I'm new to this. Can I sell or buy stock by myself?

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September 2016
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Everyone's new to investing in stocks at some point - good for you to ask this very basic but important question right up front!

The short answer is, yes you can. However, there is also the question of should you buy stocks in individual companies, which I'll cover later.

In terms of buying a stock yourself, the easiest way to do so is to open up a brokerage account with a discount provider such as Charles Schwab or Scottrade. Once your account is open and funded, you can login and buy and sell shares of stocks as often as you'd like. Most discount brokerage providers charge about $8 or $9 per trade.  

Make sure you look up the correct stock symbol and do your trading during the hours when the market is open rather than after hours when bid/ask spreads tend to widen and you could end up paying a premium for shares. For thinly traded shares (small companies that average few shares traded per day), consider putting a Limit Order in place to make sure you don't pay a premium. Here's a link that talks about what Limit Orders are:

www.investopedia.com/terms/l/limitorder.asp

However, rather than buying stocks in individual companies, you may want to consider investing in low cost ETF's (Exchange Traded Funds) that track major market indices such as the S&P 500. By buying shares in the ETF, you are effectively buying stock in dozens, if not hundreds of different companies and spreading out your risk rather than putting all of your eggs in one basket.

I personally no longer buy shares of individual stock for this very reason and recommend the same to all of my clients. If for some reason you still feel the need to buy stocks in individual companies, consider limiting this to no more than 5-10% of your total portfolio.

Good luck with getting started!

With Kind Regards,

Dave

September 2016
September 2016
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September 2016