Getting Started: Learning the Market and Selecting Stocks
If you were going to spend several thousand dollars on a refrigerator or television, you would thoroughly research the market for those goods to find the product which best suited your needs. Investing is no different. Before buying into a company, you should be well-acquainted enough with it to give a short presentation. Knowing the basics of how a company operates, what it sells, how it makes money, how much money it makes, and what kind of growth the company is expected to experience are all crucial questions that any investor should be able to answer. Developing a better understanding of the stock market is a long, but hopefully rewarding, process. Immediately investing in stocks with real money, however, is equivalent to taking a test without being introduced to the material. Formerly called “paper trading”, beginning investors would normally spend several months tracking their stock picks without having real money on them. Thanks to technology, you can now find sites that automate (for free) the process of tracking price changes for you on the internet. Simulated investing is a risk-free way of beginning to understand market fluctuations and the forces driving them. Examining these trends will payoff in the future, as an increased understanding of the stock market can only help you on your path to building wealth. Once you become comfortable picking your own stocks, you can still continue to “paper trade” online, as it offers the opportunity to explore and experiment with other investing styles. Gordon Gekko, the famed villain in Wall Street played by Michael Douglas, said “Information is the most valuable commodity I know of”. Ignoring for a moment that the movie ended with indictments for insider trading, the statement is true: you will not regret being an informed and intelligent investor. The market is constantly changing, but by learning the ropes of investing you too can pull off a “One Up on Wall Street”.
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