Dave: 00:36 All right folks, welcome to the Investing for Beginners podcast. This is episode 99 tonight we are going to talk about a stock that Andrew recently had some bad walk with and has sold. And we’re going to talk a little bit about some of the lessons that he learned from his investment with this company, including things like activist investors, divestitures and board resignations, and how those can affect what happens with a stock. So Andrew, why don’t you go ahead and tell us about the company and a little bit about your experience.
In third place, earning a recommendation based on its platform alone, is E*TRADE. E*TRADE's web-based trading platform, Power E*TRADE, is a great environment for any beginner stock trader. It's easy to navigate, fast, and includes usability upgrades perfect for new investors like paper (practice) trading. Use E*TRADE's website to conduct research, watch educational videos, and read a large selection of articles covering the full spectrum of investment-related topics. Read full review
Most investment advisers recommend that you save at least ten times your peak salary for retirement. This will allow you to retire on about 40% of your peak pre-retirement annual income, using the 4% safe withdrawal rule. For example, if you retire at a salary of $80,000, you should strive for at least $800,000 saved by retirement, which will provide you with $32,000 annual income at retirement, then adjusted annually for inflation.
Speaking of which, don't react when the stock market takes a tumble. It may be disheartening to log on to your brokerage account and see that your portfolio value is lower one day than it was the week before, but remember this: Until you actually sell off your investments at a price that's less than what you paid for them, you're only looking at a loss on paper (or, in your case, a loss on screen). If you sit tight and wait for the value of your stocks to come back up, you won't lose a dime.
If you’ve never invested in the stock market before, it can be an intimidating process. Stocks are not like savings accounts, money market funds, or certificates of deposit, in that their principal value can both rise and fall. If you don’t have sufficient knowledge of investing — or emotional control — you can lose most or even all of your investment capital.
This next tip is a crucial one if you’re studying how to invest 101. What does it mean to be diversified? It means to not have all your eggs in one basket but also to make sure you are in the right baskets. Sure, you’ll want to pinpoint good stocks to invest in – but don’t focus solely on one industry, or even one person’s advice. The more information you can get from many trusted sources, the better off you’ll be.
Diversification is considered to be the only free lunch in investing. (If you are new to this concept, check out Introduction To Diversification, The Importance Of Diversification and A Guide To Portfolio Construction.) In a nutshell, by investing in a range of assets, you reduce the risk of one investment's performance severely hurting the return of your overall investment. You could think of it as financial jargon for "don't put all of your eggs in one basket".
Price trends are a key idea in technical analysis. You can set up a screener to view a stock's price relative to its high or low over a given time period. If the price is trending towards new highs, you might want to be a buyer. On the other hand, short sellers who aim to profit from a stock's decline would screen for stocks trending towards new lows.
The most important thing you can do is get an investing education first. Learn the basics of the stock market and if there is something that you don’t quite understand, ask. That’s the secret to successful investing for beginners. A good place to start is by reading Rule #1. It gives a great foundation to investing principles used by Warren Buffett and other great investors.
The first and often easiest method of buying stock without a broker is in situations where companies, often blue chips, sponsor a special type of program called a DSPP, or Direct Stock Purchase Plan. These plans were originally conceived generations ago as a way for businesses to let smaller investors buy ownership directly from the company, working through a transfer agent or plan administrator responsible for dealing with the day-to-day paperwork and transactions. Most plans will allow investors to buy stock without a broker if they agree to either have a reasonable amount taken out of their checking or savings account every month for six months (often $50 is the acceptable minimum) or they make a one-time purchase, often $250 or $500.
"Here's the trap for the new person," Seiden says. "They will focus on the stocks where the news is good, but by the time they get the news, everyone else [in the know] has already bought it." This cycle means new investors are often buying when prices are highest. A better route is to watch a stock price and buy when it's down, a tactic Seiden encourages as a way to buy shares at a sale price.
If you want to learn more about how to invest in a stock, check out the directory of Investing for Beginners articles I've written, sorted by topic or head over to my blog for more esoteric and advanced topics that aren't particularly appropriate for beginners. Whatever happens, remember that stocks are just one of many types of assets that you can use to build wealth and become financially independent.
Popular financial goals include buying a home, paying for your child’s college, amassing a “rainy day” emergency fund, and saving for retirement. Rather than having a general goal such as “own a home,” set a specific goal: “Save $63,000 for a down-payment on a $311,000 house.” (Most home loans require a down payment of between 20% and 25% of the purchase price in order to attract the most affordable interest rate.) 
Investing as soon as possible in a Roth IRA is important. The earlier you begin investing, the more time your investment has to grow. If you invest just $20,000 in a Roth IRA before you're 30 years old and then stop adding any more money to it, by the time you're 72 you'll have a $1,280,000 investment (assuming a 10% rate of return). This example is merely illustrative. Don't stop investing at 30. Keep adding to your account. You will have a very comfortable retirement if you do.
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.
Preferred stock, meanwhile, represents an ownership share in a company as well, only if you hold preferred shares, you're entitled to a predetermined dividend that's likely to be larger than what common stockholders receive. Furthermore, in the event of a liquidation (which is when a company shuts down operations and sells off all of its assets), preferred shareholders get paid before common stockholders, making preferred shares a less risky investment. On the other hand, preferred shareholders don't get voting rights on company matters.
Full-service brokers are what most people visualize when they think about investing—well-dressed, friendly business people sitting in an office chatting with clients. These are the traditional stockbrokers who will take the time to get to know you personally and financially. They will look at factors such as marital status, lifestyle, personality, risk tolerance, age (time horizon), income, assets, debts, and more. By getting to know as much about you as they can, these full-service brokers can then help you develop a long-term financial plan.
