Pay Less for Investing Costs
1. Slash Investing Costs They Drag Down Performance: The average diversified U.S. stock mutual fund charges 1.3% a year in expenses. If your fund isn't beating its benchmark (or you don't have the time to monitor actively managed funds), you're better off buying a low-cost index fund or ETF that hews to the benchmark. For instance, Fidelity Spartan 500 Index fund (symbol FSMKX), which tracks Standard & Poor's 500-stock index, has an annual expense ratio of just 0.10%. And indexing isn't a compromise strategy. Managers of many top pension funds and endowments swear by it.
Annual Savings: $1,200(based on cutting expenses from 1.3% to 0.10% on a $100,000 portfolio)
2. Keep Tabs on Your Trades: If you aren't an active trader, make sure you’re not penalized by a broker who charges an "inactivity fee." For example, E*Trade charges investors who don’t conduct any trades in a given three-month period $40 for the quarter.
Annual Savings: $160
3. Clone Your Favorite Manager: Sticking with no-load mutual funds is a strategy that can save thousands over time, and there is almost always a great no-load alternative to a load fund. For example, instead of shelling out a 4.75% load for Davis NY Venture A fund (NYVTX), go for the nearly identical Selected American Shares S fund (SLASX), which doesn’t have a sales charge.
Annual Savings: $235(avoiding a 4.75% load on a $5,000 investment)
4. Go With a Discount Broker: Full-service firms charge $30 or more for an online stock trade. But online brokers' fees average just $10, reports Aite Group, a financial research firm. We like E*Trade and TD Ameritrade for $10 trades. And be honest: Is your broker’s research worth the extra 20 bucks?
Or, trade for free. ZeccoTrading gives you ten free stock trades per month if you maintain a minimum balance of $25,000. WellsTrade allows 100 free trades a year if you keep a total of $25,000 or more in Wells Fargo in almost all types of accounts.
Annual Savings: $240(using a discount broker for one trade per month)
TOTAL ANNUAL INVESTING SAVINGS: $1,835