I do a decent amount of investing. And I'll look into any service that streamlines the process. I recently decided to start a new experiment and I wanted to tell my readers a little about it.
About a week ago, I opened up an IB (Interactive Brokers) account. I'd been looking into doing so for a while, but I didn't want to further split my assets into multiple accounts. However, because the primary broker that I've been using, Motif Investing, is shutting its doors at the end of this month, I had to find another option. I chose IB for a few reasons. First, it has access to a lot of investing options. Second, its margin interest rates are very competitive. Third, it's one of the brokers that allows users to borrow against their margin balance using a debit card. While there are risks associated with such borrowing, it's hard to beat the rock bottom interest rates when compared to traditional credit cards.
There are some things that I don't like about IB of course. Even though IB is marketing itself to larger investors, they're a bit behind the times when it comes to their tech. Their trading software is a bit dated and I much prefer TD Ameritrade's Think or Swim software. I also have to constantly log back in to their system, which is a real pain. Sessions are killed very quickly. While I understand wanting security, it just gets absurd, especially because you have to authenticate with IB's own phone app, rather than using something like Google Authenticator. Even still, the low margin interest rates and access to just about every market one can think of won me over.
Direct Deposit and Stripe
One other issue with IB however is that it takes a few days for funds transfers to clear under most circumstances. The fastest way to deposit funds is through direct deposit, as if it were a regular checking account. I don't have much in the way of direct deposit, but I do have my writing, which does generate some money. So when I set up my account, I set my Stripe accounts for Medium and Vocal to deposit directly into my IB account.
Before going any further, I want to give full disclosure. I don't completely fund my stock buying with funds obtained from writing. I wish I could, but I'm not there yet. Still, it's a useful setup and will be even more useful as my revenue stream from writing continues to grow.
Investing At the Speed of Tips
While both Medium and Vocal use Stripe, and both accounts are set up to direct deposit to IB, there is something I like about Vocal over Medium. Yes, Vocal has a long way to go before it can reach its competitors. But the tipping system is something that even Medium lacks right now. And unlike with the regular wallet payouts from reads, tips are delivered to an author's Stripe account immediately, and payouts are done on a daily basis. Even Medium only has monthly payouts.
And better still, it only takes about two days from the time a user tips me before the funds are available for trading! It takes a bit longer if it's the weekend, but that's fine. I don't trade over the weekend anyway. While there is a small fee associated with Vocal payouts, this system can potentially give me near constant funding to my brokerage account, and because IB does have its margin debit card, it also means that I have near immediate (three day hold) funds availability for general spending as well (so long as I behave myself and don't get into trouble with margin).
While there are other options besides IB, I do like them. They have one of the best selections of asset classes to chose from, including access to most stock markets across the globe. Combined with their low margin interest rates, it's hard to beat. And now that I can directly fund my investing through payouts from Vocal tips and other revenue from writing, it's even better. As I continue this experiment, I'll keep readers updated on how things progress. A lot of it will depend on how many tips I end up receiving over time.
Disclaimer: I am not providing any financial or investing advice. It's important to do your own research before making any decisions.
Trading is high risk. And even investing has some degree of risk associated with it. For this reason, along with the very nature of investing, it's important not to think of buying stocks as a form of saving.