I'm new to online trading and to investing. I also don't have a lot of money. I want to start by investing maybe $200 to learn the ropes. I know it's not a lot but it makes me less nervous about losing money because of poor stock choices.

Given the amount of money I'm putting in now, do you guys have any advice on:

a) What stocks to pick or how to pick stocks to maximize my returns from such a low starting amount. Like how do you as a beginner pick stocks that will appreciate in value, especially for buying/selling in a 1-7 day time frame? I'm sure I'll know what to look out for as I gain more experience, but I'm sure I'm not using all the available resources on the internet because I'm not aware of them.

(b) I'd like to also invest on a longer time frame once I know what I'm doing. For me, a longer time frame would be 5-6 years for a bunch of personal reasons. I can probably put in around $2000 for this. Should I invest this in dividend paying ETFs or stocks to maximize my returns?

Thank you! Any advice is appreciated and I'd be very happy to get some specific (rather than generic) advice.

Thanks!

closed as too broad by Philipp, Hart CO, Nathan L, CactusCake, Dheer Sep 25 at 4:23

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    This site has a lot of advice that can be used to answer your questions; try searching your questions here and on google, and if you have a specific question you can't find an answer to, ask it again. Your broad question here is basically "teach me everything about investing", to which the answer is more or less "here are several textbooks." – Grade 'Eh' Bacon Sep 24 at 13:52
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    This question is too broad. People wrote whole books about how to speculate with stocks. Just one advise: Before you start speculating with real money, speculate with play money. Create a spreadsheet, enter how much of which stocks you would have bought and the current price, and save it. A few months later, re-check the prices of the stocks and calculate whether you won or lost money. – Philipp Sep 24 at 13:56
  • I answered a similar question recently: "No debt. Any advice where to invest saved money and what to invest in after maxing out 401k?". It was deemed a duplicate of another question, with good advice as well: "Best way to start investing, for a young person just starting their career?" Have a look at the answers in both questions - they might be useful to you. – Lawrence Sep 24 at 16:33
  • You say that you don't have much money. Have you built up an emergency fund to cover 6 months of expenses? Do you have loans? These should be funded first, before investing in stocks. – Dr Sheldon Sep 25 at 4:35

You're not going to learn anything of significance by investing or trading with only $200 other than how to use the platform of your broker and you could easily do that by opening a FREE paper trading account with a broker.

There are a slew of web sites that offer stock price forecasts. What makes you think that they are any good? If they could pick winning stocks with consistency, why wouldn't they be mortgaging the farm and doing it for themselves instead of hyping touts, often with the agenda of getting you to get you to $$ubscribe to them?

What you need right now is generic advice, not specific advice. You need to become financially literate. To do so, start by reading beginner level introductory material. There are a lot of "XYZ For Dummies" books. Build a basic foundation first. Then, move up the food chain. As you understand more, seek out the more complex books in areas of the market that interest you (Equities? ETFs? Closed end funds? Mutual Funds? Options? Futures? Long term Investing? Trading? ). Read everything that you can here, at Investopedia, at Seeking Alpha. In fact, read everywhere. Until you're somewhat literate, you won't have a clue what's worthwhile versus what's BS.

Understanding financial markets is like learning a foreign language. It takes time and effort, something most people don’t want to do and as a result of failing to do so, they often lose their money. Financial markets quickly take the money of the inexperienced and uninformed. There's a lot of junk on the web. Until you learn this language, you're going to be cannon fodder.

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    This is a good answer; I've retracted my close-vote on the question because I think this shows that it is answerable, though perhaps not in the way the asker would prefer. – Grade 'Eh' Bacon Sep 24 at 14:31

Like how do you as a beginner pick stocks that will appreciate in value, especially for buying/selling in a 1-7 day time frame?

You're going to go broke. If you pick all the very best stocks with perfect accuracy and clairvoyance you'll likely still go broke due to trading fees.

Day trading literally has no path to success for the amount of money you're talking about. If you want to invest the $200 into learning, there's nothing wrong with that. But you will lose that money.

What you should do is buy something (preferably ETF since you can't sufficiently diversify otherwise with just $200), and hold onto it. Never sell, just buy more when you have available funds.

With that you might be able to make 10% or so per year, of which you still spend a quarter in trading fees in the first year (I don't know the terms of your account, obviously).

Edit: If you trade for free (with robinhood or similar) you're still extremely limited in what you can do. Obviously you won't be able to buy any stock that trades over $200, you'll have to buy full shares, so anything trading at $70 you could only buy 2 shares. For that reason I would think it's not an accurate test of (very) short term trading. Then again, if the trades are free and you're willing to lose the $200 you'll likely gain quite a bit of knowledge. Personally I think you're better off investing the $200 for the longer term right now, do your homework on what to buy, when to buy and when to sell, and then come back, sell whatever you invested in, and start trading.

Good luck.

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    From complete novice to trying to make money with short term trading. The results will not be pretty. – Samuel Weir Sep 24 at 19:41
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    You're right that he's likely to go broke because 90% or so of day traders lose money. But it won't be because of commissions because traders use deep discount brokers whose fees are negligible when compared to the $$ size of the trade. His $200 would be better spent on some quality investment books and that would still be a waste of money because the library is free. – Bob Baerker Sep 24 at 19:46
  • @BobBaerker Which deep discount broker offers negligible fees compared to any possible trades within a $200 sized account again? You might be right that fees aren't why 90% of day traders lose money, but it almost certainly would cost this one "not-negligible" amounts. – Beanluc Sep 24 at 20:52
  • @Beanluc "Which deep discount broker offers negligible fees compared to any possible trades within a $200 sized account again?"... Robinhood? – neminem Sep 24 at 21:13
  • @Beanluc - "If you pick all the very best stocks with perfect accuracy and clairvoyance you'll likely still go broke due to trading fees." Ummm, how is that possible when Robinhood is commission FREE ? – Bob Baerker Sep 24 at 21:26

If I were you, I would just put the $200 in a market index like SPY, an ETF or a mutual fund and not worry about it.

You don't need to become financially literate. There are plenty of online investment platforms that have simplified everything for you, e.g., Wealthsimple.

Like how do you as a beginner pick stocks that will appreciate in value, especially for buying/selling in a 1-7 day time frame?

You should not be doing this. Besides fees, you will never beat day traders who put all of their time into researching everything that affects a stock's value.

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