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No. of Recommendations: 24
About three weeks ago I came over to this board and liked what I saw. I decided to start an account. I'm lucky enough to have quite a bit more than some on this board to invest - about $1000 a month. But it intrigued me to be able to buy as many different stocks as I wanted for $10 a month - I figured I could basically set up my own mutual fund, or at least get as much diversification as if I went into a mutual fund. Paying $120 a year for the privilege didn't really make sense, given that I could pay just $3 a year in expenses for every $1000 I put in an index fund - but in some ways it was just a fun way to invest.

But then everyone started talking about the going concern qualification in the financials, and I started to wonder whether the company would be around long enough to justify the investment. I started thinking about all the commissions I'd eventually have to pay to sell shares in dozens of different companies if I were forced to transfer to a regular broker. Suddenly, it stopped being fun and started making me nervous.

Then they hiked their fees 50%. Paying $180 a year seemed silly when I could pay that $3. And how would I know where it would end? If they hiked once, couldn't they hike again? Given all the people who indicated they'd be leaving, would they be able to stay in business? It seemed to me the only customers they'd have left would be the frequent traders looking for the cheapest monthly fee available - exactly the people I thought B&H were trying to distance themselves from.

So now, three weeks later, I've sold the stocks I bought, I'm getting my money out, I'm closing my account, and I'm doing what the Fool would have said I should have done in the first place - heading over to a Vanguard index fund.

I feel bad for the folks who can't afford to do what I'm going to do. This really was a bait-and-switch operation for the customers B&H targeted - the low-balance occasional buyers who want to invest for the long haul. In many ways, it would have been easier for those folks if B&H had shut their doors - at least then they wouldn't feel betrayed. And given the commission-free accounts offered by places like Financial Cafe, I can't imagine that B&H will succeed in replacing these regular investors with money-generating high-volume traders as they seem to be trying to do.

If you can't afford B&H now, I'd say just sell everything, get the money, and give up on stocks until you have enough money put aside to get into an index fund. It just doesn't make sense to be losing 5-10% of your investment every month just to buy individual stocks - you'd be better off sticking it in a bank account, or under the mattress.

Best of luck to all.

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