Passive Income: Investing In Index Funds For Beginners

If you have no clue what an index fund is or how to invest in one, in this post, I answer 7 questions that briefly cover all you need to know to start investing.

Let me begin by saying that investing in the stock market is one of the topics I have been avoiding to get into (there’s a list of them) because of how intimidating it felt. I had absolutely no clue what to do with this and every time I try to read about it, I get a headache!

However, eventually, I reached a dead end because I couldn’t find another topic for this week. And I figured I’ll have to get into this eventually if I wanted to properly create a diversified investment portfolio.

If you look at any established investor, you will find that they have to have money in the stock market, one way or another.

Diversification is a protection against ignorance.

Warren Buffett

But since I am a beginner, I’m not going to jump in and start buying individual stocks all by myself, then cross my fingers and hope for the best. I figured I should start with the beginner’s level for stock investments: Index Funds.

Investing in index funds is the easy and safer route to take if you want to invest in the stock market but lack the experience and knowledge it takes, or if you simply don’t feel like taking the risk.

And it seemed like the second best investment to get into after real estate for me. So I decided to look more into this as someone who has never been anywhere near the world of stock market.

If you too have no idea how to start in this kind of investment and maybe considering giving it a try, then this post is for you.


Jump to:


What are index funds?

An index fund is a type of mutual funds, it is like a collection of funds that follow the performance of a number of different markets/companies, packaged together into a single fund called an index fund.

So, instead of making a choice and buying a fund in individual stock (which requires a great knowledge of that specific stock and its chances of rising or falling in price), you buy a bunch of them into one single fund.

This means more exposure to the stock market, however, with less risk.

Who should invest in index funds?

Anyone can invest in index funds, you don’t need to have extensive knowledge in the stock market as a whole.

You do, however, need to have some basic understanding of how this works and how to choose where to buy your index funds and which funds to buy.

The lower the price of the fund and the account expenses, the higher the profit you will make. And the more broad and diverse the stocks held by the index fund, the less likely you are to face losses.

You also need to know that investing in index funds is mostly a long term investment. Meaning that you need to be willing to hold on to that fund for a while (5-10 years and sometimes more) before you see real profits.

This is usually the long-term investment suggested for retirement, similar to retirement accounts.

What are the types of index funds?

Index funds can be classified into:

  1. Stock index funds
  2. Bond index funds
  3. Commodity index funds

In this post, I’m mainly focusing on the stock index funds. However, I briefly went over the commodity ones in both Investing In Gold (ETFs & stocks)and Investing In Real Estate (funds). You can check them out for a quick overview.

As for stock index funds, these can also be classified into a number of types:

1. Broad market index fund

This is when an index fund is following the performance of an entire market. Famous examples of such funds are ones following the performance of the S&P 500 or Dow Jones.

2. Sector index fund

This is an index fund that follows the performance/profits of a certain industry in the country, such as the banking sector, the real estate sector, or a more broad sector like technology, etc.

3. International index fund

This one is an index fund that follows a number of companies from different countries.

It does not follow the performance of the stock market of these countries, but the performance of the companies whose stocks are part of the fund.

4. Global index fund

This follows the performance of the stock market of a number of countries. This index fund has main stocks from different nations, such as the FTSE 100 for Britain or the EGX 30 for Egypt.

How to choose an index fund?

There are a few things you need to consider and decide on before you take the step and buy an index fund.

Type

First thing you need to decide which type of stock you want to follow.

Do you want to follow the global stock for multiple countries? Or would you rather go for a certain industry’s performance, like banking? Or ones that track currencies or metals, like gold and silver?

There are plenty of options, and if you are not sure which one is to choose, you should go for ones that cover a bigger and broader market.

Fees

Before you buy an index fund, you should check first what kind of fees you will need to pay.

There are commission fees that gets deducted from your profits periodically, you may need to check the percentage and see if it is low enough for you to still be making a profit.

There are also some brokers or index fund companies that charge you to create an account, you will also want to consider this charge.

One last thing is the trading charges. How much you will need to pay to buy or sell your funds (you can buy or sell an index fund at the end of the trading day only).

