Why People Don’t Invest

We don’t invest for a myriad of reasons:

  • Fear of kissing our life’s savings goodby
  • Fear of looking foolish when we lose money
  • Ignorance of how investing works
  • Concern that any earnings will be consumed by taxes or commissions
  • Lack of disposable money to put away because of paycheck to paycheck living

But all of these “reasons” pre-suppose one thing: That people have given themselves the opportunity TO invest.

No one CAN invest without a brokerage account

Have you given yourself the opportunity?

It’s somewhat like the people I hear saying, “I wish I’d win the lottery.” My question to them is, “Do you have a ticket for this week?” Ninety nine times out of one hundred the answer is no, so my response is, “I guarantee you won’t win this week!” Though they probably won’t win even if they have a ticket, there is absolutely NO chance of winning without one. The same goes for investing.

I’m told by friends, family, and blog readers things like, “I don’t invest because …. [fill in the blank].” My response is the same, “Do you have a brokerage account?” Again the usual answer is no. So the REAL reason you’re not investing is that you CAN’T, right?

There are multiple venues to open an investment account and begin investing (see chart below) but you can’t even make the decision to invest or not without having a brokerage account. Without one, your decision is automatically: NO INVESTING.

Stop making excuses – Give yourself the opportunity

The first step forward in getting your investment plan started may be the most “complicated” since it involves some paperwork and the transfer of funds into your new account. But once that’s over, you now have the opportunity to invest and the opportunity to actually use the information you’ve read on this site and many others like Oblivious Investor.

Depending on which broker you decide to use, there may be a minimum amount to open the account, though there are few that have no minimums. Once you’ve met the required minimum, you’ll be able to transfer regular amounts either electronically or otherwise.

What are the minimums at various brokerage accounts?

Here’s a table of the minimum starting investment required at several of the largest and most reputable online discount brokerages (click the brokerage’s name for more information):

Broker Minimum Starting Investment Stock Commission Notes
Scottrade $500 $7.00 per trade Well established, 30 year old company with local branches in dozens of cities, probably near you.
E*trade $500 $9.99 per trade Popular and well known for their “talking babies” ads and their long history in the business.
TradeKing None $4.95 per trade Highly rated broker that has won awards its trading tools and customer service over multiple years.
tradeMONSTER $2,000 $7.50 per trade Ranked by Barron’s magazine as among the best of the best in online brokerage houses.
Zecco None $4.95 per trade A deep discount brokerage that allows you to trade from your Facebook account. Trading from Facebook?
Sharebuilder None $4.00 per trade (on automatic plan) No account minimum, no investment minimum, no inactivity fees and an easy automatic investing program.
optionsXpress None $9.95 or $0.01/share for over 1000 shares Now owned by charles SCHWAB, optionsXpress has a dramatically stronger offering for investors.
optionshouse $1,000 $3.95 This is basically the least expensive online brokerage for most traders and investors.


Don’t let the importance of stock commissions slip past you. Commissions can have a dramatic effect on the returns you generate when starting your investing career. With a company like optionshouse, a $3.95 commission on a $500 stock purchase is only 0.79 percent but for a $9.99 trade it becomes almost TWO percent. It doesn’t sound like a lot of difference but over the course of time, there’s absolutely NO reason to give your hard-earned money away to a brokerage house when you get nothing in return.

And optionshouse isn’t just for options traders either. They offer all the same trading services as the full-service brokerages they just offer them for less! You can purchase stocks, bonds, mutual funds and my favorite — ETFs (exchange traded funds).

Give yourself the opportunity to invest!

Don’t let laziness, apathy, fear, hesitation or ignorance stand in your way.

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