Stocks verses Mutual Funds While some may find that idea of comparing stocks to mutual funds a little bit odd, since mutual funds are often made up of stocks, bonds, or some combination of the two, it is quite necessary to compare the two when it comes to deciding what is best for your financial outlook. Some of the more notable differences will be discussed below in order to help you decide which investment type is more suitable for your financial situation. When it comes to investing for the everyday man or woman you really can't beat mutual funds. Stocks carry hefty fees for buying, selling, and transferring that significantly hinder any profits that would otherwise be made from the transaction. In fact, these fees often serve to deter the trading of stocks rather than encouraging it. Perversely, big trading companies offer hefty discounts for their big spenders making the stock market trading game seem even more exclusive by making it easier for those who already have a great deal invested than they make it for the new guy trying to make his way on the market. Mutual funds are much more accessible to those who don't have massive fortunes available to invest and need to make small steps (such as $100 a month) towards their financial and investment goals. Mutual funds typically carry less risk than the average stock purchase as well. This happens for many reasons. First of all mutual funds are not generally invested in one sector, industry, or company. For this reason if one of the stocks fails, the proceeds from the other stocks and bonds purchased will help mitigate the loss, making it less noticeable. At the same time, the loss is shared by a large group of people so that even if a slight overall loss is experienced as the result it will be much less noticeable than if the stock purchased was yours and your alone. Finally, the fact that the funds are already diversified to a large degree helps insulate from huge fluctuations in the market such as those seen recently when the sub prime mortgage industry bubble popped leaving many investors ducking for cover. Share the wealth. Share the risk. Mutual funds offer a sense of community, commonality, and shared risk among those who buy into a specific mutual fund. This is a good thing most of the time as it enables a large group of people to share a much smaller portion of risk than if they were buying stocks of their own volition. The existence of a fund manager means that there is someone "in the know" who is looking after the profit of the fund and that has the success of the fund at heart. This is something that you won't find when investing in stocks. In fact, when it comes to the stock market the only people that really care about how your stocks are performing are those that you pay to care for these things such as your financial advisor, accountant, and/or stockbroker. Another thing to consider about mutual funds is that they are much easier to use and/or trade than stocks. They are much less expensive to trade as well. You can purchase mutual funds from your local bank, online, and through many online trading companies as well as through many company 401 (k) plans. In other words mutual funds go out of their way to make themselves accessible. The most important thing, really, when it comes to buying mutual funds is that you devote some time to studying the history and performance of the fund you are considering to purchase as well as the fund manager for peace of mind. As you can see there are a lot of differences between stocks and mutual funds. For small investors mutual funds are often the best route to take. They pose less risk, impose fewer fees, and place owners in a position to accrue steady, if slow, returns on their investments. What is Stock? Essentially, stock is a representation of ownership in a business. Granted it generally takes a ton of stock, quite literally, in order to have any significant ownership in any given business but ownership is what it represents. It means that you have a valid interest in the company and a legitimate claim to a portion of the company's holdings or profits. Owning a share of stock makes you a part owner of the business in which you own the stock. Ever wanted to own a Harley? How about owning a share of their stock? It's probably cheaper and with gasoline prices hitting the roof lately might make you enough extra money to buy your own Harley to ride as well as a taste of ownership in the company. Any company that is openly traded on the various stock exchanges can be purchased (at least partially) through stocks. Some cost more per share than others and some are much more stable than others. It's not really the best plan from a business point of view to purchase stocks simply because you like a company's products though I would like to think that there is something good about the company and its financial future if they are putting out products that you believe in. When purchasing stocks for the purpose of profits you need to see the big picture though and not simply focus on whether you like the company or their products. This is a financial decision that can bring you big money, some money, or cost you money in the end. If you earn big returns then it is money well spent, if you lose money then lets hope that it was a learning experience at the very least. A few things to look at when selecting stocks include the following. 1) History. There is a lot that can be learned from a company's history. Does it treat its employees well, has it experienced ups and downs along the way and came out smiling, has it had its shares of upheavals and still managed to come out ahead? You want to invest in a company that has a history of overcoming adversity when possible. 2) Current performance. You don't want to linger in the past however as the present can tell a lot about companies too. Owners and founders die only to be replaced by boards who have profit in mind but do very little to instill the same loyalty from buyers that previous owners managed to do. You want to avoid these companies as they could be on their way to a few turbulent times ahead. 3) Forecasts and projections. While these are all very speculative you can judge how well a company has met these forecasts in the past in order to predict how it will deal with the future this time. If you feel good about the financial future of a company and want to be along for the ride, perhaps the company is worth the risk. There are many reasons to purchase a great stock but the most important would be a company that produces a product you believe in that treats its staff well and provides an excellent working environment for all. It is much easier to expect great things from company that treats its employees well than one that does not. Why Buy Stock? The question of the century for many would be businessmen and women may be why on earth would anyone buy stocks? Quite frankly the question should be why on earth wouldn't they? Owning stock in a company means that you have stock in that company. You have an investment, however meager, in the success and failure of that company and for this reason you have a little bit of ownership in the company as well. Many people purchase stocks for many different reasons. There are about as many reasons for the purchases as there are people. Some people hope to accumulate a large amount of stock within a company so that they may wield some level of power within that company. This is not always the case though in most companies those that own large quantities of stock do have a bit of a voice when it comes to the decisions being made concerning the future of the company (companies are responsible to those that hold shares of stock after all). Others want to own a little piece of a company that produces a product they believe in. I love chocolate. For me, it makes perfect sense to invest money in Hershey stocks. It's a product that I believe has a solid future (I also happen to know a lot of other chocolate lovers), an excellent product, and real potential for new products, and an eye on emerging markets. These are things that those purchase stocks should look at before buying stock. At the same time, I realize that Hershey stocks are very established and any earnings on my few stocks are going to be minimal. At the same time, this is a very stable stock that is likely to bring in some money year after year. Not a sprint stock to be sure but an endurance stock that I get a kick out of including in my portfolio. In other words, some people buy stock simply because they like the product. Day traders buy and sell stocks like some of breathe in anticipation of making money and nothing more (well for the most part, some do it for the rush and the thrill of the hunt for those elusive stock market moments of triumph). Of course most people buy stocks in hopes of ample returns on their investments, some just expect more immediate returns than others. Day trading is a drive through type of investing compared to the long lines that people stand in inside waiting for the long term payoffs that retirements are funded upon. You will find as many reasons for investing, as you will find reasons to purchase stock. The questions you should be finding out for yourself is why people by certain stocks and that is question that is going to be individual to each person for each stock they purchase. There are no magic formulas for success though there are many things you can do to lessen the risks of failure when investing in stocks in bonds. If you are interested in investing in stocks your first stop should be the library. There are many books on the history of stocks, financial planning, and that offer excellent advice on building a portfolio. Once you have a few questions in mind you should take your savings and your questions to a reputable stock broker and create a strategy that is tailored to meet your investing needs. Mutual Fund Basics If you are considering investing in the stock market in one way, shape, form, or fashion you've probably heard the term "mutual fund." If you are like I was, you probably have no real clue as to what the term actually means in terms of financial benefits or even exactly what a mutual fund is. Hopefully, reading this will clear up a few of the details for you so that you can move on to make informed decisions about where and how to invest your money. I should begin by pointing out that there really is no method for investing that is completely without risk. That being said, mutual funds have lower risks that many other investment options, which makes them an attractive purchase for those that are unsure about investing. In fact, for the purpose of savings, mutual funds often have much better rates of return than the average savings account at