I have been reading a good amount about investing and having been using virtual accounts for months now.
I applaud you for taking the time to get started on a path towards saving for retirement. There are many factors that will determine your investing success and your focus on fees is a very prudent step to ensure you are maximizing your returns over time. I would encourage you to visit Vanguard’s website to learn more about their options. They have a great reputation as a low cost / high value investment company and they provide a wealth of information for individual investors. If you follow this link, you will likely find all of the information you need to make a decision. https://personal.vanguard.com/us/whatweoffer/ira
At this stage, I think it is best for you to check out their Life Strategy funds as well as their Target Retirement funds. Both will give you a great deal of diversification in your portfolio. Diversification is another key to your success.
Good luck on getting started!
Matthew, my preferred low cost broker is Scottrade. It combines low fees (actually no account maintenance fees with a minimum investment of $500) as well as extremely low brokerage commissions and an extensive lineup of investment products. They also have lots of retail locations if you decide to invest on your own but want to occasionally take advantage of talking to a live human being. You might also consider TD Ameritrade, Schwab and Fidelity, all of whom do a credible job at a low cost.
I usually recommend Vanguard mutual fund accounts for self-directed investors. You do not need a brokerage account ~ it would probably raise your costs unnecessarily.