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How To Buy Stocks: A Beginner’s Guide

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Written by Tim-bot
Reviewed by Friedrich Odermann Fact-checked by Ed Weinberg
Updated 1/11/2024 18 min read

Buying stocks is a fundamental aspect of investing and can be a powerful tool for building wealth. For beginners, the process might seem overwhelming, but it’s a journey worth embarking on. Stocks represent a share of ownership in a company, offering potential financial rewards. This guide is designed to simplify the process and equip you with the knowledge to start investing in the stock market.

Readers should explore this article because it demystifies the process of buying stocks, offering practical advice and insights for beginners looking to navigate the stock market confidently.

I’ll answer the following questions:

  • What is stock investing?
  • How do stocks work?
  • What are the benefits of buying stocks?
  • How can I diversify my investment portfolio?
  • What are the different types of stocks to buy?
  • How do I select an online stockbroker?
  • What should I consider when deciding how many shares to buy?
  • What are some tips to manage my investments effectively?

Let’s get to the content!

Table of Contents

What Is Stock Investing?

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Stock investing involves purchasing shares of a company, making you a partial owner of that entity. This ownership gives you the right to a portion of the company’s profits, often paid out as dividends, and a say in company decisions through voting. It’s a key method for building wealth over time.

Unlike saving money in low-interest accounts like CDs or money market funds, investing in stocks offers the potential for higher returns. However, it also comes with greater risk, as stock prices fluctuate based on company performance, market conditions, and broader economic factors.

As someone who has navigated these waters, I advise beginners to approach stock investing with a mix of enthusiasm and caution, understanding both the opportunities and the risks involved.

If you prefer to be in control of your destiny, take a look at this video on a different approach — stock trading.

How Do Stocks Work?

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Stock investing involves purchasing shares of a company’s stock, effectively buying a piece of that company. When you buy stock, you’re hoping the company grows and performs well, causing the stock’s price to increase.

As the company’s value rises, so does your investment. However, if the company doesn’t perform well, the stock’s price may decrease, impacting your investment.

Stock investing isn’t just about picking winners; it’s about understanding companies, the market, and how various factors like economic conditions and industry trends can affect stock prices.

Benefits of Buying Stocks

Buying stocks can be a powerful way to grow your wealth. One significant benefit is the potential for higher returns compared to traditional savings accounts or fixed-income products like bonds or CDs. Stocks have historically provided higher average returns over the long term, despite their volatility in the short term. Additionally, owning stocks in different companies can help diversify your investment portfolio, reducing risk.

There’s also the advantage of liquidity; stocks can typically be bought and sold quickly through brokerages, providing flexibility in managing your investments. For many people, investing in stocks is not just a financial decision but also a way to be a part of a company’s growth story, sharing in its successes and innovations.

Potential for Appreciation in Value

One of the primary benefits of buying stocks is the potential for appreciation in value. Over time, as the companies you’ve invested in grow and become more profitable, their stock prices typically increase. This growth can result in significant financial gains, especially if you’re invested in successful companies.

Dividend Income

Some stocks pay dividends, providing a steady income stream. Dividends are portions of a company’s profits paid to shareholders, typically on a quarterly basis. While not all stocks offer dividends, those that do can provide a reliable source of income, in addition to any gains from the stock’s appreciation.

Ownership in a Company

Purchasing stocks means buying a piece of a company. As a shareholder, you’re part owner of the business, with a stake in its success. While this doesn’t mean you’ll be involved in day-to-day decisions, it does grant you certain rights, such as voting on major corporate matters.

Portfolio Diversification

Investing in stocks can diversify your investment portfolio. Diversification reduces risk by spreading investments across various assets, ensuring that a decline in one area doesn’t result in significant overall losses.

Liquidity

Stocks are typically liquid investments, meaning they can be easily sold for cash. This liquidity allows for flexibility, as you can access your money relatively quickly if needed.

How To Buy Stocks

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Buying stocks is a process that has become more accessible than ever, thanks to online brokerages and trading platforms. But note well — it’s not just about picking stocks, but understanding the investment landscape and making informed decisions.

Understand Your Risk Tolerance Level and Investment Goals

Before buying stocks, understand your risk tolerance and investment goals. Are you looking for long-term growth, or are you more interested in short-term gains? Your risk tolerance will guide the types of stocks you buy and how you manage your portfolio.

