Do ‘sell’ services really add up?

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Everyone is eager to tell you when to buy a stock, but your “sell” decision is just as important. Now, at least three websites calculate market volatility and will send you sell alerts at the appropriate time. They say the alerts will warn you so you can head off steep losses.

These websites seek to improve on the traditional method, the trailing stop-loss order, which is an order to sell whenever a stock has fallen by a certain amount. Critics of the trailing stop-loss order note that one bad day can shove you out of a winning position and trigger capital-gains taxes as well.

You’ll pay between $79 and $191 per year for one of the sell-alert services, depending on how many stocks, mutual funds and options that you want tracked. Because these fees will detract from your overall returns, these tools are best used by people who have portfolios of at least $25,000. That’s because you’ll need at least that much to generate enough money to overcome fees.