How to Know When to Sell Your Stocks

While quite a bit of time and research goes into selecting stocks, it is often hard to know when to pull out – especially for first time investors. The good news is that if you have chosen your stocks carefully, you won’t need to pull out for a very long time, such as when you are ready to retire. But there are specific instances when you will need to sell your stocks before you have reached your financial goals.

You may think that the time to sell is when the stock value is about to drop – and you may even be advised by your broker to do this. But this isn’t necessarily the right course of action.

Stocks go up and down all the time, depending on the economy…and of course the economy depends on the stock market as well. This is why it is so hard to determine whether you should sell your stock or not. Stocks go down, but they also tend to go back up.

You have to do more research, and you have to keep up with the stability of the companies that you invest in. Changes in corporations have a profound impact on the value of the stock. For instance, a new CEO can affect the value of stock. A plummet in the industry can affect a stock. Many things – all combined – affect the value of stock. But there are really only three good reasons to sell a stock.

The first reason is having reached your financial goals. Once you’ve reached retirement, you may wish to sell your stocks and put your money in safer financial vehicles, such as a savings account.

This is a common practice for those who have invested for the purpose of financing their retirement. The second reason to sell a stock is if there are major changes in the business you are investing in that cause, or will cause, the value of the stock to drop, with little or no possibility of the value rising again. Ideally, you would sell your stock in this situation before the value starts to drop.

If the value of the stock spikes, this is the third reason you may want to sell. If your stock is valued at $100 per share today, but drastically rises to $200 per share next week, it is a great time to sell – especially if the outlook is that the value will drop back down to $100 per share soon. You would sell when the stock was worth $200 per share.

As a beginner, you definitely want to consult with a broker or a financial advisor before buying or selling stocks. They will work with you to help you make the right decisions to reach your financial goals.

How Much Money Should You Invest?

Many first time investors think that they should invest all of their savings. This isn’t necessarily true. To determine how much money you should invest, you must first determine how much you actually can afford to invest, and what your financial goals are.

First, let’s take a look at how much money you can currently afford to invest. Do you have savings that you can use? If so, great! However, you don’t want to cut yourself short when you tie your money up in an investment. What were your savings originally for?

It is important to keep three to six months of living expenses in a readily accessible savings account – don’t invest that money! Don’t invest any money that you may need to lay your hands on in a hurry in the future.

So, begin by determining how much of your savings should remain in your savings account, and how much can be used for investments. Unless you have funds from another source, such as an inheritance that you’ve recently received, this will probably be all that you currently have to invest.

Next, determine how much you can add to your investments in the future. If you are employed, you will continue to receive an income, and you can plan to use a portion of that income to build your investment portfolio over time. Speak with a qualified financial planner to set up a budget and determine how much of your future income you will be able to invest.

With the help of a financial planner, you can be sure that you are not investing more than you should – or less than you should in order to reach your investment goals.

For many types of investments, a certain initial investment amount will be required. Hopefully, you’ve done your research, and you have found an investment that will prove to be sound. If this is the case, you probably already know what the required initial investment is.

If the money that you have available for investments does not meet the required initial investment, you may have to look at other investments. Never borrow money to invest, and never use money that you have not set aside for investing!

Getting Your Feet Wet – Begin Investing

If you are anxious to get your investments started, you can get started right away without having a lot of knowledge about the stock market. Start by being a conservative investor with a low risk tolerance. This will give you a way to making your money grow while you learn more about investing.

Start with an interest bearing savings account. You may already have one. If you don’t, you should. A savings account can be opened at the same bank that you do your checking at – or at any other bank. A savings account should pay 2 – 4% on the money that you have in the account.

It’s not a lot of money – unless you have a million dollars in that account – but it is a start, and it is money making money.

Next, invest in money market funds. This can often be done through your bank. These funds have higher interest payouts than typical savings accounts, but they work much the same way. These are short term investments, so your money won’t be tied up for a long period of time – but again, it is money making money.

Certificates of Deposit are also sound investments with no risk. The interest rates on CD’s are typically higher than those of savings accounts or Money Market Funds.

You can select the duration of your investment, and interest is paid regularly until the CD reaches maturity. CD’s can be purchased at your bank, and your bank will insure them against loss. When the CD reaches maturity, you receive your original investment, plus the interest that the CD has earned.

If you are just starting out, one or all of these three types of investments is the best starting point. Again, this will allow your money to start making money for you while you learn more about investing in other places.

Different Types of Stock

The different types of stock are what confuse most first time investors. That confusion causes people to turn away from the stock market altogether, or to make unwise investments. If you are going to play the stock market, you must know what types of stock are available and what it all means!

Common Stock is a term that you will hear quite often. Anyone can purchase common stock, regardless of age, income, age, or financial standing. Common stock is essentially part ownership in the business you are investing in. As the company grows and earns money, the value of your stock rises. On the other hand, if the company does poorly or goes bankrupt, the value of your stock falls. Common stock holders do not participate in the day to day operations of a business, but they do have the power to elect the board of directors.

