A Fool reader recently posed this dilemma: "I want to open a brokerage account, but the firms I called require between $1,000 and $5,000 up front just to open an account. What can I do if I don't have that kind of cash?"

Fortunately, many brokerages don't have minimums. Others have small ones, like $500. Also, minimums vary for different kinds of accounts. For an IRA account, for example, minimums tend to be considerably less (sometimes half as much or even less than that). Also, some brokerages may waive minimums or have very low amounts if you sign up to have funds automatically deposited regularly into your account. Take a little time to do some shopping around -- you might find a good deal.

Another alternative is investing via "Drips" (direct investing plans or dividend reinvestment plans). Read about the power of dividend growth and the power of Drip plans.

To learn more about brokerages and to find a better brokerage for yourself, check out our Broker Center. (Some of the brokerages there feature no minimums.) Also, since your short-term money shouldn't be in stocks, learn how put it to good use in our Savings Center, where we also offer good deals on interest rates.