A teacher at our recent FinCamp reminded me that we should not forget about the importance of the mechanics of personal finance transactions. What good is teaching students about the importance of investing if they don’t know how to go about setting up an account to buy/sell investments. While we have a activities on how to select a credit card and a bank account, we don’t answer the basic question that many young investors have which is “How do I buy a stock?”

Rather than answer this question for them, have students do their own online research to discover:

  • What type of brokerage account can you open if you are under 18?
  • At what age can you open your own brokerage account (may vary by state)?
  • What personal information will you need to open an account?
  • How much money (minimum balance) will you need to open an account?
  • What are the common fees for brokerage accounts?
  • Who are the top five brokerage firms?
    • Choose two of the top five that you might be familiar with (always want to comparison shop!)
    • Go to each of their websites
    • Identify the steps required to open an online account (hint: most will have a button “Open an Account” that will initiate the process)
      • DO NOT Enter any personal information about yourself as you just want to understand the steps
    • What tools do they have to help with investor education?
      • Use at least one of these tools on each of their sites and identify what you learned from it.
  • If you had $250 to invest, what stock/index fund would you buy with it?
    • What is the current price (go to Yahoo Finance)?
    • How many shares could you buy?
    • What would be the cost of that trade?


Don’t have much time to teach investing? Check out our latest “Teach Investing in Two Hours” lesson!