by, Stasie Tillman
Money is on everyone’s mind. How to earn more of it? How to multiply it? How to save it? And how to spend it? That last question isn’t one that many need much help with, because people, luxuries, and daily living activities, if not managed, will quickly and easily aid you in losing funds. The question remains how do you gain money and that consistently? And building a diverse investment portfolio that includes stock is the way to go.
Investments are a great way to add to your personal balance sheet and make gains by holding and making smart trades. Yet, so many avoid investing in stocks and bonds because they are afraid. Fear is the leading immobilizer of the masses. They fear all that they don’t know about the markets. Answer: read and educate yourself about how they operate. There are many resources that track, analyze, and even provide good sample portfolio holdings for any investor to model.
They fear the unpredictability of the up and down swings of the economy and the stock market. Answer: Don’t fear the unknown. Get in the game and know that it operates cyclically. The only disadvantage would be the opportunity cost of gains forfeited by not getting in the game.
So Where Should Novice Stock Traders Start?
If you’re like me, you do research. You investigate and get a general idea of what you’re considering. You learn the steps involved and what you will need. It is your research process that has brought you here. I’m glad you’re here! Research is key to making a sound and logical decision. The best investors are those that are thorough, patient, and above all else informed.
Then make a decision. Decide and commit. Build that muscle of decisiveness. Don’t get stuck at the speculative stage of doing research upon research. Trust your judgment and intuition. Decide and commit to the process. If you make an error, learn, adjust and apply that lesson to future decisions.
Since you are here because you’ve decided and committed to start investing, I will lay out the most common trading platforms used online. I’ll recommend based on personal experience, fees, and ease of use that which is best (my personal opinion) for the novice investor just getting into their first trades.
Popular Trading Platforms with Features That Aid Beginners
**All trading companies listed below offer accompanying apps for mobile monitoring and transactions.
Fee – $6.95
I’ve personally used TD Ameritrade for years. Its website is easy to navigate, albeit a bit robust for a new investor. After having this account for a few years, I still only use 3 or 4 main tabs. The holdings, balances, and ticker lookup. But there are a good 10 more features that are beneficial to your investment research and to aid you in perfecting your investment strategy.
Another great tool TD Ameritrade offers is the thinkorswim proprietary trade analysis platform. It allows you to compare prospect stocks and perform a detailed analysis. The platform features drawing tools that aid in determining trends so that you can make rational deductions when forecasting future performance of a stock.
Fee – $4.95
Charles Schwab has been around for about 40 years. A reliable name in financial advising and investing. It offers one of the cheapest rates on the market for over-the-counter (OTC) online stock trades. The website is clean and intuitively laid out can be easily navigated. The feature Charles Schwab offers that has won them acclaim for the last 2 years for customer satisfaction is their stellar customer service.
The customer service is paramount and can make or break any organization. But the fact that they make it a priority to assist clients, might bring it head and shoulders above the competition, especially for new investors.
Fee – $4.95
Fidelity provides a thorough online investing platform that includes financial advising, low rate stocks and mutual funds researching tool, and even small access iShare ETF investments (not available on a lot of online trading platforms). Between the low fee stock trades, the many more investment options, and expert financial advice available, Fidelity is a great option.
I’ve personally worked with Fidelity for years as it managed my 401k portfolio. I loved their follow-up and constant client contact to keep me aware of changes, and just reminders to check or rebalance my portfolio were key to keeping me aware of my investment and helped me to manage it better.
Fee – $4.95
A solely online banking and financial investing platform. Ally prides itself on being an advocate for the customers and communities it serves. Along with its low trade transaction fees, it offers no minimum required deposit amount or annual fees. These particular features could be a draw for the new investor to dip their feet into the market. Ally provides detailed analytics and investment research tools to help you make informed decisions.
I’ve recently opened an account with Ally and I like the ease of navigating the trading backend. Everything is fairly intuitive. They also offer high yielding CD and savings accounts with rates that are higher than most banks.
Add Stocks to Your Portfolio This Year
If you review what makes up the balance sheet of the wealthy Forbes 100 list, you’d notice their diversified investments. Too often people view stocks and bonds as investments that are out of reach because they require a substantial amount of cash to initially invest. That is no longer the case.
From Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), that allow you to invest in fractions of big-name stocks, to apps like Acorn and Robinhood that automates your investing by routinely taking small amounts and investing it for you. There is no better time than now to build your personal balance sheet by setting up a new stock trading account. Start with one of those listed above, or check the article Best Online Brokers For Stock Trading 2018 on Nerdwallet.
Come back and let us know what online stock trading website you chose and share your experience. Don’t let another missed opportunity go by! Get in the game today. Happy investing!