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I'd like to invest some cash (just few thousands) that is currently sitting on my bank account.

There are few companies I believe will significantly increase their value in the next years (let's say Tesla and Apple for the sake of argument), I feel I know the industry fairly well and I'm happy to risk the money.

I don't have the time or interest in trading as I already have a full time job, I plan to buy and hold.

What would be the easiest (cheapest) way to purchase them? Is there a way to cut the middleman?

  • 5
    Who is the middle man that you're hoping to cut? The brokers? – NL - Apologize to Monica May 16 at 19:45
  • Does your employer offer a 401k? If so, consider opening an individual account with them as well. – MooseBoys May 16 at 20:55
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    Questions seeking product/service recommendations are off-topic. – Chris W. Rea May 16 at 23:17
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    Why do you believe that you have better information on which stock (apple, tesla) to invest in than the market has? In case you do not believe you have that information, then under some moderate assumptions it would be rational to buy highly diversified ETFs instead. – HRSE May 17 at 1:03
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    If your plan is really to buy and hold and not do a lot of trading a few dollars difference in the cost of a trade may be less important than choosing a well established discount broker with a track record of good customer service, walk-in office locations, easy to use web site, that kind of thing. – jas May 17 at 9:33
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The cheapest way to buy stock is commission free Robinhood. They have many deficiencies but for a few Buy&Hold positions in a small account, that's probably your best bet. If you need anything more than that, you need to look at other brokerage firms.

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    Agreed. I use Robinhood for this. If you don't want any leverage and don't want sophisticated tools and analysis, Robinhood is probably a good solution. – David Schwartz May 16 at 22:35
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You can open a brokerage account with any of the popular discount brokers: Schwab, Fidelity, Vanguard, etc. Just go to their web sites and follow the steps to open an account. If you need a bit more hand-holding, which is normal for new investors, you can drop into one of their offices and they're happy to help. Fees are generally low all around (~$5 per trade), so you can't go wrong with a name-brand discount broker. The middleman is cheap!

  • Vanguard ain't one of the discount brokers. – WakeDemons3 May 16 at 20:02
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    @WakeDemons3 Vanguard could be considered a discount broker in terms of expense ratios on their flagship stocks, but maybe not in terms of day-trading. It would help if you could qualify why you believe Vanguard does not belong in the "discount brokers" category! – Bret May 16 at 21:04
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    Vanguard offers brokerage services. For stocks, they charge $2, $7 and $20 per trade, depending on account size, along with some free trades for accounts > $1 million. They're not for day trading. – Bob Baerker May 16 at 21:32
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    Vanguard offers free accounts for their mutual funds. No cost at all (beyond the fund costs, which, being Vanguard, are low). Buying/selling of mutual fund shares, moving it in/out of your checking account - all free. They have brokerage services too but my understanding is that's a convenience for their mutual fund customers more than a really competitive offering. – davidbak May 16 at 21:53
  • @davidbak: They don't charge commissions on ETF trades either (both theirs and from other companies). So they have quite a bit of value as a brokerage. – Ben Voigt May 18 at 15:46
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The easiest way is to open an account with a major broker, and place a market buy order. The commission for most of them is $5-10 per trade, which IMO is basically negligible if you are actually planning to buy a significant quantity and hold it long-term. Robinhood has no commission, but I would recommend you use a more established broker - Robinhood is pretty new, the interface isn't the best, and I wouldn't consider it something that you can just forget about for many years.

Cutting out the middleman here is not a practical idea. The middleman is actually helping you a lot. Trading on the market is complicated and a lot of work, the broker is doing all the hard work of finding sellers and complying with the regulations for you. The cut they take is very small unless you are making many trades, and they are unlikely to cheat you because of very strict government regulations. There are also some nice benefits to having a broker, like FDIC insurance.

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    A market buy order may not be recommended for a new investor, e.g. because of the potential for sudden spikes. A limit buy order near the last trading price seems more appropriate. Then the investor can compute the number of shares and have a solid idea of how much money that investment costs/represents. The only downside is the need to check up on whether or not it executed some time (e.g. a day or two?) later. – WBT May 17 at 16:05
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    Your comments against Robinhood are misguided. Their interface has nothing to do with the OP's quest for lowest commission rate. Nor does forgetting about a Buy & Hold stock have anything to do with Robinhood either. That's an investment decision. The broker does not work at finding buyers and sellers. NBBO provides the market, not the broker. the broker just executes the trade (middleman). All brokers comply with regulations. And FDIC insurance applies to banks. It's SIPC for brokers (which Robinhood has). – Bob Baerker May 17 at 17:02
  • +1 because the key answer for OP is that for buy & hold investing, the difference between, $0, $5, and $10 commission is irrelevant. – The Photon May 17 at 21:09
  • @ThePhoton: For amounts of "just few thousands" as stated in the OP, $10 commissions are non-negligible. – Ben Voigt May 18 at 15:48
  • @BobBaerker You are very confused about Robinhood; their own FAQ states (as of a few months ago) that the way they cut costs is by providing fewer services and a more basic interface. – Money Ann May 27 at 2:47
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It might also be worth looking into the actual companies themselves, some allow you to invest directly through them and you can even have it so that they will reinvest dividends (if they have them) for you.

2

ETrade or Fidelity should let you do what you do easily. They have very modest trading fees, and those fees are it. No hidden charges.

Remember holding a stock longer than 1 year means the capital gains will be taxed at a much more favorable rate.

If you don't want to be actively involved in investing, you ought to at least read John Bogle's book "Common Sense on Mutual Funds". That debunks a lot of the "artificial complexity" of stocks.

Another interesting thing worth studying is how your local university invests their Endowment. They are required by law to invest it for maximum growth, and their tactics are surprisingly standardized.

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Open an account at a brokerage firm. I use Fidelity but others recommended above are good too. You can also open an IRA through these brokerage firms and invest from your IRA.

Buying individual stocks does require some homework to make the good choices. If you don't want to spend time doing homework put your money in an index fund. Investing time developing your career is a better investment than investing time picking stocks, especially if you are only working with a few thousand dollars.

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If you plan to invest in one go (which is generally not recommended, especially if you don't know exactly what you are doing and if you want to hold it for a longer time, this is called market timing) then the fees are pretty small compared to the amount of money you want to invest. Usually, it is recommended to buy it over a few days, weeks, months, to minimize the risk a little bit. Thus, you are less susceptible to the volatility of the stocks.

Usually you have to pay a one-time fee independent of how many stocks you buy. So if you buy your stocks with multiple purchases, the fees might start to matter for you.

If you don't want to look at it at all I would recommend one of the more mature platforms and just pay the fees (I use AllyInvest or ETrade).

If you care about those fees, you might want to use a platform that doesn't charge you any fees (I use Robinhood, but you might need to watch the platform now and then and see what changes they implement, since they are really you and keep changing stuff). I am sure there are a few others with free trades as well.

That is just my personal experience/opinion.

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