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How to invest in the S&P 500

5 easy steps to start investing in the S&P 500

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has said “for most people, the best thing to do is to own the S&P 500 index.” So what is the S&P 500 and how do you invest?

2 ways to invest in the S&P 500

You can’t invest directly in the S&P 500, as it only tracks the performance of its constituent stocks. But there are a couple ways you can invest in S&P 500 companies.

1. Buy an index fund that tracks the S&P 500

The easiest way to invest in the S&P 500 is to invest in either an exchange-traded fund (ETF) or mutual fund that tracks the S&P 500. Funds that track an index like the S&P 500 are known as index funds.
Index funds are designed to track the performance of and achieve approximately the same return as an underlying index, in this case the S&P 500. S&P 500 index funds will have exposure to the top constituents — Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, etc. These funds are a great way to add instant diversification to your portfolio at a low cost.
Since most S&P 500 index funds should in theory achieve nearly similar returns, a fund’s performance may not be the most important factor when deciding which to invest in. Investors should pay closer attention to expenses, which are what will vary the most between funds.

Here some of the lowest-cost S&P 500 index funds

FundExpense ratioFund type
Fidelity 500 Index Fund (FXAIX)0.015%Mutual fund
Schwab S&P 500 Index Fund (SWPPX)0.020%Mutual fund
iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (IVV)0.03%ETF
SPDR Portfolio S&P 500 ETF (SPLG)0.03%ETF
Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO)0.03%ETF
Vanguard 500 Index Fund Admiral Shares (VFIAX)0.04%Mutual fund

2. Buy S&P 500 stocks individually

An alternative way of investing in the S&P 500 is to buy individual stocks in companies listed in the index. This would mean buying and owning individual shares of the FAANG companies like Facebook (Meta), Apple, Amazon and so on.

How to invest in the S&P 500 for beginners

  1. Choose a trading platform. Compare things like fees and tradable assets. For example, if you want to invest in an S&P 500 mutual fund, make sure the broker you choose offers mutual fund investing.
  2. Open and fund an account. Complete an application with your personal details and link a bank account for funding.
  3. Research investment options. Find the stock, ETF or mutual fund by name or ticker symbol and research it before deciding if it’s a good investment for you.
  4. Purchase the security. Buy your desired number of shares with a market order or use a limit order to delay your purchase until the stock reaches a desired price.
  5. Monitor your investment. Periodically check on your investment to make sure it’s aligned with your objectives.

Our top picks for trading platforms to invest in the S&P 500

Best for beginners

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Invest in the S&P 500 through these brokers.

What is the S&P 500?

The S&P 500 is a market capitalization-weighted stock market index of over 500 leading US companies in the most prominent industries of the US economy, traded on either the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or Nasdaq.
The index was first introduced in 1957. Today, the S&P 500 covers approximately 80% of available market cap and is widely regarded as the best single measure of US stock market performance.

What companies are in the S&P 500?

The S&P 500 includes some of the most recognizable and popular stocks in the world. The top ten constituents make up nearly 27% of the entire S&P 500, with Apple alone representing 6% of the total index. This is why when Apple is down, the entire index feels it. The top 10 constituents of the S&P 500 by index weight as of November 30, 2022, are:

Apple (AAPL)Information technology
Microsoft (MSFT)Information technology (AMZN)Consumer discretionary
Alphabet A (GOOGL)Consumer discretionary
Berkshire Hathaway B (BRK-B)Financials
Alphabet C (GOOG)Communication Services
Tesla (TSLA)Communication Services
Unitedhealth Group (UNH)Health care
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)Health care
Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM)Energy

Historical performance of the S&P 500

Pros and cons of investing in the S&P 500


  • Exposure to America’s leading companies. Gain exposure to America’s most influential companies, including Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Tesla with a single purchase.
  • Instant diversification. Buying a single share of an S&P 500 index fund will give you exposure to 500 companies, immediately diversifying your portfolio.
  • Competitive long-term performance. The S&P 500’s average annual returns over the past decade have come in at around 11.16%, as of November 30, 2022.
  • Ease of investing. Unless you’re buying up individual stocks, buying shares of an S&P 500 index fund limits the amount of time you need to spend researching and gets you in the market quicker.


  • It includes only US companies. The S&P 500 includes only stocks of US companies and excludes companies in other parts of the world.
  • It includes only large-cap companies. The S&P 500 includes only large-cap stocks, so you won’t gain any exposure to small-cap or mid-cap stocks, which tend to grow at faster rates than their large-cap counterparts.

Bottom line

  • Investing in the S&P 500, specifically an S&P 500 index fund, is a great way to diversify your portfolio and grow steady wealth over time.
  • Investing in the S&P 500 is a great option for individual investors of any experience level.
  • Make sure you compare the best investment platforms to figure out which one is best for you.

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Finder is not an adviser or brokerage service. Information on this page is for educational purposes only and not a recommendation to invest with any one company, trade specific stocks or fund specific investments. All editorial opinions are our own.

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