With that in mind, there are certain types of stocks that make excellent long-term investments, especially for beginners. There are many things to look for in your first stock investments, but just to name a few: You'll want to learn basic ways to value stocks, identify durable competitive advantages, and understand how a business makes money. Of course, our writers at The Motley Fool regularly suggest some good beginner stocks, like these examples.

The solution to both is investing in stock index funds and ETFs. While mutual funds might require a $1,000 minimum or more, index fund minimums tend to be lower (and ETFs are purchased for a share price that could be lower still). Two brokers, Fidelity and Charles Schwab, offer index funds with no minimum at all. Index funds also cure the diversification issue because they hold many different stocks within a single fund.


We recently explained in detail how to set up a brokerage account, but to recap: A brokerage account is a bit like a savings account — you can move money in and out freely — except you use the money to buy stocks or other investments, and those investments aren’t FDIC insured. Some of the most popular online stock brokers — which allow you to trade stocks at a discount compared to traditional brokerage houses — include Scottrade, E*TRADE, and Charles Schwab.
Which broker offers the best education in a mobile app? For beginners looking to learn through their mobile app, I'd recommend Fidelity or TD Ameritrade. Fidelity has done an excellent job integrating mini-courses into its app, which include quizzes too. Meanwhile, TD Ameritrade does a great job making its video library available with simple filtering by topic. Compare TD Ameritrade vs Fidelity.

Another key thing to look at is a company's earnings per share, which represents the portion of a company's profit allocated to each share of its common stock. Earnings can cause stock prices to rise, and when they do, investors make money. If a company has high earnings per share, it means it has more money available to either grow the business or distribute as dividends. That said, earnings should always be evaluated in the context of the industry you're dealing with. If you're looking at a company whose earnings per share is $2, but a competing company has earnings per share of $6, that's a potential red flag. That said, this is only one piece of the total puzzle.  
As you near retirement, a full-service brokerage firm may make more sense because they can handle the complex “stuff” like managing your wealth in a tax-efficient way, or setting up a trust to pass wealth on to the next generation, and so on. At this point, it may be advantageous to pay…say, 0.50% of your assets in fees each year for advice and access to a certified public accountant who can help you with the nitty-gritty details that are more important as you start making withdrawals (rather than contributions) from your retirement accounts. That said, even discount brokers are getting into the advisory and wealth management business, so they shouldn’t be ruled out as a true start-to-finish solution for retirement.
The goal of your financial adviser/broker is to keep you as a client so that they can continue to make money off of you. They tell you to diversify so that your portfolio follows the Dow and the S&P 500. That way, they will always have an excuse when it goes down in value. The average broker/adviser has very little knowledge of the underlying economics of business. Warren Buffett is famous for saying, "Risk is for people who don't know what they're doing."
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.
Once you identify a company that seems undervalued, the next step is to estimate its true value. One way is to calculate the present value of future cash flows. Most individual investors rely on professionals to make both the necessary estimates and the calculations. Keep in mind that all the players in the market have access to those same estimates, so they are often—but not always—baked into the price of the stock.
With this information in hand, you're ready to place your trade. Enter the stock symbol for the company you want to buy (or sell). Pick an action (buy or sell). Enter the number of shares you want to buy or sell, and confirm whether you're willing to pay whatever the current price is for that stock (that's a market order), or whether you're willing to wait and hope the stock reaches a specified price (a limit order).
The third priority for most people is to max out a 401(k) or TSP. Not taking advantage of this tax advantage means leaving money on the table. There could be some exceptions, like if you are planning to retire super-early, or if your employer’s 401(k) plan is really bad, or if you’re strongly interested in real estate investing and want to elevate that on the list of priorities.
Market order -- This is an order that will be placed immediately at the prevailing market price. Thus, if you enter an order to buy 10 shares of Amazon, your trade will be filled by matching it with someone who wants to sell shares of Amazon, though not at a known price per share. I like to call this the “get me in!” order type, since it will be filled quickly, although you could end up paying a slight premium for every share to do it.
If you already have a firm handle on your investment strategy and want to maximize your profits, OptionsHouse is excellent. What it lacks in some of the investor education features that competitors like TD Ameritrade can claim, it makes up with its low-cost, streamlined trading platform. Like Ally Invest, it’s been a longtime leader in rock-bottom pricing, with a $4.95 trade commission, and, unlike many brokerages catering to active investors, no account minimums or inactivity fees. Fees for a single-leg options contract are $5.45 all-in. Plus, if you have $5,000 to invest, you’ll receive $1,000 worth of commission-free trades.

Another key thing to look at is a company's earnings per share, which represents the portion of a company's profit allocated to each share of its common stock. Earnings can cause stock prices to rise, and when they do, investors make money. If a company has high earnings per share, it means it has more money available to either grow the business or distribute as dividends. That said, earnings should always be evaluated in the context of the industry you're dealing with. If you're looking at a company whose earnings per share is $2, but a competing company has earnings per share of $6, that's a potential red flag. That said, this is only one piece of the total puzzle.  