Create a Stock Portfolio

A stock portfolio is a collection of stocks you own. When building a portfolio, consider diversifying across different industries and company sizes to mitigate risk.

Diversify Your Investments

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Diversifying your investments across different stocks and other assets, like bonds or mutual funds, can reduce the risk of significant losses.

Work With an Investment Professional or Financial Advisor

For beginners, working with a financial advisor or investment professional can provide valuable guidance. They can help you understand the market, choose the right investments, and plan your financial future.

Research Potential Companies

Research is crucial in stock investing. Look at a company’s financial health, market position, and growth potential. This information can help you make informed decisions about which stocks to buy.

Analyze Market Trends

Understanding market trends can give you insight into potential investment opportunities. Keep an eye on economic indicators, industry developments, and other factors that can affect the stock market.

Understand Current Market Prices

Knowing the current market price of a stock is essential. It helps you determine if a stock is valued fairly and whether it’s a good time to buy or sell.

Analyze Trading Commissions

Be aware of trading commissions, which are fees charged by brokers for executing trades. These fees can vary and should be factored into your investment decisions.

Types of Stocks to Buy

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In the stock market, there are several different investment vehicles to consider, each with its own advantages and strategy required. Within these categories, there’s a vast array of sectors and industries to choose from, each with its own risk and growth profile.

Each type of stock comes with its own set of characteristics, risks, and potential rewards. From blue-chip stocks known for their stability to growth stocks with high potential for appreciation, the choices are vast. Penny stocks, often overlooked, can also offer unique opportunities for savvy investors. To dive deeper into the different types of stocks and how they fit into your investment strategy, check out this comprehensive guide on various types of stocks.

For beginners, it’s crucial to understand these differences and how they align with your investment goals. Diversification across different types of stocks and sectors can help manage risk and optimize returns.

Fractional Shares

Fractional shares allow you to buy a portion of a stock, making it easier to invest in high-priced stocks with a smaller amount of money.

Individual Stocks

Buying individual stocks means purchasing shares of specific companies. This approach requires more research but offers direct control over your investments.

Mutual Funds

Mutual funds pool money from many investors to buy a diversified portfolio of stocks and other securities. They’re managed by professionals, offering a hands-off approach to investing.

Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)

ETFs are similar to mutual funds but are traded on stock exchanges. They offer diversification and are generally more liquid than mutual funds.

Stock Funds

Stock funds are mutual funds that exclusively invest in stocks. They can be a way to gain exposure to a broad range of stocks with a single investment.

Growth Stocks

Growth stocks are shares in companies expected to grow at an above-average rate compared to other companies in the market. They offer high potential returns but also higher risk.

How To Buy Stocks: A Beginner’s Guide

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For beginners, buying stocks is not just a transaction, but the first step into planning your finances and defining the purposes of your investments.

Are you planning for long-term growth, like saving for retirement with an IRA, or are you interested in paying off your credit cards with stock and options trading? Your objectives will significantly influence the types of stocks you choose and the platforms you use.

Select an Online Stockbroker

An online broker is your gateway to the stock market. Choose a brokerage that offers the tools, resources, and services that match your investment needs.

A good broker provides not just a platform for trading but also educational resources, tools for analysis, and customer support. For beginners, it’s essential to choose a broker that offers an intuitive interface, low fees, and access to a wide range of stocks. Remember, the right broker can significantly impact your trading experience and success. For insights on selecting the best stock broker tailored for beginners, consider exploring this guide on choosing the best stock broker for beginners.

Research the Stocks You Want To Buy

Thorough research is vital. Look into a company’s financials, management, and market position to assess its potential for growth and stability.

Decide How Many Shares to Buy

Determining how many shares to buy involves considering your budget, risk tolerance, and investment strategy. It’s often wise to start small and gradually increase your investment.

Buy Stocks Using the Right Order Type for You

Understand different order types, like market orders and limit orders, to execute trades according to your investment strategy and market conditions.

Optimize Your Stock Portfolio

Regularly review and adjust your portfolio to ensure it aligns with your investment goals and market changes.

Know When To Sell Stocks (and When Not To)

Deciding when to sell stocks is as crucial as buying them. Consider selling if a stock no longer meets your investment criteria or if you need to rebalance your portfolio.

Best Stocks for Beginners

The concept of the “best stocks” can be misleading. Stock market prices are a result of complex factors and investor sentiments, making any stock’s value a reflection of its current perceived worth.

