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Simple Investing: Top 7 Ways Simplicity Helps You Grow Wealth

Jake - Author/Founder

Hi. I'm Jake, a frugal Canadian Engineer. I believe you can build a great life through frugal living and index investing.

Occam’s Razor states that “entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity”.

Project management pushes for use of “the minimum viable solution that generates value”.

Similarly, the “Economy of Effort” is a Principle of War in military doctrine guiding the effective employment of resources. 

Your time and cognitive capacity are the main resources you apply to investing. 

Fancy-looking complex solutions look great on the surface. They certainly sell based on “easy” solutions. But they often fail. 

We over-complicate things that are simple, but hard to implement. This applies equally to investing and fitness, as I outline in this post. I believe complex solutions are a distraction from the raw requirement for self-discipline. 

Growing wealth can be very simple: Spend less than you earn and invest in total market stock/bond index funds that are aligned with your risk tolerance.  

If you elect to do that for multiple decades, compound growth will generate serious wealth.

In this post, I cover how simple investing can help you grow wealth. But first, I need to define “simple Investing”. Otherwise, this post would be silly.

Table of Contents

What Is Simple Investing?

I define simple investing as DIY index investing

There are thousands of index funds, so I need to be more clear. I’m specifically talking about low-cost total market stock and bond index funds.

A total market index fund invests in all stocks in a stock market, and a total market bond index fund invests in all bonds in a bond market. 

These guys can be accessed via mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs). They both achieve the same effect. In Canada, ETFs are the most common.

There are many theoretical reasons why total market index funds provide the best return for a given level of investment risk. Reasons include:

I discuss these concepts and the mechanics of total market index funds in my posts on Index Funds and Intro to Risk Tolerance. 

With index funds, you get the market return minus the very small fees associated with the fund. These fees are less than 0.2% per year or $20 for every $10k invested. 

Asset Allocation ETFs: Super Simple

An asset allocation fund is the pinnacle of simple investing.

Such a fund contains underlying stock and bond total market index funds. It’s a fund of funds.

These funds offer value by maintaining your desired split of stocks and bonds. The funds also stick to a target geographic exposure for both the stock and bond components. 

For example, an 80/20 asset allocation ETF will maintain 80% of it’s investments in global total market stock index funds and 20% in global total market bond index funds. 

To upkeep these targets, the fund re-balances for you.  That means zero re-balancing for you and less complexity.

Asset allocation funds are low-cost portfolios in a box that offer maximum simplicity. You can learn more about them at the Canadian Couch Potato’s Model Portfolios. 

Simple Investing Process: An Example

After years of investing and thinking, here is what I believe to be the minimum viable solution to build wealth. 

  • Ensure a sustainable gap between income and expenses. 
  • Find an Asset Allocation ETF that aligns with your asset allocation.
  • Invest in the Asset Allocation ETF consistently for a few decades. Endure a few crashes. 
  • Self-monitor for changes in risk tolerance. Adjust asset allocation as required. 
  • Be wealthy. 

This is not a recommendation or personalized investment advice. You are 1000% responsible for your own financial decisions.  

I’m now excited to dig into the benefits of a simple investing approach.  

1. Simple Investing Enables Rational Decision Making

With index funds, you set it and forget it.

There is no need to buy/sell individual stocks or monitor investments. Asset allocation funds even remove the need to rebalance.

Overall, you will spend less time dabbling in your portfolio, and this limits emotional attachment to your investments.

Low emotional attachment is key to investing. It hurts to see a portfolio drop by 30%. A 100% stock portfolio can even drop up to 60% over an investing career, as you can see from the past 30 years of market swings. 


You don’t check the value of your house daily. So why would you check the value of a group of businesses that you own daily?

The value matters when you sell, and that’s in a few decades for investors with a risk tolerance for 100% stocks.  

A hands-off portfolio means there is no legit reason to check the value of your investments. 

Checking Portfolio Less Often Has a Smoothing Effect Investing

Viewing your portfolio less often has a natural smoothing effect, and that can reduce volatility – the intensity of crashes and the intensity of upswings. 

The book Atomic Habits discusses this. Successful people are not more disciplined, they just engineer their environment to limit demands on self-discipline.

In fact, it’s protecting yourself from yourself. 

Human biases are normal, and they are the most important thing to acknowledge when investing. You can read more in this post on Human Behavior and Investing: Ways to Control Emotional Biases and Risk

Simple investing keeps you emotionally detached from market movements, thus keeping you invested. By staying invested, you will receive better returns.

2. Simplicity Preserves Your Most Valuable Resource

As I’ve aged, I’m noticing how fast time is ticking. The value of my time is becoming more apparent. 

Investing in individual stocks is very time-consuming. 

Before buying you need to research competitive advantages, balance sheets, and income statements. 

Then you need to track dynamic changes once you hold the stock. What if the business trajectory changes or a risk materializes? 

Graph Showing Diversification and Risk

Plus, an investor in individual stocks will hold at least 20 stocks to diversify. Otherwise, they will be exposed to “uncompensated” risks. They don’t get paid to take on uncompensated risk. 

I sure won’t take risks that I’m not being paid to take. Silly. 

Researching and monitoring 30 individual stocks is a mission. Plus, you need to buy and sell, incurring capital gains tax and transaction costs. 

