Trading shares is easy to do – but not for the faint-hearted

Trading shares is easy to do – but not for the faint-hearted

You might’ve heard that the Australian stock market has been on a bit of tear, jumping 15.3 per cent since the start of the year.

You might also be wondering: is the market going to keep rising, and how can you get a piece of the action?

First things first, nobody can ever say what’s going to happen to the All Ordinaries, which is an index representing 500 of the largest companies on the ASX (Australian Securities Exchange).

The All Ords might go up, down or sideways. Nobody knows. The stock market is volatile, as this performance table from the past 20 years shows:

All Ordinaries Growth
Change since the start of 2019 15.3%
Change over the past 1 year 7.5%
Change over the past 3 years 20.3%
Change over the past 5 years 19.7%
Change over the past 10 years 72.6%
Change over the past 20 years 127.8%

How to trade shares

The second question – how to become a share trader – has a clearer answer.

If you want to buy or sell shares on the ASX, you need to go through a middleman (known as a stockbroker), who will charge a fee each time you make a transaction.

These stockbrokers come in two flavours:

Type Service Cost
No-advice brokers They make trades on your behalf – nothing else Lower-cost
Full-service brokers They make trades on your behalf – and offer advice Higher-cost

Regardless of which type of stockbroker you choose, the broker will almost certainly allow you to buy and sell shares over the internet.

When you want to buy shares in a company, you use your online broking platform to nominate how many shares you want to buy and the price you’re willing to pay. If the broker finds someone who is willing to sell you those shares at that price – the deal goes through. (If not, the deal never gets completed.)

The same process applies in reverse when you want to sell. You nominate how many shares you want to sell and the price you’re willing to accept; the deal goes through if the broker finds someone who wants to buy your shares at your price.

Looking for a stockbroker?

Visit the ASX’s ‘find a stockbroker’ page for more information.

Pros and cons of buying shares

As with all matters financial, investing in the stock market involves pros and cons.

On the plus side, it’s easy to set up a trading account, you can get started with as little as $100 and you could potentially make a lot of money.

On the minus side, it can be hard to know which stocks to choose, you have to pay to play and you could potentially lose all your money.

That’s why you should think carefully before taking the plunge. Other investment options include:

  • Leaving your salary in a savings account
  • Locking away your money in a term deposit
  • Salary sacrificing into superannuation
  • Buying an investment property

Should I buy shares?

Click here to find out five reasons why you should … and five reasons why you shouldn’t.

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Learn more about savings accounts

How can I get a $4000 loan approved?

While personal loans and medium amount loans don’t offer guaranteed approval, there are steps you can take to help increase the likelihood of your application being approved, including:

  • Fulfilling the eligibility criteria (providing ID, proof of residency, proof of income etc.)
  • Checking your credit history (you can order one free copy of your credit file per year, and make sure that there aren’t any errors that may be bringing down your credit score)
  • Comparing carefully before applying (making multiple loan applications can mean having your credit checked multiple times, which can look bad to some lenders and reduce your chances of being approved by them)

What is a savings account?

A savings account is a type of bank account in which you earn interest on the money you deposit. This makes it one of the easiest and safest investment tools.

Can I overdraft my savings account?

A lot of savings accounts won’t let you overdraw. Some will allow this feature but you’ll need to apply first. It’s best to read the fine print and check with your lender whether this is a feature they offer. It can be a helpful addition, but as your lender can charge you a fee as well as interest for going into negative numbers, it’s best to avoid overdrafting when possible.

How to open a savings account for my child?

Some banks and financial institutions allow parents to open a bank account for their child as soon as it is born, and start depositing funds to go towards the child’s future.

Children’s savings accounts generally don’t have fees, and are structured to help develop positive financial habits by limiting withdrawals, encouraging regular deposits, and earning interest on the savings, similarly to standard savings accounts.

How to make money with a savings account?

Savings accounts make you money by earning interest on your savings. The more money you deposit, the longer you leave it in the account, and the higher the account’s interest rate, the more interest you’ll be paid by the bank or financial institution, and the more your wealth will grow.

To make sure your savings account makes money and doesn’t lose money, it’s important to maintain a large enough minimum balance that the annual interest earned exceeds any annual fees charged on the account.

Can you set up a savings account online?

Yes. Several large and small banks offer online applications for savings accounts, and there are also online-only financial institutions to consider.

Online-only savings accounts are often less expensive than other savings accounts, though they may not offer the same flexibility, features, or face-to-face service as more traditional savings accounts.

Who has the highest interest rates for savings accounts?

As banks frequently change their rates, the most accurate way to know who currently has the highest interest rate is to use a savings account comparison tool.

How does interest work on savings accounts?

The type of interest savings accounts accrues is called compound interest. Compound interest is interest paid on the initial deposit amount, as well as the accumulated interest on money you have. This is different from simple interest where interest is paid at the end of a specified term. Compound interest allows you to earn interest on interest at a higher frequency. 

Example: John deposits $10,000 into a savings account with an interest rate of 5 per cent that he leaves untouched for 10 years. At the end of the first year he will have $10,512 in savings. After ten years, he will have saved $16,470.

Can you direct deposit to a savings account?

Yes. You can make one off payments or set up regular direct deposits into a savings account. This can be organised easily through online banking or by making deposits in a branch. Talk to your lender to find out the easiest way for you to set up direct deposits.

How do I open a savings account?

Opening a savings account is a relatively simple process. If you’ve found an account with a suitable interest rate, you’ll just need to get in contact with your chosen lender via a branch, phone call or hop online to begin the process. 

You may be required to provide:

  • Personal details, including identification (driver’s license, passport etc.)
  • Tax file number
  • Employment details

Can you have a joint savings account?

Yes. Joint savings accounts can be useful for two or more people wanting to combine their savings to meet shared financial goals, including spouses, flatmates and business partners.

Some joint savings accounts require all parties to sign before they can access the money. While less convenient, this extra security can help encourage all parties to meet their shared financial goals.

Other joint savings accounts allow any of the account holders to access the money. These accounts can be convenient for financially responsible couples that trust one another implicitly. 

What is a good interest rate for a savings account?

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind with savings accounts is to look for a rate that is higher than the CPI inflation rate. This number is constantly changing, so check the Reserve Bank of Australia’s page. If you aren’t earning interest above this then the value of your money will go backwards over time.

How much money should I have in my savings account?

A good rule of thumb when working out a minimum balance for your savings account is to make sure that you’ll earn more in annual interest on your savings than what you’ll be charged in annual fees.

If you’re saving with a specific goal in mind, prepare a budget so the interest you earn on your deposits will help you efficiently reach this goal. Online financial calculators may be helpful here.

What is the interest rate on savings accounts?

As banks frequently change their rates, the most accurate way to look at interest rates on savings accounts is to use a savings accounts comparison tool. When you look at the savings rate check what the maximum and minimum rates are. Often banks will offer you a promotional rate for the first few months which is competitive, but then revert back to a base rate which can sometimes be less than inflation. Ongoing bonus rates are often a safer bet as they will keep rewarding you with the maximum rate, provided you meet their criteria