your local bank and the risks are minimal in this type of investment, particularly compared to other riskier ventures. So back to basics, mutual funds are, simply put, a collection of stocks and bonds that are owned by a group of people rather than one individual investor. This accomplishes a few things. First of all, it allows investors to buy in with considerably less money than it would take to purchase the same 'portfolio' on their own and it spreads the damage out among a group of people should something go wrong. In addition, because it isn't one single stock or bond or generally even one sector of the stock market, the risks for a complete and total loss are reduced to some degree. Keep in mind however that the market does simply have bad days on occasion and there is little that can be done about that short of stuffing your money under your mattress and it certainly won't grow there. There are plenty of advantages and disadvantages in regards to purchasing mutual funds. You won't find the flashy swings, dips, dives, and other grand maneuvers in the typical mutual funds. Most mutual funds are selected because of their stability not for in hopes of massive profits though some mutual funds are, admittedly, more aggressive than others. It really depends on how much of a gambler you are by nature and how much of your investment and retirement you are willing to risk whether or not you will be satisfied with mutual funds as part or all of your investment portfolio. Diversification is one of the key ingredients of a healthy portfolio and mutual funds will help you work the diversity you need into your portfolio in short order. If you are young and just beginning your career and in no real hurry for retirement this is one of the safest ways to invest your money for the long haul. Unfortunately it may lead to a comfortable retirement but is unlikely to lead to a flashy retirement, as most mutual funds do not have the high payoffs that many investors seek. There are essentially three types of mutual funds with a few variations on each. First there are money market funds. These funds are great for the long-term investor who has a slow and steady approach to investing and will generally be better than leaving your money in a savings account collecting interest but there are better earning funds to be found. Second are the equity funds. These funds provide slow growth over time as well as some income along the way. Finally there are the fixed income funds. The purpose of these funds is to provide a current income over time. These are not funds that are anticipated to increase in value only to maintain a certain standard of living. This is great for those who have retired or investors that are extremely conservative in nature. Hopefully this finds you knowing a little more about mutual funds in general and preparing to learn even more about how to take control of your investment options and make these key decisions for your future and that of your family. Mutual Fund Pros Every investment type has its share of pros and cons, the same holds true when it comes to mutual funds. For many investors this is the only way to go while others are very wary or even contemptuous of those who elect to navigate the safer waters of mutual funds rather than taking the risks of the open seas of the stock market. Either way you should understand that there are many benefits to be found by working with mutual funds rather than stocks. You will find a good many of these benefits listed here. 1) Safety in numbers. In a mutual fund you pool your money with a group of people in order to buy a certain set of stocks or bonds or some combination of the two. In this you share the risks among you. Some will argue that you also share the rewards but that is the price you must pay in order to have the security that comes with shared risk. 2) Diversity. You won't need to worry about intentional diversification with mutual funds for the most part because they are already diversified for you. In most cases you have to purchase very specific mutual funds in order to get a group of stocks or bonds that are too similar in nature, as this would defeat the purpose for many mutual fund investors. It is possible to purchase an industry specific mutual fund though that does increase your risks to some degree. Having your investments spread out across industries and investment type helps minimize the impact should a catastrophic loss occur in one area the blow is softened because the fund encompasses more than one specific stock or bond. 3) Professional management. The average citizen would be hard pressed to afford the services of a financial advisor or stock broker and still have a significant amount of money left in which to invest. You are graced with the skills of a professional investor to guide your fund through the shark infested waters of the trading Bermuda triangle while you are allowed to put your mind to rest and focus on other things such as the places you will go when retirement strikes or the college educations your children will have courtesy of your investments today. 4) Lower transaction fees. This is a huge benefit to many investors who know without a doubt that those transaction fees can literally kill the profits you'd make on occasion. The reason the fees are often lower is that mutual funds are purchased in large lots because they use the collective monies of a large group of people to make a larger purchase rather than using a small amount of money from one person to do the job. Same fee, but more bang for the buck and it's divided among others in the group rather than one person absorbing the entire transaction fee. 5) The ability to cash out at any time. This isn't really different than stocks but for those who are considering all with no preconceived understanding you should understand that you can get your money out whenever you need to if emergencies arise. There are fees involved of course but you can recover your investment most of the time and bring home a bit of a profit on occasion. 6) Easy as pie. This is something that most people overlook when making investment decisions but should pay a little more attention to. It is easy to purchase a mutual fund and it can often be done for very little money, especially when compared to stock purchases. There are a few downsides to dealing with mutual funds as well though for many the benefits far outweigh the potential for lower returns, which is the most commonly complained about detraction from mutual fund investing. It is still worth checking out the cons as well as the pros when it comes to investing in mutual funds compared to stocks, bonds, and other forms of investing. Mutual Fund Cons Just as there are many benefits to investing your hard earned dollars in mutual funds there are a few drawbacks to this decision as well. In order to make a truly informed investment decision you need to be aware of both the pros and cons of mutual fund investing before you make the decision as to whether or not this style of investing is suitable to meet your financial needs now and in the future. Keep reading for a little bit of enlightening information on the downside of investing in mutual funds. 1) Low return on investment. While you can make a comfortable retirement for yourself by investing in mutual funds you won't find the swift and bold flips, turns, and swings that you might find in the sales of certain high yield stocks. In fact, mutual funds are more the slow and steady wins the race sorts of investment methods, which are effective in their own right but, while providing comfort, will not bring copious amounts of wealth. 2) Dubious management. While this isn't true of all mutual funds you need to check the fund manager out thoroughly before buying into the fund. You never really know whom to trust in this day and age and many people have complained that they would have done better making the decisions on their own rather than relying on the fund manager in order to do so. Of course, when you are making your own decisions you will have other worries on your mind at all times. So professional management can be a benefit or a downside depending on the manager you get for your fund. 3) Too much of a good thing isn't really good. The problem with mutual funds is that the funds that are doing well and netting high returns for its investors are often quickly inundated with new investors wanting the same results and there is only so much the manager can do to make good on the money that has been invested. There is another issue in which the fact that funds purchase such a small portion of so many stocks that when one or a handful of the companies that the fund is invested in do extremely well, the pool sharing the profits is so large that the impact is often negligible. 4) The big killer for many investors is that the fund manager takes actions that are right for the fund and those actions may not be what is best for your individual situation. A broker or financial planner that you deal with personally is much more likely to make financial decisions for you that are geared towards your individual needs and not the needs of a much larger group. If you want individual advice and guidance then a mutual fund is definitely not the way to go. You should also avoid them if you are in a precarious situation when it comes to things such as capital gains taxes, which can significantly impact your actual profits. 