Along with common stock, there are also different classes of stock. The different classes of stock in one company are often called Class A and Class B. The first class, class A, essentially gives the stock owner more votes per share of stock than the owners of class B stock. The ability to create different classes of stock in a corporation has existed since 1987. Many investors avoid stock that has more than one class, and stocks that have more than one class are not called common stock.

The most upscale type of stock is of course Preferred Stock. Preferred stock isn’t exactly a stock. It is a mix of a stock and a bond. The owner’s of preferred stock can lay claim to the assets of the company in the case of bankruptcy, and preferred stock holders get the proceeds of the profits from a company before the common stock owners. If you think that you may prefer this preferred stock, be aware that the company typically has the right to buy the stock back from the stock owner and stop paying dividends.

Different Types of Investments

Overall, there are three different kinds of investments. These include stocks, bonds, and cash. Sounds simple, right? Well, unfortunately, it gets very complicated from there. You see, each type of investment has numerous types of investments that fall under it.

There is quite a bit to learn about each different investment type. The stock market can be a big scary place for those who know little or nothing about investing. Fortunately, the amount of information that you need to learn has a direct relation to the type of investor that you are. There are also three types of investors: conservative, moderate, and aggressive. The different types of investments also cater to the two levels of risk tolerance: high risk and low risk.

Conservative investors often invest in cash. This means that they put their money in interest bearing savings accounts, money market accounts, mutual funds, US Treasury bills, and Certificates of Deposit. These are very safe investments that grow over a long period of time. These are also low risk investments.

Moderate investors often invest in cash and bonds, and may dabble in the stock market. Moderate investing may be low or moderate risks. Moderate investors often also invest in real estate, providing that it is low risk real estate.

Aggressive investors commonly do most of their investing in the stock market, which is higher risk. They also tend to invest in business ventures as well as higher risk real estate. For instance, if an aggressive investor puts his or her money into an older apartment building, then invests more money renovating the property, they are running a risk. They expect to be able to rent the apartments out for more money than the apartments are currently worth – or to sell the entire property for a profit on their initial investments. In some cases, this works out just fine, and in other cases, it doesn’t. It’s a risk.

Before you start investing, it is very important that you learn about the different types of investments, and what those investments can do for you. Understand the risks involved, and pay attention to past trends as well. History does indeed repeat itself, and investors know this first hand!

 

Different Types of Bonds

Investing in bonds is very safe, and the returns are usually very good. There are four basic types of bonds available and they are sold through the Government, through corporations, state and local governments, and foreign governments.

The greatest thing about bonds is that you will get your initial investment back. This makes bonds the perfect investment vehicle for those who are new to investing, or for those who have a low risk tolerance.

The United States Government sells Treasury Bonds through the Treasury Department. You can purchase Treasury Bonds with maturity dates ranging from three months to thirty years.

Treasury bonds include Treasury Notes (T-Notes), Treasury Bills (T-Bills), and Treasury Bonds. All Treasury bonds are backed by the United States Government, and tax is only charged on the interest that the bonds earn.

Corporate bonds are sold through public securities markets. A corporate bond is essentially a company selling its debt. Corporate bonds usually have high interest rates, but they are a bit risky. If the company goes belly-up, the bond is worthless.

State and local Governments also sell bonds. Unlike bonds issued by the federal government, these bonds usually have higher interest rates. This is because State and Local Governments can indeed go bankrupt – unlike the federal government.

State and Local Government bonds are free from income taxes – even on the interest. State and local taxes may also be waived. Tax-free Municipal Bonds are common State and Local Government Bonds.

Purchasing foreign bonds is actually very difficult, and is often done as part of a mutual fund. It is often very risky to invest in foreign countries. The safest type of bond to buy is one that is issued by the US Government.

The interest may be a bit lower, but again, there is little or no risk involved. For best results, when a bond reaches maturity, reinvest it into another bond.

Determining Where You Will Invest

There are several different types of investments, and there are many factors in determining where you should invest your funds.

Of course, determining where you will invest begins with researching the various available types of investments, determining your risk tolerance, and determining your investment style – along with your financial goals.

If you were going to purchase a new car, you would do quite a bit of research before making a final decision and a purchase. You would never consider purchasing a car that you had not fully looked over and taken for a test drive. Investing works much the same way.

You will of course learn as much about the investment as possible, and you would want to see how past investors have done as well. It’s common sense!

Learning about the stock market and investments takes a lot of time… but it is time well spent. There are numerous books and websites on the topic, and you can even take college level courses on the topic – which is what stock brokers do. With access to the Internet, you can actually play the stock market – with fake money – to get a feel for how it works.

