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These are the steps to take to buy stocks:
Set Up a Brokerage Account
To buy stocks, you have to use a brokerage account. Brokerages typically have a trading app that allows you to buy and sell stocks.
There are a lot of them out there. Popular ones include Robinhood and Etrade. You can use our guide to the best trading apps to figure out where you want to set up your brokerage account.
Put Money in the Account
After you set up a brokerage account, then you need to put money in it. Typically brokerages give you a way to connect your bank account with your brokerage account, and that makes it easy to then move money back and forth between accounts.
You need money in the account if you want to buy stocks. So after you transfer money into the brokerage account, and once they tell you it’s cleared and available for you to use, then you can start buying stocks.
Open the Trading App
At this point, it’s time to open the trading app that your broker offers. To buy stocks, you need to have your trading app open. That’s where you go to make the stock purchases.
Pick the Stock You Want to Buy
If you already know what stock you want to buy, then you’re all set. Keep in mind that each stock has a ticker symbol, and you might need to know the ticker symbol in order to pull up the stock in your trading app. For example, the ticker symbol for Apple is AAPL.
If your app doesn’t let you look up the ticker symbol, you can always do a Google search to figure it out.
If you don’t yet know which stock you want to buy, then there are a number of things you could do to get guidance:
Take a stock trading course. This will give you a more thorough education about stock trading.
Subscribe to a stock picking service. They feed you ideas for which stocks to buy. They’re typically aimed at longer-term investments.
Subscribe to trade alerts. The most popular are swing trade alerts. They alert you when there is a stock to buy, and they’re aimed at shorter-term investments.
Do your own stock research to find stock investment opportunities you personally like.
Press the Buy Button
Once you’ve picked a stock you want to buy, then it’s “go” time.
It’s helpful to be aware that there are two major order types you can choose from to buy your stock: market orders and limit orders.
A market order tells your broker you want to buy the stock immediately no matter what the price is. This might be helpful if you just want in as soon as possible and you do not want to wait.
A limit order tells your broker you only want to buy the stock if it comes down to a particular price. If you use a limit order to buy the stock, you will have to indicate your preferred price. This tradeoff with using a limit order is that the price may never come down to your preferred price, and so you may not end up ever buying the stock.
And that’s it! That’s all it takes to buy a stock. The key is having a brokerage account and knowing how to find the ticker symbol for the company whose stock you want to buy.