How to Start Investing in Stocks: A Beginner’s Guide

Investing is a way to put money aside while you’re busy with other things and have it work for you so that you can reap the full benefits of your labor in the future. Investing is a means of achieving a happy outcome. Warren Buffett, the legendary investor, defines investing as “the process of putting money out now in the hope of collecting more money later.” 1 The purpose of investing is to deposit your money into one or more types of investment vehicles in the hopes of increasing its value over time.

Let’s imagine you’ve set aside $1,000 and are ready to dive into the world of investing. Perhaps you only have $10 extra per week and want to start investing. In this post, we’ll walk you through the steps of becoming an investor and teach you how to optimize your profits while lowering your expenses.

What Kind of Investor Are You?

Before you invest your money, you must first determine what type of investor you are. An online broker like Charles Schwab or Fidelity will question you about your investment objectives and the level of risk you’re ready to take when you open a brokerage account.

Some investors want to manage their money’s growth actively, while others prefer to “set it and forget it.” Stocks, bonds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), index funds, and mutual funds are all available through more typical internet brokers, such as the two described above.

Online Brokers

Brokers might be full-service or low-cost. As the name implies, full-service brokers provide the complete spectrum of traditional brokerage services, including financial counseling for retirement, healthcare, and all things monetary. They normally exclusively work with high-net-worth individuals and can demand significant fees, such as a percentage of your transactions, a percentage of your assets that they manage, and occasionally a yearly membership fee. At full-service brokerages, minimum account sizes of $25,000 and higher are standard. Traditional brokers, on the other hand, justify their high fees by providing extensive advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

Discount brokers were once the exception, but now they are the rule. Many discount online brokers also offer a set-it-and-forget-it robo-advisory service, which allows you to choose and place your own trades. Online brokers have incorporated more features, such as instructional content on their websites and mobile apps, as the financial services industry has developed in the twenty-first century.

Furthermore, while some cheap brokers have no (or extremely low) minimum deposit requirements, you may be subject to other restrictions, and accounts without a minimum deposit may be subject to fees. If you’re thinking about investing in stocks, this is something you should think about.


Following the financial crisis of 2008, a new type of investment advisor emerged: the roboadvisor. Betterment’s Jon Stein and Eli Broverman are widely acknowledged as the pioneers in the field. Their goal was to employ technology to reduce investment expenses and streamline financial advice for investors.

Other robo-first companies have sprung up since Betterment’s inception, and even major online brokers like Charles Schwab have introduced robo-like advisory services. According to a survey by Charles Schwab, by 2025, 58 percent of Americans would receive robo advise in some form. A roboadvisor may be right for you if you want an algorithm to make financial choices for you, including tax-loss harvesting and rebalancing.

Investing Through Your Employer

If you’re on a limited budget, put 1% of your salary towards your company’s retirement plan. The truth is, you’re unlikely to notice a contribution so minor.

Contributions to work-based retirement plans are deducted from your paycheck before taxes are calculated, making the payment even less painful. If you’re happy with a 1% contribution, you can gradually increase it when you obtain annual raises. The extra contributions are unlikely to go overlooked. If you have a 401(k) retirement account at work, you may already be investing in your future with mutual fund allocations and even stock in your own company.

Minimums to Open an Account

A minimum deposit is required by many financial organizations. In other words, unless you deposit a specific amount of money, they will not accept your account application. Some companies won’t even let you open an account with a deposit of $1,000.

Before determining where you want to open an account, do some research and read our broker evaluations. Minimum deposits are listed at the start of each review. Some companies may not have a minimum deposit requirement. Others will frequently cut costs, such as trading and account administration fees, if your balance exceeds a specific threshold. Others may provide you a specific amount of commission-free deals just for signing up.

Commissions and Fees

There is no such thing as a free lunch, as economists like to say. Despite the fact that many brokers have recently raced to reduce or eliminate trading commissions, and ETFs provide index investing to everyone who can trade with a bare-bones brokerage account, all brokers must make money from their customers in some way.

In most circumstances, your broker will charge you a fee every time you purchase or sell stock. Trading commissions start at $2 per trade and can go up to $10 for some bargain brokers. Some brokers do not charge any trade commissions, but they compensate in other ways. Brokerage services are not provided by any charity organizations.

These costs can mount up quickly and have an impact on your profitability depending on how frequently you trade. Stock investing can be expensive if you jump in and out of positions frequently, especially if you just have a limited amount of money to invest.

A trade is an order to buy or sell shares in a single firm. If you want to buy five different stocks at once, this is considered five separate deals, and you will be paid separately for each one.

