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.
You can select a discount broker, who will simply order the stocks you want to purchase. You can also choose a full-service brokerage firm, which will cost more but will also provide information and guidance.  Do your own due diligence by checking out their websites and looking at reviews online to find the best broker for you. The most important factor to consider here is how much commission is charged and what other fees are involved. Some brokers offer free stock trades if your portfolio meets a certain minimum value (e.g. Merrill Edge Preferred Rewards), or if you invest within a select list of stocks whose companies pay the transaction costs (e.g. loyal3).
First, assuming you're not self-employed, the best course of action is probably going to be to sign up for a 401(k), 403(b), or other employer-sponsored retirement plans as quickly as possible. Most employers offer some sort of matching money up to a certain limit. For example, if your employer offers a 100 percent match on the first 3 percent of salary, and you earn $50,000 per year, that means on the first $1,500 you have withheld from your paycheck and put into your retirement account, your employer will deposit into your retirement account an additional $1,500 in tax-free money.
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This concept comes from a BNN interview with Thomas Cameron where he mentioned that his stock picks must past the 10/10 rule. The rule is essentially a really strong filter to select companies with the ability to grow their earnings consistently and at a certain rate by paying a dividend with a minimum growth rate. There are 2 criteria to the filter:
Technically, you are only limited by the minimum amount required by a brokerage firm or mutual fund company to open an account. ShareBuilder, an online broker, has no required minimum account balance. More than 50 mutual funds included in our annual mutual fund guide have minimum purchase requirements of $100 or less, including funds offered by Fidelity, AssetMark, USAA and Oakmark.
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.
Although people may be eager to own a piece of Apple (ticker: AAPL) or Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), new investors should remember they don't have to buy individual stocks if they want money in the market. "I'm a big believer in index funds," says Adam Bergman, a senior tax partner with IRA Financial Group. "They do a really good job for the novice investor."
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.