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What are some great stocks to buy? I’m 18 and I have around $2,000 to invest. I want to be extremely risky as I am young and have time in my future to save

If you want to be risky (which at your age is a great approach, because as you said, you have time on your side to make mistakes and repair them).

In this case, individual stocks are the way to go. Forget mutual funds or ETFs. These are average and many do not even beat the market. On top of that, they will charge you fees while stocks will charge you nothing.

Then your stock selection will depend on your strategy.

Are you planning to buy stocks and hold them until retirement?

Or are you planing to play a bit and buy and sell (note, excessive trading will however lead to losses over time)?

If you want to build a portfolio which will bring you income and allow you to retire early, then you need to choose stocks which have a great potential to grow steady, slowly, and safely. You need to look at stocks which will be around 20 years or 30 years later.

I would recommend you to open a margin account and start slowly buying dividend growth stocks. These do not require much work on your part and you can afford to buy them and forget about them and while waiting, collect dividends which can be re-invested back to grow your portfolio.

In this case, I would look into dividend aristocrats. They are relatively safe and grow and will most likely grow. You just need to monitor your holdings time to time to check that the stocks you have still meet the criteria for investing in them. If not, get rid of them.

Now, when I mentioned margin account, do not use margin at this phase. Your account is too small and if you leverage your account using margin, interest rates would not only offset the dividends and capital gains but may even eat your principal.

Then start saving money, so you can start trading options and that is when you use margin.

I personally use a strategy of selling cash secured puts to buy 100 shares of a stock and do this as long as I get assigned. Once I get assigned, I hold the stock, and then start selling covered calls as long as I get assigned. With this strategy you monetize your positions. You collect premiums when selling puts, you collect dividends when holding a stock, and collect premiums when selling covered calls. And with this strategy it is handy to start using margin.

Example: Let’s say, you want a stock ABC which trades at $60 a share. In a cash account you would need $6,000 to buy 100 shares. In a margin account, you will need only about $3,000 initial margin to buy 100 shares.

So, you sell a 55 strike put and collect 0.60 credit (or $60 premium). For this, the broker will collateralize about $1,100 of your buying power. If the stock stays above 55 by expiration, your put expires worthless, your collateral will be returned to you and you will keep the premium you collected. If the stock drops below $55 a share, you will be required to buy 100 shares at $55 a share but your cost basis will be 55 – 0.60 or $54.4 per share and your collateral will be added to the margin of $2,600 (since now you are buying for $55 and not the original $60).

While you hold your 100 shares, you start collecting dividends and start selling covered calls. By selling the calls, you again receive premiums. If the stock stays below your call strike price, the call expires worthless, you keep the premium, and you can sell a new call. If the stock goes above your strike, you will be required to sell your 100 shares (for example, you bought in at $55 a share, so you sell 58 strike covered call and collect 0.25 or $25 premium. If the stock stays below 58 at expiration, the call expires, it the stock goes above, let’s say to $60 a share, you will be forced to sell your 100 shares at $58 a share. Your profit will be premium received + the difference between the stock and strike, in this scenario additional $2 per share).

If your shares are sold, you go back and start selling puts again. Rinse and repeat.

This is as “aggressive” strategy as I would recommend to go. There are riskier strategies of course, but, with those, you can easily wipe out your account (my experience). Later on, as you get proficient, you can use other strategies to generate more income.

However, in order to do this, you will need at least $5,000 or more account and proper options trading approval from your broker. But you can start slowly, invest your first $2,000 and study the strategy until you raise money for more trading.

As far as the stock selection, I recommend using dividend aristocrats, Here is a link to a David’s Fish list of the dividend champions (aristocrats), challengers, and contenders:
Dividend Growth Stocks CCC list This list has enough stocks to pick from and if you study them carefully, you can even pick a real winners.

And what you can expect? Well, I have been trading this strategy (I also traded other strategies not so successfully though) and my average annual return on investment is between 30% and 45%. If you do your work, read, study, pick your stocks carefully, and do not deviate from the plan, you will be able to double your account every 3 years.

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