In the past I’ve been a TastyTrader. While I whole-heartedly agree with and would continue to trade this way given different circumstances, my account is simply not large enough to get ahead of the ridiculously cheap fees. When most online brokers charge at least $5 per trade, TD Ameritrade has graciously provide fees at $1.50 per contract. For a typical vertical spread this means a total of $6. $3 to open the position, and $3 to exit the position. Not too bad as it’s about half if not more than what everyone else is charging. The trouble is that with a “tasty bite” sized account, you just can’t get ahead. If a position go against you, then you lose money. If a position goes for you, you’re basically making peanuts on the dollar as each $15 win actually amounts to about $8.5. Additionally with a tasty bite account, you’re limited in capital. So not only do you make very little, that very little can only be made every so often because you’re limited to how many positions you can open. You can’t open 30 positions that tie up $400 of your capital unless you have enough capital to cover yourself. Even if you can open enough positions, you don’t get $8.5 all up front. You might have to wait many days or weeks if it’s a winning trade.
That said, with a bigger account1, it’s an unbelievably methodical and profitable way to trade options. If you can remove the emotion from it and not treat it like gambling (which can be very easy to do when you get into the statistics of all it), then it’s a winning strategy to stay small and make calculated decisions that will grow your money.
Which brings me to why I love WealthFront. Use that link and you’ll get an additional $5k managed for free. With a smaller account, in my mind, this is the only way to win. Automatically rebalanced, tax-loss harvested, and low fees chargef for ETFs all speak volumes about how WealthFront is committed to the individual investor as well. Rule #1 in investing is “Don’t Lose Money”. Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffet, and their contemporaries all follow this main principal. If you lose money, then the effort your money has to exert to gain it back is far greater than simply getting a decent return. Let’s say you have $100 to invest. A 5% return on your $100 equals $105, right? Now let’s say you lose $10 out of your $100, and now you have $90. What’s the rate of return you’d have to get back to that same $105? 16.67% ! Which sucks. That’s more than triple the rate of return if you hadn’t lost any money.
So, what is an investor to do? Let some great software do all the thinking for you. I’m not saying you’ll never lose money at WealthFront or similar companies, and I’m just some guy on the internet making a case for what I use. I’m not an expert, but for my peace of mind, at this particular juncture in my life, taking a very mentally taxing set of ongoing financial decisions out of my brain is totally worth it.
Referral link if you want to give both of us an extra $5k managed for free: http://wlth.fr/1pVolIs
Non-referral link if you don’t care: https://wealthfront.com
- Currently, there is a Federal restriction that only allows certain types of margin and leverage for accounts that have a balance greater than $25k. ↩