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Trading Tips-Tim Sykes Penny Stock

If a Stock Goes Negative, Do You Owe Money: A Comprehensive Guide

Written by Tim-bot
Reviewed by Friedrich Odermann Fact-checked by Ed Weinberg
Updated 10/6/2023 12 min read

If a stock goes negative, do you owe money? This question haunts many beginner traders. The short answer is generally no, but there are exceptions. This guide aims to demystify what happens when a stock’s value declines and how to protect your investments.

Table of Contents

What Is the Value of a Stock?

The value of a stock is determined by various factors, including the company’s performance, market demand, and investor sentiment. It’s not just about numbers; it’s about the company’s standing in the business world. I’ve seen stocks soar based on news or plummet due to poor earnings reports.

Can You Lose Money If a Stock’s Value Goes Down?

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Absolutely, you can lose money if the stock’s value goes down. But let’s break it down further.

On a related note, you might be wondering what happens if a stock actually goes negative. Is it possible to owe money in such a scenario? I’ve got an entire blog post that dives deep into this topic. It’s essential to understand the nuances, especially if you’re trading on margin. Want to know more? Check out my post “If a Stock Goes Negative, Do You Owe Money?”.

Do You Owe Money If a Stock is Worth Less Than You Paid for It?

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If a stock is worth less than you paid for it, you don’t owe money; you’ve just incurred a paper loss. It’s unrealized until you sell the stock.

Can You End Up in Debt If a Stock Goes Down?

In a standard cash account, you can’t end up in debt if a stock goes down. However, if you’re trading on margin, that’s a different story. Margin accounts can lead to debt if you’re not careful.

What Happens to Your Investment If the Value of a Share Becomes Zero?

If a stock goes to zero, your investment is wiped out. You don’t owe additional money unless you’ve been trading on margin. I’ve always advised my students to understand the risks involved in margin trading.

What Happens When Your Stock Goes Down?

When a stock goes down, its market value decreases, affecting your investment portfolio. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s a situation that requires attention.

How To Avoid Losing Money on Poorly Performing Stocks

Avoiding losses is crucial in trading. Here’s how you can minimize risks based on my years of trading and teaching.

Diversify Your Portfolio

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Diversification can help mitigate losses.

You might also want to consider fractional shares. These allow you to invest in high-value stocks without breaking the bank. It’s a strategy that can fit well into a diversified portfolio. Want to explore this option? Read my blog post “Can You Buy Fractional Shares on TD Ameritrade?”.

Adopt a Long-term Perspective

Short-term market fluctuations are common. A long-term perspective can often weather market volatility.

Understand Your Investments

Know what you’re investing in. Research the company, its performance, and market trends.

Regularly Review Your Portfolio

Keep an eye on your investments. Make adjustments as needed based on performance and market conditions.

Use Stop-Loss Orders

Stop-loss orders can protect you from significant losses. I often use this strategy to limit potential downside.

Invest in Quality Companies

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Quality companies are generally more resilient during market downturns. Look for companies with strong fundamentals.

Monitor Market and Economic Trends

Stay updated with market news and trends. This information can help you make informed decisions.

Manage Your Emotions

Trading is not just about numbers; it’s also about managing your emotions. Don’t let fear or greed dictate your trading decisions.

Consult a Financial Advisor If Needed

If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to seek professional advice. An advisor can provide personalized guidance tailored to your financial goals.

Can You Lose More Money Than You Invested?

In a standard cash account, you can’t lose more money than you invested. However, if you’re trading on margin, you can end up owing money to your broker.

What Determines the Value of a Stock?

The value of a stock is determined by a myriad of factors, including company performance, market demand, and investor sentiment. Understanding these can help you make better investment decisions.

When you’re learning to trade, you should focus your attention on stock prices with the leverage to go positive — to “outperform” their current profit levels and crush the bears shorting them! This term can give you insights into a stock’s potential and how it stacks up against others in the market. I’ve covered this topic in detail, explaining what factors contribute to a stock being labeled as an outperformer. Curious? Dive into my article “What Does Outperform Mean in Stocks?.”

