How To Get Started With Stocks: For Beginners

It’s no secret that stocks can be a great way to grow your money over time. But for many people, starting to invest in stocks seems daunting. After all, there’s a lot to learn about the stock market. In addition, it’s critical to be cautious so you don’t make any costly errors.

But don’t let that scare you off. It may be difficult for you to invest in stocks with confidence, but there are resources available that can help. You can learn stock trading fundamentals and start investing in stocks confidently if you put out some effort and study.

This post will show you the ins and outs of different stock investments and how to open a brokerage account from the ground up.

What Is a Stock, and What Does It Represent?

A stock is a form of investment in which you own a portion of a firm. So when you buy shares of stock in a company, you’re purchasing an ownership interest in that business and become entitled to a portion of the profits and assets that it generates over time.

What Are the Different Types of Investments Available?

Many different types of investments are available outside of stocks, including bonds, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), real estate, commodities, and precious metals. Each type of investment comes with certain risks and benefits and may be better for specific individuals than others. So let’s break them down:

  • Stocks: As mentioned above, stocks represent ownership in a company and give you the right to vote on important decisions that can affect its future. People typically purchase stocks are through a brokerage account and hold them for short-term or long-term investments. The most significant advantage of owning stocks is that they provide the opportunity for high returns, but this comes with higher risks.
  • Bonds: Unlike stocks, bonds represent a loan you make to a company or government entity. The lender undertakes to pay you periodic interest payments in exchange for your loan. You’ll get your principal investment back at the conclusion of the bond’s term. People generally consider bonds to be less risky than stocks, offering lower potential returns.
  • Mutual Funds: Mutual funds pools money from many different investors and invests it in different types of securities. These can include stocks, bonds, and cash equivalents. Pros manage mutual funds and investors typically purchase them through brokerage accounts. Compared to stocks, bonds, and other types of investments, mutual funds can be a good option for many beginning investors as they offer lower risks and easy diversification.

More Investment Options

  • ETFs: Like mutual funds, ETFs are investments that pool money from many investors and invest it in various securities. However, ETFs are traded on stock exchanges and can be bought and sold throughout the day like stocks. ETFs offer many similar advantages to mutual funds, but they can be more tax-efficient and have lower fees.
  • Real Estate: Real estate investment trusts (REITs) are a type of investment that owns and operates income-producing real estate, such as office buildings, shopping malls, or apartments. REITs can be an excellent way to invest in real estate without owning any property. However, they come with certain risks, such as the potential for high-interest rates and tenant turnover.
  • Commodities: Commodities are physical goods or raw materials, such as oil, gold, and silver. Though you can purchase them in futures contracts or ETFs, investing directly in commodities is typically riskier than investing in other types of assets.
  • Precious Metals: Precious metals are a commodity that includes gold and silver, which many investors view as a haven during times of economic uncertainty. Like other commodities, investors can purchase precious metals in futures contracts or ETFs, but individual investors also sometimes buy and sell them directly.

Mutual Fund Loads

When it comes to mutual fund transactions, you may be charged a fee, which is called a load. Loads are typically either front-end loads or back-end loads. A front-end load is a fee that comes when you buy shares of a mutual fund, while a back-end load charges when you sell your shares. Some mutual funds also have no-load options, so you won’t be charged a fee when you buy or sell shares.

Overall, there are many different types of investments available for those looking to start investing in stocks. However, before choosing a particular investment, it’s essential to do your research and carefully consider all the risks and benefits involved.

What Kind of Investor Are You?

Before you start investing, it’s essential to understand your investment goals and risk tolerance. For example, are you trying to grow your money over the long term, or are you more interested in generating income? Are you prepared to put yourself in a riskier position for the potential of higher returns, or would you prefer a safer investment with lower returns? Answering these questions can help you determine which type of investment is right for you.

The History of Stocks and How They Work

People have been trading stocks for centuries, and the basic principles of buying and selling them are relatively simple. In its most basic form, stock trading is buying and selling shares of stock in a publicly-traded company.

