Investing 
4
comments

SmartMoney 2011 Broker Survey

InvestWhen I first started investing, I put a lot of stock into these broker rankings because I didn’t have any of my own experiences to draw upon. I didn’t know how I would use a broker, what features were important to me, and whether or not a deficiency really matter. Price was the number one factor, as is the case for a lot of investors.

Then, as I started to invest more and more, I realized that price wasn’t everything because I didn’t make a lot of trades. While it seems silly to pay $20 a trade when there are brokers offering trades for less than $5, it may make sense if the broker offers other features that you value. Nowadays, the differences in prices is much lower anyway and so the “other” factors, like customer service, fund offerings, and banking services become more important to me.

You have to review these rankings through your own rubric. There isn’t really a #1 broker for everyone, but there will be a #1 for you.

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 Business 
37
comments

Zecco Affiliates Can’t Criticize Zecco

Bargaineering.com relies on a mixture of advertising and affiliate marketing to generate income. Part of the affiliate marketing piece is that we get paid when someone signs up for accounts, such as a trading account with Zecco.com (not everything, just some things). A lot of personal finance bloggers pay the bills and generate income this way. Until about a month ago, no company has tried to influence my opinion until Zecco.

About a month ago, Zecco’s affiliate manager notified me that I would no longer be compensated for leads sent to Zecco because I had negative reviews about them on Bargaineering.com. I was told that I had to “remove any negative reviews of Zecco and [I] can resume promoting and sending orders.” They phrased it in a way that seemed like I was unfairly picking on them, so I said I’d take a look if they told me which posts they found to be negative.

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 Investing 
17
comments

Smart Money 2009 Best Online Brokers

Another year, another Smart Money broker survey! We’ve been reviewing SmartMoney’s best broker series for several years now (here’s 2008) and it’s always valuable to see how the different brokers fare from year to year. In the 2009 broker survey, we didn’t see too much change compared to 2008.

Unlike last year, which featured a merging of the discount and full service broker lists (in which TradeKing lost a #1 ranking they enjoyed for several years), they didn’t make any big changes to the way they analyzed the brokers. (here’s the list if you want to take a peek)

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 Investing, Reviews 
110
comments

TradeKing Review: $4.95 Trades, No Minimums

Tradeking - Discount Online BrokerI could only avoid the siren song of $4.95 trades for so long, here are my opinions of TradeKing in 2,144 words and 4 screenshots. Last week, I joined the masses and opened a TradeKing brokerage account. I did so partly because I wanted to understand the process and answer some of the emails I’ve been receiving, and partly because I was impressed by their Options Education Center and wanted to dip my toe in the waters of something I never really understood. I had heard that TradeKing offers the easiest way to pull off multiple options related transactions (because they’re often used as hedges) at once. More on that later, let’s get to the basics.

Until the end of November, TradeKing is running a $50 new account bonus promotion where you can get $50 for opening an account, funding it with at least $2,500, and making one trade. Click the link to learn more or email me and I’ll refer you.


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 Investing 
8
comments

SmartMoney’s 2008 Best Discount Brokers

It’s always fun to see discount broker rankings. Last week, I wrote about a little preview to the SmartMoney 2008 Broker Survey in which SmartMoney released some preliminary results from their annual ranking of brokerage firms. SmartMoney has published the full details of their report and I’m sad to say that TradeKing did not retain the top spot they enjoyed the last two years (third place isn’t bad!).

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 Investing 
8
comments

SmartMoney 2008 Broker Survey

Smart Money reviews brokers every single year and they recently just gave a preview to their results. Rather than give the straight ranking, they discussed some headline categories (Commissions & Fees, Research, Trading Tools) and then listed the best and worst from each category.

For best commissions and fees, they listed Interactive Brokers, a brokerage firm I hadn’t heard of but does charge pretty rock bottom fees (half a cent per share on equity trades). They also showed the spread was anywhere from $4.95 for TradeKing to $112.50 for Fidelity on broker-executed trades.

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 General 
0
comments

Welcome Smart Money Readers

Welcome to any Smart Money readers who may have found their way to this site after reading Will Swarts’ The 1040 Is a Great Tool for Planning article. Unfortunately there wasn’t a live link but I’m glad you still made it. Three weeks ago Will Swarts called me up about a post I wrote several years ago about how to use your 1040 as a planning tool and we had a pleasant half hour chat about what it was I meant. Essentially the article just points out line items on the form that might be of interest if you’re doing your own financial planning. For example, line 49 is for education credits, did you know about all the tax breaks you can get for continuing your education? If not, line 49 is a great introduction to the keywords and phrases you’ll need to know if you plan on doing some continued research.

I hope you enjoy your stay, poke around at all the signs and sounds, and if you ever need anything, don’t hesitate to contact me.


 Investing 
6
comments

Beware Special Purpose Acquisition Companies

Imagine that you were able to buy shares of a holding company before it actually held anything other than straight cash, that’s what investing in a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) is like. A SPAC, usually run by relatively well-known hotshots, is a shell company that seeks to raise money that they will use to purchase a business and run it better. It was recently the target of a “Stocks to Avoid” column in Smart Money magazine (page 28, June 2006 issue) and I myself would have serious reservations about investing in a shell company whose business plan is as weak as any of these SPACs.

The interesting part is that the SPAC usually guarantees that if they don’t find a takeover candidate within 18 months, they will return your money less 20% for lawyers and underwriters! Seems like a shady operation to me. Here are some names and tickers of SPACs:

  • Good Harbor Acquisition Partners (GHBBU)
  • Acquicor Technology (AQR/U)
  • Services Acquisition (SVI)

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