Select your investments. Your "risk and return" objectives will eliminate some of the vast number of options. As an investor, you can choose to purchase stock from individual companies, such as Apple or McDonalds. This is the most basic type of investing. A bottom-up approach occurs when you buy and sell each stock independently based on your projections of their future prices and dividends. Investing directly in stocks avoids fees charged by mutual funds but requires more effort to ensure adequate diversification.

We recently explained in detail how to set up a brokerage account, but to recap: A brokerage account is a bit like a savings account — you can move money in and out freely — except you use the money to buy stocks or other investments, and those investments aren’t FDIC insured. Some of the most popular online stock brokers — which allow you to trade stocks at a discount compared to traditional brokerage houses — include Scottrade, E*TRADE, and Charles Schwab.
Roth IRA. "My first and strongly encouraged piece of advice to the new investor would be to open a Roth IRA," McKaig says. "Roth IRAs offer new investors several benefits, chief among them the ability to receive tax-free income later in life," he adds. "The government does not tax either the contributions or the earnings growth when the funds are withdrawn in retirement. That can result in a pretty significant nest egg after decades of compounding growth."

Don’t be surprised if the price you pay — or receive, if you’re selling — is not the exact price you were quoted just seconds before. Bid and ask prices fluctuate constantly throughout the day. That’s why a market order is best used when buying stocks that don’t experience wide price swings — large, steady blue-chip stocks as opposed to smaller, more volatile companies.


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.
Give yourself a few thousand in fake money and play investor for a bit while you get the hang of it. “Just start. Even with just a virtual portfolio. Start and then commit to building over time,” says Jane Barratt, CEO of investment education and advisory company GoldBean. “Don’t expect anything major to happen in a short time — build your money muscles by taking risks in a virtual portfolio.” TD Ameritrade offers paperMoney, its virtual trading platform. If you open an account, OptionsHouse offers its paperTRADE account to test your strategies. Outside of actual trading sites, MarketWatch and Investopedia offer simulators to get you started.
Market order -- This is an order that will be placed immediately at the prevailing market price. Thus, if you enter an order to buy 10 shares of Amazon, your trade will be filled by matching it with someone who wants to sell shares of Amazon, though not at a known price per share. I like to call this the “get me in!” order type, since it will be filled quickly, although you could end up paying a slight premium for every share to do it.
How can I build a diversified portfolio for little money? One easy way is to invest in exchange-traded funds. ETFs are essentially bite-sized mutual funds that are bought and sold just like individual stocks on a stock market exchange. Like mutual funds, each ETF contains a basket of stocks (sometimes hundreds) that adhere to particular criteria (e.g., shares of companies that are part of a stock market index like the S&P 500). Unlike mutual funds, which can have high investment minimums, investors can purchase as little as one share of an ETF at a time.

You'll also want to look at a stock's P/E ratio, or price to earnings ratio, which is its market capitalization (the total value of its outstanding shares) divided by its earnings over the past year. Generally speaking, a high P/E ratio tells you that investors are placing a higher value on the company, which often means that company's stock will be more expensive than a company with a lower P/E ratio. But this doesn't always hold true. 


The business cycle of an economy, along with a broad macroeconomic view. Inflation is an overall rise in prices over a period of time. Moderate or “controlled” inflation is usually considered good for the economy and the stock market. Low interest rates combined with moderate inflation usually have a positive effect on the market. High interest rates and deflation usually cause the stock market to fall.
To make mutual fund investing even more hassle-free, stay with index funds. For example, index funds that track the Standard & Poor’s 500 index are invested in the broad market, so your investment performance will track that index precisely. While you’ll never outperform the market in an index fund, you’ll never under-perform it either. As a new investor, this is as it should be.
Invest for the long run. [9] Choosing good-quality investments can take time and effort. Not everyone can do the research and keep up with the dynamics of all the companies being considered. Many people instead employ a "buy and hold" approach of weathering the storms rather than attempting to predict and avoid market downturns. This approach works for most in the long term but requires patience and discipline. There are some, however, who choose to try their hand at being a day-trader, which involves holding stocks for a very short time (hours, even minutes). Doing so, however, does not often lead to success over the long term for the following reasons:

Discount brokers used to be the exception, but now they're the norm. According to a report by Charles Schwab, 58 percent of Americans say they will use some sort of roboadvice by 2025. As the space of financial services has progressed in the 21st century, online brokers have added more features including educational materials on their sites and mobile apps. Still, traditional brokers earn their high fees by giving advice detailed to your needs.
Why are voting rights important? Often, the matters you'll get to vote on will impact the value of your shares, either directly or indirectly. For example, if you're invested in a company proposing a stock split, the value of each share you own will be reduced as a result of that move (though you'll get double the number of shares) -- that's something you'll want a voice in. Similarly, you'll get to vote on things such as mergers and acquisitions and major structural changes within a company -- things that can impact cash flow and earnings, and therefore cause the value of your stocks to fluctuate. 
With this information in hand, you're ready to place your trade. Enter the stock symbol for the company you want to buy (or sell). Pick an action (buy or sell). Enter the number of shares you want to buy or sell, and confirm whether you're willing to pay whatever the current price is for that stock (that's a market order), or whether you're willing to wait and hope the stock reaches a specified price (a limit order).