Therefore, you may ask yourself if the stock selection is worth your time, knowing that most skilled stock pickers fail to beat the market over the long haul. It may be worthwhile if it’s your hobby. 

Investment portfolios of individual stocks and bonds consume time and cognitive effort. Index investing frees up this time and energy for the important things in life. 

3. Simple Investing Is Tax Efficient

A total market index fund does very little buying and selling of the stocks within the fund. It doesn’t trigger as many taxable events, so it’s more tax efficient. 

For example, when a small company explodes in growth like Tesla, it naturally makes up more of the index. Or if a large company like General Electric implodes, it naturally makes up a smaller portion of the index.

The fund will organically self-regulate for changes in the size (market cap) of businesses (stocks) contained in the fund. Therefore, there is little need for a manager to buy/sell stocks.

When a fund manager buys and sells stocks in a fund, you pay tax on the capital gains income when those stocks have gone up in value. It may not seem like a big deal, but it imposes a “tax drag” on compounding.

Total market index funds are very tax efficient because they minimize taxable events. This doesn’t matter much in tax-sheltered accounts. But tax efficiency becomes important when the TFSA (Roth IRA) and RRSP (IRA) are maxed.

Plus, tax tracking in a taxable account is simplified with only one investment. It’s easier to track your Adjusted Cost Base and there is only one T3.

Simple investing in total market index funds can reduce tax losses and improve long-term after-tax wealth.

4. Simplicity Enables Consistency

Do you ever notice that simple tasks can be hard to implement?

I see this at work all the time. There are always unforeseen complexities. Overcomplicated solutions rarely work.

Due to human behaviour, ease of implementation is essential to personal finance. Ease of implementation enables repetition.

And repetition builds habits that can be left on autopilot for the rest of your life. Habits are a worthwhile investment. 

I get it. The simple solution is not sexy. It is boring. 

An asset allocation ETF, for example, is very boring and very easy to implement. You buy the same asset when money is available from your savings.

By repeating the investment action over and over, you’ll likely form a strong habit of consistent investing. 

To improve consistency, I invest the same amount every two months.

One way to boost the consistency of savings is with sinking funds that help you to distribute lump sum expenses over time. 

Simple investing processes help you build habits that persist. Building wealth is a long game done over many decades. I highly recommend the book Atomic Habits by James Clear to learn more about habits. 

5. Simple Investing Keeps You Away From The News

News is biased to the negative, warping your perception of reality. 

Did you know the world is wealthier than it’s ever been? Lifespans have never been longer, and more people have been lifted out of poverty in the last three decades than ever before. 

This was very surprising to me. You don’t hear about the reduction in poverty on the news.

But I don’t blame news agencies. Negative news sells, thanks to the loss aversion bias.

Negativity plays on your threat detection systems that are biologically designed to keep you alive. 

This amplifies emotions that encourage panic selling when times are tough, and speculation when times are good. The result is buying high and selling low. 

With total market index funds, there is no need to track news. Geographic diversity erases any care you have for individual companies or specific market sectors. 

Plus, all information you get on the news is already priced into your stocks and bonds before you have time to take action. To learn more about this, read about the Efficient Market Hypothesis. 

There is no need to watch investment news with simple index investing. Not only does this preserve your time and energy, but it keeps you away from the negativity that amplifies costly behavioral biases. 

Another side effect of removing negativity is higher happiness.  

6. Simple Investing Saves Cognitive Effort

Complicated investing decisions consume cognitive capacity that cannot be devoted elsewhere. 

I know that I have a finite capacity to make decisions. 

I prefer to save this cognitive capacity for high-impact activities, like writing this blog and gaining new skills that can increase my earnings power (human capital).

It seems the amount of high-impact focus work that humans can do daily is capped at around 4 hours.

Cal Newport estimates that you train yourself to complete about 4 hours of daily deep work, in his book “Deep Work”. The Neuro Scientist Andrew Huberman estimates you can do three 90-minute sessions of focus work daily. So 4.5 hours. 

Simple investing preserves your cognitive capacity. You can use this capacity to increase income and make solid decisions in other areas of your life. 

7. Core Concepts Are Infinitely Adaptable

One of the things I loved when I studied physics was the power of core concepts.

A few concepts can explain a large number of phenomena. 

Core concepts, therefore, enable simplicity. 

Here are some critical concepts that are central to simple investing:  

People who understand core personal finance concepts can better adapt their financial plans to their unique needs. 


Investing is the only activity where less is more.  A simple and lazy approach like index investing provides the best-expected outcomes. 

Asset allocation ETFs maximize simplicity with a set-it-and-forget-it portfolio.

Here are some benefits of a simple investment approach:

  • That can reduce emotional attachment to a portfolio by limiting interactions and keeping you away from the news.
  • Preserves your time and cognitive capacity for the things that matter.
  • It helps you build good investing habits through consistency.
  • It helps you improve after-tax wealth due to the tax efficiency of total market index funds.

Simple investing is nice, but it’s not the only aspect of personal finance that benefits from simplicity. Frugal living also enables lifestyle simplicity that saves time and energy. Learn more in 13 Frugal Living Tips to Save Time, Money, and Energy.

I hope this makes you consider value simplicity in your journey to build wealth. 

Jake out.