Commissions can play a big role in how profitable your investing can be, especially if you're only trading on a little bit of money. This is why commissions matter in investing. For example, if you're investing $100, and pay a $7 commission - that's the equivalent of losing 7% of your investment on day 1. Given that the stock market returns about 7% on average - you're literally going to be lucky to break even for the entire year!
Determine the intrinsic value and the right price to pay for each stock you are interested in. Intrinsic value is how much a stock is worth, which can be different from the current stock price. The right price to pay is generally a fraction of the intrinsic value, to allow a margin of safety (MOS). MOS may range from 20% to 60% depending on the degree of uncertainty in your intrinsic value estimate. There are many techniques used to value stocks:
Most importantly, though, frequent trading takes your eye off the fundamental connection between a company and its stock. Over long periods of time, share prices tend to track the success of the underlying business, and growing companies usually see their stocks grow with them. Taking the time to search out the companies you'd be comfortable owning can pay off with years or even decades of market-beating performance that will make it easier for you to achieve your financial goals.

While there is no doubt that the most popular way to buy and sell investments is by opening a brokerage account, many new investors ask how to buy stock without a broker. For those of you who want to go down this path to business ownership, you can do so with varying degrees of success - there is no requirement that you have to work with a broker to invest in stocks or mutual funds, particularly equity funds. Direct investing offers some advantages and disadvantages, which you will need to weigh based on your personal situation, but our goal in describing how it works is to provide you with an overview so you have a better handle on how to invest without a broker by the time you're finished reading.

Over the past few months I have had the opportunity to talk with three first-time investors. In addition to my friend's daughter mentioned above, I've also spoken with two friends in their twenties. One had never invested. The other had a 403(b), but really no idea how to create an investment plan or how to evaluate the mutual funds in his retirement account.

It’s a tumultuous time for online stock brokers. The players have largely remained the same, but between significant cuts in commissions and a few major acquisitions (E*TRADE acquired OptionsHouse; TD Ameritrade and Scottrade merged; Ally Invest now lives under Ally Bank), the competition is on its toes. We leveraged seasoned expertise to dig into 13 of the most popular online stock trading sites; here's what we found important.


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Understand the commodities market. When you invest in something like a stock or a bond, you invest in the business represented by that security. The piece of paper you get is worthless, but what it promises is valuable. A commodity, on the other hand, is something of inherent value, something capable of satisfying a need or desire. Commodities include pork bellies (bacon), coffee beans, oil, natural gas, and potash, among many other items. The commodity itself is valuable, because people want and use it.
You should feel absolutely no pressure to buy a certain number of shares or fill your entire portfolio position in a stock all at once. Consider starting small — really small — by purchasing just a single share to get a feel for what it’s like to own individual stocks and whether you have the fortitude to ride through the rough patches with minimal sleep loss. You can add to your position over time as you master the shareholder swagger.
Another key metric to look at is return on equity, which measures a company's ability to turn capital into profits. Return on equity is calculated by taking a year's worth of earnings and dividing that figure by the average shareholder equity for that year. If that number is 15%, for instance, then 15 cents worth of assets are generated for every dollar investors put in. Again, you'll want to compare that number to other companies in the industry to see how it stacks up.
When investing, look to get in with stocks in the areas you typically follow and have an interest in. If you’re already reading news and keeping up on these things anyway, it’ll make it that much easier to keep up on your investments. If you have expertise through interests or work, you likely know enough about the sector to make intelligent investments.
Finally, the other factor: risk tolerance. The stock market goes up and down, and if you’re prone to panicking when it does the latter, you’re better off investing slightly more conservatively, with a lighter allocation to stocks. Not sure? We have a risk tolerance quiz — and more information about how to make this decision — in our article about what to invest in.

Investing in mutual funds is sort of like buying a big bucket of stocks, and that offers you a degree of protection. Remember, if you buy an individual stock and the issuing company has a bad year, you might lose quite a bit of money. But if you're invested in a mutual fund that owns 200 different stocks, and only one has a bad year, you won't feel the impact nearly as much. Buying shares of mutual funds also takes some of the legwork out of researching investments -- though you should still perform your due diligence regardless.


While companies that issue common stock can offer a dividend, they aren’t required to and often don’t. If you want a steady payback on your investment, one of the things you can do is take a look at how often any particular company has paid out a dividend and in what amounts. Another avenue for more regular revenue would be the preferred stock discussed below.
Even huge companies like Apple don’t make announcements every day or even on a regular basis, though. Earnings reports only hit once a quarter. Therefore, a lot of what makes stocks move on a day-to-day basis might have to do with the direction of the market as a whole. If stocks are going up that day, many times companies will benefit from the increased appetite for stocks in general.
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Français: investir en actions boursières, Italiano: Investire in Borsa, Español: invertir en acciones, Português: Investir em Ações, Русский: инвестировать в акции, Deutsch: Geld in Aktien anlegen, 中文: 投资股票, Bahasa Indonesia: Investasi di Saham, Čeština: Jak investovat do akcií, Tiếng Việt: Đầu tư vào Cổ phiếu, 日本語: 株式投資の, العربية: الاستثمار في سوق الأسهم (البورصة), हिन्दी: शेयर बाज़ार (stock market) में निवेश करें, 한국어: 주식 투자하는 방법

