As readers of my Champion Funds newsletter service are well aware, I am a dyed-in-the-wool investing cheapskate. Indeed, right now, we're in the midst of rolling out high-quality model fund portfolios for our subscribers, and the first -- an Aggressive lineup that made its debut last month -- boasts an average expense ratio of just 0.74%. The second -- a Moderate model that appears for the first time in the current issue -- will run you a mere 0.67% a year.
Compare that with your brokerage bills and call me in the morning.
The finer things
I'm a bargain hound in other aspects of life, too. It's not that I don't appreciate the finer things; it's just that I don't want to pay an arm and a leg (and perhaps some other bodily part) for the sake of owning them.
As a result, though we became a two-car family in anticipation of little Penny Lou's arrival nearly 10 months ago (hard to believe), my main ride is still the Honda Civic I bought back when I was in graduate school nearly 10 years ago (also hard to believe). Almost 150,000 miles later, that little silver bullet is still going strong.
But perhaps nowhere is my, um, skinflintiness more evident than when it comes to investing. Like my colleague Philip Durell -- who runs point on the Fool's Inside Value newsletter -- I love a good investment bargain. And there's lately been lots of good news for me and my fellow fund fans on that front: Fees, if you can believe it, are on the decline.
Why so? Well, for starters, thanks to the fine foot- and spadework of Eliot Spitzer and his crack crew of investigators -- with, I'll admit, some assistance from the SEC -- many of the firms implicated in the fund industry's trading-abuse scandal have agreed to cut their funds' expense ratios.
Get a clue
Moreover, price pressure from exchange-traded funds (ETFs) has also helped the tightwad cause. When popular index trackers such as Spiders
Fidelity's recent moves have perhaps been the most dramatic: The Boston-based money management behemoth announced that its recent round of fee reductions would be made permanent. Among other things, that means that investors in Fidelity's popular S&P-tracking Spartan 500
Not to be left behind is Vanguard, the house that Jack Bogle -- a cheapskate's cheapskate -- built. Yes, Vanguard 500
Actively managed bargains
There are certainly bargains to be had among actively managed funds, too. For reasons I explain here, I'm a big believer in the Foolish wisdom of owning both active and passive funds. Therefore, in addition to dishing the inside scoop on index-fund and ETF investing, each issue of Champion Funds features what we like to call the Fund of the Month.
These are the best of the money management industry's actively managed best, cherry-picked keepers of all market-cap sizes and styles. And in the context of a well-constructed portfolio, each of 'em, I should hasten to add, is worthy of a portion of your nest egg. Not for nothing do we dub these funds Champs.
The full list of recommendations is just a free trial away, but, by way of a taste test, here's one that might whet your appetite: Dodge & Cox International Stock (DODFX).
Since making its Champion Funds debut a little less than a year ago, the fund has pole-vaulted over the competition, sprinting past the S&P 500 by more than 27 percentage points. It's also shellacked the MSCI EAFE, a benchmark that is essentially the S&P of international equities and a good proxy for the fund's style.
Success here owes to a number of factors. First, the folks running the fund's money have an average of 16 years' experience, and its senior manager has been with the highly regarded Dodge & Cox firm since back when Richard Nixon was president.
Second, the fund's strategy is one that investing cheapskates should love: The team hews to a valuation-conscious style that leads to such relatively low P/E picks as GlaxoSmithKline
Last but not least, here's a salient detail that's sure to get the hearts of investing cheapskates positively afluttering: The price tag for Dodge & Cox International is just -- are you sitting down for this? -- a mere 0.77%.
See you on the blue-light aisle -- and on the Champion Funds boards!
Shannon Zimmerman is the lead skinflint for the Fool's Champion Funds newsletter service, which you can test-drive free for 30 days. Shannon owns shares of Vanguard Total Stock Market, and the Fool has a disclosure policy.