ETFs debuted in 1993 and their combination of diversification, tax efficiency, and low transaction costs have made them popular since the start. From 1993 to 2015 over $2 trillion USD has been invested in ETFs in the United States alone.

So what is an ETF? How does it work?

ETF stands for Exchange Traded Fund. These types of funds are considered marketable securities - they are very liquid and can be converted into cash quickly and at a reasonable price. An ETF fund owns underlying assets such as bonds, stock shares, gold bars, foreign currencies, oil futures, etc. ETFs take a bunch of profitable goodies and put them all into one basket.

You as the shareholder own an indirect portion of the fund, equivalent to your investment. Pretty much you lay claim to a piece of all the ingredients that make up this glorious money pie. You as shareholder are then entitled to a corresponding piece of the profits. Profits appear as earned interest, dividends paid, and/or residual value if the fund is liquidated.

Because ETFs are traded on public stock exchanges, they are easy to buy, sell, or transfer - just like stocks.


Here's a list of some of the more widely traded ETFs:
  • One of the most widely known and traded ETFs tracks the S&P 500 Index, and is called the Spider (SPDR), and trades under the ticker SPY.
  • The IWM tracks the Russell 2000 Index.
  • The QQQ tracks the Nasdaq 100, and the DIA tracks the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
  • Sector ETFs exist which track individual industries such as oil companies (OIH), energy companies (XLE), financial companies (XLF), REITs (IYR), the biotech sector (BBH), and so on.
  • Commodity ETFs exist to track commodity prices including crude oil (USO), gold (GLD), silver (SLV), and natural gas (UNG) among others.
  • ETFs that track foreign stock market indices exist for most developed and many emerging markets, as well as other ETFs which track currency movements worldwide. - Investopedia
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    NBC

    Over the past month, both Haiti and Afghanistan have been pummeled by tragic disasters that left devastation in their wake.

    In Haiti, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake erupted, leading over to 2,189 deaths and counting. A few hours later, in Afghanistan, Kabul fell to the Taliban just after U.S. troops had pulled out after 20 years of war.

    In many ways, these disasters are both chillingly connected to US interference. The United States invaded Haiti in 1915, ostensibly promising to restore order after a presidential assassination but really intending to preserve the route to the Panama Canal and to defend US creditors, among other reasons.

    But the US forces soon realized that they were not able to control the country alone, and so formed an army of Haitian enlistees, powered by US air power and intended to quell Haitian insurrection against US controls. Then, in 1934, the US pulled out on its own, disappointed with how slow progress was going. Haiti's institutions were never really able to rebuild themselves, leaving them immensely vulnerable to natural disasters.

    Something similar happened in Afghanistan, where the US sent troops and supported an insurgent Afghan army – only to pull out, abandoning the country they left in ruins, with many Afghans supporting the Taliban.

    In both cases, defense contractors benefited by far the most from the conflict, making billions in profits while civilians faced fallout and devastation. While the conflicts and circumstances are extremely different and while the US is obviously not solely to blame for either crisis, it's hard not to see the US-based roots of these disasters.

    Today, in Haiti and Afghanistan, civilians are facing unimaginable tragedy.

    Here are charities offering support in Afghanistan:

    1. The International Rescue Committee is looking to raise $10 million to deliver aid directly to Afghanistan

    2. CARE is matching donations for an Afghanistan relief fund. They are providing food, shelter, and water to families in need; a donation of $89.50 covers 1 family's emergency needs for a month.

    3. Women for Women International is matching donations up to 500,000 for Afghan women, who will be facing unimaginable horrors under Taliban control.


    4. AfghanAid offers support for people living in remote regions of Afghanistan.

    5. VitalVoices supports female leaders and changemakers and survivors of gender-based violence around the world.

    Here are charities offering support in Haiti:

    1. Partners in Health has been working with Haiti for a long time, and they work with the Department of Health rather than around them, which is extremely important in a charity.

    2. Health Equity International helps run Saint Boniface Hospital, a hospital in Haiti close to the earthquake's epicenter.

    3. SOIL is an organization based Haiti, "a local organization with a track record of supporting after natural disasters." They are distributing hygiene kits and provisions on the ground to hospitals and to victims of the earthquake.

    4. Hope for Haiti has been working in emergency response in Haiti for three decades, and their team is comprised of people who live and work in Haiti. They focus on supporting children and people in need across Haiti.

    via Tiffany & Co.

    When the new Tiffany's campaign was unveiled, reactions were mixed.

    Tiffany's, the iconic jewelry brand which does not (despite what some might be misled to believe) in fact serve breakfast, featured Jay Z, Beyoncé, and a rare Basquiat painting in their recent campaign.

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    Road trips can be a lot of fun — but they can also drain your wallet quickly if you aren't careful.

    From high gas costs and park admission fares to lodging and the price of eating out every night, the expenses can add up quickly. But at the same time, it's very possible to do road trips cheaply and efficiently. Without the headache of worrying about how much money you're leaking, you can enjoy the open road a whole lot more. Here's how to save money on a road trip.

    1. Prepare Your Budget, Route, and Packing List in Advance

    If you want to save money on a road trip, be sure you're ready to go. Try to count up all your expenses before you hit the road and create a budget. It's also a good idea to plan your route in advance so you don't end up taking unnecessary, gas-guzzling detours. And finally, be sure to pack in advance so you don't find yourself having to buy tons of things you forgot along the way.

    2. Book Cheap Accommodations — Or Try Camping

    All those motel rooms can add up surprisingly quick, but camping is often cheap or free, and it's a great way to get intimate with the place you're visiting. You can check the Bureau of Land Management's website for free campsites. Freecampsite.com also provides great information on If you don't have a tent or don't want to camp every night, try booking cheap Airbnbs or booking hotels in advance, making sure to compare prices.

    Camping camping road tripConde Nast Traveler

    If you're planning on sleeping in your car, a few tips: WalMart allows all-night parking, as do many 24-hour gyms. (Buying a membership to Planet Fitness or something like it also gives you a great place to stop, shower, and recharge while on the road).

    3. Bring Food From Home

    Don't go on a road trip expecting to subsist on fast food alone. You'll wind up feeling like shit, and it'll drain your pocketbook stunningly quickly. Instead, be sure to bring food from home. Consider buying a gas stove and a coffee pot for easy on-the-go meals, and make sure you bring substantial snacks to satiate midday or late night cravings so you can avoid getting those late night Mickey D's expeditions.

    Try bringing your own cooler, filling it with easy stuff for breakfast and lunch — some bread and peanut butter and jelly will go a long way. Bring your own utensils, plates, and napkins, and avoid buying bottled water by packing some big water jugs and a reusable water bottle. Alternatively, try staying at hotels or Airbnbs with kitchens so you can cook there.

    4. Avoid Tolls

    Apps like Google Maps and Waze point out toll locations, so be sure to avoid those to save those pennies. (If it takes you too far off route, you might have to bite the bullet and drive across that expensive bridge).

    You can also save on parking fees by using sites like Parkopedia.

    Road Trip Road TripThe Orange Backpack


    5. Save on Gas

    Gas can get pricy incredibly fast, so be sure that you're stopping at cheap gas stations. Free apps like GasBuddy help you find the most affordable gas prices in the area. Also, try going the speed limit on the highways — anything faster will burn through your tank. Be sure that you don't wait till you arrive at touristy locations or big cities to fill up.

    6. Get a National Park Pass

    All those parks can get really expensive really fast. If you're planning on visiting three or more parks, it's a great idea to get an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass. For $80 you can get into every National Park for one year.