The Internet allows you to access information quickly and process transactions without ever having to leave your home. One activity you can do over the Internet more efficiently than in-person is buying stocks. Just choose an online stock brokerage and get started. But if you're new to this, keep in mind that you need to do research first. As financial news writer John W. Schoen says, "If you decide to pick your own stocks or mutual funds, research every one thoroughly—just as you would if you were buying a car or a flat-screen TV."
Buy stocks on the Internet with Fidelity (see Resources). Sign up for an account online to start the process, and manage your account from your browser. You can buy an unlimited number of shares of the stocks you want for a flat per-trade price. You can also purchase stocks from 12 international markets. You can also set up automated trading transactions. Fidelity also offers stock research tools and information from independent experts.
Use TD Ameritrade (see Resources) to buy stocks from the Internet. Log in to buy stocks from your browser or place orders from your Internet-enabled cell phone. TD Ameritrade also offers a variety of trading tools, including a trading tool from thinkorswim (charts and real-time information about stocks) and a command center that helps you research companies before placing orders. If you're new to buying stocks, you can use the StrategyDesk tool, which allows you to test out your stock trading strategies before you go live.
Purchase stocks using Zecco. The service offers a special per-trade rate for active stock traders. You'll also receive free trades every month if you maintain a certain balance or meet a minimum number of trades. When you log in, you can view and access your stock portfolio online using a drag-and-drop tool. Check news and alerts about your stocks in real-time. You can also install a plug-in on your browser to help you can perform a trade no matter what website you're visiting for news and information.