3 Top Reasons to Use Online Stock Brokers

Online trading has exploded over the past couple of decades, since the beginning of companies like Datek Online (remember them?). Its popularity was made by the ease of use, cost of trades, and increasing number of platforms on which you could trade.

There are many other reasons why so many people are doing it, but let’s check out what I think are the top 3 reasons.

Better level of control for commissions, trade executions and transparent pricing


Image of TDAmeritrade’s Online Platform

One of the key things that caused many people to go the online route was that the commissions for brokers were already through the roof. The lower level of commission also made smaller trades, micro-accounts and more frequent trading possible, meaning that ordinary people could access the market directly for purchasing stocks, bonds, contracts & much more.

Instead of calling your broker, you could open your browser or start up your trading apps to get the best current pricing; decide on whether you want to go long or short; and set the market, limit or stop limit orders for the stock you wanted to purchase, allowing you to dictate your execution pricing and your total purchase/sell cost.

A better level of control effectively means that you will have more control over your profits or losses. This new trading phenomenon wound up working for many people, and encouraging dozens of online trading companies to spring up seemingly overnight.

Accessibility to your trading accounts 24/7/365

I’m not a frequent or avid trader by any means, but even I enjoy those advantages of being able to access the account pretty much where, when and how I want. If I had to rely on a standard broker, who may be unavailable when I decide to call, to buy and sell everything for me, there would be a limit to how quickly I can make an investment. In the financial world, time is money and every second counts.

So, if you trade online, you will make all of the trades yourself. You can do everything at the exact second you want to. Even the smallest delay in buying or selling can cost you a very large amount of money. But you will need to learn about online trading from someplace like Online Trading Academy, you will never lose money because your broker was unreachable at the time you wanted to make a trade.

Most modern brokers offer a variety of platforms to access your accounts: web-based sites, apps on your phone or pads, even proper software for your PC or Mac. And you will still be able to dial-in on the old phone, and make trades for an extra fee.

Look for a good online stock broker

Really, check out the offerings and decide what you want or need. You will need to decide what products you want to trade: stocks, bonds, forex, contracts, commodities, etc.; then consider what kind of tools you actually need: will you be trading via web or app or via a full software application.

Lastly, don’t forget to look at the additional research brokers these days offer. Many offer lots of research tools, reports, stock scanners, and much more for no additional fee; while others charge bare-bones fees for stock trades, then have an a-la-carte attitude to the many services available, so trading costs will be low until you need to pay for additional services. However, most fees are minimal compared to what you would pay to an actual traditional broker.

Check out this video for more information. And search through this site for more ideas on use online stock brokers for trading. Or perhaps you have a favorite you’d like to share.

Investing in the Stockmarket since 1998: My real returns are -$2,962 – 20:20 Hindsight Series

This series of posts will look at my purchasing mistakes I made for the limited amount of trading that I have actually. I will look at the entire record, and try to thrash out what lessons there are for investors.

Now bearing in mind that I have traded since 1998 online, I will struggle to remember my actual decisions, rationale, and performance. Who knows what we’ll find out. I hope that it will be useful to all investors.

A Simple Formula

Though since that time there have been dividends and other stock successes, the crude method of working out my return is Money Out+Money Left-Money In=?

Let’s look at the details: Since September 1998, I have deposited $24,980.15 into my trading account at TDAmeritrade.

During that time, I’ve also made withdrawals (to pay for the deposit on our house, to cover unexpected costs, etc.), the total withdrawals are $16,250.

And the remainder in my account is currently $5,767.20. The grand total doesn’t include wiring fees, taxes, etc.. Nor I’m sorry to say, because I live in Taiwan, does it include exchange rate losses/gains.


Simple math will show that I’ve incurred a gross loss $2,962.95 in those 16 years in the stock market. Truthfully, I’ve not been invested all of those years; and since 2010 I’ve been largely in cash anyway. This cash has been earning a measly 0.01% return (or something equally pathetic).

It would be hard to work out the actual profit across the time, but the numbers do tell the simple story. Money Out+Money Left<Money In. Therein lies the problem.

So what did we learn during that time?

That risking capital trading in the stockmarket is foolhardy, you will NEVER (as a private small time investor) EVER be able to be ahead of the BIG BOYS in trading the news.

That Return OF your Capital is always better than Return On your Capital. IOW, you need some ‘margin of safety’, some edge, some qualitative advantage that enables you to get back your capital. Trading the DOW 30 or the NASDAQ is always going to be risky. As we know, even BIG companies (like GM, BAC, Citbank, …) can have their ass handed to them on a plate; if you paid too much for them, or put on your rose-tinted specs too soon, you’ll be looking for your ass, too.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes regarding Bulls, Bears, Bubbles, Bounces, and … whatever other B-word I can think of. Why? Because I trusted other people’s advice, other’s people’s guts, other people’s news… in the stock market, I’ve come to realize, it always pays to do your homework. And never be swayed by the newspapers or CNBC or the Stock Forums or…

Lastly, if it weren’t for my businesses, house & other smaller investments increasing in value, I’d be doubly depressed. In other words, your stock market investing can never be your only or even your major investment. The markets are too speculative, too rigged, too capricious, and Mr. Market always seems to be wondering who he can ream next. Hint: it’s you!

I’ll be returning with a look at the batting average for each of those years from 1998~2014. And a few ideas about what I might be doing next.

PayDay Loans: Fix Your Cashflow Problems, People

If you get a payday loan, it is crucial that you have a plan in place from the very beginning so that you can pay it off. Without the plan, you may not make those payments on time, and then you have to deal with the seriously higher or penalty interest rates. Avoiding those rates should be your goal all of the time because it makes the loans far cheaper.

You will have to pay some initial interest on the loan that you just cannot avoid, but paying over an extended time increases the amount that you pay, making the loan cost more with every passing month. In fact, some payday loans have to be paid back almost immediately, so the rates would be much higher if you do not do so. These tips will help you out.

Keep track of your spending after you get the loan

You want to spend as little as possible, increasing the odds that you have enough money to pay the loan off when it comes due. Keep track of everything, even if it seems tedious. Do not buy things that you do not need. Cutting back can make it easy for you to pay off the loan on time, whether you got it from USACashServices.com or another lender, and you are going to love that.

Mark the date that it is due on your calendar

This could mean a physical calendar in your home or it could mean a calendar on your phone. Either way, you need to make a note of this date so that you do not accidentally miss it. You would not be the first person to pay extra in interest just because they did not know that it was time for them to pay off the payday loan. You have to keep track of what is due and when it is due so that everything falls into place.

Use online banking if it is offered to you

Most modern payday loan companies will allow you use to use online banking when you pay them, meaning that you can transfer the money straight from your account to theirs. You definitely want to use this if they offer it to you. It means that you can make the payments in seconds. It also means that you can still pay on time even if you forget until you just have a few hours – or even a few minutes – left.

Fix your cashflow issues

Ultimately, you have to look at the reasons you are running out of cash. Payday loans are an expensive form of credit, designed to stopgap cashflow problems. If you are running into cashflow issues frequently, then there is no other solution but to solve the problem. Extending credit on your outstanding payday loans is seriously detrimental to your cashflow and your personal balance sheet.