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 are readily available short-term financial instruments. They have high liquidity, minimal market risk, and a short maturity period—usually less than 3 months.


Choosing between funds & individual securities

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

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ETFs vs. mutual funds: A comparison

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

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Get to know your investment costs

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

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What are hybrid securities?

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

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What are alternative investments?

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

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Call options & put options

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

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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.

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Why invest internationally?

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

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What are sector & specialty funds?

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

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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.

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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.

Explore professional advice

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

Ready to invest?

New to Vanguard or looking to consolidate your savings?

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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.

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.

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.

Options are a leveraged investment and are not suitable for every investor. Options involve risk, including the possibility that you could lose more money than you invest. Before buying or selling options, you must receive a copy of Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options issued by OCC. A copy of this booklet is available at It may also be obtained from your broker, any exchange on which options are traded, or by contacting OCC at 125 S. Franklin Street, Suite 1200, Chicago, IL 60606 (888-678-4667 or 888-OPTIONS). The booklet contains information on options issued by OCC. It is intended for educational purposes. No statement in the booklet should be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell a security or to provide investment advice. For further assistance, please call The Options Industry Council (OIC) helpline at 888-OPTIONS or visit for more information. The OIC can provide you with balanced options education and tools to assist you with your options questions and trading.