You can make pretend investments, and see how they do. Do a search with any search engine for ‘Stock Market Games’ or ‘Stock Market Simulations.’ This is a great way to start learning about investing in the stock market.

Other types of investments – outside of the stock market – do not have simulators. You must learn about those types of investments the hard way – by reading.

As a potential investor, you should read anything you can get your hands on about investing…but start with the beginning investment books and websites first. Otherwise, you will quickly find that you are lost.

Finally, speak with a financial planner. Tell them your goals, and ask them for their suggestions – this is what they do! A good financial planner can easily help you determine where to invest your funds, and help you set up a plan to reach all of your financial goals. Many will even teach you about investing along the way – make sure you pay attention to what they are telling you!

Determine Your Risk Tolerance

Each individual has a risk tolerance that should not be ignored. Any good stock broker or financial planner knows this, and they should make the effort to help you determine what your risk tolerance is. Then, they should work with you to find investments that do not exceed your risk tolerance.

Determining one’s risk tolerance involves several different things. First, you need to know how much money you have to invest, and what your investment and financial goals are.

For instance, if you plan to retire in ten years, and you’ve not saved a single penny towards that end, you need to have a high risk tolerance – because you will need to do some aggressive – risky – investing in order to reach your financial goal.

On the other side of the coin, if you are in your early twenties and you want to start investing for your retirement, your risk tolerance will be low. You can afford to watch your money grow slowly over time.

Realize of course, that your need for a high risk tolerance or your need for a low risk tolerance really has no bearing on how you feel about risk. Again, there is a lot in determining your tolerance.

For instance, if you invested in the stock market and you watched the movement of that stock daily and saw that it was dropping slightly, what would you do?

Would you sell out or would you let your money ride? If you have a low tolerance for risk, you would want to sell out… if you have a high tolerance, you would let your money ride and see what happens. This is not based on what your financial goals are. This tolerance is based on how you feel about your money!

Again, a good financial planner or stock broker should help you determine the level of risk that you are comfortable with, and help you choose your investments accordingly.

Your risk tolerance should be based on what your financial goals are and how you feel about the possibility of losing your money. It’s all tied in together.

 

Choosing a Broker

Depending on the type of investing that you plan to do, you may need to hire a broker to handle your investments for you. Brokers work for brokerage houses and have the ability to buy and sell stock on the stock exchange. You may wonder if you really need a broker. The answer is yes. If you intend to buy or sell stocks on the stock exchange, you must have a broker.

Stockbrokers are required to pass two different tests in order to obtain their license. These tests are very difficult, and most brokers have a background in business or finance, with a Bachelors or Masters Degree.

It is very important to understand the difference between a broker and a stock market analyst. An analyst literally analyzes the stock market, and predicts what it will or will not do, or how specific stocks will perform. A stock broker is only there to follow your instructions to either buy or sell stock… not to analyze stocks.

Brokers earn their money from commissions on sales in most cases. When you instruct your broker to buy or sell a stock, they earn a set percentage of the transaction. Many brokers charge a flat ‘per transaction’ fee.

There are two types of brokers: Full service brokers and discount brokers. Full service brokers can usually offer more types of investments, may provide you with investment advice, and is usually paid in commissions.

Discount brokers typically do not offer any advice and do no research – they just do as you ask them to do, without all of the bells and whistles.

So, the biggest decision you must make when it come to brokers is whether you want a full service broker or a discount broker.

If you are new to investing, you may need to go with a full service broker to ensure that you are making wise investments. They can offer you the skill that you lack at this point. However, if you are already knowledgeable about the stock market, all you really need is a discount broker to make your trades for you.

About Online Trading

The invention of the Internet has brought about many changes in the way that we conduct our lives and our personal business. We can pay our bills online, shop online, bank online, and even date online!

We can even buy and sell stocks online. Traders love having the ability to look at their accounts whenever they want to, and brokers like having the ability to take orders over the Internet, as opposed to the telephone.

Most brokers and brokerage houses now offer online trading to their clients. Another great thing about trading online is that fees and commissions are often lower. While online trading is great, there are some drawbacks.

If you are new to investing, having the ability to actually speak with a broker can be quite beneficial. If you aren’t stock market savvy, online trading may be a dangerous thing for you. If this is the case, make sure that you learn as much as you can about trading stocks before you start trading online.

You should also be aware that you don’t have a computer with Internet access attached to you. You won’t always have the ability to get online to make a trade. You need to be sure that you can call and speak with a broker if this is the case, using the online broker. This is true whether you are an advanced trader or a beginner.

It is also a good idea to go with an online brokerage company that has been around for a while. You won’t find one that has been in business for fifty years of course, but you can find a company that has been in business that long and now offers online trading.

Again, online trading is a beautiful thing – but it isn’t for everyone. Think carefully before you decide to do your trading online, and make sure that you really know what you are doing!