ETF is short for exchange-traded fund and is a collection of stocks or other assets. When you buy an ETF, you’re buying all of the stocks that are in the ETF without having to buy each one separately. Just like stocks, ETFs are traded on an exchange and because of that they can be bought and sold throughout the day. They usually track an index like the S&P 500 or the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIA and SPY are two of the most popular).
Other ETFs can track things like how gold is doing (like GLD & SGOL) or even the global demand of water (like SGW). When these indexes go up or down, so does that ETF’s price and the value of your investment.
ETFs are an important diversification tool that have recently gained popularity because of their costs, which are lower than traditional mutual funds. That means you don’t have to pay as high of fees to own one (score)! It also gives investors the opportunity to grab a piece of things that are typically very expensive and complicated. Instead of buying a bunch of gold bars and burying them in your backyard, you can buy a gold ETF and still enjoy the perks.