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Secondly, since buying an ETF is a no-brainer, wouldn't it be more honest to compare my investment returns against the ETFs instead of the index?

I track my returns against the two S&P index funds that I own (IVV and VOO)because it allows me to see my decisions compared to a basic default that doesn't require research. With any funds available to invest, I could either purchase shares in individual companies or in an index fund, so it helps to see which choice was the better option.

Also, the returns for the index funds include the increase in value due to dividends being reinvested as do the returns for individual companies, so it is more accurate than the S&P number.

All the best,

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