Unlike virtually any other product, the old adage "you get what you pay for" doesn't apply to mutual funds. In fact, there's a simple mathematical reason why such world-class index trackers as Vanguard's 500 Index (FUND:VFINX) and Total Stock Market (FUND:VTSMX) have beaten roughly three-fourths of actively managed funds over the long haul: They're dirt cheap, and the price differential between these passive picks and the typical active fund provides a big head start. A fund's expense ratio, after all, comes right out of its returns.

But what about .
To be sure, there are some pricey funds that have managed to overcome their expense ratio hurdles, and Bill Miller's Legg Mason Value Trust (LMVTX) -- a large-cap fund that recently held Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO), and Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:ERTS) -- is a perfect case in point.

Despite his fund's hefty price tag of 1.68%, Miller has managed to beat the S&P 500 during each of the past 15 years. Impressive, no doubt, but no one should think that Value Trust investors are just paying a premium for the services of a superb stock picker. Indeed, the management fee portion of the fund's expense ratio is a mere 0.66%; the rest of the price tag goes for administrative costs and a fat and unhappy 12b-1 fee of 0.95%. That latter fee, by the way, covers the cost of marketing and distributing Value Trust, not compensating Miller and his team.

I call that a bargain
With that in mind, as I go about the business of recommending choice funds for subscribers to the Fool's Champion Funds service, I focus closely on costs. On average, the funds that have gotten the newsletter's nod will set you back less than 1%, while the typical mutual fund runs with a price tag of roughly 1.4%.

That bargain gets even better when you consider that our Champs have, in the aggregate, doubled up on the S&P's return since the newsletter's launch back in March 2004. They also boast managers who have been at the controls more than twice as long as their typical peers -- a key competitive advantage.

With experience comes (Foolish) wisdom, not to mention a keen sense of how your strategy will play out in different kinds of market environments. Armed with that insight, the managers of the funds I've recommended have what it takes to turn market volatility into long-term investment success.

Check it out
Care to see for yourself? Good deal! And speaking of good deals, have we got one for you. Click here, and you can test-drive Champion Funds for free for 30 days. Your free trial provides access to all of our back-issue archives, the complete list of every fund I've ever recommended, and our dedicated discussion boards as well.

You're under no obligation to subscribe, so why not give it a spin? You've got only your overpriced (and underachieving) mutual funds to lose.

Shannon Zimmerman, the lead analyst for the Fool's Champion Funds newsletter service, owns shares of Vanguard Total Stock Market. Amazon.com, eBay, and Electronic Arts are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. The Fool has a strictdisclosure policy.