.• Stock Market News Today – 5 Steps to Start Trading Stocks Online • … 1. Decide if this is the right strategy for you… You might consider trading stocks if: … You’ve maxed out 401(k) matching dollars from your employer and you’ve also started investing in an IRA. Most 401(k) plans don’t allow participants to purchase individual stocks — instead investors choose from a selection of mutual and index funds. But you can typically buy and trade stocks within an IRA account.
Trading within an IRA can be beneficial: Because these accounts are tax-advantaged, taxes on capital gains will be deferred or avoided completely. You’ve contributed the annual maximums to a 401(k) and an IRA and are likely on track to meet retirement goals. You’re also willing and able to take on more risk by stock trading. In this case, you might want to open a taxable brokerage account with an online broker and trade within that account.
Trading individual stock not only carries more risk, it requires more effort than investing in mutual or index funds. You need to actively watch your positions and understand whether and how to react to market moves.
2. Get an Education
Before you trade anything, learn everything you can about investing and the markets. Mistakes can be costly. There are a lot of free educational resources that teach how to trade through an online broker.
Also, most stock brokers offer their own educational centers and a staff of former traders or investment advisors who can guide you. Some brokers, such as Plus500, offer their clients paper trading, a simulation of trading that is a great way to practice without money or risk involved.
3. Select an Online Broker
Choose an online broker with the tools and support to match your needs. If you already have a sense of what you need, you can compare your options in our analysis of the best brokers.
In general, beginner traders should prioritize customer support, educational resources, and account and trade minimums over the lowest commissions — which run between $4 and $12 per trade. As a beginner, you probably won’t be trading frequently. If you do start trading more often, you can always move to a lower-cost broker.
In addition, consider the online broker’s stock trading software. New traders will want a platform that is streamlined, easy to navigate, and incorporates how-to advice and a trader community of peers to help answer questions.
4. Start Researching Stocks
Your account is open, and you’re ready to start investing. Most traders start by doing a thorough analysis of a company, looking at public information including earnings reports, financial filings and SEC reports, as well as outside research reports from professional analysts. Much of this should be provided by your broker, along with recent company news and risk ratings.
Start slowly, picking one or two stocks and investing a set amount of money that you are prepared to lose. You can plow gains back into the stock — or into other companies — but don’t add more money to the pot until you know what you’re doing and can put research into other companies.
5. Make a Plan and Stick to it
Investing can be emotional, particularly for those new to the game. Losing money doesn’t feel good, and it’s easy to panic and pull out at the wrong time. It’s also easy to get swept up in the excitement of what feels like a winning stock.
That’s why it’s important to plan how much you want to invest at what price, and determine how far you’re willing to let a stock fall before you get out. Using the right type of trade order can help you stay on plan and avoid emotional responses. For example, stop-loss orders trigger a sale if a stock drops to a certain price, which can minimize risk and losses.
More from SMN.Today: