One of the best aspects of a retirement account is that you can build up money in the plan without actually investing any money until you’re ready to do so. You can keep it all in a money market account within the plan until you feel comfortable adding stocks and funds to the plan. Blooom is one of the easiest tools to maximize your retirement returns.
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.
Investing in stocks is a good strategy to build your wealth over time and generate income for your retirement. Once you have tried various trading strategies and developed your own personal investment strategy, you will learn how to make money in stocks. The downfall of many investors is trading with their emotions or being fearful of volatility, but conducting research and making disciplined decisions will go a long way.
Investing when you’re young is one of the best ways to see solid returns on your money. You probably can’t count on Social Security to provide enough income for a comfortable retirement, so having your own long-term savings will be crucial. Even for shorter-term financial goals (like buying a home), investments that earn higher returns than a traditional savings account could be useful.
Buy companies that have little or no competition. Airlines, retailers and auto manufacturers are generally considered bad long-term investments, because they are in fiercely competitive industries. This is reflected by low profit margins in their income statements. In general, stay away from seasonal or trendy industries like retail and regulated industries like utilities and airlines, unless they have shown consistent earnings and revenue growth over a long period of time. Few have.
One important principle to enact no matter your financial goals is diversification. When you diversify, you invest in multiple sectors of the market to protect yourself from sharp declines. This could constitute buying both domestic and foreign securities and combining risky and safe investments in percentages that best align with your risk tolerance.
Intimidating as it may seem, investing is one of the premier ways to grow money over time. While the stock market attracts the most attention for those looking to build wealth, there are plenty of other investments to pick from, such as bonds, mutual funds and certificates of deposit (CDs). As a beginner, though, it can be hard to know where and how to get into investing. In the end, a determination of your long-term financial goals, like retirement, will dictate what types of investing strategies are best for you. It can also be helpful to enlist the help of a financial advisor to help you make smart investing decisions based on your specific needs.
Shouldn’t I just choose the cheapest broker? Trading costs definitely matter to active and high-volume traders. If you’re a high-volume trader — buying bundles of 100 to 500 shares at a time, for example — Interactive Brokers and TradeStation are cost-effective options. Ally Invest offers $3.95 trades ($1 off full price) for investors who place more than 30 trades a quarter.  Commissions are less of a factor for buy-and-hold investors, a strategy we recommend for the majority of people. Most brokers charge from $5 to $7 per trade. But other factors — access to a range of investments or training tools — may be more valuable than saving a few bucks when you purchase shares.
There are many fees an investor will incur when investing in mutual funds. One of the most important fees to focus on is the management expense ratio (MER), which is charged by the management team each year, based on the amount of assets in the fund. The MER ranges from 0.05 percent to 0.7 percent annually and varies depending on the type of fund. But the higher the MER, the worse it is for the fund's investors. Happy Independence Day

Remember that bear markets are for buying. If the stock market drops by at least 20%, move more cash into stocks. Should the market drop by 50%, move all available discretionary cash and bonds into stocks. That may sound scary, but the market has always bounced back, even from the crash that occurred between 1929 and 1932. The most successful investors have bought stocks when they were "on sale."
Whether you save for retirement with a 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored plan, in a traditional or Roth IRA, or as an individual investor with a brokerage account, you choose what to invest in. It’s important to understand each instrument and how much risk it carries. Also, remember that you don’t need to have saved thousands to begin investing — even $500 can get you started.

One of the most dangerous moves an investor can make is to put all of his money into one investment, especially if there is considerable risk involved. Sinking every dollar into your favorite tech company, for example, is risky even if you’re sure that stock will continue to dominate for many years. Part of mastering “Investing 101” is understanding that unexpected occurrences can wipe out years of earnings in a matter of days.

If you want to turn a modest salary into a comfortable retirement income, you’ll likely have to invest in some way. Many employees get investing opportunities through their employers via a 401(k). If this is you, it’s important to take advantage of the educational resources your company offers. Aside from this, do your homework before investing your hard-earned money, and avoid plans that charge high fees. Check out our 401(k) calculator to see how your contributions can help you be ready for retirement.