Tips To Protect Your Money While Trading in Stocks

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Protecting your money while trading in stocks is crucial. Here are some tips based on my experience in trading and teaching.

Focus on Long-term Investments

Long-term investments are generally less risky compared to short-term speculations.

Understand Your Investments

Knowledge is power. The more you know about your investments, the better decisions you’ll make.

Regularly Review Your Portfolio

A periodic review of your portfolio can help you weed out poor-performing stocks.

Use Stop-Loss Orders

Stop-loss orders are your best friend when it comes to limiting losses.

Invest in High-Quality Companies

Quality over quantity. High-quality companies often offer more reliable returns.

Stay Informed About Market Trends

Information is crucial. Stay updated with market news to make informed decisions.

Manage Your Emotions

Emotional decisions often lead to losses. Keep a cool head to make rational decisions.

Consider Seeking Professional Advice

If in doubt, consult a financial advisor. It’s better to seek professional advice than to make uninformed decisions.

Key Takeaways

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Understanding the mechanics of what happens when a stock goes down can save you from significant financial pitfalls. Always remember, you generally won’t owe money if a stock goes negative, unless you’re trading on margin.

Trading isn’t rocket science. It’s a skill you build and work on like any other. Trading has changed my life, and I think this way of life should be open to more people…

I’ve built my Trading Challenge to pass on the things I had to learn for myself. It’s the kind of community that I wish I had when I was starting out.

We don’t accept everyone. If you’re up for the challenge — I want to hear from you.

Apply to the Trading Challenge here.

Trading is a battlefield. The more knowledge you have, the better prepared you’ll be.

Do you have questions about the REAL RISKS of trading? Let me know in the comments — I love hearing from my readers!


Do I Owe Money if a Stock Goes Down?

Generally, no. You don’t owe money just because a stock goes down. However, margin trading can be an exception.

What Happens if a Stock Goes to Zero?

If a stock goes to zero, you lose your investment. You don’t owe additional money unless you’ve been trading on margin.

What’s the Difference Between a Cash and a Margin Account?

A cash account requires you to pay for securities in full at the time of purchase. A margin account allows you to borrow money against your investments and can lead to debt if not managed carefully.

What Happens During a Margin Call If My Stocks Perform Poorly?

In a margin account, a margin call is a broker’s demand for an investor to deposit additional funds or assets if the value of the loaned amount in the account drops to a certain level. For example, if you have purchased a stock on margin and its price plummets, you could face a margin call. Failing to meet this requirement can negatively impact your credit score and could result in your broker selling assets in your account to cover the loan.

How Do Different Trading Strategies Respond to Poor Stock Performance?

Day traders, swing traders, and position traders each have distinct approaches for when a stock performs poorly. Day traders might exit positions quickly to cut losses, while swing traders could look for opportunities to profit from further downtrends. Bulls, investors who are generally optimistic, may view downturns as buying opportunities. However, it’s important to be mindful that all trading strategies come with inherent risks and potential rewards.

Are ETFs Less Risky Than Individual Stocks in a Volatile Market?

Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) often provide more diversification compared to individual stocks, which could be advantageous in a volatile market. Brokers often provide a range of ETF options and other services to help investors manage risks. However, it’s crucial to understand that all investments come with some degree of risk, and you should be aware of the commission fees associated with trading ETFs.

What Are the Implications of Poor Stock Performance on Cash Accounts?

In cash accounts, you can only lose up to the amount you initially invested plus any commission fees, as you are not trading on borrowed money. Therefore, you won’t face interest charges or a margin call. Your potential loss is limited to the initial purchase price of the stock and the associated trading costs.

How Do Emotional Factors Influence Trading in a Down Market?

When stocks perform poorly, emotional elements such as fear and greed can greatly affect investors’ decisions. Some individuals may take on a gambler’s mindset, pursuing high-risk, high-reward opportunities. Keeping a balanced mindset and sticking to a well-thought-out investment strategy is important, particularly when considering the services and advice provided by brokers.

How Does Supply and Demand Influence the Stock Market in Case of Security Issues?