Instead of searching for “can’t miss” stocks, focus on learning how the market works. Learning about different sectors, how economic cycles affect stocks, and the basics of reading financial statements and charts is invaluable. This knowledge, more than any specific stock picks, is what will guide you to make informed and successful investment decisions.

Tips to Manage Your Investments

Managing your investments effectively is key to achieving your financial goals.

Set Clear Investment Goals

Define what you want to achieve with your investments. Whether it’s saving for retirement, buying a house, or building wealth, clear goals help guide your investment decisions.

Diversify Your Portfolio

Diversification is key to managing risk. Spread your investments across different stocks and asset classes to mitigate potential losses.

Conduct Thorough Research

Research is the foundation of successful investing. Understand the companies and markets you’re investing in to make informed decisions.

Thorough research will keep you safe from one of the worst parts of the market, pump and dump schemes. These schemes involve artificially inflating the stock price through false or misleading statements, only for the promoters to sell off their shares at a high price, leaving other investors with significant losses.

As a trader, it’s vital to recognize the signs of such schemes and steer clear of them. To better understand pump and dump schemes and how to avoid falling victim to them, read more about pump and dumps here.

Monitor Market Trends

Stay informed about market trends and economic indicators. This knowledge can help you adjust your investment strategy to changing market conditions.

Understand Your Risk Tolerance

Knowing how much risk you’re comfortable with is essential. It influences the types of stocks you buy and your overall investment strategy.

Invest for the Long Term

Stock investing is usually most successful as a long-term strategy. Be patient, and avoid making impulsive decisions based on short-term market fluctuations.

Key Takeaways

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  • Stock investing involves buying shares in companies and carries the potential for high returns but also higher risk compared to traditional savings products.
  • Benefits of stock investing include higher potential returns, portfolio diversification, and liquidity.
  • Beginners should focus on education about the market and investment strategies, rather than seeking the elusive ‘best stock.’
  • Effective investment management involves diversification, regular portfolio review, and understanding associated costs.
  • Staying informed and seeking professional advice when needed can significantly enhance your investment journey.

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.

What’s been YOUR trading experience so far? Let me know in the comments — I love hearing from my readers!

FAQs

How Can I Buy Stocks Online Without a Broker?

Buying stocks without a traditional broker is possible through direct stock purchase plans (DSPPs) offered by some companies, allowing you to buy shares directly from them.

How Many Shares of Stock Should I Buy?

The number of shares to buy depends on your investment budget, the stock price, and your overall investment strategy. It’s important to balance your investment across different stocks to diversify risk.

How Can I Buy Dividend Stocks?

You can buy dividend stocks through a brokerage account, just like any other stock. Research companies that have a history of paying dividends and assess their financial health to determine if they’re a good fit for your investment portfolio.

What Role Do Mortgage Rates and Loans Play in Stock Investment?

Understanding mortgage rates and personal loans is crucial for investors, especially for those looking to balance their investment portfolio with their other financial commitments. A higher mortgage rate might affect how much money one can allocate to buying stocks. Conversely, loans can provide additional funds for investment but come with their own risks and costs.

How Can a Financial Calculator Aid in Stock Investment Decisions?

A financial calculator is a valuable tool for investors, particularly for beginners. It can help calculate potential investment returns, understand the impact of rates on investments, and assist in planning long-term financial goals, including stock investments. Calculators can also help in comparing different investment options and understanding their potential outcomes.

Why is it Important to Consult a CFP for Investment Advice?

Consulting a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) can be invaluable for beginners in stock investment. A CFP can offer tailored investment advice, taking into account an individual’s financial situation, risk tolerance, and investment goals. They can guide you through complex financial products and help devise a strategy that aligns with your long-term objectives.

How Do Reviews and Life Insurance Affect Stock Buying Decisions?

Reviews of investment platforms or stocks can provide insights and experiences from others, aiding in making informed decisions. Additionally, understanding one’s life insurance coverage is essential, as it impacts one’s overall financial security and risk capacity for stock investments. Balancing life insurance with stock investments ensures a well-rounded financial strategy.

What Should Beginners Know About the Place of Investment Advice?

Beginners should recognize that quality investment advice from reputable sources is crucial. It guides them in navigating the complexities of the stock market, understanding different investment vehicles, and making informed decisions. Seeking advice from professionals or trusted financial education sources can significantly impact the success of one’s investment journey.


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Author card Timothy Sykes picture

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 (205) 851-0506 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”