Sell for a profit. Flipping isn't just for houses. You can flip products too. If you have a seasoned eye for hot items at estate sales or on Craigslist, go for it. Take your $100 and buy those items. Turn around and sell them for a profit and you have an instant return. This is a great side hustle gig as it doesn't take a lot of time and has very little overhead. You can do this in your free time, while still making your full-time income.
Benjamin - The price of the stock does not matter. If you invest $10,000 into a stock trading at $5 or a stock trading at $100, your gain will still be the same. A 10% rise in either stock will give you $1,000 in unrealized gains (profits you have not realized because you have yet to sell the stock). So, find the best stock, regardless of its per share price. - Charles Rotblut
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Not only can these brokers help you with your investment needs, but they can also provide assistance with estate planning, tax advice, retirement planning, budgeting and any other type of financial advice, hence the term "full-service." They can help you manage all of your financial needs now and long into the future and are for investors who want everything in one package. In terms of fees, full-service brokers are more expensive than discount brokers but the value in having a professional investment advisor by your side can be well worth the additional costs. Accounts can be set up with as little as $1,000. Most people, especially beginners, would fall into this category in terms of the type of broker they require.
If you have the option to do so, gaining full employer matching from a 401(k) or Thrift Savings Plan is the highest priority, because it’s essentially a 100% return on your investment up front, assuming they give you the typical 5% matching if you contribute 5% of your salary. Also, it’s tax-advantaged and automatic; it comes out of your paycheck before you get your hands on it, which is a strategy called “paying yourself first”.
Some advisors (like Certified Financial Planners™) have the ability to give advice in a number of areas such as investments, taxes and retirement planning, while others can only act on a client's instructions but not give advice, It's also important to know that not all people who work at financial institutions are bound to the "fiduciary" duty of putting a client's interests first. Before starting to work with someone, ask about their training and expertise to make sure they are the right fit for you.
Mutual funds come with fees. There may be charges (or "loads") when you buy or sell shares of the fund. The fund's "expense ratio" is expressed as a percentage of total assets and pays for overhead and management expenses. Some funds charge a lower-percentage fee for larger investments. Expense ratios generally range from as low as 0.15% (or 15 basis points, abbreviated "BPS") for index funds to as high as 2% (200 BPS) for actively managed funds. There may also be a "12b-1" fee charged to offset a fund's marketing expenses.
If you're going to invest in stocks, you have a couple of choices. The easier method is to buy a mutual fund or exchange-traded fund that owns all of the stocks in a popular index like the Dow Jones Industrials or S&P 500. By doing so, you're essentially buying the whole universe of stocks within the index you choose, participating in the general growth of the entire market.
Trusts or Other Asset Protection Mechanisms: Another way to hold your investments is through entities or structures such as trust funds. There are some major planning and asset protection benefits of using these special ownership methods, especially if you want to restrict how your capital is used in some way. And if you have a lot of operating assets or real estate investments, you may want to speak to your attorney about setting up a holding company.

The truth of the matter is that the stock market has always been more volatile than the bond market. It's also, however, historically delivered much stronger returns. Between 1928 and 2010, stocks averaged an 11.3% return, while bonds averaged just 5.28%. So let's say you have $10,000 to invest over a 30-year period, and you put it in bonds averaging 5.28%. After three decades, you'll have about $47,000. But if you were to put that same amount of money in stocks instead and score an average 11.3% return, you'd be sitting on $248,000 after 30 years.
Meanwhile, other passive investors may decide mutual funds are optimal. Mutual funds pool money from investors and use that money to buy holdings for its portfolio. As an investor, you own shares in the mutual fund. The fund's portfolio managers take care of all the investment decisions. For that privilege, the fund company charges an annual management fee to fund shareholders.
Plan for retirement. $100 won't get you far in retirement, but if you are still young, that $100 could be much more in 20 years. It's always a good idea to invest in your employer's 401(k), especially if your employer matches contributions. Most employers withdraw the money right from your paycheck each pay period. You set the amount and your employer handles the rest.
Investing in stocks can be very costly if you trade constantly, especially with a minimum amount of money available to invest. Every time that you trade stock, either buying or selling, you will incur a trading fee. Trading fees range from the low end of $10 per trade, but can be as high as $30 for some discount brokers. Remember, a trade is an order to purchase shares in one company - if you want to purchase five different stocks at the same time, this is seen as five separate trades and you will be charged for each one.
Overall commission costs can also be affected by new customer promotions. Brokers may give you a chunk of free trades, based on your deposit amount. If your deposit can get you a substantial number of free trades, that can write off otherwise higher per-commission costs. Ally Invest offers small incentives for deposits as low as $500. Fidelity Investments, meanwhile, has a higher barrier for entry — it takes a $50,000 deposit, but then you'll get 300 free trades.
Basically, the goal of investing is to commit money, and in return that money will grow. However, investing involves risk. Whenever you’re not holding your money in your own bank account, there’s a risk of loss. With some investments, the risk is low; with others it’s high. The higher the risk, the more you’d better potentially earn to take that risk.
This leaves the $1,000-investor with the option of a discount broker. Discount brokers have considerably lower fees, but don't expect much in the way of hand-holding. Fees are low because you are in charge of all investment decisions – you can't call up and ask for investment advice. With $1,000, you are right on the cusp in terms of the minimum deposit. There will be some discount brokers that will take you and others that won't. You'll have to shop around.
THE STOCK MARKET ENDED 2016 with a series of record-high days, and the Dow Jones industrial average has continued to inch toward a milestone level of 20,000. Soaring stock prices may have some people wishing they could get in on the action, but the process of buying, selling and trading stocks can be intimidating. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be that complicated.
Once you've learned the basics, and you've come up with your game plan, the next step is to open a brokerage account and put your plan into action. Be sure to shop around, as different brokerages charge different fees and offer different features. As a new investor, you'll want a brokerage which offers access to investment research and educational features, in order to help with stock selection and to answer any questions you might have along the way.

