I thought I would make a sticky for this topic since most people are either graduated or close to graduated and are thinking more about investing money. I'll try to put all the good stuff in the first post and keep an ongoing discussion in the rest of the thread.Information Linkshttp://www.finance.yahoo.com
- Best site for pure research on companies stocks and a good source of news. Has pretty well populated message boards. Although remember what goes on in message boards is 95% crap.http://www.google.com/finance
- I prefer Google's site for looking at charts and getting news about a company. They have discussion boards for each stock to talk about them.http://www.thestreet.com
- A lot of good articles and videos, and you can find all of Cramer's recaps there.http://www.fool.com
- I like this site because they frequently give you investing ideas that you can research but other than that it is mostly spam for their services. Their Caps site is quite interesting though, basically lets everyone rank how they think a stock will perform.http://www.fatwallet.com/c/52/
- Fatwallet Finance forum, has stickied threads with the best current interest rates for money market accounts and CDs, and lots of good discussions on anything financial.http://www.bankrate.com
- A way to help find the best interest rates for checking, savings, CDs, loans and more. If you're always looking for the best rates this is where to go.Tracking Your Accounts Onlinehttp://moneycenter.yodlee.com
- Allows you to group all of your different accounts into one place so you can see balances on all your banks accounts, investment accounts, credit cards, and loans, etc. You can set up budgets and monitor all your transactions as well as see your total net worth.http://www.mint.com
- Doesn't have as many features as yodlee, but it looks a lot prettier. They are adding investment accounts soon, but it is good for seeing a pie chart of your spending and setting up budgets as well.ArticlesHow to Place a Stock OrderShould I Invest
Only you can make that decision, but this is sort of a check list to see if you have everything else in line before you start investing.
1. Do you have any debt?
Specifically credit card debt with high interest rates in the teens or twenties. You have to have this paid off before you even consider investing. If you have student loans or a mortgage or other deductible debt then you are still ok, this is generally considered "good debt". Especially if your interest rate is low then you should be good.
2. Do you have any savings? (Short Term Savings)
This is to make sure you don't get into debt, for all those unexpected health, home or auto costs that can hit you out of nowhere. People will tell you various amounts. But generally around 3-6 months of expenses is what you want to shoot for. Remember expenses, not total income for a month. Generally you want to find a liquid savings account with the highest rate you can find.
3. Do you have a retirement plan? (Long Term Savings)
This is obviously very important if you don't want to be working when you're older. How much you need to contribute depends on many factors, but there are calculators online that can give you a good head start.
Do you have access to a retirement plan through your work like a 401(k) or 403(b)? Do they match your contributions? If the answer to both of these is yes then you have to contribute enough to get your full match. That is basically free money and the best return you'll probably ever see, and it's guaranteed!
If not, have no fear, there is another option, the IRA. These are Individual Retirement Accounts and means that you get to pick what to invest in, not just pick from the companies basket of funds that may or may not suck. There are Roth and Traditional varieties, and for younger people the Roth is probably the choice for your, for various reasons, especially if you have higher income.
The usual "ideal" way to save for retirement is.
1. Contribute into 401(k) up until you reach the full matching contribution limit
2. Max out a Roth IRA (2007 limit is 4k, 2008 limit goes to 5k, if you're over 55 add another 1k to those totals)
3. Max out the rest or you 401(k)
4. Invest in a taxable account
4. If you have 1-3, that is no bad debt, a savings plan, and retirement taken care of, then you are probably ready to invest in a taxable account and get into individual stocks if so desired. It is often desirable to have a taxable account since, if you have to go past your savings for some reason you can pull out of this account instead of retirement, which might incur a tax penalty and perhaps throw you off track to retire on your terms.
Now if you have none of these done and this seems like it will take forever to accomplish. Remember that it is just an ideal situation. There is nothing wrong with contributing to all of them at once. That is to say, you can take $200, and put $50 towards debt, $50 towards savings, $50 towards retirement and $50 towards in discretionary investing. You can split it up however you like but it is certainly a valid strategy.Online Brokershttp://www.sharebuilder.com
- I think this is the best place for people to start if they want to start out slowly but try to contribute money every month. You can buy fractional shares which lets you do dollar cost averaging, and you can automatically reinvest dividends.
$1-4$ for automatic investments (only occur on Tuesdays)
$9.95 for real time trades
$9.95 for real time tradeshttp://www.scottrade.com
- Cheapest of the E-trade, Ameritrade, batch of online brokers. Trades are $7 to buy or sell in real-time. Good for people that already have a decent chunk of money to invest.
$7 for real time tradeshttp://www.zecco.com
- A new online broker that boastst giving you a certain number of free trades a month. Don't know much about it, but looks interesting and I will post more when I hear more about it. Free trades require a minimum balance of $2500. Otherwise they are $4.50.
$0, max of 10 per month, else $4.50Books
Jim Cramer's Real Money - A good starter for learning what a stocks is, what makes it priced the way it is etc.(Talenos)
Jim Cramer's Mad Money - Sort of an advanced guide if you have read the first one. (Talenos)
Jim Cramer's - Confessions of a Street Addict is also a great read, though it is more entertainment value than real investment advice for a beginning investor. Its about his life and how he got started and then how he made money at his hedge fund and all the stress involved. (Nate)
The Intelligent Investor, Benjamin Graham - A classic text on value-style investing (e.g. Warren Buffet) Kind of textbook like and a bit outdated but the version I have has a modern commentary on each chapter to bring it up to date.(Talenos)