An older man is laughing while cradling a smiling boy in his arms.
Planning for retirement

What to look for when choosing investments

There's only one more decision to make before opening an account: choosing investments. Here's what to think about.
3 minute read

Costs

Like houses and cars, investments cost money. Low-cost investments help you keep as much as possible for your retirement.

See why investing costs are so important

Diversification

This is a fancy way of saying "spread out your risk." You know, don't put all your eggs in one basket.

For example, you could hold stocks from thousands of companies through a mutual fund or ETF (exchange-traded fund). That way, if one company's stock price plummets, it will barely reflect in your account balance.

If you're not interested in digging into the details of every option out there, we'd recommend mutual funds or ETFs that cover the complete U.S. stock, U.S. bond, international stock, and international bond markets.

(As a guideline, put about 30% of your stock money in international stocks and 20% of your bond money in international bonds.)

Mutual funds vs. ETFs

Both of these types of investments are diversified and professionally managed.

ETFs can also offer trading flexibility and other benefits, while mutual funds may have account options that aren't available with ETFs.

Compare ETFs vs. mutual funds

Index vs. active investments

If you're thinking of choosing mutual funds for your account, think about whether you want index or active funds.

Compare index funds vs. actively managed funds

Where does retirement fit into your priorities?

See how to juggle multiple financial goals

Explore professional advice

We offer expert help at the low cost you'd expect from Vanguard.


We're here to help

Talk with one of our investment specialists

Monday through Friday
8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Eastern time



We're here to help

Talk with one of our investment specialists

Monday through Friday
8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Eastern time


All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest. Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss.

Vanguard’s advice services are provided by Vanguard Advisers, Inc., (“VAI”) a registered investment advisor, or by Vanguard National Trust Company (“VNTC”), a federally chartered, limited-purpose trust company.

The services provided to clients will vary based upon the service selected, including management, fees, eligibility, and access to an advisor. Find VAI’s Form CRS and each program’s advisory brochure here for an overview.

VAI and VNTC are subsidiaries of The Vanguard Group, Inc., and affiliates of Vanguard Marketing Corporation. Neither VAI, VNTC nor its affiliates guarantee profits or protection from losses.