1. Restrictions apply: The standard online $4.95 commission does not apply to foreign stock transactions, large block transactions requiring special handling, or restricted stock transactions (except for vested equity awards issued from an employer or corporate stock plan trades). See the Charles Schwab Pricing Guide for Individual Investors for full fee and commission schedules.
Most online brokerage firms charge between $7 and $10 per trade. Though this does not sound like much, commissions can have a big impact on small accounts. For example, say you have $1,000 to invest in a single stock. Your buy and sell orders will each cost you $10, resulting in a transaction cost of $20. This equates to a 2% reduction in your actual returns. Once you start factoring in the costs, your profit may very well not justify the risk of trying to pick an individual stock, if you are investing a small amount in a taxable account.
Know a bit about investing in property. Investing in real estate can be a risky but lucrative proposition. There are lots of ways you can invest in property. You can buy a house and become a landlord. You pocket the difference between what you pay on the mortgage and what the tenant pays you in rent. You can also flip homes. That means you buy a home in need of renovations, fix it up, and sell it as quickly as possible. Real estate can be a profitable vehicle for some, but it is not without substantial risk involving property maintenance and market value.
In terms of diversification, the greatest amount of difficulty in doing this will come from investments in stocks. This was illustrated in the commissions section of the article, where we discussed how the costs of investing in a large number of stocks could be detrimental to the portfolio. With a $1,000 deposit, it is nearly impossible to have a well-diversified portfolio, so be aware that you may need to invest in one or two companies (at the most) to begin with. This will increase your risk.
Worth noting: A 401(k) is a type of investment account, and if you’re participating in one, you may already be invested in stocks, likely through mutual funds. However, a 401(k) won’t offer you access to individual stocks, and your choice in mutual funds will likely be quite limited. Employer matching dollars make it worth contributing despite a limited investment selection, but once you’re contributing enough to earn that match, you can consider investing through other accounts.
Andrew: 01:35 We should slap this person on the wrist. I’m cautiously putting it in a mere $600 into a variety of stocks. I was wondering if you could cover how a company’s stock gets affected if they get acquired by a larger company. Is it a good time to buy when that happens? Is it the worst time to buy? So something that you know we can cover and then we’ll try to keep it short because these things can be very, very complicated. But it’s important to know just as a generality what goes on in an acquisition if you’re the company being acquired and also what happens in spinoffs so you can kind of lump them all together because they are these special situations that you’ll see with stocks for a company being acquired. Let’s say you’re a shareholder. And you know, I believe when I did the back to the basics series episodes ago, right?
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.
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.
Because index funds take a passive approach to investing by tracking a market index rather than using professional portfolio management, they tend to carry lower expense ratios — a fee charged based on the amount you have invested — than mutual funds. But like mutual funds, investors in index funds are buying a chunk of the market in one transaction.
Buying stock is like purchasing a little slice of a company. Say you buy stock in consumer goods company P&G (manufacturer of Tide, Crest, Dawn, Tampax and many other household names); that stock costs $90.98 per share at the time of this writing. If you buy that share, you are betting that P&G will continue to grow and make money. P&G uses your $90.98 to invest in its business; open new locations, fund new products, hire new staff, etc.
In terms of diversification, the greatest amount of difficulty in doing this will come from investments in stocks. This was illustrated in the commissions section of the article, where we discussed how the costs of investing in a large number of stocks can be detrimental to the portfolio. With a $1,000 deposit, it is nearly impossible to have a well-diversified portfolio, so be aware that you may need to invest in one or two companies (at the most) to begin with. This will increase your risk.
To the inexperienced investor, investing may seem simple enough - all you need to do is go to a brokerage firm and open up an account, right? What you may not know, however, is that all financial institutions have minimum deposit requirements. In other words, they won't accept your account application unless you deposit a certain amount of money. With a sum as small as $1,000, some firms won't allow you to open an account.