In the early 2000's I had an account with one of the big brokerage houses (now gobbled up by even bigger brokerage house). It was a full-service brokerage. I could not trade by just clicking a mouse. The problem was that my significant other was working for that brokerage house, and we couldn't have a brokerage account anywhere else due to "compliance".I had to call my broker and ask him to buy or sell something for me. Usual cost of such 30-sec. conversation was $49-$53. Not that he did anything special. He would just say: "Lemme see what the ask is..." and then declared that he "put it in". That was it. He never bothered me with his sales pitches, probably because I had a minuscule account balance. But even back then I wasn't that naive to think that this broker thinks about my financial well-being first before his own.
Now, immediately after my significant other changed jobs I closed that account and moved whatever was in it into a discount brokerage house ( back then it was Ameritrade). Now the trades were $9.99. Customer service was bad, transaction cost was much better but still way too high for regular investing. I was still better off just having an account with, say, Vanguard or T. Rowe Price and buy an broad-based index fund a little bit at a time without having to pay for a transaction (those big mutual fund companies even provide postage-paid envelopes for those sending their contributions in form of checks). So I was going the mutual fund way for a while.Then I learned about ShareBuilder. It allowed you to buy regularly for about $4 per buy. ( and I think, more for sells).Better, I thought, but for some reason I didn't open an account with them.
The real opportunity came when Wells Fargo announced ( about 2 years ago) that if you hold $25,000 in combined assets with them (even including 10% of your outstanding mortgage), then they'll give you 100 trades per year free through their so-called PMA account. They also waived the IRA custodial fees and the yearly fees for maintaining the HELOC with them.Yea, that's what I'm talking about. Now I could buy very inexpensive index ETF's for free!
Then bank of America started offering something similar. Also, there's this Zecco website-they also give free trades. Now I minimized my investment expenses as much as I could. Good.