When started from scratch, they can be a high-risk, high-reward proposition for the entrepreneur. You come up with an idea, you establish a business, you run that business so your expenses are less than your revenues, and you grow it over time, making sure you are not only being well-compensated for your time but that your capital, too, is being fairly treated by enjoying a good return in excess of what you could earn from a passive investment. Though entrepreneurship is not easy, owning a good business can put food on your table, send your children to college, pay for your medical expenses, and allow you to retire in comfort.

Certificates of deposit. These are among the safest investments because they are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Because the United States is insuring your money, it's impossible to lose money in a CD. If you put $1,000 into a CD, the only risk you're taking is that if you need the money, you won't be able to access it without paying a penalty until the time period is up. For instance, if you invest money in a 1-year CD, you can't get that $1,000 for another year without paying a penalty that typically includes about six months' worth of interest.
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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 percent 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 percent loss before your investments even have a chance to earn a cent!
Budgeting is an important step because you’ll want to know how liquid you are before you lock money into an investment. For example, if you need assets to pay for your student loans, you must plan ahead to make sure those funds are available in time. If you’re already 50 and don’t have any retirement savings, however, you won’t want to contribute as much to your child’s college fund as your retirement account.
Remember to factor time into your goals. This is especially true for long-term projects such as retirement funds. For example: John begins saving at age 20 using an IRA (Individual Retirement Account) earning an 8% return. He saves $3,000 a year for the next ten years, then stops adding to the account but keeps the IRA invested in the market. By the time John is 65, he will have $642,000 built up. [7]
The best investors are in it for the long haul. Checking your account too often might make you react to the fluctuations in the market too quickly. Personal finance expert Ramit Sethi has written that you should check your investments, “probably every few months, with a major review every year.” On many sites, you can also set an alert if a stock dives. Other than that, just set a quarterly recurring appointment so you know you’ll handle it at the right time.
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.

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.
How do I determine if a broker is right for me before I open an account? Some key criteria to consider are how much money you have, what type of assets you intend to buy, your trading style and technical needs, how frequently you plan to transact and how much service you need. Our post about how to choose the best broker for you can help to arrange and rank your priorities.

Additionally, you should make sure to keep your expenses low, because  expenses can cut into your profits significantly. Watch for high fees from your broker and other internal expenses, and keep on top of current market trends through a trusted news source like InvestorPlace. Investment for beginners can be profitable and exciting. Trust InvestorPlace to provide you with the latest news in a variety of markets!


Common stock also typically (but not always) comes with voting rights. Investors can have a say in the management of the company that’s proportional to the number of shares that they have. If enough shareholders don’t like the way things are going, they can have the leadership of the company forced out. It’s one of the risks companies take when they go public. We’ll talk about how some companies choose to get around this while still selling common stock in a minute.
I oftentimes see my friends blow money mindlessly and then when it comes time for them to do something to benefit themselves, they claim to not have money.  I know people that will go out and spend hundreds of dollars at restaurants, at bars, on sporting tickets, video games, and other unnecessary items but claim that they are not able to save money each paycheck. 
ETFs, on the other hand, trade like stocks, making them easy to add to your investment portfolio. There are no minimums for these securities, though their strategies vary equally. Many ETFs follow well known indexes from the S&P 500 or the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Others track collections of stocks that concentrate on industries like healthcare, technology or materials.
Fidelity’s platform wins for user-friendly design, with tools to help take the guesswork out of finding funds and nosing out strategies. Fidelity’s platform lets you explore your options with a slick and intuitive design, complete with color-coded rankings and charts that call out what’s important. You can sort stocks by size, performance, and even criteria like sales growth or profit growth. Want to sort ETFs by the sectors they focus on, or their expenses? Done. There’s even a box to check if you want to only explore Fidelity’s commission-free offerings. A few other discount brokers do offer screeners, but none match Fidelity’s depth and usability.

If you still have high-interest debt, such as credit cards or personal loans, you should hold off on investing. Your money works harder for you by eliminating that pesky interest expense than it does in the market. This is because paying off $1 of debt balance saves you 12%, 14%, or more in future interest expense. More than traditional investments can be expected to return.


Commissions for equity and options trades are $6.95 with a $0.75 fee per options contract. To qualify for $4.95 commissions for equity and options trades and a $0.50 fee per options contract, you must execute at least 30 equity or options trades per quarter. To continue receiving $4.95 equity and options trades and a $0.50 fee per options contract, you must execute at least 30 equity or options trades by the end of the following quarter. Regulatory and exchange fees may apply.
The capital gains tax rate favors long-term investments. An investor who buys and sells their stocks within a few months will face a higher capital gains tax rate (25 percent) on their profits than an investor who buys and holds their stocks for a full year (15 percent). The larger your investment, the bigger the difference. Granted, there’s a risk to holding an investment for longer, but if you’re close to that one-year cutoff, it might be worth it to sit tight for a few more weeks. INVESTING IN STOCKS FOR BEGINNERS - THE INTELLIGENT INVESTOR BY BENJAMIN GRAHAM ANIMATED BOOK REVIEW
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