Keeping track of your investment returns
When you become an active investor or day trader you can end up having a lot of paper work to keep track of your investment returns. Additionally, it is important to understand your cost basis and buy and sell points. There are several ways to keep track of your stocks and mutual funds. The following are some of my favorite tools for tracking captial gains and stock performance of your individual portfolio.
- Stock broker: Fortunately you can keep of your gains and losses through your stock broker. When you purchase a stock through your broker your cost basis is established. Additionally, the performance of the investment can be seen relative to the price that you paid. However, depending on your broker it may or may not give you and annual rate of return if you hold the stock for more than a year. For example lets say you bought Tim Horton's stock during the IPO. You know you are up lets say 10% but you may not know what the annual return rate is if you have held it for 18 months or 2.5 years etc.
- Quicken: Fortunately software program like Quicken can provide you with the annual rate of return and the capital gains calculations for both stocks and mutual funds. This obviously is important when you sell a stock because you need to report it on your taxes. Mutual funds are tricky to figure out the actual gain because a lot of times you might have had annual capital gains that have been automatically rolled into the fund at the end of each year.
- My Yahoo page: Quicken and your stock broker are great however, most of the time you won't be able to log into your brokerage account every 10 minutes to check on the status of the account. Sometimes you need quick access to you stock positions and an understanding of what you paid for them. I really like to use the portfolio feature on My Yahoo. It allows you to add unlimited number of portfolios and stocks to keep track of the price paid, number of shares and current value. The prices are updated about every 20 minutes.
- Yahoo widgets: Another really cool feature that I have just started using is Yahoo widgets. This is a really cool little desk top program that doesn't even require you to open your browser. You can setup your Yahoo widget with all of your stocks and they will be displayed right on your desktop when you are connected to the internet.
- Email alerts: You can also have Yahoo Alerts or your brokerage account automatically send you email alerts when certain criteria of your stock is reached. This is a handy feature however if you are a real active trader the text message alerts might even be better because you never know when you might not be at your computer.
- Text message alerts: Did you know that the same Yahoo Alerts or Google stock alerts that can be sent to your email could also be sent to your mobile phone. This is a really handy feature especially if you are out and about and not sitting at your desk all day.
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