There’s good news: You largely can, thanks to robo-advisors. These services manage your investments for you using computer algorithms. Due to low overhead, they charge low fees relative to human investment managers — a robo-advisor typically costs 0.25% to 0.50% of your account balance per year, and many allow you to open an account with no minimum.
Robo-advisors like Wealthsimple, Wealthfront, and Betterment use algorithms to determine your investment strategy. You just plug in your time frame and risk tolerance and their computers do the rest. And because they’re targeted for a younger crowd, fees are rock bottom. Wealthsimple and Betterment both have no account minimum, while Wealthfront requires $500. Wealthsimple charges an annual 0.5% advising fee; Wealthfront and Betterment charge just 0.25%.
One type of broker isn’t necessarily better for everyone. In fact, many people use both types of services over their lifetime. A saver who is just starting out might have more reason to use a discount broker, so as to save money while accumulating assets for retirement. Given a full-service broker might charge you as much as $500 in fees to invest $10,000 in a fund, whereas a discount broker might charge as little as $5, the cost difference alone is reason enough for new investors to use a discount brokerage firm.
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.
This is where the fun begins, but you need to think things through carefully before you take the plunge. Firstly, you have to take a look at your personal finances and see if this is the right decision for you. Do you have savings set aside that you want to start earning money from? Are you in a comfortable financial position that doesn’t rely on the success of your stock marketing investments? If you want to invest in stocks purely as a source of primary income, then you’re going about things in the wrong way. This isn’t the article for you, this is about investing in stocks for beginners that are already financially stable and don’t depend on their investments.
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.
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.
When it comes to research, Fidelity is in a league of its own. The intellectually curious can dive into research from more than 20 providers, including Recognia, Ned Davis, and McLean Capital Management. Fidelity’s Learning Center featured videos are organized by topic, but don’t stop after explaining the concept. They cover how to apply principles to your own Fidelity investments.
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.
The other way to make money on stocks is to hold your shares and collect dividends. A dividend is a portion of a company's earnings that's distributed to shareholders. Dividends are typically paid quarterly, though companies don't have to pay them. That said, if you buy stocks issued by a company with a long history of paying dividends, you can come to expect a pretty reliable income stream. For example, today, Verizon's (NYSE:VZ) dividend yields 5%, which means that for every $100 you have invested in shares, you'd get back $5.
A more reliable investment income strategy is to never sell your principle, and instead live off dividend and interest income. A diversified collection of dividend-paying blue chip stocks that have historically grown their dividends even through recessions, combined with some other assets for diversification, can produce more reliable investment income and makes it so you don’t have to touch your principle.
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.
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I feel that this article should include that you can’t place limit orders or stop orders on M1 Finance. This is a huge downside to a trading platform. Partial shares is nice, but unless all you are doing is buying to hold long term, you really need to be able to place stop and limit orders. I think all of these other platforms offer this, so I would consider them all better options, especially Vanguard since they have a couple thousand ETF’s on offer commission free.
Understand that for both beginning investors and seasoned stock market pros, it's impossible to always buy and sell the best stocks at exactly the right time. But also understand that you don't have to be right every time to make money. You just need to learn some basic rules for how to identify the best stocks to watch, the ideal time to buy them, and when to sell stocks to lock in your profits or quickly cut any losses.
You can also invest in actively managed mutual funds. These funds pool money from many investors and put it primarily into stocks and bonds. Individual investors buy shares of the portfolio.  Fund managers usually create portfolios with particular goals in mind, such as long-term growth. However, because these funds are actively managed (meaning managers are constantly buying and selling stocks to achieve the fund’s goal), their fees can be higher. Mutual fund expense ratios can end up hurting your rate of return and impeding your financial progress. 
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.
That's entirely up to you, but it's good to start small. Don't invest more than you can afford to lose. Each brokerage has its own requirements for opening a trading account. TD Ameritrade, for instance, has no minimum deposit requirement at all, so you could get started with just the price of one share of stock. Most discount brokers let you start with very little money. Search "discount brokers" online.
By creating a budget, you can determine how much money you have to invest. You can assign portions of your income to various savings goals, ranging from shorter-term ones, like buying a house, to longer-term ones, like retirement. Before you allocate money to your investment goals, however, many financial experts recommend putting aside money for an emergency fund.
Not that it's a terribly complicated process. Basically, setting up an online brokerage account consists of Googling the name of any of the brokerages I mentioned, visiting the website, and clicking a prominently displayed button labeled "open an account." A series of pages will then open for you, requesting your name and contact information, your Social Security number, your annual income, and your net worth. They'll also ask precisely what kind of account you want to open -- individual or joint? Brokerage or retirement? With fries or without?
The important thing is that you start as soon as possible, and make it a habit. When I started investing, I had $100 transferred into my brokerage account from every paycheck, automatically. This may not sound like much, but it sure can add up over time. You may be surprised at the long-term impact you can make by investing a seemingly small amount of money while you're young.
The decision between a high-risk, high-return investment strategy and a low-risk, low-return strategy should depend, in part, on your investing time frame. Conventional wisdom states that the farther you are from retirement, the more risk you can afford to take. That means a stock-heavy portfolio in your 20s, when you can afford to chase returns. Then, even if your portfolio takes a hit during a recession when you’re in your 30s, you’ll have time to make up your losses before you retire. By the same logic, the closer you are to retirement, the more you likely want to focus on preserving your gains and avoiding too much risk. The World's Worst Stock Investment Advice