Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

Investor Psychology

Slash Your Investing Costs in 3 Easy Steps

The Markets are fickle. But costs are something you can control, and keeping them down is crucial to your success as an investor.

Cut your fund fees. Okay, so you've wisely learned to avoid sales fees, but do you know how much your mutual funds really cost you each year? Morningstar's "Instant X-Ray" feature (click on "Tools" at www.morningstar.com) will break down your funds' fees into hard dollar figures and compare them with the average costs of similar funds. Boot out any funds with above-average expenses along with poorly performing actively managed funds, and replace them with low-cost index funds or exchange-traded funds.

Find a bargain broker. Our favorite online broker, Fidelity, doesn't have rock-bottom commissions, but we like its wide range of research and investment options. For bare-bones service, we favor WellsTrade, which offers 100 free trades per year as long as you maintain a minimum balance of $25,000, and Just2Trade, which charges a flat $2.50 commission for stock and fund trades.

Haggle with your adviser. The best time to negotiate your adviser's fees is when you're still shopping around. Already settled? Ask for a dollar-by-dollar breakdown of the exact fees you're paying, then "ask very respectfully, 'Is there anything we can do to lower that price tag?'" says planner Sheryl Garrett, founder of the Garrett Planning Network. If you pay by the hour, start doing more paperwork and research at home so that you'll spend less time and money with your adviser.