This article was originally published on this site
A new year brings the opportunity to take stock in yourself and make a resolution to become a more educated and informed investor. These are the apps I plan to use most frequently in 2018:
(Disclosure: I have no financial stake in any of these companies and receive no compensation for anything in this article)
Everyone (and their grandmother) is babbling about Bitcoin these days, driving prices up and causing pundits to talk about tulips.
I’m wary of calling bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies “investments,” as they seem to fit the classic definition of “speculation” (WWBGT — What Would Benjamin Graham Think?).
Graham said to never mix your investing account with your speculative account, so here’s a solution: Coinbase is an easy way to buy and sell Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ethereum in one account. The app has a very simple interface that allows you to track prices, and you can make transactions using a bank account or even a credit card. Make sure to read their fee structure first.
Remarkably, Coinbase even hit #1 on the App Store for a few days.
Personal Capital is a terrific finance tracking tool to help you manage your investments, especially if you have multiple accounts with different firms. Their trademarked “You Index” tracks your performance across all of your accounts and compares it to benchmarks like the Dow and the S&P 500.
You can work with one of their financial advisors, if you’re so inclined, for a reasonable annual fee based on managed assets. When I registered and linked my accounts, I received a free consultation with my assigned advisor, who had previously worked for Charles Schwab and Edward Jones. Since I manage my own investments, I declined this service.
Personal Capital also has a budgeting tool, which is not nearly as robust as Mint’s, but for keeping track of your investments, Personal Capital blows Mint out of the water.
Yahoo! Finance is still one of the best investing information resources available, and their app is my go-to for news and real-time data throughout the trading day. The ability to quickly and easily browse videos, read basic charts and view financials (all for free!) make this app stand out.
They’ve recently added a feature allowing you to link your broker account so you can easily trade through the app, but I have not tried this out, nor do I plan on doing so anytime in the future.
Robinhood seems too good to be true — commission-free trading from your phone with no minimum balance, and a referral program that offers a free random share of stock for both you and the friend you’ve referred. Their Robinhood Gold program even allows you to trade on margin.
So what’s the catch? Well, the app is extremely basic and doesn’t offer much in the way of research and analysis. For the time being, Robinhood is not available for the web, but the company plans to offer a web platform next year.
I received an email from the company yesterday saying that they were planning to expand into free options trading, which could be a game-changer. If you’re looking for commission-free trading with a no-frills platform, it’s hard to beat Robinhood.
The so-called “Twitter for investors,” StockTwits is a community of traders exchanging ideas, news and complaints (so many complaints!). When you post a message, you’re supposed to check a box indicating if you’re bullish or bearish about the stock you’re posting about, and it’s fascinating to see how investor sentiment changes over time.
The community seems to have a lot of day traders interested in technical analysis, but still holds value for fundamental investors. As always, separating the wheat from the chaff is a challenge, but I’ve been able to find breaking news here that’s not being reported in Yahoo! Finance (specifically when it comes to analyst’s upgrades or downgrades).
They even have their own rallying cry: BTFD (“Buy the F’n Dip”) and an online store selling ugly Christmas sweaters.
If your New Year’s Resolution involves finally learning how to get started with investing, I highly recommend Learn. It contains clear, concise and easy to follow text and audio lessons about investing basics. Topics include “What is a Stock?”, “Balance Sheets” and “Mistakes to Avoid.”
It’s pretty basic stuff, so experienced investors would be better served sticking with a site like Investopedia.
Stockpile allows investors to buy fractional shares of stock. If the thought of buying a company trading at $1,000 a share scares you, you can buy $100 worth and get 0.10 shares. The app interface is similar to Robinhood’s and also has limited research and analysis, but Stockpile charges $0.99 to make a trade and requires a $5 minimum investment.
Stockpile doesn’t allow you to buy companies trading below $6.00, so if you want to trade penny stocks, you should look elsewhere.
One unique feature is the ability to send gift cards for stocks — you can send someone shares (or partial shares) of a stock and the recipient can exchange that stock for a different one.
I know I’d rather get a share of stock in my stocking than a lump of coal, but I’m not sure how excited my wife would be if I gave her a gift card for Tiffany’s stock instead of a diamond bracelet.