A Very Brief History of My Investing Life
I started investing my money when I was 18. I used a discount broker (nothing like what a discount broker is today). From there I moved to a large retail firm that my parents used. Tired of not getting any attention because I didn’t have “enough” money, went out on my own.
During this time, I was chasing stocks, trying to make a quick buck. I had some success, but I also failed miserably as well. I’ve since changed my outlook and currently use a passive investing strategy. I take what the market gives and stay invested for the long-term, through both the highs and lows of the market.
I currently use Schwab, Vanguard, Betterment and Sharebuilder for my investing needs.
Investing Education Posts
When it comes to investing, simpler is better. Trying to beat the market doesn’t work. Paying higher fees doesn’t guarantee higher returns. In fact, many times it’s the complete opposite. If you are new to investing or even understand investing but want to make certain you have it all down, I urge you to read the following posts.
Below that are the investing products I recommend you use (many of which I personally use) as well as a link to my book.
If you have any questions, please contact me and I’ll do my best to help you out.
My Investing Book
I also have written an investing book, 7 Investing Steps That Will Make You Wealthy. It’s a great read for anyone looking to get a better understanding of how the stock market works and the 7 key steps that you need to take to be successful. The great part is that these 7 steps are easy to set up and follow.
Investing Providers I Recommend
Below is a summary of various investment providers and link to my review/their site. If you want to compare brokers and see who has which features, check out my online broker comparison chart. If you scroll down after this list, you will see the most current signup promotions that is currently available for each site.
Sharebuilder: I personally use their automatic investing service. They offer you codes for free trades. A quick search over the internet will yield more free codes. Some will work, others will not. When I run out, I pause my plan until I get a handful more codes. You can read my Sharebuilder review for a complete analysis.
Betterment: These guys have it all figured out. Low fees and simple portfolios so that you are diversified from the start. I love these guys! If you click on the link and open a new account, you get a $25 bonus. You can read my full Betterment review as well for an analysis.
Trade King: I know that not everyone is a fan of buy and hold investing. While 100% of my investing for the long-term is based on a buy and hold plan, I too have a “play” account that I trade in. For this, one option is Trade King. They have super low commissions on stock trades and on options as well. You can read my full review of all Trade King offers here.
Scottrade: Whether you are looking for a place for long-term, buy and hold investing or a place for a play account, Scottrade has you covered. Thousands of no fee mutual funds, hundreds of no fee ETFs and only $7 for stock trades. To learn more about Scottrade, check out my review.
E*Trade: E*Trade is yet another option when it comes to online brokers. As with the ones mentioned about, E*Trade offers some different things than the others. Options, no-fee mutual funds and ETFs, E*Trade has it all. You can read all about E*Trade in my review.
Charles Schwab: This is the main broker I use right now. Everything about them is easy to use and they have everything I need when it comes to investing. Unless something dramatic happens, I doubt I will ever stop using them. Click here for my detailed review.
Motif Investing: Like Betterment, Motif is changing the investment landscape. Instead of investing in a few stocks, you can build your own “motif” which is a basket of stocks and trade all of them at once for the same price it costs to trade one stock anywhere else. If you don’t feel like building your own motif, you can choose one that is already made. To learn more, check out my full review.
Prosper: Prosper is a “peer-to-peer” lending service. What is this? It allows people like you and me to get loans to help pay down debt or to start a business. The borrowers are people like you and me as well. After you sign up, you search for loans that need funding and invest you money. You don’t fund 100%, you fund a percentage along with others.
As the borrower makes monthly payments, you get a portion of your money back plus interest. I used to do this, but then my state stopped allowing me to invest. Otherwise, I would still be all over this.
If you’re a little unsure, know that there is a bank that acts as an intermediary and there are collection agencies to help you should the borrower default. (I never experienced this in my three-plus years investing. The site claims that over 85% of loans are repaid.)
Below you will find all of the current promotions for the discount brokers. Note that in many cases, you need to open an account with a certain dollar amount. When you click through, you can read all of the fine print. (Disclosure, some of these links are referral links, meaning that I will get a kickback if you sign up. Thank you in advance to all that sign up through my links.)
Pay Attention To Fees
Regardless of how you invest your money, I urge you to pay attention to fees and commissions that you pay. The more you pay in fees and commissions, the less money you earn. Contrary to popular belief, higher fees do not equal higher returns. If you are clueless to how much you are paying in fees (don’t be ashamed, most overlook them) you can sign up for a free account at Personal Capital. They will show you just how much fees are costing you.
If on the other hand you would rather not give your usernames/passwords to another firm, you can sign up for a free account with Morningstar and use their X-ray tool. It will take you some time to manually enter all of the information, but it is a good option to try if Personal Capital is not for you.
If you read my investing posts or my book, you will see that you can earn a decent return with little work. Investing isn’t overly complicated. It just sounds that way. Once you understand the basics, you have the knowledge you need.