White House Press Secretary and Communications Director Sean Spicer got a rude surprise when he tried to use the pop culture magazine Us Weekly as a punchline on Twitter by implying it wouldn't have any useful information to offer about the market.
"Getting government updates from @Washingtonian is like getting stock tips from @usweekly," he tweeted.
In response, the Us Weekly social media team, using the nickname derived from Melissa McCarthy's portrayal of Spicer on NBC's "Saturday Night Live," schooled the Trump administration official both on the perils of making assumptions and on low-cost index funds, a time-honored way for investors to approach the market.
The magazine tweeted, "Thanks, Spicey! @usweekly does not recommend investing in individual stocks. Stick with a broad mix of low-cost index funds."
Index funds are diverse, representative bundles of stocks indexed to the market or a segment of it. Forty years ago, John Bogle launched the first one, and after his idea of passive, low-cost investing went from revolutionary to mainstream, he founded the popular investment company Vanguard.
CNBC reported in January that investors are increasingly following the low-maintenance Bogle / Us Weekly model: "Investors bailed on actively managed funds in record numbers during 2016, preferring the reliability and low costs of index funds over taking a chance on finding a stock picker who could beat the market."
And no less an eminence than billionaire Warren Buffett "has long-championed buying index funds instead of actively managed funds," because they tend to produce consistent returns.
Along with paying down debt and tracking your spending, learning how to invest even small sums is one of the quickest, easiest and most important things you can do with your money. By inspiring Us Weekly to broadcast that helpful hint about index funds to its 2.15 million followers, Spicer may have unintentionally prompted multitudes of people to finally call Vanguard.