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Greetings Boone,

First and foremost there is an index funds board at http://boards.fool.com/Messages.asp?bid=100111 that would likely be a better place to post your question.

I just started a Coverdale account for each of my five kids for their college education. They won't need any of this money for 15-17 years, so I'm looking at equity funds. Each daughter has a seperate account set up through E*trade and I'd like to fund one mutual fund per account. Each would get a small monthly contribution ($100). Five funds should allow a modicum of diversity.

In the broadest strokes I was planning on the following types of funds:

1)S&P 500 index or Wilshire 5000 index
2)Russll 1000 Growth Index
3)S&P/Citigroup BMI World Ex US Index
4)S&P Midcap 400
5)? (whatever seems like a good value that adds diversity and low risk)

I would like to compare a few index funds. Since I'm focusing on index funds, no-load, no-fee funds are my first rerequirement. Of course, low expense ratios are better; a relatively low initial investment would also be great.

I'm having trouble comparing funds from different families. Just because the name of the fund has "Large Cap Index" doesn't mean it really follows the S&P 500 index. What I would like is a list of the most common indices and the mutual funds that accurately follow them. Any suggestions?


http://www.indexfunds.com/data/FundScreener.php and http://www.morningstar.com/Cover/Funds.html would be a couple of places where you could screen for funds though the Morningstar one has a better one if you are premium member I think. http://www.mfea.com/ also has a link with low-cost initial investment that may be worth a look.

I'd likely note that you aren't going to find many cheap index funds that aren't going to ding you with fees in a sense. My own suggestion would be that if you have the funds to look at something like Vanguard LifeStrategy Growth(VASGX) which is a fund of funds that covers many bases you seem to want but does this through 1 fund and doesn't carry any low balance fees like Vanguard's index funds. I believe T. Rowe Price and Fidelity have similar funds in terms of Target Retirement like funds which may be worth considering as something with a balanced allocation if you are so inclined.

MF has a series of explanations and examples of the most common indices at: http://www.fool.com/school/indices/introduction.htm . The choices are rather limited, though. For instance, there's only 1 fund (Vanguard) listed that tracks the Russell 2000. Surely there's more than one Russell 2000 index fund out there. I'm looking for a more complete listing so I can find fund families that I can invest in through E*trade. As of now I'm reduced to blindly stumbling across a fund with a promising name, then reading the prospectus to see how the fund invests its money.

I would suspect that that is highly out of date since no Vanguard fund follows the Russell 2000 anymore. Most of Vanguard's US stock index funds follow an MSCI index or an S & P index I believe. Try the indexfunds' screener which is free for one idea or the MFEA site which has a few links that may help if you want to stick with the free stuff. I believe Morningstar's premium screener can screen index funds directly and then you could add additional criteria as you'd like.

Regards,
JB
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