Brokers are either full-service or "discount." Full-service brokers, as the name implies, give the full range of traditional brokerage services, including financial advice for retirement, healthcare and everything related to money. They usually only deal with higher net-worth clients, and they can charge substantial fees, including a percent of your transactions, a percent of your assets they manage and a yearly membership fee. It's common to see minimum account sizes of $25,000 and up at full-service brokerages.
Growth investors look for companies whose sales and earnings are expected to increase at a faster rate than that of the market average or the average of their peers. The key difference between the growth and value philosophies is that the former places much more emphasis on a company’s revenue, unit sales, and market share, and somewhat less on earnings. Thus, growth investors tend to buy stocks that are already in favor and to pay prices that are relatively high in terms of P/E ratio. In the bull market of the late 1990s, growth investors tended to do very well, and growth returned to favor after the Great Recession.
This next tip is a crucial one if you’re studying how to invest 101. What does it mean to be diversified? It means to not have all your eggs in one basket but also to make sure you are in the right baskets. Sure, you’ll want to pinpoint good stocks to invest in – but don’t focus solely on one industry, or even one person’s advice. The more information you can get from many trusted sources, the better off you’ll be.
Something that might be confusing for new investors is that real estate can also be traded like a stock. Usually, this happens through a corporation that qualifies as a real estate investment trust, or REIT. For example, you can invest in hotel REITs and collect your share of the revenue from guests checking into the hotels and resorts that make up the company's portfolio. There are many different kinds of REITs; apartment complex REITs, office building REITs, storage unit REITs, REITs that specialize in senior housing, and even parking garage REITs.
Online discount brokers -- This label is generally given to the companies you see on the list here. While discount brokers are increasingly offering “extras” like research on stocks and funds, they primarily exist to help you place orders to buy investments at a very low cost. Many investors don’t need the handholding of a full-service broker, and would prefer to pay a low commission on every trade to save money and ensure more of their money goes toward their investment portfolio, not paying for frills.

Don't look at the value of your portfolio more than once a month. If you get caught up in the emotions of Wall Street, it will only tempt you to sell what could be an excellent long-term investment. Before you buy a stock, ask yourself, "if this goes down, am I going to want to sell or am I going to want to buy more of it?" Don't buy it if your answer is the former.
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.

NerdWallet's ratings for brokers and robo-advisors are weighted averages of several categories, including investment selection, customer support, account fees, account minimum, trading costs and more. Our survey of brokers and robo-advisors includes the largest U.S. providers by assets under management, plus notable and/or emerging players in the industry. Factors we consider, depending on the category, include advisory fees, branch access, user-facing technology, customer service and mobile features. The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.


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.

Invest in companies that you understand. Perhaps you have some basic knowledge regarding some business or industry. Why not put that to use? Invest in companies or industries that you know, because you're more likely to understand revenue models and prospects for future success. Of course, never put all your eggs in one basket: investing in only one -- or a very few -- companies can be quite risky. However, wringing value out of a single industry (whose workings you understand) will increase your chances of being successful.
Make a list of things you want. To set your goals, you’ll need to have an idea of what things or experiences you want to have in your life that require money. For example, what lifestyle do you want to have once you retire? Do you enjoy traveling, nice cars, or fine dining? Do you have only modest needs? Use this list to help you set your goals in the next step. [1]
When you're first starting out, it helps to focus on businesses whose models and products you use or understand. If you're a tech fan, investing in a company that sells gadgets could be a good bet for you. But more than that, you'll want to find companies with a solid competitive advantage. This can come in a number of forms, whether it's an innovative product unlike any other or a fantastically streamlined manufacturing process.
The performance data contained herein represents past performance which does not guarantee future results. Investment return and principal value will fluctuate so that shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Current performance may be lower or higher than the performance quoted. For performance information current to the most recent month end, please contact us.

These extra fees are another big cost to investors, but they aren’t deducted from your account balance. Instead, these fees show up in the price on the ticker tape. That’s why many high-priced mutual funds’ and ETFs’ value per share doesn’t seem to change over time — any growth is offset by fees. Also watch out for mutual funds that charge a front- or back-end load for each purchase or sale. These usually range from 0.5% to 1% and can add up quickly.
Some retirement plans and accounts also have asset protection benefits. For instance, some have unlimited bankruptcy protection, meaning that if you suffer a medical disaster or some other event that wipes out your personal balance sheet and forces you to declare bankruptcy, your retirement savings will be out of the reach of creditors. Others have limitations on the asset protection afforded to them, but still reach into the seven-figures.
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.
Ask yourself some basic questions: What will the market be for this stock in the future? Will it look bleaker or better? What competitors does this company have, and what are their prospects? How will this company be able to earn money in the future?[7] These should help you come to a better understanding of whether a company's stock is under- or over-valued.
When Should You Invest in Stocks? – Obviously, the stock market rises and falls. However, as noted above, it will almost certainly provide you with higher returns over time than other investments. Consequently, you should normally be invested in stocks. Trying to time when the best moment is to enter or exit the market is nearly impossible, even for professional investors. Therefore, the best time to invest in stocks is generally today.
© 2018 Morningstar. All Rights Reserved. The information contained herein: (1) is proprietary to Morningstar and/or its content providers; (2) may not be copied or distributed; and (3) is not warranted to be accurate, complete or timely. Neither Morningstar nor its content providers are responsible for any damages or losses arising from any use of this information. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.
You can think of investing in bonds as lending money to the government or a corporation, and in exchange, they pay you interest. Treasury bonds are very “safe” in that they are backed-up by the U.S. government. They also pay very little to hold them. Corporate bonds pay more interest, but they are more risky because just like stocks, the company could go bankrupt.

