Index Funds / ETFs are one of the best innovations in the history of finance. They are far and away the best investing option for most investors – even professionals.
But. They are boring. That’s both a feature and a bug. It’s a feature because investing capital should be a boring, long-term exercise. It’s a bug because everyone wants novelty and excitement.
And in a world of speculation FOMO on stocks, crypto, real estate, etc – it can be hard to just keep doing the boring thing.
The ironic piece of index fund / ETF FOMO is that if you own an index fund…you own all the individual stocks inside the index fund.
For example, VTSAX / VTI owns all the stocks in the US. VTIAX / VXUS owns all the stocks outside the US. And VTWAX / VT owns all the stocks in the whole world.
And yes, the point of an index fund is to own all the stocks. That’s probably obvious if you own one. It’s why you likely bought it. But it’s also easy to forget that you own all these individual stocks when random person on TV or Twitter is chatting up their Tesla stock purchase or talking about the next big thing*.
*And sometimes, it’s not obvious. For example, it’s easy to forget that America’s largest real estate investment firms…are all publicly traded and included in a Total Market Index Fund.
So here’s how to find out how much of each stock you own in your index fund.