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I Bought a Mutual Fund…

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... for the first time in maybe a decade. You may find it amazing that I've been blogging about money for nearly four years now and having not bought a mutual fund in many, many years. Once Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) started getting commonplace, I switched to those vehicles instead. Typically the expenses were just a hair or two lower than their mutual fund counterpart.

This morning I broke the streak and bought a mutual fund. Why now? Fidelity's marketing had done a great job convincing me how easy it was to set up a SEP-IRA with them. Being the lemming I am, I bought into it :-). That's not entirely true... I knew from years of experience that Fidelity is a solid company. Their reputation is great. I also knew that they come very close to competing with Vanguard on mutual funds with very low expenses.

When it came time to invest the money from my SEP-IRA, I noticed that Fidelity was going charge me around $8 for a stock trade (if I were to do an ETF) and nothing if I bought their mutual funds (as long as I purchased the $10,000 minimum). It's sad that I let $8 dictate my investing strategy. However, the expense ratio was almost the same between the two investment options. I didn't even investigate the ratios until I was writing this post. Fidelity's international mutual fund had an expense ratio of 0.10% and Vanguard's VEU ETF expense ratio is 0.25%. Seems like I got lucky in saving the $8 and picking the lower cost option. Update: As for the international mutual fund choice I did some research on Globe Advisor's mutual funds section and it looks like international mutual funds do better than some benchmark ETFs: (source)

Now I'm looking to do something that I've been meaning to do for some time... rollover multiple 401Ks to an IRA. I know that many say you should rollover your 401Ks as soon as you leave your job. Every time I left a job, there was some economic crisis and the market had sunk significantly. I was nervous about having my money in transition and missing a recovery. However, with the Dow relatively high, it seems like a good time to make a move and consolidate.

I have brokerage accounts with Ameritrade, Etrade, and Zecco (and of course Fidelity now). I have bank accounts with Bank of America and USAA. Since I haven't been very active with brokerage accounts since the blissful days of Datek (memories!), I could use your help. What online brokerage do you use and why?

Last updated on November 16, 2011.

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13 Responses to “I Bought a Mutual Fund…”

  1. Yana says:

    I use Charles Schwab. I’m very happy doing so, and like the Investor Checking as well. One thing that has struck me about Schwab is that when you call them on the phone for customer service, you get outstanding service. I don’t like making phone calls, but the few times I’ve had a reason to call Schwab, I’ve been very pleased with the agents. I’ve found them intelligent, helpful, and not annoying as I am used to when dealing with other companies. I’m happy when I hang up and whatever I called about is resolved. They’re so good they make me almost want to call just for the halibut ;)

  2. Lazy Man says:

    Looks like it does… for iShare. Maybe I should go with a Fidelity Rollover IRA too.

  3. Wes says:

    I use scottrade; $7 stock trades, mutual funds are free with no minimum… not sure about ETF’s. Good service, and a local branch not too far away. My personal investment and Roth IRA accounts are with them, my work 401k is with Fidelity.

  4. DIY Investor says:

    I use Schwab as well and am happy with them. I agree their reps are helpful.
    It looks to me like your consolidation of accounts will help. I find many people can’t get a handle on their investments because they have so many statements, from so many brokers.

  5. Stephan says:

    I jsut opened an account with ameritrade for my roth ira and have had no issues so far. Its only been a couple of months, so maybe im counting my blessings to early.

  6. Bryan says:

    Check out Fidelity’s FFNOX index. Low cost and quite a bit of diversification

    • Lazy Man says:

      That’s a good idea, Bryan. However, I’m comfortable with my bond holdings now (got Vanguard’s BND ETF in another account). The bond component of the FFNOX seems to raise the expense ratio quite a bit to 0.23. That’s still a great expense ratio overall, but Fidelity seems to offer better options if you do it yourself.

  7. bb says:

    Rollover 401k to IRA now hits you with more tax now!

    • Lazy Man says:

      bb, what tax are you referring to? I was going to think about rolling to a Roth IRA in the future, but just to move from a 401k to a Rollover IRA there’s no tax hit that I’m aware of.

  8. DIY Investor says:

    You’re right there is no tax as long as you do not handle the money. Do the transfer custodian to custodian. Go to Schwab for example and they will walk you through it.

  9. I use zecco for stock trades, since I pay $0 for commissions if my balance is over $25K. I use schwab for individual bond trades, since they charge me $0 commissions for bonds. I also like Schwab’s checking account with my schwab 2% cash back credit card on everything. The cash back is deposited into your brokerage account and you could transfer the earnings back to checking…

    I have use fidelity for my 401k, but I don’t really have a choice there ;-).

  10. I always considered 401K’s to be a bit of a dangerous vehicle for storing money. Not only because of the horrible tax laws placed upon them, but also because of the recent financial crises going around. Suffice to say though, it was rather pragmatic of you to time your 401K rollovers like that. heavens knows what they vest in with those things.

    Personally, I use questrade. I tend to purchase blue chips with them.

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