In addition to attractive pricing, Ally offers a quality platform that gives you access to the entire universe of stocks and ETFs. Where some discount brokers focus on only one kind of trader (for example, options traders or high-net-worth investors), Ally Invest provides an excellent experience for investors of all kinds. A focus on discounted costs can sometimes be a red flag for quality, but Ally Invest truly delivers with sophisticated calculators, profit-loss estimators, and more. Ally Invest also offers a robust research library that incorporates visual slides and interactive media into its market data.
Typically sold as mutual funds or exchange-traded funds, these combine a number of stocks in one fund that is designed to mimic the returns of the Standard & Poor's 500 index, Russell 2000 or another stock market index. Each index tracks a section of the stock market. For instance, the Nasdaq composite tracks technology firms, while the Russell 2000 includes smaller businesses.
When you buy a stock that everyone else has bought, you're buying something that's probably worth less than its price (which has probably risen in response to the recent demand). When the market corrects itself (drops), you could end up buying high and then selling low, just the opposite of what you want to do. Hoping that a stock will go up just because everyone else thinks it will is foolish.
Familiarize yourself with bonds. Bonds are issuances of debt, similar to an IOU. When you buy a bond, you're essentially lending someone money.  The borrower ("issuer") agrees to pay back the money (the "principal") when the life ("term") of the loan has expired. The issuer also agrees to pay interest on the principal at a stated rate. The interest is the whole point of the investment. The term of the bond can range from months to years, at the end of which period the borrower pays back the principal in full. 
The recent market turbulence has reinforced the importance of this approach. The stock market has gone through each of the three possible stages in recent months: market in confirmed uptrend, uptrend under pressure and market in correction. To stay protected throughout these changes, follow the No. 1 rule of investing: Always cut your losses short. While you can't control what the stock market does, this basic rule lets you control how you react.
Index funds. Companies like Charles Schwab don't have a minimum balance requirement for index funds. Take your $100 and invest in a variety of stocks. The basic index fund follows the S&P 500, but you can find many more. Index funds offer the diversification every portfolio should have. You'll likely have appreciating and depreciating stocks. The hope is that the appreciation is more than the depreciation so you still see a profit.
Your asset allocation should vary based on your stage of life. For example, you might have a much higher percentage of your investment portfolio in stocks when you are younger. Also, if you have a stable, well-paying career, your job is like a bond: you can depend on it for steady, long-term income. This allows you to allocate more of your portfolio to stocks. Conversely, if you have a "stock-like" job with unpredictable income such as investment broker or stock trader, you should allocate less to stocks and more to the stability of bonds. While stocks allow your portfolio to grow faster, they also pose more risks. As you get older, you can transition into more stable investments, such as bonds. 
When you first begin investing you’ll be far better off with mutual funds and ETFs than plunging right into stocks. Funds are professionally managed, and this will remove the burden of stock selection from your plate. All you need to do is determine how much money you want to put into a given fund, or group of funds, and then you’re free to get on with the rest of your life.
One way to “beat” the market is to invest on a regular basis. Instead of trying to time when the market is high or low, regular investing — known as dollar-cost averaging — will guarantee you’ll buy more shares when the market is low and fewer when it’s high. Over the long haul, this type of investing can make temporary market declines a good thing.
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
How do financial planners help? Planners are professionals whose job is to invest your money for you, ensure that your money is safe, and guide you in your financial decisions. They draw from a wealth of experience at allocating resources. Most importantly, they have a financial stake in your success: the more money you make under their tutelage, the more money they make.
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."
Meaning is something we’ve touched on already, but it’s also something that many investors sadly overlook. If a company has meaning to you – if you are inspired by and interested in what they do – you are going to be more likely to understand that company, more motivated to research them, and thus more likely to make wise decisions about when they should be bought and sold.
What brings them to this list is that they are currently running a promotion that allows you 300 commission free trades, and up to 2 years to use them. So, if you don't take advantage of their many free products, you can still invest for free and buy stocks online for free at Fidelity. That's a great deal. Even after your free trades are up, they have one of the lowest commission rates at just $4.95 per trade.
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. 
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.
Typically, you put “pre-tax” money into these accounts, which means you don’t pay income tax on those dollars. Any money invested grows without tax until you ultimately withdraw it for living expenses in retirement. As you withdraw funds, you will pay income tax on the withdrawals. However, most people are in a lower tax bracket in retirement so pay lower rates.
These funds could own a mixture of government bonds, high-rated corporate bonds, and foreign bonds. The most significant difference between holding an individual bond and a bond ETF is when you are paid interest. Bonds only make interest payments every six months. But bond ETFs make payments every month, as all the bonds the fund owns may pay interest at different times of the year.
There are three caveats, however. The first is that you will have to meet the minimum account balance required to open a brokerage account. The second is that the selection of commission-free ETFs is limited and, from a performance and strategy standpoint, you may be better off paying commissions to get the ETF you want. Three, both ETF and mutual fund capital gains and distributions can be subject to taxes, which hurts your realized returns. (You will not incur taxes on capital gains or dividends from for funds and stocks held in a tax-deferred account, such as an IRA. Taxes are due when a distribution is made from a traditional IRA account.)
It’s important to consider transaction costs and fees when choosing your investments. Costs and fees can eat into your returns and reduce your gains. It is vital to know what costs you will be liable for when you purchase, hold, or sell stock. Common transaction costs for stocks include commissions, bid-ask spread, slippage, SEC Section 31 fees , and capital gains tax. For funds, costs may include management fees, sales loads, redemption fees, exchange fees, account fees, 12b-1 fees, and operating expenses.