Getting Big-Name Stocks at a Fraction of the Price

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At its best, playing the stock market seems like a pretty great game. Buy low, sell high, and wait out the ups and downs — simple, as long as you choose good stocks, right? And it's easy to spot the good stocks, of course: They're generally the ones you can't remotely afford.

That may not be a barrier to entry for long. The brokerage firm Charles Schwab announced last week that it was taking a page from the world of micropayments. In order to get younger investors into the stock market, the company will soon offer the option of purchasing fractions of a stock. This means you won't have to drop a couple hundred dollars per share of, say, Apple or Nike — and their potential for growth will act the same way.

Schwab isn't the first broker to offer this service; you've probably seen it in promotional offerings for companies like Betterment and Stockpile. However, Schwab is a major player on Wall Street and has a lot of institutional heft behind it. It's possible this kind of investment offering could be expanding beyond fintech startups and into the whole playing field.

A lot of us find the stock market scary, and with very good reason, considering the role of the Great Recession in our lives. But even Warren Buffett thinks you don't need to be some kind of Wolf of Wall Street genius to make it work for you. There are lots of ways to dip your toe in the water, and if you ask the right questions, your future self will thank you for it.