Broker

In most cases, you will need to buy a certain index fund through a broker or a brokerage firm. You can invest through a brokerage firm locally or go with an online broker.

It is important that you first research this broker and read what other clients have to say about their service.

You can read more about how to choose the right broker here. Or you can find out about international online brokers instead.

How much money do you need to invest in index funds?

Investing in an index fund is known for its low cost. And this is because it is basically holding all the stocks in one package instead of hiring a professional to pick the right stocks to buy. So, that leaves you with not much expenses to pay.

The price for an index fund varies based on where you are buying it from and which fund type you are going to invest in.

Some index funds has no minimum amount required to start and others can have a minimum starting amount of $2000, $3000, or more.

So you can invest with an amount anywhere between $10 and $10,000. But it goes without saying that the more money you put in, the more profit you will make along the years.

However, you can start out with a small amount and keep adding to it every few months or so. You can check this list of the cheapest index funds to buy.

If you invest in a very low cost index fund-where you don’t put the money in at one time, but average in over 10 years-you’ll do better than 90% of the people who started investing at the same time.

Warren Buffett

What are the best index funds to buy in 2019?

Since I’m no expert, I did what any beginner would do and started doing research. And I found that there are a number of index funds that are always at the top of every list of best index funds to invest in. They are mostly the ones with the lowest fees and low to moderate charge for opening an account.

This is a list of index funds that are suggested by most stock experts/advisers (in order from lowest to highest annual expense ratio).

  1. Fidelity Spartan 500 (0.015%)
  2. Schwab S&P 500 (0.02%)
  3. Schwab Total Stock Market (0.03%)
  4. Vanguard S&P 500 (0.04%)
  5. iShares Core S&P 500 (0.04%)
  6. Vanguard Total Stock Market (0.04%)
  7. Vanguard Total World Stock (0.10%)
  8. Bloomberg Barclays High Yield Bond (0.4%)

Some of these funds you can invest in from anywhere in the world; however, depending on your country, you may need to invest through a local brokerage firm and not directly through the index fund provider.

What are the available index funds in Egypt?

As one of the largest and most developed countries in the MENA region, Egypt has a huge potential for economical growth and many opportunities for investment.

If you are a resident of Egypt and want to know which funds you can invest in locally, or if you are not a resident and simply want to invest in funds in Egypt, below is a list of some of the funds you can consider:

You can also check this article out to have an idea of the top ranking funds in Egypt for this past year and how much profit each made.

Till next week, happy days!

Advertisements

Passive Income: 4 Real Estate Investing Options

This post introduces the meaning of passive income, the different sources where you can achieve it, and 4 ways through which you can invest in real estate as a passive income option.

First, What Is Passive Income?

Passive income is income resulting from cash flow received on a regular basis, requiring minimal to no effort by the recipient to maintain it.
Some of them, however, would require quite the effort in the beginning, just to give it the required push to start off, and then it starts giving you that regular income later on.

What Are Some Passive Income Sources?

After lots of research and comparisons, I was able to come up with the below list. I would say most of them are safe methods, ones that has the least amount of risk and don’t really require a crazy amount of money to start. This is not everything out there, but those are the ones I found so far which seemed possible to start with. I will be adding more along the way.

Here are the risk-free ones (in no particular order):

  • Real estate investments
  • Google AdSense/Affiliates
  • Online business
  • Retirement accounts

And then there are the methods which can be a little bit risky, but not so much if you know what you’re doing:

  • Real estate investments
  • Stock market
  • Index funds

Ho Do You Choose The One To Start With?

When it comes to making a choice, you would mostly just need to check which of these options you can afford or which of them you have the access to try and invest in. Also, if you already have some sort of knowledge or know someone who can help you get started.

For me, I decided to start with the real estate investment option. And I have listed the real estate option in both the safe category and the not-so-safe one, this is because investing in real estate has multiple methods, some of which can be risky and costly, but others not so much. I will briefly explain the details of each one below.

