Opening My First “Real” Brokerage Account (And the Mistake I Already Made)
Over the past few months, I’ve mentioned multiple times that my big goal this year was to start investing and contributing to a brokerage account on a monthly basis. Well, at long last, I took a major step toward reaching that goal this week as my wife and I opened up a joint brokerage account with Vanguard. That’s right, despite having some small trading accounts with Robinhood, SoFi, and previously Acorns, this is my first “real” investment account and it feels so good… except for one minor hiccup.
One of the reasons I was still putting off opening an account in the first place was that I knew that the Vanguard 500 Index Fund Admiral Shares had an extremely low expense ratio of 0.04%. Unfortunately the minimum buy-in for this fund was $3,000. While we could technically swing that, my wife and I are still figuring out exactly how much money we want to keep where. Therefore I figured we should start setting money aside and then just open the account when we felt comfortable.
Cut to sometime last week when something inside me insisted that I just go ahead and open the account, even if that meant starting off with a more modest sum. I assumed that I could start with whatever amount, put it into the Vanguard 500 Index Fund Investor Shares with a slightly higher expense ratio, and then convert to Admiral Shares once we crossed that $3k threshold. Well, it wasn’t until after I opened the account — entering all of our personal information and depositing our first $500 — that I learned the Investor Shares version of the fund was now closed. Plus, even if we wanted to try another fund, a quick scroll through the options would suggest most still carried a similar minimum. In other words, while we may have money at Vanguard now, it’s not really invested. D’oh!
On the one hand, it kind of sucks that my money is just sitting there, waiting for other digital greenbacks to join it before it can go play. Yet, on the other hand, at least this gives us more motivation to transfer that $3,000 as soon as possible. Plus, even if I haven’t technically started investing with Vanguard just yet, I do feel both accomplished and relieved to finally have the account itself open. So, all things considered, I guess I can still count this as a win and step in the right direction for our investing journey.
Also published on Medium.