5) Personal control. Are you a control freak? Many of us are and when you go with a mutual fund you are giving someone else control of something that is often very personal. No one likes the idea of being at another person's mercy when it comes to retirement or planning for the future and you are essentially putting your retirement, your vacation home, or your child's college education in someone else's hands. This is a frightening situation for someone who is typically in control of these investment decisions. It really doesn't matter whether or not you ultimately decide to include mutual funds in your investment portfolio. The important thing is that when the time to decide presents itself you are in a position to make an informed decision about whether or not you want them included and to act upon the decision you make for better or for worse. Why Invest in Mutual Funds? If you are studying the stock market and your investment options it is quite likely that you've come across the term mutual funds a time or two. If you haven't you might want to grab a cup of coffee and listen for a minute or two because you just might find something you like in the next few paragraphs. Mutual funds are a kinder gentler method for investing in the stock market and working to secure your future and retirement. If stocks are sprinters when it comes to building a nest egg then mutual funds are the marathon endurance runners meant to secure that nest egg. You will discover once you get into your research a bit that some mutual funds are a little more aggressive when it comes to securing your future income than others and yet remains, in most cases, a safer bet than playing the stock market without a safety net. In fact, many consider mutual funds a safety net of sorts. While they may make the show a little less flashy and the stunts seem far less than death defying they do provide a nice steady performance over time and that is what matters in the end, isn't it? So why should you invest in mutual funds? Well there is no clear-cut reason that you should. It always comes down to personal reasons when playing the game of money investing with stocks, bonds, and any other means you have of investing. There are many reasons that mutual funds are attractive to investors and we'll go over a few of those here. Ultimately, however, it is up to you to decide whether or not investing in mutual funds is the way to go for your financial needs and the safety and security of your financial future. The truth of the matter is that this decision relies, almost completely, on how many risks you need to take and how much of your future security you are willing to risk. It could be that stocks, bonds, and mutual funds in some combination is the best direction for you to go with your investment dollars. Stability is the first reason that many people choose to invest in mutual funds. In a market that is volatile at best it is nice to know that most mutual funds experience slow and steady growth over time. There will be some days that are better than others but in the end there is generally noticeable growth in the funds. Leaving the headaches to someone else is another reason that mutual funds are popular. When it comes to mutual funds there is a fund manager that is in charge of deciding what to do with the money that has been entrusted to him by the group at large. This means that the burden is off your shoulders and you can actually enjoy your free time rather than spending those hours pouring over contradictory information about market trends that could lead you to a right decision as easily as they could lead you to the wrong decision. This way you get to leave the decision making to those that are qualified (presumably) to make that decision. You will of course want to check out the fund manger and his or her performance history. Another reason that mutual funds are popular and may be for you is that they allow the little guy to invest. In a world full of little guys it is nice to know that we too have the opportunity to make some money in the market and secure our financial situation when we reach retirement age. Buy ins for mutual funds are much smaller than it would be to purchase stocks on your own because there is a group of people who are essentially pooling their monies together in order to make the purchase. Not only is the risk spread throughout the group but also the buying power is multiplied. Whether this is for you or not, there are some serious advantages to be found by investing with mutual funds. Why Diversify? Investing is a risky venture whether you are a seasoned pro or a rank novice. If this is your first turn around the dance floor you need to realize first and foremost that all investing is a risk of some sort. There is no such thing as risk free investing though certain types of investments certainly involve more risks than others. This is the main reason that it is so important to have a stock portfolio that is diversified enough to offer some insulation from devastation due to one stock, bond, or fund performing poorly while also making a noticeable difference when one performs extraordinarily well. In other words, diversifying your portfolio tempers the risks you are taking by investing to some degree. You've heard the old saying "never put all your eggs in one basket" I am sure. Diversifying your portfolio moves your eggs around so that your nest egg has more than one layer or protection from the evils of the world and the fickle minds of men and the New York Stock Exchange. You want to diversify your investment portfolio so that one sector or one stock does not have the power to sink your financial future in one fell swoop. You want to feel secure that your investments are secure to some degree despite the many risks you will face. In fact you need that sense of security in order to continue investing and building your financial future. You will find that it is nearly impossible to work on a financial future you do not believe in. If that isn't enough however you want to diversify so that you have the opportunity to spread the wealth a bit too. You want to have a few opportunities to take the risks that make the real money in the stock market game. You cannot really do this if all your monies are tied up in ventures that are designed to play it safe and run the marathon. It's nice, on occasion to feel the wind in your hair as you sprint towards your financial goals rather than going at the snails pace in exchange for security. In other words, diversity brings a sense of balance to your portfolio too. There are all kinds of investments. You will find many different companies, many different sectors, different types of stocks, bonds, funds, and all manner of investment opportunities that each bring to the table a different type of risk and a different type of security upon which you can feast while organizing your portfolio in a meal that should is meant to last a lifetime and keep your family fed, clothed, and happy for many years to come. In order to do all of these things your financial situation needs to be as well rounded as you are as a person and your stock portfolio needs that liberal arts education that includes a little bit of everything. If you can accomplish this with your portfolio then your financial outlook should be much brighter and bolder than it would be if you left all your efforts in one basket and dined on one plate for the rest of your life. Take the time to check out your financial holdings and if you don't have a little bit of diversity on your plate it's time to add a little sprinkling of risk or conservation according to need. Why are Mutual Funds Popular? Mutual funds are probably one of the most popular choices in investing today. If you are wondering why they are so popular there are as many reasons as there are investors. Some of the biggest reasons will be discussed here. First of all, mutual funds are inexpensive when compared to some stocks and do not carry the hefty commissions that go along with trading through the stock market in many cases. The relative inexpensiveness of mutual funds when compared to other stock purchases make them extremely popular among those who have little money to invest but want to be setting money aside for future needs and their golden years. It's also a way in which investors may begin to set small sums, as little as $100 a month aside to purchase these funds and not have all the money eaten up in transaction fees and commissions. Second, mutual funds are a little easier to come by than most stocks. Many people purchase mutual funds through local bank and company 401 (k) plans whereas stock purchases require a brokerage service of some sort in order to pull them off along with the brokerage fees that cut into the money invested as well as the money earned when the stocks or funds in this case are sold. Third, mutual funds allow investors to build up a slow and steady income for their retirement years. While there are plenty of investment options that offer more immediate and more lucrative returns mutual funds are the ones that can be relied upon for the long stretch and that is what matters to many that are entering the phase of retirement savings in which risks aren't necessarily highly advisable because they need to capitalize on what is currently in their funds without the risk of losing that money. Another reason that mutual funds are so popular is because they are effective. Mutual funds pool the resources of many in order to maximize the earning potential of funds that are diverse enough to minimize risks while aggressive enough to bring in a few profits along the way. The risks are further hampered by the fact that so many people are absorbing little nicks of the cut along the way. What would have been catastrophic if you had your entire investment or even a large portion of your investment tied up in one stock is a nickel hit because other stocks and bonds in the bouquet as well as the large number of people sharing the hit have softened the blow. Finally, mutual funds are popular because people see them as profitable. Even if the profits are a long way down the road, the promise of profits tomorrow is enough for many to make the investment today. If you haven't considered the value of adding mutual funds to your portfolio now is the perfect time to do just that. Mutual funds are a great way to bring stability to a volatile market. They provide shelter for many stock investors from the cares and worries of losses and hard hits along the way. A mutual fund is a great addition to any portfolio that needs a little bit of stability. They are also excellent tools for funding retirement goals and long-term plans such as retirement homes or vacation houses. What to Look for in an Online Trading Company Trading stocks can be a confusing business in its own right. We are seeing more and more people take the roles of financial planners upon themselves and empowering themselves when it comes to investing in the stock market. The prevalence of online trading companies has been instrumental in breaking the barriers between the super wealthy being the only ones that could afford to regularly trade in the market and the average man who now has the power to make the same trades for less than half the commissions that once would have been necessary for the same amount of work on the part of broker. Oddly enough you need to be careful when picking your online trading source as not all companies are created equally in this manner. One of the first things you need to check out is the security with the company you are considering. In most cases, the bigger names will offer the better security. If it's a name you know there is some safety in knowing the name. They do not want to risk their reputations by risking your money. Another thing you will want to check out before deciding to sing up with any one online trading firm is the costs per transaction and how those costs are determined. There are all kinds of ways that little fees can hit you and become big headaches later on. You want to know ahead of time