Are you ready to hit “buy” on your stock choices?
Before you answer that, I want to make sure you’re really ready and not rushing into a potentially bad investment.
Before we get too far into, at this stage you should have:
Put in the work to learn how to invest on your own
- Developed a watchlist of wonderful companies worth investing in
- Determined a “buy price” for each company that is 50% off its true value
If you can check off these three things, keep reading.
Now that I know you’re really ready, I’ll teach you how to actually purchase a piece of the companies on your watchlist.
Whether a company on your watchlist just hit its buy price or is trending that way, or you just want to be prepared when that time comes, knowing how to buy stocks is pretty crucial. Here’s what you can expect.
If you have never purchased shares before, it’s actually pretty simple once you get the hang of it. With this guide on how to buy stocks for beginners, I’ll walk you through the steps you should take now so you’re ready when the time is right. You’ll learn where to buy stocks, how to buy stocks online, and how to sell stocks, all in six simple steps.
Let’s get started.
Step 1: Pick an Online Broker
The first step is to pick a broker. A broker is a middleman between an investor and a stock exchange, and every investor needs one in order to buy and sell stocks.
Types of Brokers
There are a lot of trustworthy brokers to choose from. Here I discuss the major options and how to choose the right one for you.
Full-service brokers are individuals who offer brokerage services either in-person or over the phone. These services include buying or selling your stock for you and managing your investment strategy.
One of the reasons people choose a full-service broker is because they can offer personal guidance on how to invest money, BUT you already know how to do that, and your broker isn’t necessarily going to follow the same strategy you want to. Plus, personal service and guidance come at a price. You’ll fork over hefty fees for every trade you make AND for the broker’s time.
Not everyone can afford to pay a full-service broker’s fees, which is why there are discount brokers. While “discount” may sound enticing, these brokers are typically robo-advisors following computer algorithms to invest money.
Once again, if you already know how to invest your money and have a strategy that won’t lose you money, why would you entrust investing decisions made with your money to a computer?
Now, if you don’t know how to invest and you want to be hands-off, a discount broker will be the easiest and most affordable way to put your money in the market. Buyer beware, though, you may not make a good return on your investment.
Using an online broker is easy and convenient, and DIY-friendly. Online brokers give you total control over how much you want to trade and when, and there are typically only small fees for each trade. Plus, you can still seek out the service of a professional when you need it.
Almost every one of the top brokerages has an online trading platform that offers a great user experience that even beginners can navigate. The best brokerage accounts are rated often by reputable sources, so with a simple search online, you can find which ones offer the features you’re looking for.
Best Trading Platform for Beginners
If you’ve made it this far, you’re a hands-on type of investor, I can tell. Here are a few of the best stock trading platform options you can use to invest on your own.
TD Ameritrade is a great example of a reputable company that has a long-standing history, making it a trustworthy place to put your money.
Many brokerage accounts require investors to hold a minimum balance but TD Ameritrade has no minimum balance requirement as well as no fees on stock trades.
These are important features to consider when deciding which brokerage to choose. They, like many seasoned companies, also feature robust opportunities for education and helpful customer support.
E*Trade is another great option for both beginner investors and experienced investors. It’s also a long-standing online brokerage with a great track record, $0 fees for individual stocks, $0 minimum to create an account, and plenty of educational resources.
The Power E*Trade platform offers even more tools and data that are extremely useful for not only making trades but also researching companies to invest in.
Robinhood was one of the first brokerages to come out with a purely application-based trading platform, and one of the first brokerages in general to offer zero-fee trading all of the time. For these reasons, it gained incredible popularity.
Another one of the benefits of investing with Robinhood is that you can purchase fractional shares, however, this is actually doable through most online brokers today.
Investing with newer application trading platforms has its benefits but has its risks, too. Don’t invest with one of these easy-access applications without knowing what you’re getting into. In this video I talk about what you have to look out for:
Even though it’s a newer company, buying stocks on an app is the same as it is on any other trading platform. So, if you’re wondering how to buy stocks on Robinhood, you can follow the steps below.
Step 2: Create An Account
Creating a brokerage account is the easiest part once you’ve selected the right brokerage for you.
What do I need to open a brokerage account?
Before signing up, have this information handy to make the process even more seamless:
- Social Security number or Tax ID number
- Driver’s License or another form of ID
- Employment information
- Annual income and net worth
- Date of birth
All you have to do next is fill out the required information and connect your bank account in order to deposit funds.
Step 3: Set a Budget and Upload Funds
Before you deposit funds into your newly created brokerage account, it is important to know how much you plan to invest based on your budget. Keep in mind that certain types of accounts within your brokerage account, such as IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts) limit how much you can contribute annually. However, if you plan to invest more than this amount each year, there are plenty of accounts to choose from that can meet your needs.
How Much Should I Invest?
You don’t have to start with a lot of money in order to invest. The great thing about Rule #1 Investing is that you can grow any amount of money into a substantial amount by investing in great companies that will deliver great returns over the long run.
This means you can get started with as little as $500.
If $500 sounds like a lot of money to invest, remember, you have already invested time and energy into learning how to invest so that you can minimize your risk and maximize your reward. You don’t have to be afraid of investing when you put in the work ahead of time and know what you’re doing.
