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

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.
Outside the box, the vertical line represents the high and low points of the day for the stock. If there’s quite a bit of space below the box, you can tell there was a lot of selling pressure on the stock for much of the day before it went up to settle where it did. On the flip side, if there’s a lot of line above the box, buyers were pushing the stock hard at points during the day.
With the right approach, stocks are an appropriate investment for people of almost all ages. Generally speaking, the younger you are, the more of your money you should put into stocks, since you have time to ride out the market's ups and downs. As you get older, it's usually a good idea to shift some investments out of stocks and into safer vehicles, like bonds. But even if you're retired or close to retirement, stocks still have a place in your portfolio.
Put simply: Buying stocks online is easy, and yet it’s incredibly complicated to do it well. It’s almost always the best idea to let a professional handle it. With the current level of technology, you don’t need to even pick a professional — you can pick a program that a professional designed. That’s going to help you to grow a significant retirement nest egg, provided that you can leave the money sitting in your account long enough.

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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.
Hold for the long term, five to ten years or preferably longer. Avoid the temptation to sell when the market has a bad day, month or year. The long-range direction of the stock market is always up. On the other hand, avoid the temptation to take profit (sell) even if your stocks have gone up 50 percent or more. As long as the fundamental conditions of the company are still sound, do not sell (unless you desperately need the money. It does make sense to sell, however, if the stock price appreciates well above its value (see Step 3 of this Section), or if the fundamentals have drastically changed since you bought the stock so that the company is unlikely to be profitable anymore.
In terms of the beginning investor, the mutual fund fees are actually an advantage relative to the commissions on stocks. The reason for this is that the fees are the same, regardless of the amount you invest. Therefore, as long as you meet the minimum requirement to open an account, you can invest as little as $50 or $100 per month in a mutual fund. The term for this is called dollar cost averaging (DCA), and it can be a great way to start investing.
Remember that since these types of brokers provide absolutely no investment advice, stock tips or any type of investment help, you're on your own to manage your investments. The only assistance you will usually receive is technical support. Online (discount) brokers do offer investment-related links, research, and resources that can be useful. If you feel you are knowledgeable enough to take on the responsibilities of managing your own investments or you don't know anything about investing but want to teach yourself, then this is the way to go.

When looking for an advisor, choose one who charges you a flat fee for advice, not one who is paid a commission by the vendor of an investment product. A fee-based advisor will retain you as a happy client only if his/her advice works out well for you. A commission-based advisor's success is based on selling you a product, regardless of how well that product performs for you.

Investing is the one place where a “head in the sand” strategy might be the smartest method. Set up auto deposits into your investment accounts each month and only look at your portfolio once every three to six months. This reduces the likelihood of panic selling when the market falls or piling in more money when everything seems like rainbows and butterflies.
Picking specific stocks can be complicated, so consider investing in an index fund, which mirrors the performance of an entire stock market index. An index fund is a good option for new investors because it provides diversification, or a way to reduce investing risk by owning a range of assets across a variety of industries, company sizes and geographic areas. Research has shown that index funds, which are “passively managed” funds, perform better than actively managed funds, which have a fund manager choosing specific stocks and bonds in an attempt to outperform the market.

How you implement these strategies depends on your personal preferences and appetite for risk. Some investors prefer one strategy and concentrate on finding a diverse set of stocks all of which embrace that particular philosophy. Others instead choose to use multiple strategies in their efforts to diversify their portfolios, and that can involve owning several different kinds of stocks. Either method can produce the long-term results you want as long as you're comfortable with the overall investing plan you choose and stick with it.


As with any investment strategy, you need to give yourself a budget for your stock investments. If you’re just getting started, maybe you’ll make this budget based on some extra money you have. The stock market and the individual stocks you pick can go up, but they can also go down. Any investment has risks, and you might lose some money. It’s always advisable not to put all your eggs in one basket.

