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Thursday, October 1, 2009

I Feel Like Death ...

Every year.

I can almost set my watch to it.

At the end of September to the beginning of October, I start to wake up with a sore throat, and then comes the sinus headache. For the last 14 hours, I've been trying to remain as unconscious as humanly possible. So I'm struggling at the moment.

Regardless, I had to put up a note regarding the Challenge Project.

The Challenge Project is leaving optionsXpress.

I finally took the plunge, created an account at ThinkorSwim for the Challenge Project, and transferred all of the money out of optionsXpress. As soon as the money clears my personal checking accounts, I will be sending the funds over to ThinkorSwim. So from this point forward? The trading portion of the Challenge Project will be occurring with ThinkorSwim as the primary broker.

There are a number of reasons for this. Primarily? ThinkorSwim just has a better platform, and better customer service. The customers, including myself, have been on optionsXpress forums for 4 years now, asking for audible alerts. That's right, 4 years. In the span of 4 weeks, ThinkorSwim has provided updates as to it's platform, that include the ability to drag the audible alerts around the screen. I wouldn't be surprised if there are further improvements and updates at ThinkorSwim in another 4 weeks.

I've also been 'snooping' a bit around their customer service. As the Challenge Project is sort of a 'model' for those with low funds? I've been asking people that I know are low funded to ask ThinkorSwim customer service various questions; and then tell me what they said. I must say I was impressed.

The reason I did this, is because I've noticed over the course of the last 13 years, that this industry has the ability to show extreme disdain for anyone in the low funded position. Which is infuriating to someone like myself, who is attempting to help the low funded. Let me tell you, it's a pretty thankless job.

This is supposed to be one of the last businesses that offer success to anyone, despite where they come from, or how much education they have. Yet optionsXpress, with their pricing structure, demonstrates extreme disdain for anyone in the low funded position. If you have less funds in your account, you are charged more in terms of commissions. They basically, intentionally stack the deck against the low funded.

In addition? The commissions can't be beat on commodity futures between the two brokers. In some cases, I was noticing that the commissions were a full $11.45 cheaper with ThinkorSwim, per contract, than they were with optionsXpress.

The only disadvantage that I will face? Is that I can no longer trade pit-traded options. But is that honestly a disadvantage?

A few folks have asked what I'm going to do with the Challenge Projects Investing accounts, since that account is with Sharebuilder, which is with ING Direct. To move my accounts away from Sharebuilder, they are going to sell off my partial shares that I've DRIP'd in with many of them. So if the Challenge Project Investing Account has 3.038 shares of a company? They're going to sell off the .038, and then charge me a commission for selling it off. Nice eh? So I figure I'll wait to gain a whole other share for each company (for the DRIP to accumulate to like ... 4.01 shares) before transferring the account and shares over to a separate account at ThinkorSwim. It'll take a while, but I'm not about to be screwed out of what I've gained thusfar. Plus, since Shareholder is a subsidiary, and pretty rock solid financially, I don't forsee too many problems by just waiting ...

Edit: On another note, Coca-Cola (KO) paid out it's dividend today.

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Note: This is not an investment or trading recommendation. The losses in trading can be very real, and depending on the investment vehicle, can exceed your initial investment. I am not a licensed trading or investment adviser, or financial planner. But I do have 13 years of experience in trading and investing in these markets. The Challenge accounts are run for the education of other traders who should make their own decisions based off their own research, and tolerance for risk.

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