Should You Buy Stocks on Margin?


Patrick McKeough Image Patrick McKeough Editor, Successful Investor

Below are three questions that may go a long way in answering this question, says Pat McKeough of The Successful Investor.

From time to time, investors ask us questions to which there is not a simple yes-or-no answer. One of these is whether buying stocks "on margin" is a good idea. That is, should investors borrow money from their brokers to buy securities?

This strategy is reasonable in some circumstances, but it carries more than the usual amount of risk.

The main cost involved with buying on margin is the interest on the money you borrow. Plus, when you sell a security that you've bought on margin, you must first pay back the loan from your broker.

Interest rates remain low. That does add to the appeal of buying stocks on margin. However, there are a few things to keep in mind if you're thinking about borrowing to buy stocks:

Maximize your margin investing with our three-part strategy. If you could stick to a strategy of buying on margin when the market hits bottom, stay margined as the market rises, and sell out at the peak, you could very quickly build an enormous fortune. But the simple fact is that no one has the sense of superhuman timing necessary to consistently succeed in that.

That's why we continue to recommend that if you are going to use margin to invest, it's all the more important to stick with our three-part investment approach: mainly invest in well-established companies; spread your money out across the five main economic sectors; and avoid stocks that are in the broker/media limelight.

If you rigorously follow this stock investing advice, you stand to make money over long periods.