How to Use Sharebuilder

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Investing is the best way to build wealth for the long-term. However, investing in stocks is often best done in larger blocks. This requires larger amounts of money than many investors have and precludes those would like to invest on a regular basis, like every month, for example. Investors in this category often turn to mutual funds, which provide the ability to both make regular investments and own a basket of stocks. However, that still leaves many investors no way to make regular investments in individual stocks or securities. Fortunately, ShareBuilder provides one method to make just such investments.

  • Determine the type of account you need to open. For retirement savings, you should evaluate both traditional IRA accounts and Roth IRA accounts. For funds that you will not be using for retirement, a regular account is the right choice. Decide whether you want to open a joint account or an individual account.

  • Go to www.sharebuilder.com. ShareBuilder was purchased by ING, but still operates the sharebuilder.com domain name. If you have other accounts with ING, you may be able to link them to your ShareBuilder account.

  • Click "Getting Started." On that page, click "Open an Account." Select the type of account you will be opening. Select a username and password. Keep in mind this is a financial account with real money attached to it, so select a difficult password that includes numbers and both upper and lower case letters.

  • Complete the online application. There are no physical branch locations at which you can open a ShareBuilder account, so you must apply online. Fill in all the required information completely.

  • Determine how many automatic investments you intend to make each month and choose your "tier." ShareBuilder comes with three types of plans, Basic, Standard and Advantage. Essentially, the more trades you will make, the more expensive version you will need. The basic version allows you to make automatic investments for $4 each (either buy or sell). The standard version allows you to make up to six per month for a flat fee of $12 each month. Each additional buy is $2. Advantage allows you to make up to 20 auto investments per month for a flat fee of $20 monthly with additional purchases at $1 each.

  • Fund your account by linking one of your other accounts to your ShareBuilder account. You can transfer money to and from this account once they are linked.

  • Enter your trades. Most ShareBuilder investors use the automatic investment feature. Click the "Automatic Investment" link and enter the information into the form including the stock symbol, the amount to invest each time and the frequency and timing of the investing.

  • Real-time trades may also be made with ShareBuilder. Real-time trades are made at $9.95 each. Click "Place a Trade" to enter real-time trades. Enter the stock symbol, the type of trade, the amount of the trade, and any additional instructions. You may also call 1-866-590-7629 to enter real-time trades over the telephone.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't spread your investments too thin. Investing $40 per month in the basic plan costing $4 per trade works out to a 10% commission on each investment.
  • Since there is no such thing as an automatic withdrawal, selling stocks will cost you $9.95 no matter which tier you are enrolled in.
  • ShareBuilder does not provide investment advice, even through the phone trading center. Be sure you are comfortable making your own investment decisions first.

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