Recommended Brokerages [Updated for 2018]
The two biggest features we feel are important to choosing a brokerage is the ability to make smaller investments and keeping costs down. THe brokerage we recommend help in those regards and are the only ones we are currently using to manage our investing. Their low costs and flexibility definitely help you to retire earlier.
Robinhood is free. FREE, WE TELL YOU!!! They charge no fees and there are no commissions for any trade. How can you not love this?!?! Since starting with Robinhood the difference in cost is amazing. We no longer have to pay $5-10 per trade. Ever. And with their new Robinhood Instant, deposits up to $1,000 are available for investing immediately. Click here to get started with Robinhood right away!
The only issue with Robinhood is that it is mobile app-only. They are supposedly working on a web version, but for now you can only use it on Android and Apple devices as an app. In 2018 Robinhood launched their web trading platform as well as the ability to trade cryptocurrency like Bitcoin (though there's no wallet to transfer your funds out...you can only buy/sell crypto). So that also means it won't work with other financial tools like Mint. Even with the limited investing features (no trailing stops, limited research platform) the lack of any commissions whatsoever more than makes up for it. Perfect for the way we invest!
We can no longer recommend this brokerage due to their new policies and increased fees. There are verified reports that they have stolen funds from clients accounts without authorization, which is a violation of FINRA rules.
Thematic investing. Without going into what that means, basically it helps you keep from putting all your eggs in one basket, which I'm told is bad. Motif allows you to buy stocks (even fractions of stocks) as a group for one commission ($9.99 as of this writing). That means you could pick 25 of your favorite stocks and with one purchase, buy an even amount of them for one price. It would cost you 25 times as much to do that the old-fashioned way. You can invest using Motif's created by the company, by other investors, or build your own! Purchases or sales of a single stock are only $4.95, which is also a good deal. Click here to get started with Motif
Drawbacks: Aside from the potential for fraud, the issue we have with Motif is that there is no automatic re-investment of dividends (which we are a big fan of). Instead they are just deposited into your account and you have to go and invest that money in the motif of your choice manually. We like automation, but we put up with it in exchange for the other awesome features. They also no longer offer low-cost or free investing as of 2017. Robinhood is your much better choice