Where can I start trading stocks and options with low expense ratios?

I am a college student with around $10,000 in savings. I earn around $1,000 per month. I want to start active trading as opposed to index and REIT's investing. Is active trading profitable at my saving level? If so, what is the best platform?

Investing, Starting Out
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September 2016
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Hey there! 

You actually sound like a young me! I had my first brokerage account at TD Ameritrade when I was in college trying to figure how to make money in the markets.....and here I am doing the same thing today! 

Anyways, most studies suggest that the majority of people (professional or regular) do not systematically beat the market on any consistent period of time. Most people actually trail market returns when they try to outperform by active trading. This is due to the the fairly unpredictable nature of the markets as well as costs involved both in transaction fees and taxes on short term gains. You are likely going to be better off buying those index funds and holding them long term even, as boring as that may seem. 

With that being said - there is a certain level of excitement in having some "play" money in the market. At the very least you will hopefully learn from your investing venture and maybe even make a little money. My advice would to be to invest the majority of the money you have allocated, for the long term, in index funds and let them sit there. Then carve out whatever you are comfortable potentially losing for your trading endeavor. As far as trading platforms - etrade, TD Ameritrade are all pretty good and fairly inexpensive. For options trading (which involves substantial risk and I really suggest you open a paper trading account first) you can look at optionshouse. 

Cheers,

Tom Cymer CFP 

President Opulen Financial Group LLC

September 2016
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