How To Buy Your First Stock VERIFIED
Your online brokerage of choice might also ask if you want to open a margin account. With a margin account, the brokerage lends you money to buy stock. This lets experienced investors buy more shares of stock with less of their own money in exchange for some additional costs and much more risk.
how to buy your first stock
Direct purchase plans are almost always administered by third parties, rather than the companies themselves. The two most common direct purchase plan administrators are ComputerShare and American Stock Transfer & Trust Company (AST). Both firms charge additional fees for direct purchase plans. In contrast, most online brokers charge zero commissions to buy and sell shares of stock.
Full-service brokers provide well-heeled clients with a broad variety of financial services, from retirement planning and tax preparation to estate planning. They also can help you buy stocks. The trouble is full-service brokers charge steep commissions compared to online brokers.
For wealthy individuals without a lot of extra time to stay on top of their complicated financial lives, full-service brokers offer special treatment as well as a high level of trust. If all you want to do is buy stocks, a direct purchase plan or an online brokerage is a better choice.
There are thousands of different publicly traded companies offering shares of stock on the market. That makes it daunting to decide which stocks to buy. One way to think about researching the stocks you want to buy is to adopt a well-thought out strategy, like buying growth stocks or buying a portfolio of dividend stocks.
Whichever strategy you choose, finding the stocks you want to buy can still be challenging. Stock screeners help you narrow down your list of potential stocks to buy and offer an endless range of filters to screen out all the companies that do not meet your parameters. Nearly all online brokerage accounts offer stock screeners, and there are more than a few free versions available online.
With a stock screener, you can filter for small-cap stocks or large-cap stocks or view lists of companies with declining share prices and stocks that are at all-time highs. They also generally let you search for stocks by industry or market sector. Filtering by P/E ratio is a great way to find shares that are overpriced or underpriced.
If you do decide to give your broker the sell order, be sure you understand the tax consequences first. If the stock price has gone up since when you first bought it, you may have to pay capital gains taxes. Gains on shares you owned for a year or less are subject to the higher ordinary income tax rate, up to 37%, depending on your income. Shares sold after more than a year get taxed at the lower long-term capital gains rate of 0% to 20% in 2020.
It's no secret that investing in stocks can be an alluring way to build wealth. And if you're a beginner investor, we're here to reassure you that it isn't as difficult as it seems. All you need to do to get started is open an online investment account.
Whether you're looking to contribute a large chunk of your savings or simply dip your toes in the proverbial investment waters, here are five key steps to follow when buying your first stock and going on to curate and develop a portfolio.
Brokerage accounts work similar to bank accounts, except they're used to buy and sell securities. You choose a provider and open the account online, move money into it, and you're ready to buy stocks in a few clicks. You can even use a brokerage to gift stock someone to else, though you'll need their account information to initiate the transfer.
It's worth noting that brokers aren't just an investing platform, but tools for education, too. Once you open a brokerage account, you have access to research and analytical tools, so it's a good idea to get a sense of these resources when making your decision.
The stock market features thousands of publicly traded companies (like Tesla or Amazon), each with different offerings. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, remember that when you buy stock, you're buying partial ownership of the company. So a logical place to start is to ask yourself what companies and industries interest you.
There are other countless strategies when it comes to picking stocks. Another way to think about evaluating what to buy is to design your portfolio with an investing strategy in mind. For example, if you believe stocks ought to pay you a steady stream of income, you might want to explore dividend stocks. If you have a high tolerance for risk and are curious about early-stage growth companies, consider growth stocks. On the other hand, filling your portfolio with value stocks means finding companies that are underpriced, with the idea that they will grow and outperform the overall stock market over time.
Quick tip: To help you narrow the field, consider using a stock screener. Stock screeners can help you filter through companies based on specific criteria, and ensure any investments added to your portfolio fit into your strategy.
Generally speaking, you'll have access to all the research material you need to come to your own conclusions, but it takes time and effort to hone your analytical skills. Here are a few more tips to keep in mind when building your portfolio:
That's why many financial advisors recommend that beginners get into the stock market by buying mutual funds or ETFs, which allow you to buy a "basket" of stocks at a low cost. Index funds, in particular, can be the foundation of a well-diversified portfolio.
Be mindful of taxes. Choose tax-favored investments, and aim to capitalize on long-term capital gains tax treatment when possible by, in accordance with our advice to think long-term, holding on to your investments as long as possible.
The amount of money you should invest ultimately comes down to the price and number of shares you're seeking to buy. But also keep in mind how much it may take to properly diversify your portfolio. To find a stock's price on a brokerage platform, simply search for the company's name or ticker symbol.
If the share prices of stocks you're interested in are financially out of reach, you can also explore fractional shares. Fractional shares allow you to buy fractions, or parts of a stock. If, for example, a single share is $500, you can buy $50 worth of the stock, giving you a fraction worth 10% of a share. Nowadays, many online brokers from Fidelity to Robinhood offer fractional shares.
Important: When you open your brokerage account, you may be asked if you'd like a cash account or a margin account. When you invest on margin, you borrow money from your broker to buy securities. Keep in mind you'll have to pay interest and the practice is generally not advised if you're just starting out.
To place your stock order, navigate to the section of your brokerage's platform and punch in the necessary information. Once you place your order, your portfolio will immediately update to reflect your newly purchased shares.
As you think about when you might want to sell your shares, keep in mind that stocks carry quite a bit of risk, and following a buy-and-hold strategy will help you safeguard against volatility so you can ultimately benefit from the long-term profits.
You're never truly "done" building your portfolio because it's an ongoing process that becomes more efficient as you gain experience and refine your goals. After some time, reevaluate your holdings: Are they diversified enough to guard against risk? Might your portfolio be too heavily focused in one industry?
Keep up with the progress of your investments, but don't place too much weight on daily fluctuations because, as previously mentioned, it's best to think long-term when buying stocks. Periodically ask yourself or your financial advisor whether you're on track to meet your goals. If you aren't, it might be time to tweak your portfolio allocation.
The best time to sell your stocks is when you need the money, and this depends on your predefined timeline and whether your investment goals are short or long-term. If you're considering selling a stock, remember why you bought it to begin with and consider whether it still aligns with your goals.
To invest, you don't have to buy individual shares of stocks or even fractional shares. You can diversify by purchasing assets such as index funds, which are funds that include various stocks, bonds, and other assets. Index funds can help diversify your portfolio.
You could also look into alternative investments, such as real estate or commodities. However, these are a bit more complex than buying stocks or bonds, so be sure you speak with a professional before investing in alternative assets.
The first step in the investing process is opening a brokerage account, and there are a few key considerations when curating a portfolio, like identifying your timeline and risk tolerance, making a conscious effort to diversify, and deciding what type of stocks are most appropriate for meeting your goals.
The investment information provided in this table is for informational and general educational purposes only and should not be construed as investment or financial advice. Bankrate does not offer advisory or brokerage services, nor does it provide individualized recommendations or personalized investment advice. Investment decisions should be based on an evaluation of your own personal financial situation, needs, risk tolerance and investment objectives. Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal.
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