You've tried out our discussion boards by now, haven't you? Now's an especially good time to do so, if you haven't already; after several years of charging a nominal fee for using our boards, we've now opened them up for everyone, absolutely free!
If you head to the boards, you'll find all kinds of interesting posts and posters alike. You may make some new friends -- or nemeses -- or even meet your future spouse, as some have done! And when you're not busy with all those things, you can also get valuable answers to your Foolish questions, often from a variety of perspectives.
Here's an example. On our Discount Brokers discussion board the other day, Fool Community member Hobob posted the following:
I just recently decided to open an online brokerage account. I'm planning on only trading once or twice a month and mostly in stocks. So, I'm worried about inactivity fees as well as very concerned with commission fees because I'm not investing a lot. I do like the idea of reinvesting dividends for free. ... Could someone offer some input about a good brokerage ... ?
As typically happens, he received an array of responses. Here are a few. First, from Kahunacfa: "Are you really sure you want to reinvest dividends in the shares of the company that paid them? If it is a taxable account, it makes it difficult to figure the cost basis if you do any partial sales of the accumulated shares."
That's a very good point, because each time you receive a few new shares, they bring with them a cost basis different from their brethren. You'll have to keep track of all these, for Uncle Sam.
As Kahunacfa and others also noted, there's a great way around this dilemma that's worth considering, since reinvesting dividends is a good way to build wealth: You can just let the dividend money accumulate until you have enough to buy a modest position in whatever stock seems most attractive to you at the moment. That way, you are reinvesting, but in a more controlled way.
Meanwhile, community member Vulstock offered a good reminder that when shopping for a brokerage, it's good to look not only for inactivity charges, but also at the monthly activity fees that some brokerages assess. Inactivity fees are especially un-Foolish, considering that we in Fooldom have long recommended that investors trade relatively infrequently.
Various Fools also recommended several brokerages that they've used. Even though you can invest in many major foreign companies with just about any brokerage, Interactive Brokers
For more details, read the whole discussion.
Keep in mind ...
These days, more and more brokerages are offering free dividend reinvestment. If that appeals to you, look into whether your brokerage provides such a service. TD AMERITRADE
While you're at it, make sure the brokerage you're using is the best one for your needs. Odds are, you can find a better brokerage that charges you less than you're paying, or which offers more of the services or protections you want. A few minutes in our Broker Center may help. So might this article on finding the right brokerage. Indeed, some very reputable brokerages now charge commissions of just $5 or even less per trade. Find out more by consulting our handy comparison table.
Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article. She was surprised to learn recently that lions have oily fur. Charles Schwab is a Stock Advisor recommendation. Try any of our investing services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool isFools writing for Fools.