I keep hearing that I can only buy bonds and other securities such as Treasury Bills from a broker...the thing is, I don't want to pay a broker (yet). I know I can buy stocks online through a trader such as TradeKing, E-Trade, etc. But I'm also interested in other securities. Any advice?
You're looking for a discount brokerage firm. Discount brokers "charge clients significantly lower fees than traditional brokerage firm but without providing investment advice. Discount brokers typically allow investors to buy and sell securities on-line while offering comparatively fewer services and/or support."
To use one of your examples, E-trade allows you to trade stocks, ETF's, mutual funds, bonds, options, futures, currencies, etc. Depending on what securities you choose to trade and what discount broker you use, you may still have to pay commissions and satisfy margin requirements. Some investment firms like E-Trade, Fidelity, etc. will also offer full investment management and brokerage services, but you're not required to pay for them or take advantage of them.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if you're just starting out investing and only have a small amount of money to invest, commissions could quickly eat up all of your profits if you buy and sell fairly frequently. This answer may give you a little more guidance for investing small amounts in securities like mutual funds instead of individual stocks, bonds, etc.
You might find the answers to these questions helpful as well:
- What's the differences between a discount broker and a regular broker?
- Which U.S. online discount broker is the best value for money?
Some of the answers specifically refer to stock trading, but if you're unsure about which securities a specific brokerage firm allows you to trade, a quick online search for "<brokerage firm> investment choices" should clear up the confusion. Alternatively, just call the firm and ask or surf their website.