Any talk about asset allocation revolves around equity/stock exposure and US equity exposure reigns supreme.
One of the simplest and most efficient ways of getting that US exposure is with a Total US or Broad Market index fund or ETF that gives you exposure to large, mid, and small cap US stocks. Most index funds have an ETF version like VTSAX and VTI. Both follow the same underlying index.
I prefer ETFs due to their greater liquidity and zero commissions at most brokers. Sometimes the index funds will have a $20 transaction fee unless you are buying them directly from the fund company itself. The downside of ETFs is that you are unable to set-up a DRIP or automatic recurring investment.
So which total US market ETF is best? You cant go wrong with any of the major players, but I think SPTM is best as it tracks the S&P 1500 index which includes the S&P 500 large, 400 mid, and 600 small cap indexes. Other Total US market ETF's attempt to own nearly every US company. From the funds listed below, SCHB holds over 2500 companies while VTI holds over 4,000.
The reason why is because the underlying S&P indexes like the S&P 1500 have a quality filter and hold less stocks as a result. They do not include every company within their market cap range. They exclude unprofitable companies. For a company to be initially included, their most recent quarter must have positive earnings and the sum of their earnings for their prior 4 quarters must be positive as well.
So the S&P indexes exclude most of the garbage SPACs, IPOs, meme stocks, and hype trains. Sure you miss out on a Tesla until they are profitable and most of the moonshots, but you also miss out on the countless companies that come crashing down to Earth.
Look at these returns of the 4 big dogs from iShares, Schwab, SPDR, and VTI from close of business 3/21/2022. All 4 have an internal expenses of just 0.03% so they are all on an equal playing field with respect to cost.
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It should be noted that SPTM only started tracking the S&P 1500 in 2019 so data prior to 3 years ago isn't relevant even though SPTM is still the winner in the 5 and 10 year returns. It used to track a broader US index, the same as ITOT I believe. Take a look at that YTD and 1 year Total Return. Significant outperformance by SPTM while no earning growth stocks were getting slaughtered. I have no doubt that this would have looked different in early 2021 during the height of the speculative craze, but now that we have seen the tide roll in and out, we have the data.
In summary, you can't go wrong with any of these funds with their simplicity, cost, and performance, and they will all likely outperform 80-90% of investors and fund managers over the long term. However, in the long run I think you'll see higher returns and less volatility with SPTM or a fund that uses underlying S&P indexes vs Russell or other non-qualitative indexes.