Supply and demand are fundamental factors in determining stock prices in the stock market. In the case of a security issue, such as a data breach, the supply of sellers may outweigh the demand from buyers, leading to a decline in the stock price. Depending on the type of security issue, long-term and short-term investors may have different reactions, which could further influence market dynamics. It’s crucial for investors to keep abreast of such events and assess their potential impact on their portfolios.

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Timothy Sykes

Tim Sykes is a penny stock trader and teacher who became a self-made millionaire by the age of 22 by trading $12,415 of bar mitzvah money. After becoming disenchanted with the hedge fund world, he established the Tim Sykes Trading Challenge to teach aspiring traders how to follow his trading strategies. He’s been featured in a variety of media outlets including CNN, Larry King, Steve Harvey, Forbes, Men’s Journal, and more. He’s also an active philanthropist and environmental activist, a co-founder of Karmagawa, and has donated millions of dollars to charity. Read More

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* Results are not typical and will vary from person to person. Making money trading stocks takes time, dedication, and hard work. There are inherent risks involved with investing in the stock market, including the loss of your investment. Past performance in the market is not indicative of future results. Any investment is at your own risk. See Terms of Service here

The available research on day trading suggests that most active traders lose money. Fees and overtrading are major contributors to these losses.

A 2000 study called “Trading is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors” evaluated 66,465 U.S. households that held stocks from 1991 to 1996. The households that traded most averaged an 11.4% annual return during a period where the overall market gained 17.9%. These lower returns were attributed to overconfidence.

A 2014 paper (revised 2019) titled “Learning Fast or Slow?” analyzed the complete transaction history of the Taiwan Stock Exchange between 1992 and 2006. It looked at the ongoing performance of day traders in this sample, and found that 97% of day traders can expect to lose money from trading, and more than 90% of all day trading volume can be traced to investors who predictably lose money. Additionally, it tied the behavior of gamblers and drivers who get more speeding tickets to overtrading, and cited studies showing that legalized gambling has an inverse effect on trading volume.

A 2019 research study (revised 2020) called “Day Trading for a Living?” observed 19,646 Brazilian futures contract traders who started day trading from 2013 to 2015, and recorded two years of their trading activity. The study authors found that 97% of traders with more than 300 days actively trading lost money, and only 1.1% earned more than the Brazilian minimum wage ($16 USD per day). They hypothesized that the greater returns shown in previous studies did not differentiate between frequent day traders and those who traded rarely, and that more frequent trading activity decreases the chance of profitability.

These studies show the wide variance of the available data on day trading profitability. One thing that seems clear from the research is that most day traders lose money .

Millionaire Media 66 W Flagler St. Ste. 900 Miami, FL 33130 United States (888) 878-3621 This is for information purposes only as Millionaire Media LLC nor Timothy Sykes is registered as a securities broker-dealer or an investment adviser. No information herein is intended as securities brokerage, investment, tax, accounting or legal advice, as an offer or solicitation of an offer to sell or buy, or as an endorsement, recommendation or sponsorship of any company, security or fund. Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes cannot and does not assess, verify or guarantee the adequacy, accuracy or completeness of any information, the suitability or profitability of any particular investment, or the potential value of any investment or informational source. The reader bears responsibility for his/her own investment research and decisions, should seek the advice of a qualified securities professional before making any investment, and investigate and fully understand any and all risks before investing. Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes in no way warrants the solvency, financial condition, or investment advisability of any of the securities mentioned in communications or websites. In addition, Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes accepts no liability whatsoever for any direct or consequential loss arising from any use of this information. This information is not intended to be used as the sole basis of any investment decision, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the investment needs of any particular investor. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future returns.

Citations for Disclaimer

Barber, Brad M. and Odean, Terrance, Trading is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors. Available at SSRN: “Day Trading for a Living?”

Barber, Brad M. and Lee, Yi-Tsung and Liu, Yu-Jane and Odean, Terrance and Zhang, Ke, Learning Fast or Slow? (May 28, 2019). Forthcoming: Review of Asset Pricing Studies, Available at SSRN: “https://ssrn.com/abstract=2535636”

Chague, Fernando and De-Losso, Rodrigo and Giovannetti, Bruno, Day Trading for a Living? (June 11, 2020). Available at SSRN: “https://ssrn.com/abstract=3423101”