Let’s say you decide to invest $1,000 in the stocks of those five companies. To do so, you’ll have to pay $50 in trading fees (if the amount is $10), which is 5% of your $1,000. After trading expenses, your account would be reduced to $950 if you invested the entire $1,000. This equates to a 5% loss before your investments have even begun to earn.

If you sell these five stocks, you’ll have to pay the trade expenses again, which will be another $50. It would cost you $100 to make the round trip (buying and selling) on these five stocks, or 10% of your $1,000 initial deposit.

Mutual Fund Loads

There are other charges involved with this sort of investment, in addition to the trading fee for purchasing a mutual fund. Mutual funds are professionally managed pools of investor funds that invest in a certain area of the market, such as large-cap US stocks.

By investing in mutual funds, an investor will pay a lot of fees. The management expense ratio (MER), which is levied by the management team each year depending on the number of assets in the fund, is one of the most essential fees to consider. The yearly management expense ratio (MER) varies depending on the type of fund and ranges from 0.05 percent to 0.7 percent. However, the larger the MER, the greater the impact on the fund’s total performance.

When purchasing mutual funds, you may encounter a number of sales costs known as loads. Some are front-end loads, but no-load and back-end load funds are also available. Before you acquire a fund, be sure you understand whether it has a sales load. If you wish to avoid these fees, look for no-load and no-transaction-fee funds on your broker’s list.

When opposed to stock commissions, mutual fund fees are really an advantage for new investors. This is due to the fact that the costs are the same regardless of the amount invested. As a result, as long as you complete the minimum account opening requirements, you can invest as little as $50 or $100 per month in a mutual fund account. The term for this is called dollar-cost averaging (DCA), and it can be a great way to start investing.

Diversify and Reduce Risks

In the world of investing, diversification is thought to be the only free lunch. In a nutshell, diversifying your assets reduces the risk of a single investment’s poor performance negatively impacting your overall investment return. It’s financial speak for “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

When it comes to diversification, it will be most difficult to do so with stock investments. The costs of investing in a high number of equities, as previously said, may be detrimental to the portfolio. It’s very impossible to create a well-diversified portfolio with a $1,000 deposit, so be aware that you may only need to invest in one or two firms (at most) in the beginning. This will raise your risk, anyways.

This is when the primary advantage of mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) becomes apparent. Both types of securities typically contain a large number of equities and other investments, making them more diversified than a single stock.

Stock Market Simulators

A stock market simulator can be a useful tool for people who are new to investing and want to get experience trading without endangering their money. There are many different trading simulators accessible, both for free and for a price. The simulator on Investopedia is completely free to use.

Stock market simulators allow users to “invest” in a portfolio of stocks, options, ETFs, and other securities using fictitious money. These simulators often track the price changes of investments as well as other notable variables such as trading costs or dividend payouts, depending on the simulator. As if they were investing real money, investors make virtual “trades.” Simulator users can learn about the ins and outs of investing while also experiencing the ramifications of their virtual investment decisions without risking their own money. Some simulations also allow users to compete against other users, which adds to the incentive to invest wisely.

What is the Difference Between a Full-Service and a Discount Broker?

Full-service brokers offer a wide range of financial services, including retirement planning, healthcare, and a variety of investment options. They’ve typically catered to high-net-worth individuals and frequently necessitate large investments. Discount brokers have fewer entry requirements, but they also tend to provide a more streamlined set of services. Users can place individual transactions with discount brokers, who are increasingly providing instructional aids and other services.

What Are the Risks of Investing?

Investing is a current financial commitment to a future financial goal. Risk comes in numerous forms, with some asset classes and investment products being intrinsically riskier than others. However, virtually all investing has some level of risk: it is always possible that the value of your investment will decline over time. As a result, one of the most important considerations for investors is how to manage risk in order to achieve their financial objectives, whether short- or long-term.

How Do Commissions and Fees Work?

Every trade is usually charged a commission by most brokers. These can cost anywhere from $5 to $10 per trade. Due to the high cost of commissions, most investors think it smart to restrict the total number of trades they make in order to avoid paying additional fees. Fees are charged on some other types of investments, such as exchange-traded funds, to pay the costs of fund management.

The Bottom Line

Even if you are just starting out and have a tiny amount of money, you can invest. It’s more complicated than just picking the right investment (a challenging task in and of itself), and you must be conscious of the limitations you encounter as a rookie investor.

You’ll need to do some research to find out what the minimum deposit requirements are, and then compare commissions to those offered by other brokers. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to diversify your portfolio while spending a little amount of money on specific stocks. You’ll also have to decide on a broker with whom you want to open an account.