what those fees will be, when they will be charged, how they will be charged, and what exactly the fees cover. The more you clarify from the beginning the less room there is for misunderstandings later on. Be sure you have a way to discuss problems, ask questions, and get answers should there be a problem or a misunderstanding. This is as important as knowing what the fees are going to be. If you cannot find a way to communicate with an actual person, then I suggest moving along. There is nothing I hate worse than endless cycles of holds and button pushing while listening to bad music and fuming over why my time is being wasted and I'm paying XYZ company for the privilege of them wasting my time. Can you get around their website and do you understand the charts, bars, and graphs? It is much easier to work on a website that isn't confusing to you. Granted the first couple of days working on any site are likely to be somewhat confusing the problem is that if you are having too much trouble navigating through the website chances are you're going to have a little bit of difficulty even in those moments when seconds count. The easier the website is for you to get around the better it is going to be for putting you in the business of making money. If you can find all these things and more in an online trading website then you've probably found a great website to begin your time as a stock market investor. If the website also offers education and advice free of charge please take the time to read through the suggestions they offer for a little bit of guidance so that you do not feel as though you've been thrown to the sharks-feeling as though you have someone working with you can make all the difference in the world. What to Look for in a Broker? When it comes to investing in the stock market there are very few road signs to help you get started on your way. Most people find that the waters are very frightening indeed and filled with all kinds of new words, new meanings, and confusing contradictions. For this reason it is best to work with a financial advisor or stock broker while you are learning your way around the world of investing in the stock market and mutual funds. A broker can help you learn the terminology and make informed decisions that are in keeping with your financial situation and your financial goals. He or she can also help you identify your financial goals and your retirement needs as well as a timeline for retirement. In other words a broker is an invaluable tool in helping you secure the financial future of your dreams. When you are searching for the right stock broker to work with you will want to consider a few things first. You will want to find out about his history. How long has he been in the business, how long has he dealt with specific aspects of the business? What type of education does he have? Where he went to school? And what, if any, advanced degrees, education, and certifications he may have should be a nice set of questions to begin with. Many of these of course can be found on the broker's website so you can save your time meeting with him for more important questions. Some of the important questions might be how much time he sets aside for his clients, how much of a retainer (if any) is needed for him to take you on as a client, what are his going commission rates, financial planning rates (if applicable), and if he is going to be available to you or dodge your calls and emails. You can often get a hint about these things before you are a customer. If he dodges your calls and emails when he's trying to get his hands on your money, chances are he will do the same once he has them on your money. Get recommendations from friends and family and ask them the same questions about fees, commissions, and attention before you even talk to a financial advisor. The most important thing you can get from your time with a broker or advisor is a foundation upon which you can build a financial future. If you can learn as you go by asking questions of your advisor and having them answered you just might create a situation in which the two of you have a lifelong and beneficial working relationship. This brings me to my final recommendation. Go with a broker that you feel comfortable talking to and secure handing over a large portion of your money to. This person is going to help you plan your financial future you need to feel as though you can trust him to make the right decisions for your financial dreams and goals. If you cannot then you need to seek advise and guidance elsewhere. Finding the right financial planner or stock broker to help handle your financial needs will take a huge weight off your shoulders while allowing you the freedom to worry about today while he worries about your tomorrows. What is Day Trading? Day trading is the act of buying and selling stock throughout the day in hopes that they will make a substantial gain for the day during the course of their trading. The reason this is possible is because the prices of stocks fluctuate wildly during the day just as they fluctuate from one day to the next. This leaves the market open to those who relish the opportunity to profit off the pennies that others will sell to save. It can be quite a lucrative practice but carries with it a level of risk that is almost equal to investing in penny stocks. The rush that is received from day trading efforts is often compared to the same rush addicted gamblers get when walking into a casino. In fact, those who have gambling problems are strongly discouraged from participating in day trading activities for obvious reasons. Investing in the stock market carries some risk as a rule. The risks are magnified when you enter into risky practices such as day trading but the high profits that this type of trading can bring about is often incentive enough for adventurous investors to take the risk. In fact, many enterprising investors make lucrative livings from day trading alone. There are many that carefully analyze the market and create elaborate formulas for their day trading efforts to varying degrees of success. Those who do succeed in this particular business are very secretive as to their formulas and aren't likely to share. The point is that this isn't completely a game of luck. There is some degree of skill involved in making the numbers work for you as well as the smile of Lady Luck upon your fortune that is required in order to win at the game known as day trading. Most day traders prefer buying and selling on NASDAQ because it is generally more of a roller coaster ride, ideal for day trading, than the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The problem with this type of living is that you must constantly watch the market for those tell tale signs that a shift is preparing to happen. Lunch and sanity breaks can bring about destruction if you are counting on trading a specific stock at a specific price for the day (going up or down). If you are the type of person that doesn't do well in stressful situation this is definitely not going to be the trading style best suited to your financial and sanity needs. This is a stressful gig often compared to the job of an air traffic controller. Though the lives of others aren't in your hands only your financial future. The truth is that much like the radar screens at busy airports though the market is constantly moving and in you take your eye off the prize for even a second you could miss the moment you've been waiting for and disaster may strike. It's a real rush for the adventurous sort and torture personified for those that are prone to nail biting and drinking antacids. There are many 'safer' methods for investing your money that require a little more patience and produce a little less profit but are much easier for the nerves to handle. The Internet has made day trading a bigger way of life for more people today than ever before. The stress is shared by many people across the country though this is only one of many ways to invest big and earn big if you are so inclined. If you love taking risks though and have the time to dedicate to day trading this might be a great way for you to make the living you've always dreamed of making. This is a great job for those who love the highs and lows of a real roller coaster ride. Of course this is one job in which nerves of steal are a job requirement. Do you have what it takes?
Are Penny Stocks for You? Penny stocks are definitely risks that are better suited for the investor that likes to go skydiving, skinny-dipping, and bungee jumping. Of course even a few more conservative investors will find some attraction in the low risk promise of hefty payouts that the right penny stock can offer. In fact, many investors dream of being the one to find that perfect penny stock with absolute potential that will someday become the next LDDS turned WorldCom before the fall. The truth is that little businesses become big businesses everyday. Unfortunately, those that make it to the big leagues are quite few in number when compared to those who do not. Penny stocks are a great way for small companies to finance growth spurts, smooth over rough spots and manage to become even better. This also gives companies a chance to restructure and by allowing their stocks to be traded as penny stocks they are generating revenue that can be reinvested into the company to great effect. Many times, this is a successful venture for the company but there are many times it isn't. This is part of the risk that is taken when investing in penny stocks. When the companies manage to pull themselves together, grow at an exceptional rate, and become the company you hope they can become the payouts are amazing. But do not expect immediate results from your penny stock investment. You should also be aware that many companies use penny stocks in order to run scams on unsuspecting investors. It is nearly impossible to get all the particulars about penny stock companies when investing in penny stocks because unlike those companies that trade with the big boys (NYCE, NASDAQ, etc.) these companies are not required to open their books to potential investors and do not face nearly the same amount of scrutiny that larger corporations face when opening their doors to investors. But the question of whether or not penny stock trading is for your is going to depend almost entirely on your personal sense of adventure and your willingness to take risks with your money. There are many out there who firmly believe that in order to gain much, you must also be willing to risk much. This is a way of life for many that holds true for them in love, life, and in money. These people are much more capricious with their money and are willing to take the risk without reservation or fear of