This week marks the launch of our brand-new newsletter, Motley Fool Champion Funds.

Yes, it is a service designed to help you find the best mutual funds. That may come as a surprise to some longtime Fools, so let me backtrack just a bit.

For some time now -- gosh, some sneaky gray hairs are reminding me that it's been more than 10 years -- The Motley Fool has put forth a few basic tenets: Get out of debt, save at least 5% of your salary, and put your long-term savings in individual stocks if you're inclined to do your own research, or in an index fund if you're not.

We've also said to avoid these things if you can help it: day trading, penny stocks, your state lottery, whole life insurance, annuities, and, you guessed it, managed mutual funds.

The Fool credo
These tenets constitute much of the foundation of our 13 Steps to Investing Foolishly, first published on our AOL site in 1994. Some of our steps seemed pretty radical back then: We told folks to open a discount brokerage account at a time when many people still didn't understand or trust discount brokerages. We said everyone should enjoy the pursuit of great investments in America's great companies -- Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), Home Depot (NYSE:HD), Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), Dell (NASDAQ:DELL), Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO), you name it.

We also said to avoid high-priced managed mutual funds, when most people were not only heavily invested in them, but also simply didn't know what "high-priced" meant or how they could even check the cost of their funds.

We suggested using index funds. "Why buy anything else?" we asked openly, since index funds' returns have sailed past managed mutual funds over the long haul.

It's simple and practical advice, and it's been heeded by millions who have opted to put billions of dollars in index funds.

You and your funds
On the other hand, the mutual fund industry just set a record for assets under management in January: $7.5 trillion is now invested in more than 8,000 mutual funds (that's as many funds as there are stocks on the major exchanges). Ninety million Americans entrust their money to mutual funds, and, chances are, that includes you. And this comes at a time when scandal has rocked the industry. Adding insult to injury, for the last 10 years ended Dec. 31, 2003, more than 75% of U.S. stock funds underperformed the S&P 500.

Like them or loathe them, you're probably investing in mutual funds. They are a permanent part of Wall Street's financial landscape. Given that, it's time you invested in those champs of the industry that will beat the market without soaking you in fees every year or, worse, illicitly greasing their managers' pockets at your expense. The aim of our new service is to find those winners for you.

Finding the best of the best
And we are serious about winning here. If you consider that 75% of funds lose to the averages, you must also then recognize that 25% beat the averages. And you'll be pleased to know that at least some of those 25% actually do so consistently, over longer periods. If locating those funds and the managers behind them sounds like a valuable journey to have a jester-capped Fool along the way as your companion, Motley Fool Champion Funds is for you.

We have the perfect guide for you, too: Shannon Zimmerman, editor and senior analyst for our service. Shannon (who gets credit for a previous tour of duty here at Fool HQ) has invested in mutual funds for 15 years. For the last two years, he worked as an analyst for Morningstar, the research house and mutual fund rating service. Shannon brings a quick wit, unparalleled research abilities, and a passion for his subject matter -- oh, does he love mutual funds. Some folks are just like that.

Shannon also brings a hammer with him to snuff out funds with unscrupulous practices or just plain high fees. With Champion Funds, our aim is to help ensure you never get ripped off again. Each issue will separate the duds from the keepers by focusing on funds with:

  • Low expenses
  • Seasoned, ethical managers
  • Strong, long-term track records
  • Market-beating potential

In each issue, Shannon will recommend two funds that meet our stringent criteria. He also won't be afraid to tell you about funds to avoid. You'll get profiles and interviews with the best managers in the business and an education in index investing, asset allocation, and how to know when it's time to sell a fund.

And you'll never invest your money in high-fee, underperforming managed mutual funds again.

I invite you to take a free trial of Motley Fool Champion Funds. Read the first issue, and discover for yourself whether our newest Motley Fool newsletter service fulfills the spirit of our mission to educate, to amuse, and to enrich. Is your money optimally invested in funds? Our service may end up saving or earning you tens of thousands of dollars -- or more. And I guarantee we won't take a percentage of assets.

Try out Motley Fool Champion Funds today. Not only will you get the first issue on us, but you'll also receive our free Mutual Funds Scandal Survival Guide. You won't want to miss it.

David Gardner is co-founder of The Motley Fool. The Fool has always been, and always will be, investors writing for investors.