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…Aren't ETFs really index funds that are not actively managed and therefore have lower expenses?...

Many ETF’s are index funds but they can be other things too. As I recall the differenes in expenses might be less than a tenth of a percent so for a $10K fund might only have a price difference of $10 before you consider the commissions on an ETF.

For diversification you will want to have several different funds or ETF’s so until your portfolio is in the ballpark of at least $50K then mutual funds will probably be less expensive. Many mutual funds have lower cost versions of their mutual funds for large accounts so they are still competitive with ETF’s.

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