A benchmark of the U.S. economy, the S&P 500 Index is a unique stock index based on 500 large companies that have common stock listed on the New York Stock Exchange, or the NASDAQ.

The S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average, and NASDAQ are the big three of American Stock Market indices. What separates the S&P from the pack however is its wide breadth of companies listed, both American and non-American based. It actually unseated the Dow as the preferred index for U.S. stocks. With 500 largest companies on its index, and its method of weighing these companies, the S&P 500 Index is accepted as the most accurate measure of the pulse of the American economic ecosystem.




The S&P follows a methodology that is based on a market and a company's weighting is based on size, unlike the Dow, which is price weighted and based on the price of the stock, thus giving more expensive stocks a higher weight. A team of analysts, economists, and fiduciary wizards use various factors to determine which 500 stocks go into the index. It is this large and highly analyzed grouping of stocks that makes for such a precisely accurate read of the overall American economy.



Henry Varnum Poor, in 1941 would merge his Poor's Publishing Company with Standard Statistics and therein formed Standard & Poor's. The company would take a focus on the analysis and dissemination of financial data. The S&P would emerge from early incantations such as the "Composite Index" on March 4, 1957. It was the first index to be published daily, and today more than $7.8 trillion is benchmarked to it.

Today the S&P 500 Index falls under the worldwide umbrella of the S&P Global 1200 index family. There are other indices in the family such as those that cover mid-cap (S&P MidCap 400) and small-cap (S&P SmallCap 600)



There are many popular investment tools that follow and attempt to mimic the S&P 500. ETFs and Index funds that follow Standard & Poor's most notable index are abundant. One of the earliest to follow the S&P 500 is Jack Bogle's Vanguard Fund, which returns have shown overtime has outperformed other popular managed funds. Index replication is another popular way to bang your buck off the S&P. Index replication refers to an individual investor or a fund invests in all the same stocks that are in an index.

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Airbnb is a great option while traveling, but you should protect yourself from damage charges from unscrupulous hosts.

Airbnb offers an affordable option for people looking to be more comfortable as they travel.

However, there are downsides to staying in a host's home rather than a hotel. Whereas hotels are designed for constant streams of visitors and often have furniture built to last, at an Airbnb, you may be staying on old or cheap furniture that a host is using in order to maximize their profits.

And while most reputable hotels will have regular room inspections from staff to check for any wear and tear, Airbnb damage disputes are oftentimes he said, she said situations. If you are in an Airbnb and something breaks, there are a few steps you should take in order to ensure that you are not on the hook for damages out of your control.

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What Are NFTs?

Art Installation N°1 by Carlos Marcial. Rhett Dashwood / YouTube

If you're keeping tabs on the art and tech worlds, you've probably been hearing whispers about "NFTs" for the past month. Just over the past week they've entered the mainstream lexicon.

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey made the news for selling his first ever tweet. The app has been teasing paid subscription models and newsletter-like features, but tweets for sale is "the next frontier."

The 2006 tweet went up for auction as an NFT, and the current bid is $2.5 Million. But what does it mean to own that? Why would anyone want to? And what even is an NFT?

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Long gone are the days when the majority of Americans dreamed about owning a home with a white picket fence.

The traditional American Dream may be on its deathbed, but that doesn't mean a core component of the vision can't survive. It simply takes a diverse perspective. People can still believe they can attain their own vision of success in society with hard work, knowledge, and risk-taking. Investing in today's American Dream may literally mean investing money in our modern economy, starting with our infrastructure.

Real estate investing in particular is a lucrative method that can boost income and secure a better financial future for many. There's always risk involved, but the payoffs can far outweigh the uncertainty. Selecting solid financial investments is about confidence and competence. If you're looking for some advice on this kind of investment, here are a few savvy tips for new real estate investors.

Stick To a Specific Strategy or Niche

Real estate is a challenging sphere of the business world, one that requires several key skills: groundwork knowledge, networking, perseverance, and organization. True knowledge of the real estate market will come with time and experience, but it's a smart idea to select one area of the market and stick to it. This is the best way to attain in-depth familiarity with your specific niche.

First, choose a geographical area close by and then a niche strategy within it, such as house flips, rental rehabs, or residential or commercial properties. By doing so, you can become aware of current inner working conditions in the market and you'll have a better idea of how these trends may change in the future.

Be Vigilant About Viable Financing Options

While it takes money to make money, you don't have to use all your own money. A common misconception about real estate investing is that you must be wealthy to start off. This isn't straight fact, however. A majority of people can test the waters of real estate investing without a lot of initial cash in their pocket.

Aside from traditional financing options from banks and institutions, private lending options can be worthy solutions. Hard money lenders are popular, reasonable choices, and they tend to have fewer qualification requirements upfront. However, be sure to strategically choose a hard money lender to find the best possible fit.

Master the Art of Finding Good Deals

There may be hundreds of thousands of available properties for sale on the current market, but the bulk of them will never amount to the final money-making result you desire. Another great tip for new real estate investors is to use good math to estimate profit. Taking risks is part of the process, but you have the ability to analyze properties and use networking sources to find the greatest deal. You can't win every deal, but you can steadily work towards a thriving financial future.