-- Q: All I want to do is sell 100 shares of Texas Instruments stock TXN without spending much. Any suggestions?
A: If you have a Pez dispenser you want to unload, you just sell it on eBay or a garage sale and that's it. But what if you want to sell 100 shares of stock?
You have several options, most of which will involve setting up an account with a broker. While this seems like a hassle, keep in mind that you'd have to create an account with eBay, too, to sell that Pez dispenser.
If you already have a broker, just transfer the shares or mail them if they're paper certificates, and request the sale. Regular commissions will apply.
If you don't have a broker, the best option would be to open a brokerage account with one of a number of low-cost online brokerage firms that offer low commissions.
A suggestion might be Zecco.com. This online broker provides 10 free trades a month as long as you have an account with a balance of at least $2,500. With Texas Instruments shares trading at about $22 apiece, you'd only have to add about $300 in cash to your account to qualify for the free trade. You can read about the Zecco account setup process here. It's not a bad idea to have a brokerage account set up — since you'll probably want to save and invest in the future.
Another thing to look into: A number of other higher-priced online brokerage firms offer a limited number of free stock trades to people who open new accounts.
Lastly, you might consider TI's transfer agent. The transfer agent is a company that handles stock processing requests for the firm. Since TI has a direct stock purchase program, it may be set up to handle your sale. However, in many cases, dealing with a transfer agent comes with many fees that will probably exceed what you'd pay to Zecco. You can read more about TI's transfer agent, Computershare CIP, here.
Matt Krantz is a financial markets reporter at USA TODAY and author of Investing Online for Dummies. He answers a different reader question every weekday in his Ask Matt column at money.usatoday.com. To submit a question, e-mail Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to see previous Ask Matt columns.