The 4 Real Estate Investing Options

1. Buying Property

This is the typical type of real estate investment where you would need to have a sum of money that is enough to buy a property (residential, industrial, or commercial) and you would then decide to either rent it and have a fixed monthly income or renovate and sell it with a higher price.
You can check out this video on how to buy at a lower cost so you can make a profit in reselling.

Usually the trick in this one is that it could take a long time to find a buyer for a property; and if you rent, you may end up with tenants who do not pay. So, it’s got a bit of risk to it if you’re not experienced in that field I guess.

2. Real Estate Funds

And there are three types of funds: there is the Exchange Traded Funds (ETF), the Real Estate Mutual Funds, and the Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).

ETF and Mutual Funds are somewhat similar in many aspects. However, deciding on which fund to invest in would typically rely on the cost vs the profit you will get, and also the flexibility of the trading and how long you plan to hold your shares. If you’re interested in the topic, you can find a more in-depth comparison between the two here

A REIT, however, is a company that owns, develops, and manages real estate properties that produce income. The benefits of investing in REITs include their lower investment entry costs;  and that they are highly flexible, allowing investors to invest in a range of real estate from commercial properties to shopping malls. Check out this article for a comparison between REITs and Mutual Funds including their pros and cons.

Interestingly, I found out that real estate funds were only introduced last year in Egypt (where I live) and apparently there are only two launched at the moment one of them is Naeem Holding fund which provides an annual profit of 26%; and they accept both local and foreign investors with minimum share price of LE 50K. And it looks like there will be more launching soon too. (I am so excited!) More on this here.

3. Online Real Estate Investment

I came across this gem of an option, but sadly I couldn’t find one that accepts funds from where I live (and I will be saying this sentence frequently along the way).

Basically these are online websites where you can buy shares with whatever amount you want, starting with as little as $100 for some websites, and they search for properties to buy and sell and you get an annual profit.

For example, I found this website called Fundrise where you can start investing with $500 and it is not required to be a professional like other websites. This one is limited to investments from U.S. residents only, though. I couldn’t try it, but I have read a lot about it and they were mostly good reviews. There are plenty of other similar websites listed here.

4. Home Construction Companies

This would be investing in a company that builds houses. You can find homebuilder companies in your city or online. And this is the real estate investment option I started with. 

I myself am not a realtor and I cannot afford something like buying a property to rent or renovate and sell, for example. (And I only found out about the Egyptian real estate funds when I was writing this post, so it was a bit too late..)

However, luckily, I found another way to get involved in real estate investments which is through a local construction company where I can buy shares and they use the money I pay along with many other investors to build properties and then sell them; and the investors get a fixed amount of yearly profit.

It was easy for me to choose this one also because I already knew a realtor in that company. I started with the least amount of money to buy only one share for LE 50K (that is about $2800) which is all the money I had on me, literally. And I could have waited until I had some extra money, but I thought the earlier I start, the earlier I will be getting a revenue, and so I just did it.

It is hassle-free and almost risk-free, so it is a good start for me to have some kind of investment to generate a passive income. My plan is that throughout this coming year, I would try and save up money so by the next year I would be able to buy a second share.

(Side note: I would not recommend spending all you have on a single investment option unless you are certain that it is a safe and trusted investment. I did that because 1. I know the people involved and know people who are long-term investors with them, and 2. I knew if I’d kept that money it would have been spent on meaningless stuff especially since it’s SALES season!)

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time to plant a tree is today.

Chinese Proverb

One of the other passive income options mentioned in the lists above which I also find interesting is the index funds. Index funding is a type of mutual fund with a portfolio constructed to match or track the components of a market index. It is said to provide broad market exposure, low operating expenses, and low portfolio turnover.

I’m planning on trying this as a next step. I’m currently still searching for the best index fund to invest in in Egypt. But the good thing is there are options to invest in international index funds even if you are not a resident of the country. Although, it seems to have a more complicated procedure, but it is possible. So, I will be doing more research on the matter and will be sharing my findings in a later post.

The other passive income option which I found possible and somewhat easy to start is the online business. Online business however is an umbrella term for a huge number of businesses that you can try. In my next post,  I will be sharing all the online businesses that most people sort of have agreed to have been the most helpful and which ones I myself have tried so far.

Till then, happy days!