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For those who won't accept "it depends" as an answer

How to Make Investments on E*Trade

You've got your fund set up, but how do you actually invest in those funds? Here's how.

So you've opened up an account and you're ready to start picking out funds or stocks. I remember being at this point, and I was terrified to click any buttons. What if I accidentally clicked the button that blew everything up?

Good news: E*Trade doesn't have any buttons that you can click that can blow up the earth.

That being said, I know it's still a little tricky to figure out exactly what to do. So here's a step-by-step, screenshot-by-screenshot guide to investing in funds and stocks on E*Trade.

1. Log in to your account.

Just log in and you'll arrive at your dashboard. No matter where you are on the site, you will have a nav bar that looks like this.

2. Find your stock or fund and click "Buy".

Use that search bar in the top right corner to type in the ticket symbol of the fund that you want to invest in. It'll bring up a page like this that gives you all kinds of information about the fund.

For now, let's assume you've already done your research on this stock or fund and you know it's a good one to buy. (Another post about how to do this will be coming soon!)

If you're ready, go ahead and click BUY in the top right underneath where it says "Trade". I was really worried I'd blow up the world at this point, but don't worry... you still have to do a few more things before any money actually leaves your account!

3. Decide how much you want.

Once you click "Buy", you'll arrive at a page that looks like this.

This gives you all the details you need for what's about to happen (except for commission/trade fees... more on that next).

You'll see at the top how much money you have to spend... that's what's in the Cash Purchasing Power section. The amount you have there is the maximum amount you could spend on this fund or stock. E*Trade won't let you buy $10mm worth of shares unless you have $10mm in there! So don't worry about spending more money than you have... E*Trade won't let you do it!

Decide how many shares you want to buy, or how much you want to invest in the fund. Of course, this will be a function of how much Cash Purchasing Power you have, but you might not want to spend the whole amount.

Once you know that, just update the quantity or amount box. (You see action is defaulted to "Buy", which is exactly what you want.)

Then go to Price Type section, and change the field to "Market". You can click the question box to read the descriptions, but I just typically choose Market. (This is essentially just choosing when the order will go through. I once chose Limit, and it didn't end up going through. I don't really understand the science behind of these, but I always choose market and it works just fine.)

For duration, just leave it at "Good for Day".

You won't have to worry about the All-or-None section.... it just means if you're buying a lot of shares and they're not all available, you can tell it to not buy any. (Chances are this really won't be applicable to what you're doing, so feel free to ignore.)

Once you fill in these details, you'll see a box showing your estimated costs. This shows you the commission/trade fees, as well as the actual amount you're investing.

If everything looks good, go ahead and click "Preview". Don't worry - you'll still have another chance to review everything!

4. Review your order and click "Place Order".

You're basically done! Now just review the details and if everything looks good, click "Place Order.

Something look wrong? Just click "Change Order" and you can go back through these details.

Depending on the time of day you place an order, you might get a message like this.

If you do, it's no problem! It just means your transaction will go through next time the market is open. If you download the E*Trade mobile app, you can get a notification when the order actually goes through.

I know this is a process that looks simple, but can still be kind of scary. I remember the first time I did it, I wanted someone to hold my hand because I was really nervous I was going to break something.

If you feel that way too, consider this blog post my way of holding your hand. We can do this! If you have any questions, comment below and I'll help you out!

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