Investors can trade stocks in several different ways. The most common method is to trade stocks through a traditional securities broker, who will charge you fees and commissions for the service. You can also use an online stock trading platform, which allows you to place your trades all via the convenience of your computer.

How Do Stocks Work?

Understanding how stocks work helps to have some basic knowledge about how companies are valued and traded. Stocks prices are based on many factors, including the company’s revenue, net income, assets, debt levels, and overall financial health.

When you buy a stock in a company, you’re purchasing a proportional share of ownership in that business. If the company does well over time, your stock will likely increase in value, and you can sell it for a profit. On the flip side, if the company doesn’t perform well, your stock may lose value, and you could lose money on your investment.

How to Read a Stock Quote

Stock quotes are a crucial way to track stock prices in real-time. A stock quote is simply a record of the current price of a stock and other important information like the stock’s 52-week high and low prices, its dividend yield, and its beta.

What Are the Risks of Investing in Stocks?

There are several risks that come with investing in stocks, including losing your entire investment if the stock price declines. Additionally, there is no guarantee that a stock will perform well over time, so you could hold onto shares for a long time before selling them at a loss. Finally, fees and commissions come along with trading stocks that can eat your profits.

Even though there are some risks, investing in stocks can be a great way to grow your wealth over time. If you’re thinking about starting, do your research and understand stock trading basics before putting any money at risk.

Commissions and Fees Associated With Stock Trading

When it comes to stock transactions, you will generally have to pay commissions and fees to your broker. Commissions are a fee the broker charges you for each trade you make. They can also charge fees for services like account maintenance, research, and other amenities.

It’s essential to understand all the fees associated with stock trading before starting. Different brokers will charge additional fees, so it’s a good idea to shop around and compare the costs of various services. Also, check whether you are incurring any hidden fees or penalties that may reduce your profits.

Factors That Affect Stock Prices

Several factors can influence stock prices, including company earnings and news, economic conditions in the broader market, interest rates and inflation, and even political events.

Company Earnings

When it comes to company earnings, good news can cause stock prices to rise, while bad news can send them down. In general, though, stocks tend to follow earnings over the long term. For example, if a company reports strong quarterly results, its stock price is likely to go up in the short term.

However, unless the company can sustain those good numbers quarter after quarter, investors are likely to start looking for other companies when it comes time to make investment decisions.

News

In some cases, a single piece of news can extremely impact a stock’s performance. For example, suppose a company announces that it has discovered new technology or a new product that is expected to be wildly successful. In that case, its stock price will likely shoot up, even if the news only has a temporary impact.

On the other hand, if it’s bad news—such as a scandal involving the company or one of its products—the stock may drop dramatically.

Economic Conditions

Economic conditions in the broader market can also affect stock prices. For example, if there is a recession, investors may be less likely to invest in stocks, which could cause prices to drop.

Interest Rates

Interest rates can also affect stock prices. When interest rates are low, it’s usually easier for companies to borrow money, which can help them grow and expand their businesses. This, in turn, can cause stock prices to rise. On the other hand, when interest rates are high, companies are often less likely to take out loans, which could cause their stocks to lag behind the market.

Inflation

When inflation is high, investors tend to keep their money in short-term investments, like savings accounts and bonds, rather than putting it in the stock market. This can cause stock prices to drop as people sell off some of their shares.

Politics

Political events can also have an impact on stock prices. For example, if a country is going through a period of political instability, investors may be less likely to invest in that country’s stocks. On the other hand, if a new government is elected and seen as business-friendly, it could encourage more investment and cause stock prices to rise.

These are just a few of the many factors affecting stock prices. It’s important to remember that the market is constantly changing, so what may be causing stock prices to rise today could be different tomorrow. As an investor, it’s essential to stay up-to-date on all the latest news.

Buying Stocks: The Different Types of Orders You Can Place

When placing a stock order, there are several different types of orders that you can choose. These include market orders, limit orders, stop-loss orders, and conditional orders.

