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Want $1 Million in Retirement? 3 ETFs to Buy Now and Hold for Decades.

Retiring a millionaire doesn't happen by accident. It takes years of patience, discipline, and steady investment returns. Because of their simplicity, exchange-traded funds can be the perfect fit for any long-term investor.

Exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, are buckets of individual stocks that trade under one ticker. It's a simple way for investors to diversify their portfolios because a few ETFs can expose you to hundreds of companies.

It's still important to invest based on your personality and risk tolerance. So, here are three very different ETFs that can help you build wealth over decades and potentially hit that million-dollar mark by the time you retire.

1. Vanguard S&P 500 ETF

Consider starting with the basics. That would point you to the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (NYSEMKT: VOO), one of only two ETFs Warren Buffett's company, Berkshire Hathaway, holds in its multibillion-dollar stock portfolio. The idea of this fund is simple. The S&P 500 is an index of 500 of America's most prominent companies. Think of the household names that everyone, even non-investors, knows. The index weighs them by their market cap to make the index, which has historically been remarkably effective at building wealth, averaging roughly 10% annual returns over the long term.

Vanguard S&P 500 ETF's top-10 largest positions include:

  1. Microsoft: 7.08%
  2. Apple: 5.63%
  3. Nvidia: 5.05%
  4. Amazon: 3.73%
  5. Meta Platforms: 2.42%
  6. Alphabet Class A: 2.01%
  7. Berkshire Hathaway Class B: 1.73%
  8. Alphabet Class C: 1.70%
  9. Eli Lilly & Co: 1.40%
  10. Broadcom: 1.32%

You should include this fund in your portfolio because the S&P 500 ultimately represents the best companies from the world's best economy. It's always recovered from wars, recessions, and other crises to hit new highs. You don't have to make it overly complicated. Just buy and hold this stand-in for the broader stock market.

2. Grayscale Bitcoin Trust ETF

Truly diversifying your investments means stepping outside the world of individual companies and considering new assets altogether. Consider the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust ETF (NYSEMKT: GBTC). This is the prominent ETF centered around Bitcoin.

Grayscale Bitcoin Trust ETF offers the best of both worlds. Investors can benefit from Bitcoin's price movement by owning shares, which have far outpaced the broader stock market over the past decade. Why would you own the fund instead of just buying Bitcoin? Well, owning shares of the fund is handled just like owning any other stock. You can stash it in your stock portfolio, and the security is monitored by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Meanwhile, owning Bitcoin yourself could mean having to deal with storing the tokens, which could backfire if you forget your password, which has infamously locked some early Bitcoin investors out of their millions of dollars worth of crypto. Grayscale Bitcoin Trust ETF is the easy button of investing in Bitcoin, and there's nothing wrong with going that route.

3. iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF

Let's stick with the theme of new asset classes. Sometimes, investors want passive income and aren't necessarily interested in maximizing price-based returns. The iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (NASDAQ: TLT) could be for you. It's a fund of U.S. Treasury bonds, all with at least 20 years remaining until maturity.

The fund has averaged a nearly 4% yield over the past 12 months and 4.75% over the last 30 days. Its beta of 0.6 implies that the fund is less volatile than the broader stock market. In other words, the iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF is a glacier where investors can store money and expect safe passive income relative to stocks.

Investors in their 20s can probably avoid this fund due to its conservative nature; they have the time horizon to lean wholly into maximizing growth. However, it would be best to consider adding some Treasury bonds to your portfolio as you age and your margin for investing error shrinks. Treasury bonds are a great place to find low-risk income; this fund makes it easy for you.

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Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. John Mackey, former CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Justin Pope has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Berkshire Hathaway, Bitcoin, Meta Platforms, Microsoft, Nvidia, and Vanguard S&P 500 ETF. The Motley Fool recommends Broadcom and recommends the following options: long January 2026 $395 calls on Microsoft and short January 2026 $405 calls on Microsoft. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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