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I follow the business news regularly and I have an avid interest in markets. However, having said that I have not had any prior stock trading experience, though I have practically seen some trading in a securities firm but only for a couple of days.

Coming to my question: How can I get started if I want to trade in stocks online with the following constraints:

1) I am a beginner in this area

2) Willing to start with an initial investment of ~ $2000

3) I would not require advice/help on stocks. I am thinking to do it by myself.

4) I will give attention to my account only couple of times a week.

5) I am thinking about this as a stepping stone towards my long term learning/development in this area of investments

Also, if you could suggest some good online sites which would be appropriate for me considering the above constraints.

Please let me know if you need more information which can help receive attention/answers to my question. Thanks!

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How often, and how much will you add? $2000 isn't enough to buy more than 100 shares of one $20 stock. Most people should not be in individual stocks at all, but rather, mutual funds or ETFs. –  JoeTaxpayer Nov 24 '12 at 23:10
    
@JoeTaxpayer: I want to start with couple of companies which I think I will hold onto for long term. I think even if it buys me 5-10 stocks I will be fine with that! I am not looking into +ve returns right away, but I just want to get started with it. That's my main objective right now. Thanks! –  Pupil Nov 24 '12 at 23:29
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I for once disagree with @JoeTaxpayer. There is nothing wrong with getting your feet wet into stock trading by buying even a single share of some company. Not as an investment but rather as a learning experience. My first trade was 3 shares of JNJ 15 years ago. I never became a great stock investor but i learned from actually owning a stock. –  Vitalik Nov 24 '12 at 23:58
    
@Vitalik it's fine to disagree with me, your points are well articulated and no argument from me. –  JoeTaxpayer Nov 25 '12 at 3:48
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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Since you are not starting with a lot of cash the commissions may eat into your account. So go with somebody that has no inactivity fee and low/free commission. I think there are number of sites and the ING sharebuilder.com comes to mind. Scottrade also one of the cheaper ones that i used.

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Thanks for your answer. Can you explain what is commission in this case even when I am taking the stocks position myself voluntarily without needing any professional's help? Or is this a kind of fee to use their website to do trading? Please pardon my ignorance on this subject at this point. –  Pupil Nov 25 '12 at 0:27
    
You still pay the company a commission, they do need to make money for the transaction, executing your order and holding your stock. But the commission will be likely under $10 per transaction, unlike the transaction with professional help that would cost hundreds of dollars. –  Vitalik Nov 25 '12 at 1:18
    
Oh ok. So, the commission will be only one time payment deducted after, let's say transaction on 1 stock, and there will be no further amount that I need to pay on that stock if I choose to keep it as long as I want or short it after some time? –  Pupil Nov 25 '12 at 1:43
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Correct, you will pay another commission when you sell it. Just make sure the company has no "inactivity fee". in other words they don't charge you if you don't buy or sell in a given month. –  Vitalik Nov 25 '12 at 1:45
    
I just opened a basic account with sharebuilder.com. Thanks a lot for the help! P.S: Do you know how much commission does sharebuilder charges when I sell my already bought stock? –  Pupil Nov 25 '12 at 2:37
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