  • Market order: A market order is an order to buy or sell a security at the current market price.
  • Limit order: A limit order is an order to buy or sell a security at a specified price or better.
  • Stop-loss order: A stop-loss order is an order to sell a security when it reaches a certain price, and is used to limit the losses of a long position.
  • Conditional order: A conditional order is an order that is only executed once certain conditions are met, such as when a security reaches a certain price.

When placing a stock order, it is important to understand the different types of orders available and how each one can be used to meet your investment goals.

Selling Stocks: When and How You Can Sell Your Shares

Once you’ve purchased shares of a stock, you can sell those shares for a profit. You simply need to place an order with your broker indicating how many shares you want to sell and what price (the “ask” price) you’re willing to accept.

Stock Market Simulators

If you’re not ready to start investing with real money, stock market simulators are a great way to practice trading stocks and learn how the markets work. These online platforms allow you to place simulated trades in real-time conditions, allowing you to see how your investments would perform under different market conditions.

A few popular stock market simulators include:

  • TradeStation
  • thinkorswim
  • MetaTrader 4
  • NinjaTrader

What Is a Brokerage Account, and How Do You Set One Up?

A brokerage account is an account you open with a securities broker to trade stocks. To get one set up, you’ll need to provide personal information and financial resources. Once your account is open, you can start trading stocks immediately.

Online Brokers

There are tons of online brokers at your disposal, so it’s essential to compare the fees and features of each before opening an account. Some things you may want to consider are the types of orders available, the platform’s ease of use, and the level of customer service offered.

  • E*TRADE: One of the most popular online brokers, E*TRADE offers a wide range of tools and resources to help investors start with stocks. The platform is easy to use, and they provide excellent customer service, including 24/7 live support and educational webinars. Additionally, their minimum account balance requirement is low, making it ideal for beginners. If you’re thinking about investing in stocks, E*TRADE is an excellent option to consider. With low fees, an easy-to-use platform, and plenty of resources to help you learn about investing, E*TRADE is a perfect choice for beginner investors.
  • TD Ameritrade: Another popular online broker, TD Ameritrade offers all of the features and tools beginner investors need to get into stocks. With 24/7 live support, a wide range of investment options, and low fees, TD Ameritrade is an excellent choice for anyone trying to start investing.

More Online Brokers

  • Interactive Brokers: Interactive Brokers is an excellent choice for more experienced investors. The platform is for those comfortable with risk and who want to take the next step with their investing with advanced features, tools, and resources. 
  • Charles Schwab: Charles Schwab is one of the largest full-service brokers in the industry. With over 30 years of experience, they offer a wide range of services, including access to professional advisors and portfolio management. Charles Schwab is a superb choice if you’re new to investing and want a broker with the resources to help you learn the ropes.
  • Fidelity Investments: Fidelity Investments is another large full-service broker with over 30 years of experience. They provide many different tools, including investment research, trading platforms, and retirement planning. Fidelity Investments is a great choice if looking for a comprehensive investing experience.

Robo-Advisors

For those who don’t want to do as much research before investing, robo-advisors are a great option. These platforms use algorithms to automatically invest your money according to your goals and risk tolerance. While robo-advisors typically have higher fees than traditional brokers, they can be a good choice for investors getting their feet wet who want to start investing without doing much research and analysis on their own.

Robinhood is a popular robo-advisor that offers commission-free stock and ETF trading. Robinhood is an excellent choice for beginner investors who want to start investing without spending much money with no account minimums.

Whatever broker you choose, be sure that it offers the features and tools you need to start investing in stocks. With the right resources at your fingertips, investing is easier than ever before.

Full-Service Brokers vs. Discount Brokers

There are two main types to choose from when choosing a broker: full-service brokers and discount brokers. Here’s a breakdown of the key differences between the two:

  • Full-Service Brokers: Full-service brokers offer a wide range of services, including investment research, trading platforms, and retirement planning. They typically have higher fees than discount brokers, but they offer a more comprehensive investing experience. If you’re looking for a broker with a wide range of resources to help you start with stocks, a full-service broker is the way to go.
  • Discount Brokers: Discount brokers offer a more fundamental level of service than full-service brokers. They typically have lower fees, but they don’t provide the same range of services. Discount brokers are a good choice for beginner investors who want to start investing without spending much money.

