How do I buy stocks online?

surfergalJanuary 21, 2008

do I need a paypal acct? (I have an old old one but I am locked out of it - long freaking story - so they will not issue me a new one) I do not do online banking. I do have a Fidelity IRA acct, but I want stocks , not mutual funds - want to be a bargain hunter tomorrow scavaging. Or, what is a good cheap stock brokerage house? I think we have a Merrill lynch office at the top of my (work) bldg. (hopefully no bodies jumping tomorrow) but I do not like them. Had a bad experience with them in the past/.

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another dumb question - can I but the stocks as my Roth IRA contribution? I assume I can but... never bought stocks before just the mutual funds,

    Bookmark   January 21, 2008 at 7:40PM
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You need an account with a stock brokerage firm who will buy and sell stocks for you.

If you do not want advice from the firm, you can use a discount service, which charges less per transaction.

You need an easy means of transferring money from where you have it into that account - and, of course, back! It's simplest if you can make that transfer electronically.

Many people start with a "cash account", allowing the owner to buy and sell online, using pin numbers, of course.

I won't do that, for I use an old computer and fear that it may be infected with a spy that may transmit information to its boss that I don't want him (surely not "her"!) to know. I can call the discount broker on the phone, my discount brokerage allowing me to make the transaction by keying numbers on the phone.

Being an old fart, I pay some more per transaction to talk to a broker to make the orders.

The financial institution where you hold your money may have a preferred broker with whom they connect, but usually they can relate to various brokers equally easily.

My discount broker account is held with one that is owned by a bank where I have an account, so transferring money back and forth is very simply done.

With a "cash account", usually the official documentation is held in the brokerage database and they send you a report regularly, usually monthly or quarterly, giving details of the cash and stocks that you have, with current value. You can buy stocks with the total cost, plus commission, being no more than the cash balance that yuu have in your account.

Some investors want to have the shares that they own issued in certificate form, which usually costs $35 - 50. per transaction, in Canada.

One reason for this may be that they wish to use the certificate as collateral for a loan at a financial institution.

You can have a "margin account" with the stockbroker that allows you to borrow from them to buy more stocks, and in this area they usually charge about 1% more interest rate than borrowing from a bank.

If you're not familiar with the operation of the stock market, it's likely a good idea to avoid borrowing until you become quite familiar with how that system works.

Otherwise, if you borrow a little too much, and the market goes down, you don't have enough collateral to cover the amount of your loan. The lender will want either:
1. more share certificates, carrying enough value to more than cover the amount of the shortage, or
2. enough cash to make up the difference.

If you have given them $10,000. worth of stock, most will lend about $5,000. If the value of the underlying stocks drops to, say, $8,000., they'll be willing to lend only $4,000. So they want more stocks carrying a minimum of $2,000. value to bring the collateral level back to $10,000. But they usually ask for some more, in order to have some cushion there, in case of some more reduction in value, which would require them to call you asking for more collateral. Or if you pay them $1,000. cash (probably more like $1,200. - 1,500.) that will satisfy the shortage ... and leave a little extra, in case of need.

And - they want the extra collateral ... or cash ... by later today, tomorrow at the latest.

I don't like getting margin calls ... and when I ran a personal financial advisory business, I sure as heck didn't want my clients getting any (unless they were fully familiar with the system and able to take care of any problems, immediately ... and don't go on vacation, in case the market drops 15% or so, as it has in the past week)!

There may be variations in the way that the system works in the U.S., and I hope that folks from the U.S. will inform you of such differences.

Good wishes for increasingly skillful investing.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   January 21, 2008 at 10:28PM
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There are online brokerages and discount brokerages. Try the website. Their online trades are just $10, $30 by phone, I think. I have a relatively new account with them but have never done any buying or selling on line as of yet - do my financial business face to face or by phone with my other brokerage.

For any on line brokerage - you will have to fund up an account beforehand since you don't order up a block of stock and pay for it later or by paypal or credit card. When they have your cash, the stock purchase settles and it becomes yours. If the stock pays dividends, you can get the quarterly check in the mail, open a market account with the brokerage to accumulate funds for later purchases, or have the dividends reinvested (called a DRIP) in the company to purchase more shares or partial shares of the stock.

And if you're just learning and not yet a sophisticated investor, stay away from margin accounts. It can be a risky way to play the market and really shouldn't be brought into these basic stock buying discussions.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 1:38AM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

I do have a Fidelity IRA acct, but I want stocks , not mutual funds - want to be a bargain hunter tomorrow scavaging.
Yes, it is possible to have individual stocks in an IRA. I have them in an IRA which is managed by my Credit Union Brokerage service. Their transactions fees are high (compared to other places) so I am thinking about moving the IRA somewhere else.

It will take some time to get you an account set up, and more time to get funds into it, so they are there, ready for you to start buying. Below is a link to a few of them. I believe they also have phone numbers, so you can call them and get all the particulars about what you will need to do to get set up and get funds to them.

Most places can/will make on line trades (purchases or sales) but most also permit you to do it via phone, if you are more comfortable with that. Phone transactions usually cost a bit more, but well worth it for once peace of mind if that helps.


Here is a link that might be useful: On Line Broker reviews

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 12:09PM
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You can probably set up a brokerage acct with Fidelity since you are already known to them, and transact stock purchases and sales on line. Their fees are not rock bottom, but they are reasonable, and won't set you back so much unless you intend to do a lot of trading, which you shouldn't, because that's not good investment strategy for a nonprofessional, especially one in retirement.

If you really want to go for rock bottom fees, go to Google and plug in "discount broker." You'll probably get an avalanche of websites to sift through. But go with a big, well-known name, like Fidelity, T Rowe Price, Vanguard, etc.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2008 at 4:48PM
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Personally, I like TDAmeritrade for online trading. Nice to be able to limit one's order & the fee is $9.99 per trade. There was a time I got involved in option trading & learned a valuable lesson....leave it to others!

My trading is done through the Roth Ira I have with them & works for me. If I need cash it's available. Has been a good tool for some savings.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 3:29AM
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