Re: Anyone want to talk stocks and retirement?
I don't have the right answer for how much is enough. If your going stocks or ETF's very few if any would requirer you to buy a certain amount (I can't think of any). So basically if you are going to invest you just have to consider the commission fee and how much you would need to make a profit. At Ameritrade fees are $9.99, so in order to make money you would need a $20 gain right off the bat.
Mutual funds often require a minimum dollar amount in order to buy. If you don't have enough you may want to look at ETF's who mimick mutual funds. They are often cheaper ways to invest in an area that you want.
As for Ameritrade it operates like an online bank. Once you get it set up you can ACH transfer funds the next day without an issue. I would however wait until you have enough saved to get some of their promo offers, like 30 days of free trading.
Cyclone mentioned it above but if you are going to invest around $5000 a year you may want to look at a Roth IRA. Its a retirement account that there are penalities if you need to withdraw before a certain age (59?) but once you put after tax money into it, it grows tax free and there are no tax consequences once you start to withdraw your money.
I agree with JaxRed for the most part. If you want to become a small time investor, pick one of those dividend stocks and invest in them. Its not the most diversified way but its a way to get your feet wet.