As with stocks, many fixed-income securities are purchased through a brokerage account. Selecting your broker will require you to choose between either a discount or full-service model. When opening a new brokerage account, the minimum investment can vary, usually ranging from $500 to $1,000; often even lower for IRAs, or education accounts. Alternatively, you can work with a registered investment advisor or asset management company that operates on a fiduciary basis.
I view it like the proliferation of processed foods- for several decades, processed foods have grown in popularity, due to their cheapness and convenience. But as a consequence, we became very detached from our food, obesity and diabetes rates utterly skyrocketed, our soil is reduced and damaged, we’ve badly stressed the financial sustainability of our healthcare system, and we’ve treated animals like factory products, keeping them sick and confined and laden with antibiotics to keep them alive in hellish conditions.
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.
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?
Tax Shelters: Retirement plans like 401(k)s or Roth IRAs offer numerous tax benefits. Some are tax-deferred, which (usually) means you get a tax deduction at the time you deposit the capital into the account, and then pay taxes in the future, allowing you year after year of tax-deferred growth. Others are tax-free, meaning you fund them with after-tax dollars (read: you don't get a tax deduction), but you'll never pay taxes on either the investment profits generated within the account nor on the money once you withdraw it later in life. Good tax planning, especially early in your career, can mean a lot of extra wealth down the road as the benefits compound upon themselves.
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This is one of those areas where the wealthy have an advantage over everyone else. If a rich investor has a relationship with an asset management company, he or she could probably get the Registered Investment Advisor to have one of the firm's institutional brokers place a trade on behalf of the client then transfer it as a gift to a child or family member through the DRS. The child or other recipient of the equity would now be able to buy stock without a broker in that particular business; granted access by those who could do it with ease.
Individual stocks. We won’t sugarcoat it: Buying individual stocks requires a fair amount of research, ongoing diligence and a stomach for risk. Those aren’t things that most retirement savers want to deal with. In fact, many 401(k) plans don’t even allow participants to buy individual stocks within the plan. If buying stocks sounds exciting to you, we recommend devoting no more than 10% of your retirement portfolio’s overall value to them.
Before you begin investing, you need an overall framework for understanding the stock market. Ours is simple: We believe that the best way to invest your money in stocks is to buy great companies and hold them for the long term. The best investments don't need you to check on them daily because they are solid companies with competitive advantages and strong leadership. Patience is the secret to investing and making money grow.
If you’re wondering how to get into the stock market using direct investments, then you have a couple of options. Naturally, you can find a broker, and they will set everything up and help you get started. It makes sense to look around and try to find the best broker for you and your budget. Look at their track record and try to find previous client reviews. If they’re well-known for guiding clients to profitable investments, then they’re well worth your time.

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Your strategy depends on your saving goals (and how much money you’ll allocate to each) and how many years you plan to let your money grow, says Mark Waldman, an investment advisor and former personal finance professor at American University in Washington, D.C. “The longer the time frame associated with your goal, the higher percentage you should have in stocks.”
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
Dave:                                    00:35                     All right folks, we’ll welcome to the Investing for Beginners podcast. This will be our podcast episode 100 Ooh; we made it. That’s awesome. All right, so today we’re going to talk about the basics of spinoffs and acquisitions, and we’re going to, we’ve talked a lot about these from the aspect of the company buying, but today we’re going to kind of go over some generalities of the other side. So the company that’s being acquired or spun off. So Andrew, why don’t you go ahead and take us off. I know we have a listener question regarding this as well as some are our general thoughts on this.
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."
You can even invest with your spare change. Link your credit and debit cards to Acorns and they'll round up each of your purchases to the nearest dollar. A computer-run investment program invests the change in a diversified portfolio. There's no charge to start an account, but you'll need a $5 minimum balance before they'll start investing for you. Acorns offers a low cost investment vehicle. They charge $1 per month for accounts worth less than $5,000. To start now, visit Acorns.
By far and away the biggest question every beginner wants to know the answer to is what stocks are best for investing in? If you’re hoping this is where you find a list of stocks to invest in, then you’re about to be let down! There is no magic list of what stocks to invest in. (And be wary of advice from anyone who says otherwise!) Instead, there are a few things you can look for in stocks and shares that make them worth your money.
These profits may be distributed as dividends, which are quarterly payments made to the shareholders, they may be distributed in the form of share repurchases, which help drive up the price of the stock, making the shareholders money, or they may be set aside in order to be used at a later date to grow the company and increase the value of the shareholders’ stock.
The vertical ends of this box represent the movement of the stock between where it opened and where it closed. In some representations, upward movement on the day is shown by a green box, while a red box will represent a stock that ended the day lower than it started. If the graphic is black and white, a stock that was pushed up on the day by buyers will have its rectangle unfilled. If selling pressure pushed the stock lower, the same rectangle would be filled in.
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.

There are several reasons for this. First, transaction costs like commissions and taxes eat into profits and can exacerbate overall losses. Second, the short-term randomness of share-price movements makes day trading like gambling, and it's tough to maintain emotional detachment in that setting, leaving you open to mistakes that can cause massive losses.
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Limit order -- A limit order differs from a market order in that the trade is only completed at a certain price. For example, if you enter an order to buy 10 shares of Nike at $70 each, the order will only go through if the broker can fill at it at a price of $70 per share. Limit orders are a good way to buy and sell stocks that trade less frequently, since there may not be enough willing sellers to fill a market order at a reasonable price. These orders are a good for “set and forget” investing, since you can place a limit order that will remain in effect until a stock reaches the price at which you’d like to buy.
Ordinarily, the plan administrators batch the cash from those participating in the direct stock purchase plan and use it to buy shares of the company, either on the open market or freshly issued from the business itself, on predetermined dates. The average cost of the purchases is weighed out or some other methodology is used to equalize the cost among investors with the stock allocated to the account of each owner. Just as you get a statement from the bank, the direct stock purchase plan statement arrives, in most situations quarterly, with a listing of the number of shares you own, any dividends you've received, and any purchases or sales you've made.
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.
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. 

The main difference between ETFs and index funds is that rather than carrying a minimum investment, ETFs are traded throughout the day and investors buy them for a share price, which like a stock price, can fluctuate. That share price is essentially the ETF’s investment minimum, and depending on the fund, it can range from under $100 to $300 or more.
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