Getting Started Online

I’m interested in online trading, but I’m not sure how to begin. Do you have any suggestions. And what are some reputable e-trading companies? –E. Lee , Via the Internet
With the Dow closing above 13,000, many potential investors may be ready to become actual investors–and the brokerages are ready. Last October, Bank of America began offering 30 free trades per month to customers with $25,000 in deposits. And in late April, Charles Schwab & Co. slashed the account opening minimums for all of its main brokerage and retirement accounts.

Which brokerage is best for you depends on several variables, such as the size of your account, your level of trading activity, and the amount of support–such as equity research–you require. The issues you’ll need to consider are too numerous to outline here, but there is a helpful link on the Charles Schwab Website, www.schwab.com. On the homepage, you’ll find a link, “How to Choose a Firm.” If you click through the pages, you’ll find a neutral discussion that highlights questions you’ll need to ask yourself.
I’d also suggest browsing the Web pages of online trading sites such as E*Trade Financial (www.etrade.com), Muriel Siebert & Co. (www.siebertnet.com), and TD Ameritrade (www.tdameri trade.com) to compare fees and get a sense of their comparative services.

Finally, two slightly different options are www.sharebuilder.com, which allows you to set up automatic monthly investments with a minimal initial investment, and www.foliofn.com, which gives you the option to invest in a customized basket of securities.

Mail your money management questions to Money Matters, BLACK ENTERPRISE
130 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10011 or send an e-mail to delaneyt@blackenterprise.com.

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