Discretionary accounts -- This account allows another person to buy or sell stock on your behalf without telling you. These are commonly used by people who hire a registered investment advisor (RIA) to manage their portfolio for them. Self-directed investors have no need for a discretionary account. It’s only useful if you hire someone else to manage your portfolio for you.


This book has good intentions with plenty of information for beginners, however don't feel bad if you get a little lost when some of the terminology and assumption that all of it has been explained thoroughly. A glossary in the back is extremely helpful when dealing with new terms that I had no idea of what to do with like price/earning ratio, ETF, hedging fund expenses, etc. The plus side is the extensive step by step explanations of how to do pretty much anything like choosing a broker, selecting funds vs. stocks and more.

The best brokerages for beginners have associated account minimums ranging from $0 to $2,500. Many of these companies offer Roth IRAs with no minimum balance. Through your Roth IRA, you can invest a few hundred dollars in mutual funds or commission-free ETFs, or exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which reflect stock market indexes but often cost less than an index fund, without needing to save up thousands of dollars first.

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”.
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.

Congratulations! By making it to this article you've taken an important first step in your investing journey -- picking a broker. There are many stock brokers to choose from, and each offers something a little bit different. See our article below for more info on what you should be looking for, along with a list of our top online stock broker picks for beginners.
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.

Other industries perform well in poor or falling economies. These industries and companies are usually not as affected by the economy. For example, utilities and insurance companies are usually less affected by consumer confidence, because people still have to pay for electricity and health insurance. These industries and companies are known as “defensive” or “counter-cyclical.” [21]


The 10/10 rule expects a 10% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) dividend growth to pass the test. To achieve consistent dividend growth with a 10% CAGR growth, a company must be able to grow the earnings, otherwise, the payout ratio will get out of hands. If the dividend payout ratio becomes an issue, investors will start assuming the dividend is at risk. Investors will sell, the price will go down, the dividend yield will go up and either the dividend is reduced or there is earnings growth.
Crowdfunded real estate allows you to join other investors to pool your money to invest in a property – very similar to peer to peer lending. The great thing about this is that there are low minimums – depending on the platform you use, you can invest as little as $1,000 and be an owner in a property. Also, you don’t have to be an accredited investor to get started – anyone can do it.
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.
Investing in stocks for beginners is all about finding stable stocks that have a high chance of gaining value and low chance of dropping. To do this, you should look for businesses with a strong track record. Companies that show their stocks have increased in value over time, and are continuing to do so. This shows you there’s some stability there, and that you won’t be investing in stocks from a business that’s been up and down for years.

In addition to attractive pricing, Ally offers a quality platform that gives you access to the entire universe of stocks and ETFs. Where some discount brokers focus on only one kind of trader (for example, options traders or high-net-worth investors), Ally Invest provides an excellent experience for investors of all kinds. A focus on discounted costs can sometimes be a red flag for quality, but Ally Invest truly delivers with sophisticated calculators, profit-loss estimators, and more. Ally Invest also offers a robust research library that incorporates visual slides and interactive media into its market data.
A dividend stock, in simple words, is a stock that pays a dividend on a regular schedule. The schedule can be annual, semi-annual, quarterly or monthly. A dividend represents cash returned to investors which technically reduces the value of the company by the amount of dividend paid. In practice, with the stock price trading up and down during the day, it rarely settles that way.

Notice: Information contained herein is not and should not be construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell securities. The information has been obtained from sources we believe to be reliable; however no guarantee is made or implied with respect to its accuracy, timeliness, or completeness. Authors may own the stocks they discuss. The information and content are subject to change without notice.
You can turn to financial advisors and use online calculators to help you break down your goals. If you need more capital to invest to increase your potential annual earnings, set shorter-term savings goals — like saving a certain amount of money to open a high-yield certificate of deposit or money market account. Your plan will likely involve using several financial tools and account types to achieve your goal.
Up until recently, you could use companies that allowed you to buy a single share of stock to get your name on a corporate shareholder list, then enroll in closed direct stock purchase plans or dividend reinvestment plans that forbid outsiders who didn't already own the stock. Unfortunately, in the financial industry's decision to move away from paper stock certificates, this has become all but untenable.
How much liquidity (i.e. resources that can easily be converted to cash) do you need for your shorter-term goals and to maintain a proper cash reserve? Don't invest in stocks until you have at least six to twelve months of living expenses in a savings account as an emergency fund in case you lose your job. If you have to liquidate stocks after holding them less than a year, you're merely speculating, not investing. The World's Worst Stock Investment Advice
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