a negative outcome. These are the people who do wonderfully, win or loose when investing in penny stocks. On the other end of the spectrum there are those who jealously guard their nest eggs and bank their retirement security upon the funds going in that basket. These are people that are quite likely to find themselves panicking their way through a penny stock investment for many reasons. You can't really research the companies (a travesty to people who prefer careful planning) and you can't gain quick and easy access to your funds once invested. This removes some sense of control over you financial health and isn't a comfortable feeling for investors who like to feel in control. I can definitely relate to those who are in no condition, really, to invest in penny stocks. It's a frightening investment practice when houses, retirements, braces, and college educations are on the line. If you are the type to invest in penny stocks without carrying the heavy baggage of worry, stress, and nervous sweats along with you then you may find yourself in the position to change your wealth status. Even if you go against your comfort level and make the investment there is much to gain. Unfortunately the risks of this sort of investment are great as well and should not be overlooked or underestimated. So it still boils down to you and the person you are deep down inside. Are penny stocks right for you? Only you can answer that. What are the Risks of Trading Penny Stocks? You will hear about all kinds of risks that are taken when playing the stock market game. There are high-risk stocks and investments along with many low risk mutual funds and everything in between. When it comes to high-risk investment options, penny stocks often top the charts as some of the highest risks you will find in investment circles. Of course, they also offer some of the highest yield of any other stocks as well because the prices start so low and the sky is literally the limit. Do not get stars in your eyes however when considering penny stocks as investments because there are many that have gone before you into that type of investment and relatively few that have come back from the brink as wealthy men and women. Of course reason is rarely a good bedfellow for ambition or dreams and the low prices of most penny stocks it's perfectly acceptable for even the common man to have a few dreams of his own when it comes to obtaining wealth by playing the stock market game and there is a much greater thrill with penny stocks than you will find in any casino with penny slots. Some of the common risks associated with penny stocks may not be risks one would commonly assume are related to the stock market. The thing you need to remember is that trading penny stocks isn't regulated in the manner that the major stock exchanges are regulated. This means that a large safety net that others in the stock market are protected, to some degree, by does not extend into the murky waters of penny stock trading. It is the forgotten child of oversight and investors are left to fend for themselves. The first risk is fraud and this risk seems to be rampant in the penny stock market. You will find all kinds of fraudulent penny stocks that are heavily marketed by overseas companies that look glossy and legitimate on the Internet, in investment magazines, and through many brochures, and even several carefully crafted and well written press releases, newsletters, and emails. The problem is that there is no product or the demand is deceptively overrated and the stocks are essentially junk stocks worth nothing, if they exist at all. The "businesses" in question take the money, dump, and run never to be heard from again. Unfortunately this is quite common and many of the "companies" that perpetrate the frauds are located overseas. This is the biggest risk though certainly not the only risk. The other risk is that the companies that are listing penny stocks are often smaller businesses that are building or larger businesses that have fallen off the major exchanges radar for one reason or another and are either going through desperate restructuring or failing all together. Both pose very real risks but if you choose to put your faith in the right new business or old business that is getting its act together the proper way you can find amazing profits on the other end of the roller coaster ride. The other risks that are involved when trading penny stocks are the lack of financial reporting. Corporations and companies that trade in the major stock exchanges are required to release their financial information and account to their stockholders. The same doesn't hold true for penny stocks. There is no accountability and very little public information. This means you have to really dig to find out credible information about the companies you are considering and are left going with your gut more often than not rather than relying on legitimate information that will be beneficial in your investment decisions. Penny stocks are very lucrative to those who manage to pull off the investments and come out ahead. There are few instances in which there is little profit with the lion's share of these investments yielding substantial profits for investors. What are the Risks of Day Trading? If you are looking for a truly risky venture for your investment dollar then you may want to investigate the roller coaster ride that many know as day trading. While those that swear by it for making and breaking fortunes will swear there is a formula those that have been raked onto the rocky shores of this particular trading business will be the first to tell you that their luck ran out. Whether it's luck or science, day trading for many has proven to be risky business at best. The Risks In order to be successful in day trading you must be absolutely prepared to lose. You do not have time to think about failure, as it is likely at any moment. This is a lightening quick business and sometimes the market moves much more quickly than your fingers. This can result in unexpected losses as well as unexpected gains along the way. These bumps in the road are nothing compared to the highs and lows of actually being a day trader though. Forget the finances for a moment and consider the risks of heart attacks, heart palpitations, and strokes brought on the by excitement and heartburn (not that this can bring about a stroke but it sounded good) of the moment. Day trading is very taxing. You must constantly watch your computer throughout the day for signs of life from your stock and act immediately. This is a high stress job that many simply cannot handle long term. Unfortunately day trading must become your day job because you have little time or energy to invest in anything else. There are those that get a huge charge from day trading but this is not a job for the average citizen it takes a huge toll on their health much too quickly-especially those that are sensitive to stress as it is. Perhaps the biggest risk is that you can become addicted to the highs and lows. This is a huge problem because once you become addicted it is much more difficult to temper your purchases and counter your losses. When you aren't looking at it with a clear mind and unhampered perspective it doesn't seem nearly as dangerous as it can be. Lives are ruined financially because of irresponsible day trading and addictions to day trading that are much like addictions to gambling. If you suspect you or someone you love is the victim of this particular addiction please get him or her or yourself the help that is needed as quickly as possible. You should also understand that day trading isn't investing in the strictest sense of the world. Day traders don't invest in stocks so much as they trade stocks and while some may claim this is a simple case of semantics there are a few major differences. Investors hold onto stocks for a little while with the expectation of gains over time while traders buy and sell quickly hoping for immediate gratification. Investors research and study a specific stock before jumping in while traders study patterns and formulas and hope they made the right decision. Investing in and of itself is risky; day trading adds another layer of risk to the equation. If you think you have what it takes to participate in day trading you need to keep in mind that you should make sure that you have a few other options in place for your investment future that require a little less risk. What are the Different Investment Types? You will find all kinds of investments available to you once you enter the world of stock market investing and mutual funds investing. In fact, to those who have never even considered trading stocks or funds there are all kinds of options that you have probably never considered that are widely available to those who make use of various brokerage services that can be found online or off. Among the most popular options for the trading public, of course, is the buying and selling stocks. Purchasing a stock is the same as purchasing a little bit of ownership in a given company. You will find that the average share of stock doesn't provide you a big piece of the corporate pie by any means but if you've always loved those Kodak moments wouldn't it be nice to be able to say you are a part owner in Kodak, perhaps then you will feel as though you really are getting your money's worth. It is certainly incentive to encourage everyone you know to buy products to help improve your potential returns. Mutual funds are also very popular among the investing public. While they do not work in quite the same fashion that stocks work you will typically find that you own a few stocks and/or a few bonds in the process of owning your mutual funds. These are definitely long-term investments but many happy retirements are being built on these funds and they are quite valuable to the average investor who seeks stability and profit in smaller degrees rather than one at the detriment of the other. Day trading is another form of investing that is gaining no small degree of attention, not all of it good. For some people, day trading is an adventure game though the costs can be quite high if proper care and attention aren't devoted to learning the best methods for investing in this very risky investment type. Day trading is not really investing so much as it is buying and selling quickly in hopes of massive profits immediately. Most people consider investing more of a long-term commitment but day trading is more like a one-night stand. Trading penny stocks is another risky business in the investing arena but many millions have been won in lost with these kinds of stocks. Many of the big businesses you see listed on the big boards today began their trek to the top of the heap as