What the Tech? How to Play the Stock Market During the Pandemic

Americans have apparently taken on a new hobby during the pandemic and subsequent stay-at-home orders: playing the stock market.

Brokerage firm TDAmeritrade said in the 2nd quarter of this year (April, May, June) it saw daily average revenue trades of 3.4 million, which is 4 times more than last year’s 2nd quarter numbers, and 62% more than the first quarter of this year.

New investors are intrigued by the stock market’s recent volatility and TDAmeritrade said it added a record 661,000 new retail accounts in the 2nd quarter.

Playing the stock market can be fun, except when you watch your investments take a dive. If you’re new to investing in individual stocks a few apps can help you learn, invest and hopefully see your portfolio go up.

For people who’ve never tested the stock market and want to just dip their toes into investing, Acorns is a good place to start.

This app, for iOS and Android devices makes it easy to invest a little spare change each month. Acorns allows users to designate a certain amount to be taken out of their bank accounts and put in mutual funds or an IRA.

You simply choose to automatic draft $25, $50 or $100 each month and it goes into your Acorns account. You can also opt in to investing your spare change.

Acorns will round-up all purchases made with a bank debit card and put the extra in your investment portfolio.

If you buy a $2.25 cup of coffee and use the card associated with the Acorns account, an extra 75-cents will go into that account. Acorns states in the app the average amount of spare change from its users is around $50 a month.

If you’d like to jump right into the stock market, Robinhood is a good choice for beginners. You can buy and sell stocks and cryptocurrency. You can also buy portions of stock from some of the most expensive individual stocks being traded right now.

For example, rather than having to pay over $3,000 for a single share of Amazon, Robinhood allows you to buy $200 or $300 worth of the stock.

Robinhood did have problems early on during the quarantine. In March some Robinhood users reported being unable to make transactions, costing some thousands of dollars in trades that never went through. Robinhood seems to have fixed those issues.

If you have more experience in the stock market or more time to spend, TDAmeritrade’s app provides all of the information you might need before making a trade. All stocks are listed and you can see the stock ticker in real-time. Buy and sell stock, create watchlists, set buy and sell orders based on the stock’s current price.

If you want to buy Apple only if it drops below a certain price, set that order and select how long you want to keep it active.

TDAmeritrade does not charge a commission for online orders. Keep in mind, you will need to link your bank account to these apps and services.

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