of potential mutual fund tax problems

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8. Don't Chase Past Mutual Fund Performance

Don't Chase Past Mutual Fund Performance
Do you think it is a good idea to only buy shares of mutual funds that have good past performance? That may sound reasonable but your logic is flawed. Mutual funds are a unique type of investment. For example, portfolio managers change even though the fund name remains the same! If someone new is managing your money, you may not even realize it. Likewise, fund assets grow, making it more difficult to put money to work as the universe of potential investments shrinks.

9. Should I Invest in Bonds or a Bond Fund?

Bond Mutual Funds vs. Direct Bond Investing

Mutual funds aren't just for investing in stocks. A common question that is posed to me is whether new investors should own bonds or invest in a bond fund, which is a special type of mutual fund that owns bonds and other fixed income investments. My answer? It depends ...

10. Are ETFs a Better Choice Than Traditional Mutual Funds?

You may have heard a lot about ETFs in the financial press lately, especially comparing them to traditional mutual funds. Exchange traded funds do have a lot of benefits, but there are also some drawbacks you need to know about before you make the switch.

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