penny stocks and many find themselves as penny stocks once again when on their way down from the heights of fame and infamy. Fraud is rampant in the penny stock arena so be sure that you keep both eyes open if you decide to try to navigate these shark infested waters. With bonds you are essentially loaning money to the business or agency that you are bonding with and they will pay you back at an agreed upon time. This is a risk though admittedly not as risky as other investment methods. There are many who swear by bonds and those that avoid them like the plague. I prefer to deal with bonds only as a part of mutual funds but that is just my personal choice. Whether or not you decide to take on a bond or two is strictly your choice as well. As you can see there are many options for those who are interested in investing. The problem is often choosing the investment type (s) you wish to pursue for your financial future. What are Penny Stocks? Strictly speaking, penny stocks are stocks that the beginning investor, in many cases, can actually afford to purchase. You discover that penny stocks are especially in new or up and coming companies or companies that are on their last leg and treading water. This doesn't mean that even those companies that have fallen off the big lists aren't worthy investments, all the same they have been known to pick themselves up, reinvent themselves, and find themselves back on the big lists. For the sake of this article however, penny stocks are sometimes big companies going through a downward spiral, which makes them, just like the new companies, somewhat of a risk. The SEC or Securities and Exchange Commission classifies penny stocks as those that sell for less than $5 a share. Of course other exchanges consider those selling for less than three dollars or even one to be penny stocks. Essentially, penny stocks are those that are not exchanged on the major stock exchanges such as NYCE, AMEX, are NASDAQ. It really depends upon the exchange in which you are trading. Penny stocks are a little more risky than many of the rest however for good reason. Just as they are very risky however, they are also quite profitable for those who manage to trade penny stocks successfully. The risks in penny stocks go well beyond the obvious and are part of the reason that payoffs are so rewarding for those who are fortunate. There is very little skill that goes into successfully trading penny stocks but a lot of luck. If you are a gambler at heart then this is definitely your sort of investment. It is very important however that you enter into penny stocks trading with the firm understanding that you aren't likely to be successful. In fact, chances are good that you will lose as much as you make from the prospect. There are those however, who have managed to defy the odds and win quite handsomely in the game we've come to know as penny stock trading. A few things you will want to keep in mind before you begin trading in this highly volatile market include the following. First of all, penny stocks are not like regular stocks where they are heavily traded and there is almost always someone waiting in line to purchase. When you decide to sell it could be a while before a buyer comes along. This means that penny stocks are not the most liquid stocks on the planet and if you need quick access to your money this is definitely not the stock for you. Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to penny stocks is that there is often very little information on these companies. Unless you have excellent research skills and the time and energy to put them to use for your trading endeavors you are very unlikely to find much background and financial information on these companies as opposed to many publicly traded companies that are pretty much required to open their books to investors. This is dangerous to investors because knowledge is important and schemes are plenty. Every penny you invest in penny stocks should be a penny that you are very well prepared to loose and perfectly happy to earn a return with. You could hit the lottery on your penny stock investment and earn literally three to four (or more) times what you invested in your stocks. Chances are that the opposite will be the case however and you will lose your investment. As long as you are prepared to deal with the consequences and allow yourself to be pleasantly surprised when your trades pay off you might be the perfect person to trade in the penny stock market. When making your decisions about the types of stocks, bonds, or funds you wish to include in your portfolio you may want to include a few penny stocks for the sake of diversity and to risk a small sum of money on a long shot. You never know when those long shots will pay off. Trading stocks online Online stock trading is becoming a very popular way in which to invest in the stock market. Ordinary everyday citizens such as you and me can now trade stocks like the pros without paying the ridiculous broker fees that are often associated with trading on the stock market. This doesn't mean there are no fees involved or that you won't be discouraged from capriciously trading stocks. What it does mean is that you will be able to trade stocks, as you may have never been able to do before because the costs involved in trading were so high that only the wealthiest among us could really afford to work the market to any real advantage. You will find quite a few companies that are going to compete for your business when it comes to empowering you to trade stocks online. It is best to go with a business that offers education and advice in addition to the ability to trade. There are many big names in the brokerage business that are getting in touch with the technology of today and offering full service brokers and financial advisors in addition to offering new online services that include Internet trading. If you decide to go with some of the bigger names in the business you should understand that you will pay a little more than you would pay going with many of the lesser name firms and trading companies. The good news is that the bigger names have more to loose after working for decades to establish themselves and develop a good reputation among traders. This means that they are not going to be "fly by night" and are going to work to make sure you have the best possible service from them for your future in the stock market trade. Many of these firms in addition to offering the ability to buy, sell, and trade online will also offer financial planning for retirement, future expenses, and advice on how to create a fixed income from your investments. They will offer many tips, hints, and advice free of charge on their website while also promoting the services they offer through discounts in hopes of gaining your business for some of the higher ticket transactions that really pay their bills. Online investment services offer consumers the opportunity to invest with lower commissions and fees which means you bring more of the money home when all is said and done and spend far less on fees and expenses associated with investing. By saving these fees you may be doing yourself a huge service but keep in mind that the invaluable advice of a broker can often mean the difference between mild successes and wild successes. If you can manage the fees it is a good plan to at least consult with a broker or financial advisor or planner once or twice a year in order to get the most out of your investment money. Online trading is great but you will find that it lacks the personal service you can expect from a financial advisor or a stockbroker. Very little has such a profound impact on your financial future than the ability to receive and follow expert advice. While there is much to read on the Internet by way of advice on investing in the stock market there is also a lot of conflicting information just as there is a great deal of misinformation. This is something that, when possible, is best left to the experts at least until you manage to learn the ropes and have a few successful trades under your belt. If you have the heart of gambler however, then it is your money you are playing with and your future you are investing. If you are not spending more than you are willing to lose then there is no harm in trying your hand at investing through online brokerage services. You just might roll the dice and find a nice payout for your efforts. Stock Market Gambling Are you addicted to gambling? How about taking risks? There are many who are literally addicted to gambling and the stock market is their drug of choice. There are many options available for their gambling pleasure and the tables, it seems, are always open with various markets around the world opening up to US money and the prevalence of Internet trading venues that are available to the average investor through nothing more sophisticated than a computer and a modem. Day trading is a particular draw for those who are addicted to gambling through trading stocks. It provides the ups and downs very similar to the roll of the dice or the ringing of the slot machines and instant hits and misses. It can even be addictive for those who have never set foot in a casino. Of course this type of investing isn't the only investing that is very much like gambling. Any high-risk investment is going to bear some similarities, especially those that offer high payouts to those who do succeed on occasion. The problem is that that addictive gambling can be devastating to friends, family, and finances. If you suspect that you or someone you love has a gambling problem you need to either get help yourself or encourage them to get help. There are many ways that this can be accomplished and anonymous help can be found online. Day traders have gained so much notoriety as potential gambling addicts that gamblers anonymous has begun a support group specifically for those who are addicted to gambling via day trader trading. If you have the personality that is easily addicted to things such as lottery tickets, slot machines, chocolate candy bars, etc. this doesn't mean that you can't ever trade on the stock market it just means that it might be a good idea to avoid some of the higher risk trading and stick with more slow and steady options such as mutual funds, CDs, and the like. Your rewards are likely to be better over time and you aren't likely to experience the ups and downs that go along with activities that closely resemble gambling. An addiction to gambling is a serious problem that can ruin a family financially. It is imperative that you get the help you need if you discover that you have a gambling problem. The first suggestion is to close up all stock market accounts that could lead to temptation. Removing temptation