Options are higher risk futures that you can buy and sell against stock you own or don’t own. Investors have made and lost fortunes trading options. Jim Cramer made enough in one options trade to quit Goldman Sachs and start his own hedge fund. I only want to mention it briefly because it can be a powerful tool as a hedge or even to add gains on stocks you already have. There are two types of options in stock markets which is what I’ll be focusing on. They are calls and puts and you can either buy or sell them. There’s an easy way to remember what they mean by associating common phrases to them. You buy a call when you think the price of something will go up. So just like you “call up” a friend, you buy a call when you think the price of a stock or ETF will go up. Selling a call gives you instant cash that you keep as long as the stock price stays the same or goes down (the opposite of buying a call). A put is the exact opposite. You buy a put when you think the price of something will go down. So just like you “put down” a friend, you buy a put when you think the price of a stock or ETF will go down. Selling a put gives you instant cash and you keep it as long as the stock stays the same or goes up (the opposite of buying a put). As if this isn't confusing enough, options come with expiration dates. You're free to buy and sell until the expiration date but on the expiration date, two thing can happen. One, your option can be exercised for stock shares with you making some profit and now owning shares of the stock. Regular stock trading strategies apply then. Two, your option expires worthless and you lose all your money! This can be tricky to comprehend at first but you’ll get used to it after some thought and additional study. Trading options on individual stocks is very time consuming. For average people, I recommend only trading options against ETF’s or selling options on stocks or ETF’s you already own. For example, if you think the economy will crash then you can buy some calls on an UltraShort or Bear fund. Not only does this strategy require less capital upfront but it doesn’t require too much research. All you need is a feeling on the overall direction of the economy to profit. You can also sell calls on stock you already own and pocket money every month if you’re right. This is a very complex subject and I will be going into more detail on how to make money in this area in my subscribers only area. I only want you to be aware of its existence. It’s never a bad idea to invest a little play money in options but be advised that you can lose your whole investment very easily, so tread lightly. On the other hand, if you hit a home run, you’ll be telling your friends about it for years. It’s not uncommon to make 30-100% on your money trading options but the stress and heartache is sometimes unbearable.

Author's Bio: 

Jamie has an MBA from Rutgers University and a Professional Certificate in Real Estate Finance, Investment and Development from NYU. He's traded stocks since he was 13 and bought his first property within a year of graduating college. He also flipped properties and got out before the 2008 mortgage meltdown because he was able to see the market turning before it happened. He's started two companies and also has experience in investing in antiques, collectibles, gold, silver and trading futures.

He currently operates a website dedicated to helping people achieve financial freedom. How do you become rich? Visit www.jamiesmoneyadvice.com.