Actually, scratch that. Here's a better question: What company do you love? Are you a devoted buyer of Chevrolet trucks? If so, then maybe General Motors (NYSE:GM) is the stock for you. Were you first in line when Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Rogue One, or Beauty and the Beast opened at the cineplex? Then maybe you should take a look at Disney (NYSE:DIS) stock. Disney owns the Marvel, the Star Wars, and, of course, the Disney movie franchises.


Typically, you put “pre-tax” money into these accounts, which means you don’t pay income tax on those dollars. Any money invested grows without tax until you ultimately withdraw it for living expenses in retirement. As you withdraw funds, you will pay income tax on the withdrawals. However, most people are in a lower tax bracket in retirement so pay lower rates.
Most of us don’t have the time to research dozens of individual securities. There are a number of different routes you can take for access and help with investing. The premier choice is typically brokerage firms. These services come with fees, which you should research to find the lowest. There are plenty of brokerages you can join forces with including:
THE STOCK MARKET ENDED 2016 with a series of record-high days, and the Dow Jones industrial average has continued to inch toward a milestone level of 20,000. Soaring stock prices may have some people wishing they could get in on the action, but the process of buying, selling and trading stocks can be intimidating. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be that complicated.

Next, assuming you fall under the income limit eligibility requirements, you'll probably want to fund a Roth IRA up to the maximum contribution limits permissible. That is $5,500 for someone who is younger than 50 years old, and $6,500 for someone who is older than 50 years old ($5,500 base contribution + $1,000 catch-up contribution). If you are married, in most cases, you can each fund your own Roth IRA. Just make sure you invest the money you put in there — by default, IRA providers will park your money in a safe, low-return vehicle like a money market fund until you direct them otherwise, so decide on which mutual funds, ETFs, or other investments you want to put your money toward.
Cash accounts -- This is the most basic type of brokerage account. Investors who use a cash account have to pay the full amount for any investments purchased. Thus, if you want to buy $5,000 of stock, you’ll have to have $5,000 in your account (plus any commissions to place the trade). Some brokers automatically sign up customers for a cash account, and “upgrade” the account to another type if a client requests it later.

Now, imagine that you decide to buy the stocks of those five companies with your $1,000. To do this you will incur $50 in trading costs, which is equivalent to 5% of your $1,000. If you were to fully invest the $1,000, your account would be reduced to $950 after trading costs. This represents a 5% loss, before your investments even have a chance to earn a cent!

How can a Roth IRA grow like this? By compound interest. The return on your investment, as well as reinvested interest, dividends and capital gains, are added to your original investment such that any given rate of return will produce a larger profit through accelerated growth. If you are earning an average compound annual rate of return of 7.2%, your money will double in ten years. (This is known as "the rule of 72.")


One of the problems with investing in individual stocks, however, is that it’s incredibly difficult to know which stocks will perform better than others. Unless you’re Warren Buffet or a similar Wall Street wizard (and, in fact, even they get it wrong much of the time), chances are good that you might as well just throw a dart at the financial section of the newspaper and buy whatever the dart lands on.

The easiest option is to buy what's known as an ETF (an exchange-traded fund) like SPY (SPY). It trades like a stock, but it means you own a basket of stocks. In the case of SPY, the basket is made up of 500 of America's largest companies. Sure, a few might struggle, but all 500 probably aren't going to tank at the same time, so it helps lower the risk.
If you wanted a single investment that has you covered from a performance and diversity standpoint you could always go with something like a Vanguard Lifecycle fund and pay as low as 0.15% in fees and that’s it. On a side note, we have a list of our favorite Vanguard funds and investments for beginners that you should probably check out if you know what’s good for you. 
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