How do I get started?

If you interested in trading, I have listed the steps below on how to get started. Please note the steps provided below are specifically for TD Ameritrade.

  1. You will need to open an individual brokerage account with TD Ameritrade, Schwab, or E-Trade. It is free charge and only takes a few minutes.  I recommend opening a TD Ameritrade account because all of the trading tools are free, there is no minimum deposit, and there are Zero commissions for trading non OTC stocks.  Please note that all of your profits and  losses are reported to the IRS, so you will receive a 1099-B form at the end of the year to file with your tax return
  • Deposit money into your brokerage account.  The are several methods available to fund your account, but the top 3 methods are below.  The deposit funds option will be listed under My Account -> Deposits & Transfers -> Deposit when you are logged into your account
  1. Transfer money from your bank (ACH) – Same business day.  Deposit money electronically from your bank via the Automated Clearing House Network.

Note: You will need to link your bank account under the “Account/Bank Connections” tab.  This will be listed under My Account -> Deposits & Transfers -> Deposit when you are logged into your account.

  • Wire Transfer – Same business day.  Wire money from your bank or other financial institution into your account.
  • Check deposit– 1-6 business days.  Use their mobile app or complete a deposit form to mail with a paper check
  • Apply for margin trading.  This will allow the funds to become available immediately after selling a stock so you can reinvest.  By default, you will have a cash account and the funds will not become available immediately after selling a stock.  You will need to wait approximately 3 days for the funds to settle.  To trade on margin, your account value must be at least $2,000.  All this mean is that your broker you will roughly leverage you $2,000 in addition to your money, giving you a total of $4,000 to trade with.  I would suggest not using the money the broker leverage you and just stick to trading with your cash.  To apply for “Margin trading”, you will need to navigate to Client Services -> My Profile -> General when signed into your account.


  • Update your current subscriptions.  This will be located on the “Subscriptions” tab under the “My Profile” page.  Don’t worry this subscription below is free of change
  1. Real-Time NASDAQ Level II Quotes
  • Choose what trading platform you want to use.  They offer multiple options across 3 different platforms (Desktop, Web, Mobile).  This will be listed under Trade -> Trading Platforms

Trading Platforms

  1. Desktop
    1. Thinkorswim Desktop – Our original advanced trading technology for desktop use
  2. Web
    1. Thinkorswim Web – Our easy-access, intuitive interface for any device, anywhere
    1. Classic Website – Our classic platform optimized for desktop
    1. Next Gen Website – Simplified multipurpose platform for any device
  3. Mobile
    1. Thinkorswim Mobile – Our mobile app for active traders
    1. TD Ameritrade Mobile App– Our mobile app for investing and easy account access

5)  The last thing you will need a reliable internet connection and decent desktop or laptop. Most computers nowadays meet the minimum requirements to run the trading platform provided by the brokerage firms for trading.  I would recommend reviewing the minimum requirements for installing the desktop platform to ensure it runs smooth.