Mutual Fund Basics Tutorial
  1. Mutual Funds: Introduction
  2. Mutual Funds: What Are They?
  3. Mutual Funds: Different Types Of Funds
  4. Mutual Funds: The Costs
  5. Mutual Funds: Picking A Mutual Fund
  6. Mutual Funds: How To Read A Mutual Fund Table
  7. Mutual Funds: Evaluating Performance
  8. Mutual Funds: Conclusion

Mutual Funds: Introduction

By Investopedia Staff | Updated February 11, 2016 — 5:57 PM EST

As you probably know, mutual funds have become extremely popular over the last 20 years. What was once just another obscure financial instrument is now a part of our daily lives. More than 80 million people, or one half of the households in America, invest in mutual funds. That means that, in the United States alone, trillions of dollars are invested in mutual funds. (For more reading, see A Brief History Of The Mutual Fund.)

In fact, to many people, investing means buying mutual funds. After all, it's common knowledge that investing in mutual funds is (or at least should be) better than simply letting your cash waste away in a savings account, but, for most people, that's where the understanding of funds ends. It doesn't help that mutual fund salespeople speak a strange language that is interspersed with jargon that many investors don't understand.

Originally, mutual funds were heralded as a way for the little guy to get a piece of the market. Instead of spending all your free time buried in the financial pages of the Wall Street Journal, all you had to do was buy a mutual fund and you'd be set on your way to financial freedom. As you might have guessed, it's not that easy. Mutual funds are an excellent idea in theory, but, in reality, they haven't always delivered. Not all mutual funds are created equal, and investing in mutuals isn't as easy as throwing your money at the first salesperson who solicits your business. (Learn about the pros and cons in Mutual Funds Are Awesome - Except When They're Not.)

In this tutorial, we'll explain the basics of mutual funds and hopefully clear up some of the myths around them. You can then decide whether or not they are right for you.

Mutual Funds: What Are They?

  1. Mutual Funds: Introduction
  2. Mutual Funds: What Are They?
  3. Mutual Funds: Different Types Of Funds
  4. Mutual Funds: The Costs
  5. Mutual Funds: Picking A Mutual Fund
  6. Mutual Funds: How To Read A Mutual Fund Table
  7. Mutual Funds: Evaluating Performance
  8. Mutual Funds: Conclusion
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