How Many Shares Should I Buy?
Determining your budget will also help you decide how many stock shares to buy. Investing in stocks isn’t the same for everyone. While one investor may want to buy in all at once, another investor may want to test the waters and start small.
Additionally, while one investor may want to own a certain number of shares, another investor may want to invest a certain amount of money. If you fall into the latter category, you may want to consider purchasing fractional shares.
Purchasing fractional shares of stock can be especially helpful if you’re starting out with a small amount of money but have your eye on companies with pricey stock.
Once you have set your budget and determined how much money to invest, you can simply transfer the funds from your bank into your brokerage account. Once the transfer is complete, you are ready to place your stock orders.
Step 4: Determine Your Types of Stock Orders
You aren’t done making decisions, yet. In addition to choosing your online broker, the type of investment you want to make, and the amount of money you will invest, you also have to decide the type of order you will place when you purchase the stock. For Rule #1 investors, these are the types of orders you should be well acquainted with.
When you purchase stock with a “limit order” you are essentially putting a cap on the price you are willing to pay for that stock. Remember, your broker is the middleman between you, the buyer, and the sellers of the stock you wish to purchase.
Your stock order will only be fulfilled if the broker can find a seller who wants to sell at your limit price. This means that even if you place the order, it won’t be fulfilled in full unless the price is met for all the shares you want to purchase.
As a Rule #1 Investor, you have already determined the right “buy price” so it’s important to place a limit order on your investment to ensure you don’t pay more than that price. Setting a limit order can also make your job as an investor easier.
If you set a limit order at the “buy price” that you have determined for a specific stock, then the brokerage will execute the order for you when the time is right, so you don’t have to constantly keep your pulse on the stock price.
A stop order, often called a “stop-loss” order, allows you to input a certain price that once the stock reaches said price, you will buy or sell shares. When the stock reaches that price, it will trigger a “market order” to buy or sell the stock. When you execute a market order, your broker will find the best available price as soon as possible, which could be higher or lower than the stop price.
Stop Limit Order
A stop limit order is like a stop order, but with a key difference. Instead of purchasing or selling stock at the market price when it reaches a certain amount, there is a limit put on the order. The distinction is important because of how quickly the market moves. If the stop is triggered, but the limit isn’t met, then the order won’t be fulfilled.
Stock prices are constantly changing so it’s important to put these parameters in place when you want to buy or sell at a specific price, or only below or above a certain price. If you purchase stock without a limit or stop price, you will get the best available price at that time, which, as I mentioned above, is called a market order.
Step 5: Wait For the Right Price and BUY!
Now that you know how to start buying stocks, it’s time to… WAIT.
Yep, you read that right. A patient investor will always perform better than an impatient investor.
The right time to buy stocks isn’t once you know how.
Remember what you have learned and wait for the right price, which is when the stock price of a company on your watchlist reaches the buy price you calculated, which means it’s 50% off. You wouldn’t buy the company at 30% off if you knew a bigger sale was coming, right? Right.
Even if a stock seems like a great deal at the moment, stick to what you know and hold out for the right price.
THEN (and only then) you buy.
When the opportunity to buy a wonderful company at 50% off arises, it’s time to act. The good news is it only takes a few minutes to actually buy the stock when you’re ready.
If you’re not sure why a company should be on your watchlist, or how to figure out when it’s on sale, read this complete guide (before you even think about buying).
Step 6: Know When to Sell
Knowing how to buy stocks is only half the battle. You have to know when to sell too.
Now, this time doesn’t come around very often. Remember, we invest for the long term.
However, there are a few instances when it makes sense to sell…
You Need the Money
First, if your lifestyle changes and you need the cash i.e. you’ve reached retirement, lose your job, or are ready to purchase a home or achieve another big goal you were investing for in the first place.
The Business Changed
You also may need to sell if the business you invested in is no longer wonderful. This could occur for a number of reasons including a change in management, increased competition, or a major event that makes them irrelevant.
You should always re-evaluate the businesses you are invested in on a regular basis to check that they are still a great investment. Just because we invest for the long-term, doesn’t mean we just set it and forget it.
The Business is Priced Over Value
Finally, if the stock price of the business is higher than the price you value it at, it’s time to sell. If this is the case, and you bought the business at the right time, then you will have made an incredible return on your investment.
How to Sell Stocks
Learning how to sell stocks is the same as learning how to buy stocks, so you already know the steps. When you’re ready to sell, simply go into your brokerage account and place a sell order for the shares you want to sell. Remember to put a limit on it if there is a certain price you don’t want to sell below.
Now that you know how to pick stocks, how to buy stocks, and how to sell them, I don’t think you’re a beginner anymore!
If you feel like you could use a bit more practice or information surrounding any of these steps, though, be sure to join me for a 1-hour webinar where you can get all the free training you need to feel confident investing in stocks.
See you there!
Phil Town is an investment advisor, hedge fund manager, 3x NY Times Best-Selling Author, ex-Grand Canyon river guide, and former Lieutenant in the US Army Special Forces. He and his wife, Melissa, share a passion for horses, polo, and eventing. Phil’s goal is to help you learn how to invest and achieve financial independence.