Choosing a broker can be difficult, but starting to invest is much easier when you have the right tools and resources. With the right broker, you’ll be well on your way to making money in the stock market.

How to Fund Your Brokerage Account

To fund your brokerage account and get the ball rolling with stocks, you will typically need to deposit a certain amount of money into the account. This can be done by transferring funds from your bank account or using a credit card to make a deposit.

Depending on the platform you use, there may also be other options for funding your accounts, such as wire transfers or automated investing tools. In any case, it’s essential to make sure you have enough money in your account to cover the cost of buying and selling stocks before placing any trades.

Investing Through Your Company

If your company provides you with a retirement account, such as a 401(k) or an IRA, there’s a chance you can also be able to invest in the stock market through these accounts. This can be a solid option for newer investors who want to get started with stocks but don’t have enough money in their accounts to make their first trades.

With the power of compounding interest, it’s easier than ever before to get started with investing and start building your net worth over time.

Getting Started With Stock Trading

If you’re ready to start trading stocks, the first step is to choose a broker. Many online brokers offer different services and platforms, so it’s important to compare your options and find the tailor-made one for your needs. Once you’ve selected a broker, you’ll need to open an account and fund it with the necessary funds to start trading.

Critical Tips for Getting Started With Stock Trading

  1. Learn the stock trading basics, including how stocks are priced and what factors influence their performance. This will help you better understand the risks involved and make more informed investment decisions.
  2. Familiarize yourself with different types of orders, such as market orders, limit orders, stop-loss orders, and conditional orders. This will help you place more strategic trades that maximize your profits while minimizing your risk exposure.
  3. Start small when you first begin trading stocks and gradually increase your investment size. This will allow you to gain experience and develop a strategy before putting too much money at risk.
  4. Be sure to set realistic goals for your stock trading and develop a plan for reaching those goals, such as setting aside a specific amount of money each month to invest in stocks.
  5. Stay informed about current market conditions and new developments in finance. This will help you make more informed investment decisions and stay ahead of the curve for trading stocks.
  6. Finally, monitor your investments carefully and seek advice from a financial professional if you have any questions or concerns. In the long run, careful planning and informed decision-making are essential to successful stock trading.

Other Important Things to Know About Stocks

There are some other things of note when it comes to stocks, including:

  • Diversification: When investing in stocks, it’s essential to diversify your portfolio to minimize risk. This means investing in a variety of different companies in different industries.
  • Investment horizon: It’s also important to consider your investment horizon or the length of time you plan to hold your investments. For example, if you’re saving for retirement, you may want to invest in stocks that are expected to perform well over the long term.
  • Risk tolerance: It’s essential to consider your risk tolerance and how much volatility you’re willing to accept when investing in stocks. If you have a low-risk tolerance, you may want to invest in stocks less likely to fluctuate in price.

Important Terms to Know About Stocks

  • Dividends: A dividend is a payment a business makes to its shareholders. Many companies pay dividends every quarter, and these payments can provide income for investors.
  • Splits: A stock split is when a firm divides existing shares into smaller pieces to make them more affordable for people with smaller pockets. Splits do not affect the total value of a company’s stock or its market capitalization.
  • Margin Trading: Margin trading refers to borrowed money to purchase stocks. This can be a risky strategy, amplifying profits and losses. Therefore, it’s essential to understand the risks involved before using margin to trade stocks.
  • Short selling: Short selling is a process when an investor sells a stock that doesn’t belong to them, in hopes of buying it back at a lower price and making a profit. This can be a risky strategy and is not recommended for beginners.
  • Market volatility: Stocks are a highly volatile asset class, meaning that they can experience sudden price fluctuations in response to market events. As such, it’s critical to keep an eye on current conditions and be prepared to take action if the market takes a sudden turn.

Key Takeaway

When it comes to stocks, there are many things for beginners to learn. This article outlines some of the most important things you need to know to get started trading stocks. We’ve also provided some tips on minimizing risk and making more informed investment decisions. So be sure to read up on these topics before getting started in stocks.

Happy investing!