is always a great first step when fighting any addiction. You also need to seek support. There are many groups around the country such as gambler's anonymous that can provide you a close knit support group whenever temptation strikes. If your local chapter has a group that is designed specifically for those who are addicted to gambling through day stock trading that might prove to be the best choice to help you on the road to recovery from your addiction. If you have been addicted to gambling in the past you should also avoid the temptation that day trading may present. Addictions may be overcome but they are never cured and temptation for many can prove to be the fatal downfall. Do not allow your gambling addiction to take control of your life once again by entering into the world of day trading after working so hard to overcome your addiction in the first place and build a life after the sometimes devastating effects that addictions can bring. Gambling is nothing new to the world and there is nothing wrong with having the sort of personality that likes to take a gamble on occasion. In fact, there needs to be a little bit of that personality type in every day trader. It's when the gambling becomes a problem and takes over your life and your ability to make rational decisions about the money and the risks you are taking that it crosses the line between gambling and a gambling problem that borders on or is a gambling addiction. If you have crossed that line, get help today. Reasons to Invest Many people think of investing in the stock market as a means of reaching retirement goals and nothing more. There is very little that could be further from the truth though. There are many reasons that people invest in the stock market that have a lot to do with the more immediate future. If you haven't considered all the great things that can come about as the result of savvy investing in the stock market and mutual funds, perhaps these ideas will give you a little inspiration. 1) Buying a home. While you do not necessarily need the money upfront to pay for the entire house it would be great. Of course, down payments are great to have to and the more money you can spend as a down payment the lower interest rate you can get, which means you will pay considerably less over the life of your home. It also means you will have instant equity in your home that is almost always a great thing. 2) Sending the kids to college. This is a long term investing goal but it isn't as long term for many as retirement. Most of us can actually envision sending our kids off to college while we aren't yet ready to imagine or day to dream (or dread) what our retirement is going to be like. But many people wonder often how they are going to give their children the college education they dream of for their children. 3) Braces and other medical expenses. If you have kids you should be prepared for unexpected medical and dental expenses along the way. Even if you have an excellent insurance plan chances are that you will need to bear the brunt of some of these costs along the way in the form of deductibles and co payments that can be costly in their own rights. It helps if you have a little money set aside and earning interest for these occasions. 4) Dream vacations. We all have places we'd love to go, things we'd love to do, and sights we'd love to see. Most of us put a lot of time and effort into securing our future and forget the importance of taking some time to enjoy the time we have today. Our children are only young once so if you want to take them to Disney it is best to do it while they are young and can enjoy and remember the experience. More importantly they can remember sharing the experience with you. This is one of the best reasons to invest. 5) To pay for the unexpected. Pipes burst, the heating and air conditioning go out, and new cars are needed along the way. Most investments have a much better return on investment than the average bank's interest rate. This means that by investing the money you are more likely to have it making money for you while you are waiting for those moments when you need to withdraw it in order to handle those little emergencies. As you can see there are plenty of reasons to invest your money that have nothing to do with retirement though securing a comfortable retirement is near the top of most people's lists of reasons to invest. If you haven't thought of all these reasons and a few more and aren't yet investing, what on earth is stopping you from getting started right away? Low Risk Stocks Stocks are a great way to secure your family's financial future. From braces, to college, to weddings, and retirement you will find a way to pay for all of these things and a few of life's unexpected emergencies along the way. For this reason many people have an inner battle as to whether it is a better idea to invest a little more aggressively or conservatively in order to get the most for their money. The problem with low risk investments for many is the fact that lower risks typically render lower yields. This means that there is less money to work with when that important day comes (at least in theory). Of course if you take a few larger risks along the way you still risk having less when the time comes to cash in your nest egg and rely upon it for a living or to take care of the needs we encounter along the way. Common low risk investments include mutual funds and certificates of deposits though there are many stocks that would be considered low risk. Those would be the giants of industry that have withstood various tests of time and have come out no worse for wear as a result. It is important to remember that low risk doesn't indicate that the investments you are making carry no risk. There is no such thing as a no risk investment though these mentioned above carry far fewer risks than some of the more volatile markets in which one could choose to invest. Another low risk investment for many is to go with childhood favorites such as Hershey, Mattel, GE, and other stocks that have been around for a very long time and have become almost a household name. The longevity of these companies makes them attractive for those looking for long term, low risk investments. They are relatively steady experience growth that often goes hand in hand with inflation. They do not generally experience the roller coaster ride that many stocks on various exchanges may go through so they are definitely not fodder for the manipulations of day traders. They are instead solid investments that while not flashy in their offerings are stable and that is something that low risk investors admire in stocks. Certificates of deposit (CDs) have been known to offer significantly better rates of returns than many mutual funds and most interest rates for savings plans. If you are going to go the route of a mutual fund you either need to carefully consider how conservative you want your mutual fund to be (more aggressive funds can make more money than the average CD but you'll need to carefully consider which will be best for your financial goals) before deciding which is the better option of the two for you. If you choose to go with mutual funds there are several types from which to choose. You need to decide from the beginning if you prefer a mutual fund that will give you a monthly income now or if you want a mutual fund that is dedicated to slow growth and a constantly increasing value. You will want a mutual fund that pays out a certain amount of money each month as you near retirement. Until then it is in your best interest to avoid those, as there is very little, if any, growth in the value of these funds. Investing in the stock market is taking a risk. For some people investing in the market is a leap of faith while others are more confident taking baby steps towards their financial goals and future plans. Whatever type of investor you may be you will find some value in having at least some mutual funds and lower risks investments included in your portfolio. If you do not have any in your portfolio at the moment, there is no time like the present to include them. Losing to Win In the world of the stock market, particularly when it comes to higher risk investments such as day trading there is a bit of a learning curve. In other words you must be prepared to lose in order to win. By doing this you will be in a much better position for making wise decisions later on based on your past experiences. This means that you will either need to lose money by investing in a broker that can assist you in making those initial trades while educating you on the ways of the market or you are going to need to spend a little money learning the ropes on your own. Either way in the stock market you will learn much more from the losses you take along the way than you will ever learn through successes that get you through the days. The theory behind losing to win is that you will spend a little money learning the ropes and that will be money well spent once you learn the ins and outs of trading. It is quite likely that this will not be the only money that you will lose along the way as you journey into the world of high finance and stock market and mutual fund investments but it is probably going to be the largest concentration of money that you will lose during the process. If you are willing to risk those initial dollars for the purpose of learning a new and better way of making your money work for you then you can expect to not only establish a comfortable retirement but also to quite possibly make a comfortable living in the meantime. Most day traders fail all together. Among those that ultimately succeed they face heavy losses in the beginning at least until they work out some sort of system that brings success their way more often than not. In order to succeed in that particularly volatile market you must be observant, pay attention to detail, and keep accurate and copious records not only of all transactions but the results of those transactions for better or worse. This helps you see patterns that you might not otherwise see as well as keeps your wins and losses in black and white so that you are aware of just how much money you are making and losing while learning the ropes. For those who are willing to take these steps there is a lot of money to be made in the stock market-particularly in the field of day trading. High profits are great and something that most investors secretly dream of whether they'll ever admit it out loud or not. The difference in those investors and those that go the day trading route is that the day traders are actually placing themselves in a position to experience these massive profits that everyone else will be so jealous of in the end. It is a risk, no