How to invest

Understanding investment types

The investments you choose for your portfolio should depend on your goals and investing style. Here's how to decide.

Already have a fund in mind?

Already have a fund in mind?

Review the basic principles of investing

The first step in choosing investments is to know the principles that will help you achieve success. Then you'll be ready to narrow your investment options.

Start with your asset allocation

Of all the decisions you make, your asset allocation could have the biggest impact on the performance and volatility of your investments.

Diversify your portfolio

The more bonds and stocks you own, the smaller the impact each one individually has on your overall portfolio, which can lower your risk.

Don't let costs eat away your returns

The amount you pay to invest has a direct impact on your returns.

Explore investment types

Explore the various investment options that can help you achieve your financial goals.

What is a stock?
When you buy a stock, you own a piece of the company that issues it. There are several ways of classifying companies and their stocks.
What is a bond?
Unlike stocks, bonds don't give you ownership rights. They represent a loan from the buyer (you) to the issuer of the bond.
What are cash investments?
Cash investments can lower the overall risk of your portfolio and give you a place to hold money while you wait to invest it.

 

Choosing between funds & individual securities

ETFs, mutual funds, and individual securities could all have a place in your portfolio.

Learn more

 

ETFs vs. mutual funds: A comparison

ETFs and mutual funds are surprisingly similar with a few key differences that set them apart.

Learn more

 

Get to know your investment costs

All investments have costs that can impact your portfolio's returns.

Learn more

 

What are hybrid securities?

These complex investments combine the characteristics of both stocks and bonds and may not be right for everyone.

Learn more

 

What are alternative investments?

Not for the faint of heart, they involve higher risks and unconventional investment categories.

Learn more

 

Call options & put options

Trading options can be complex and requires a higher level of risk tolerance.

Learn more

Learn more about asset classes

Investments are generally categorized into asset classes and incorporate different investment types like stocks or bonds. Asset classes often share similarities in how they're traded and regulated.

Index funds vs. actively managed funds
The choice comes down to how much risk you're willing to take for the possibility of higher performance.
What are equity or stock funds?
Equity mutual funds and ETFs (exchange-traded funds) invest in a diverse mix of stocks.

What are bond funds?

What are fixed income or bond funds?
Bond funds and bond ETFs offer greater diversification than individual securities as well as other benefits. Bond funds are similar to stock funds because they invest in a diverse selection of investments—but they hold fixed income securities instead of stock.

 

What are multi-asset or balanced funds?

Make a more diversified portfolio with just 1 fund.

Learn more

 

Why invest internationally?

Look outside of the U.S. for further diversification.

Learn more

 

What are sector & specialty funds?

If you're looking to invest in a specific market or industry, sector funds may be for you.

Learn more

 

What are factor-based funds?

These funds focus on certain stock characteristics and may be more appropriate for experienced investors who are comfortable with high risk.

Learn more

Explore our other resources to help you choose the best product for your goals

More on mutual funds

Explore popular educational content on mutual funds to help you find the right fund for your portfolio.

More on ETFs

Explore popular educational content on ETFs to help you find the right fund for your portfolio.

Still need help? Consider our advice services

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services®

Get personalized support as you strive toward your goals, no matter where you stand on your financial journey.

To get started, call us at 800-523-9447 to speak with an investment professional or click the link below.

Vanguard Digital Advisor®

Let our new online financial planner match an investment strategy to your retirement goals.

Ready to invest?

New to Vanguard or looking to consolidate your savings?


Already a Vanguard client?  Log in to your account.

Ready to invest?

New to Vanguard or looking to consolidate your savings?


Already a Vanguard client?  Log in to your account.

All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.

Advice services are provided by Vanguard Advisers, Inc., a registered investment advisor, or by Vanguard National Trust Company, a federally chartered, limited-purpose trust company.

The services provided to clients who elect to receive ongoing advice will vary based upon the amount of assets in a portfolio. Please review Form CRS and the Vanguard Personal Advisor Services Brochure for important details about the service, including its asset-based service levels and fee breakpoints.

Vanguard Digital Advisor's services are provided by Vanguard Advisers, Inc. ("VAI"), a federally registered investment advisor. VAI is a subsidiary of The Vanguard Group, Inc. ("VGI"), and an affiliate of Vanguard Marketing Corporation. Neither VGI, VAI, nor its affiliates guarantee profits or protection from losses. For more information, including acceptable reasonable restrictions to place on your investment strategy, please review Form CRS and the Vanguard Digital Advisor Brochure.

You must buy and sell Vanguard ETF Shares through Vanguard Brokerage Services (we offer them commission-free) or through another broker (which may charge commissions). See the Vanguard Brokerage Services commission and fee schedules for full details. Vanguard ETF Shares are not redeemable directly with the issuing fund other than in very large aggregations worth millions of dollars. ETFs are subject to market volatility. When buying or selling an ETF, you will pay or receive the current market price, which may be more or less than net asset value.