If you have a 401K, IRA or other retirement or investment account, there's a good chance that you own shares in an index fund. Popular index funds follow the performance of one of the many indexes, the most popular being the Dow Jones Industrial Average. While index funds are not going to outpace the market, they will, in most cases, provide investors with an easy to manage, safe investment vehicle.
Vanguard Total International Stock Index
In order to protect against losses, having a wide range of funds is important. An easy way to invest in other areas of the globe is to look at the Vanguard Total International Stock Index. Some International funds only invest in young, growing overseas markets, while others only invest in markets from developed countries in Europe and Asia. This fund invests in both, providing a broader exposure that protects investors from larger losses should one area of the globe develop financial problems.
IShares Morningstar Large Value Index Fund
This Index fund tracks the performance of the Morningstar Large Value Index. This index is not widely known, but with companies like Exxon, AT&T, General Electric and Pfizer, it can be thought of as similar to the Dow Jones. Because this is an index fund, gauging its performance is as simple as looking at the year-to-date performance of the underlying index.
Fidelity Spartan 500 Index Investor
This Morningstar 3 star rated fund took the top spot on the CNN/Money 70 list. For the investor looking for a fund that tracks the popular Standard and Poor's 500 index, this fund does just that. With 99 percent of its assets investing in stocks, it's no surprise that this Fidelity fund has a 28.6 percent return for 2009.
Vanguard Total Bond Market Index
Stock indexes like the Dow Jones are not the only types of index funds available to the investor. The Vanguard Total Bond Market Index tracks the performance of Lehman Brothers Aggregate Bond Index, which is the Dow Jones of the bond world. Exposure to the bond market is recommended by investment professionals to protect against losses in the stock market.