doubt, but careful consideration, planning, and attention to detail can bring those big paydays. Some people go to college for advanced degrees in their chosen fields. Education is a big investment with high interest bearing student loans left over when all is said and done. All in all, a year of learning the ropes with day trading can prove to be a much lower expense than a full four-year college education (interest included) and bring about bigger profits without creating nearly the mountain of debt (provided of course that you invested wisely). If a small learning curve and one year's worth of time can produce results such as this wouldn't it be well worth it to try and see how much of a difference day trading can make in your financial future? If you are at all interested in this form or any other form of stock market investing take the time to learn a little more before taking the plunge. How to Diversify Your Portfolio I'm sure you've heard how important it is to keep a diverse financial portfolio. There are many reasons for this not the least of which is spreading out the risks as well as the rewards so that one bad day on the market doesn't do in your entire financial future. Many people have learned along the way that the price to be paid for failing to diversify can be very high indeed. If you aren't prepared to pay that price then the solution is probably much simpler than you may realize. The first thing you need to realize is that there is no perfect solution that is always guaranteed to be a safe investment (there is no such thing as a risk free investment only those that carry less risk than others). With this in mind you can minimize the risks by spreading them out between several different stocks, bonds, and funds. It is important to seek the services of a financial advisor if you can at all afford to do so. In all honesty you really can't afford to rest your financial future in the hands of an amateur who knows very little if anything about the way the stock market works and how best to structure your portfolio. If for what ever reason you choose to go it alone there are many options available to have a truly diverse portfolio. The first thing you want to do is divide your holdings between several sectors. This means that when one sector performs poorly you still have the hope that the other sectors won't share the same fate. During the dot com bust a few years back and the sub prime real estate bust more recently many people learned the hardships that can come about by having too much invested in one industry. Had they spread their investments around a little better many people would not have been hit nearly as hard as they were. Once you've done that you will want to purchase a few stocks, some mutual funds (these are much lower risk funds that are designed to steadily but slowly build value over time), and a few CDs to balance things out. There are all kinds of formulas as to how to do this for maximum effect but the truth of the matter is that you can't really determine the best route for you to take without knowing a little more about your current situation and your goals and plans. This is why a financial advisor is so important. Different concentrations of stocks, bonds, and funds are preferable at different stages in your life and according to the amount of money you currently have set aside. Ultimately in diversifying you want to avoid having too great of a concentration in one stock, one sector, and one investment type whenever possible. You never want to rest your entire financial future in one stock, bond, or fund because that really is an all or nothing risk and rarely turns out good. If you get nothing else from a financial planner you really should consult with one about how to best diversify your investment portfolio. He or she can help you get started along the path to financially planning a brighter future than you may have ever imagined for your family. Benefits of Using a Stock Broker I should begin this by saying that stock brokers are expensive. However, if you are new to the world of investing and find the terminology, expenses, fees, and process the least bit confusing it is best to utilize the services of a stock broker that is going to work with you every step of the way and explain the way things work at least for the first several trades you make. Stock brokers are paid through commissions that are earned every time you buy or sell a stock. For this reason they are great for advising you on which stocks to buy or sell though their main goal is to keep you buying and selling because they earn money on each transaction so be sure to take their advice, to some degree, with a grain of salt. That being said a good stock broker can help you learn the ropes about trading stocks when you are just beginning in your investment efforts. Their advice and services can be invaluable and well worth every penny you pay them provided you find a broker that is going to work with you even though you are, presumably, going to be trading on a much smaller scale than some of their high dollar clients. In other words you want someone that is going to work with you even though you aren't likely to be their biggest client anytime in the near future unless they make some excellent decisions on your behalf. Stock brokers can also provide excellent insight and invaluable advice on how to diversify your portfolio in order to minimize your risks as far as your investments go while building the foundation for a successful future trading in the market. More importantly a stock broker can help you identify diamonds in the stock business that may be disguised as lumps of coal. They have a great deal of experience in this business, even more education, and often times excellent gut instincts about what is coming next in a given stock. This by no means indicates that the services or advice of stock brokers is somehow infallible. This isn't the case at all. Everyone makes mistakes but by following the advice of a stock broker you are much likely to make fewer mistakes than if you were going it alone because you can learn from past mistakes the brokers have made and hopefully avoid future mistakes of your own by taking their advice and guidance to heart. If the high commissions of brick and mortar brokerages are hard to come by or sacrifice you may want to consider an online stock broker. While they often won't have the pedigree and credentials of some of the stock broker experts that can be found in many financial institutions on Wall Street they also do not charge commissions that match those pedigrees and can be invaluable in helping you make the most of your stock market investments. Learn when to take the advice that is given for what it is worth and use it to your advantage. Their advice can still help you much more than trying to muddle through the intricacies of investing and online trading on your own. If you decide not to go with a stock broker you need to understand that you are doing so at your own risk. The roads of the stock market are difficult to navigate even for those that have some degree of experience and there are few roadmaps to help guide you along the way. A qualified and competent stock broker can be the difference between a successful investment future and a loosing your shirt on your first time out of the gate. Take advantage of the benefit that a stock broker can bring to the table until you are confident in your ability to navigate these waters on your own. It can make all the difference in the world to your portfolio. Are You Ready to Invest? We grew up in world in which the news about the failure of Social Security is almost as constant as the news about the failure HMOs. We all know that it is unlikely that many people who are currently contributing to social security will ever see the money we've invested into the program. At least these funds are probably not coming back to darken our doors. This means we need to find alternatives and end our reliance on the government for a comfortable retirement that doesn't appear to be in the woodworks. For this reason we are seeing more and more people in the twenty and thirty something generation taking matters into their own hands and investing not only for their retirements and the days when we can no longer work but also for those days when things happen and we need to fix broken houses, buy new cars, or pay hefty insurance deductibles for medical care. There are many reasons we choose to invest and very few that would ever be considered the wrong reason. The question remains, because there are so many out there who are not yet investing, with so many reasons to invest, are you ready to invest? Here are a few situations in which if you don't think you are ready to invest you may need to revisit your opinions and decide that ready or not, you need to invest. If you have children and a job that doesn't offer a pension plan or matching retirement fund then it is probably a good idea to invest on your own. Even if you don't have corporate provisions for contributions you have alternatives such as Roth IRAs that will give you a tax break for investing some of your money and helping to plan for your own retirement. If you have children that will some day need dental work, medical services, and/or college educations it is about time that you began those savings plans. Yet again there are tax deferred and tax fee options that are available and having this money invested ahead of time can save you so much money later on that it is worth making a few sacrifices along the way to secure the future of your children. If you want to give your daughter the wedding of her dreams then you absolutely need to begin preparing, saving, planning, and investing about 10 years before she's born. Weddings are expensive and if you are going to go the dream wedding route you need to be saving some serious money in order to give her that fairy tale. Finally, if you want your retirement to be a nice comfortable existence and not to be spent in your future daughter-in-law's broom closet you need to be ready today to begin investing in your future retirement. Time is short, life expectancies are longer than ever, and the costs of living are continuing to rise at alarming rates. If you're not ready to invest you need to figure out why and fix the problem so that you can be ready to invest and soon. Investing in your financial future is the greatest gift you can give yourself by far. If you aren't sure where to begin or how, perhaps it's time to seek the services of a qualified financial advisor. His advice may prove invaluable and may give you a much more comfortable future than you would have ever imagined left to your own devices.
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