bitheadturnedtrader

by Bitheadturnedtrader

I’m an Information Technology (I.T.) Director for the Canadian division of an international business process outsourcing company. Essentially I’m responsible for everything technical in Canada – networks, desktops, servers, software, and programming – to support the day-to-day operations and future growth of the business. I’m the interface between business and technology.

Over the past 17 years, my main interest outside of family & I.T. has been Personal Finance. It began very modestly with the purchase of our first home, paying bills, reading books like The Millionaire Next Door, reading the business section of the newspaper, establishing a relationship with a Financial Planner, and investing in mutual funds. Through subscriptions to financial periodicals, and doing my own research and analysis, I began investing in individual Canadian and U.S. stocks. And, after some initial assistance from a Tax Accountant, I began doing our personal and business tax returns each year.

In January 2010, I came to the realization that working for an employer in the I.T. field was getting in the way of my true passion – trading the market. My passion for, and interest in Trading and the market eclipses anything that I’ve ever felt about I.T. So, after discussing my aspirations with my wife, I began one of the most comprehensive, complicated, and exciting research assignments that I’ve ever had the pleasure of undertaking … answering the question, “What would it take to become a successful Professional Trader?”

Fast-forward 11 months to November 2010 – I had spent countless hours (and some sleepless nights) learning all that I could about Trading and the markets. I was extremely fortunate to find a career Trader who offered to be my mentor – to help guide me towards realizing my dream. Soon thereafter, I enrolled in a year-long professional Trading course that will give me the skills and confidence I need to make the jump from I.T. bithead (geek) to professional Trader. I now interact daily (and sometimes hourly) with my mentor and with my course instructor. I’m committed to making this happen.

You can follow me on my journey via my blog and Twitter, and can contact me directly via e-mail.

Blog: http://bitheadturneddaytrader.wordpress.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/mr_bithead

E-Mail: bitheadturnedtrader@gmail.com

When Rhian approached me about contributing to The Rhi-Post, I immediately thought about all of the people that I’ve met over the years that have absolutely no idea about money or investing. Most admit to having invested without understanding where their hard-earned money was going. Some can’t balance a cheque book, and others pay way too much in bank and ATM fees.

Now, before we proceed, I’d like to state for the record that I’m not certified to give financial investment advice. I won’t be publishing stock picks, or specific investment recommendations. My intention here is to help answer your questions about money, and to point you in the right direction.

Please send your questions – in as much detail as possible – to therhipost@gmail.com, and I’ll try my best to answer them in a future edition of The Rhi-Post.

To get the ball rolling, and to give you a flavor for the kinds of questions I foresee answering, I thought I’d pose and answer the first question…

Q: I want to invest in stock of XYZ company, but I have no idea how to do that. Where do I start?

A: In order to buy and sell stocks, you need to open a “Brokerage” or “Trading” Account. The bank that you deal with likely has a brokerage division, or they partner with a 3rd-party brokerage firm that offers Brokerage or Trading Accounts.

Just like a standard Chequing or Savings Account, there are choices to be made about individual or joint ownership of your Brokerage Account. And typically there are Standard (unregistered) and Retirement (registered RRSP or IRA) versions of a Brokerage Account. Standard vs. Retirement will affect how deposits and withdrawals into/out of the account are treated on your tax return, whether or not profits are taxable, and often Retirement accounts have some limitations on the types of investments you can purchase (but that’s unlikely to apply to a beginner).

A standard Chequing Account can contain only 1 thing: Cash. But a Brokerage Account can contain many different things at the same time: Cash, Stocks, ETF’s, Bonds, Mutual Funds, Options, CD’s, REITS, etc. If you don’t know what all of those things are, that’s OK – you don’t need to. For simplicity, you can think of a Brokerage Account like the “junk drawer” in your house; you could have a few dollar bills in there, some coins, but you could also have scissors, elastic bands, and stamps floating around.

When you open a Brokerage or Trading Account, you’ll probably start by transferring cash from your chequing or savings account into it. This is usually accomplished with a cheque or by electronic fund transfer. Once you have cash in your Brokerage Account, you can buy stock of XYZ company.

At the end of the month, your Brokerage Account Statement will list “how much of each thing” you have inside your junk drawer… I mean, account… and provide you with a total.

There are Discount and Full Service brokerage firms, which affect how much you pay to buy & sell stocks, bonds, etc… but that’s another topic for discussion in a future edition of The Rhi-Post…

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