Options Forum: A Bargain Lesson on Options Education

Brad Zigler takes a look at an options education of the least expensive type.
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I live in California wine country. No, it's not the place you probably imagined. You most likely thought, "Ah, the Napa Valley!" But I live in Sonoma County. People often think Napa's the only venue for fine winemaking. But thanks to local vintner

Tommy Smothers

(yes, that Tommy Smothers), we Sonomans are taught early the mantra: "Sonoma makes wine. Napa makes auto parts."

Say good night, Brad.

Before I do that, here's a quick lesson for those seeking options knowledge: Don't let your imagination set up the confusion of quality with cost. You can learn about options on the cheap.

Just what do you get for the $4,000 "get rich quick with options" seminar that you can't get with a free course offered by the

Options Industry Council

(OIC)? Do

SEC

-regulated compliance professionals vet the course material? Can you obtain free educational software? How about free educational videos? Will you be put face to face with instructors direct from the options trading floors? Heck, will you get free cookies and coffee?

At programs put on by the OIC, you'll get all that and more. A consortium of the options exchanges and the

Options Clearing Corp.

, OIC took the educational tack, intending to not only increase the use of options, but also to assure that investors understand how to properly use the options tool to enhance their equity investments.

What you won't get from OIC is pitches to buy expensive books and tapes. Neither will you get a hard sell to enroll in high-priced seminars. OIC doesn't claim to hold secret knowledge that can only be pried loose after the liberal application of lucre. Let's face it: Ain't nuthin' new under the options sun. They've been around for years. And so have the strategies. OIC simply stumps the hustings in search of individual stock investors who might not otherwise know about them.

Which leads to the inevitable question, "What's in it for OIC?" Simply put, economy of scale. With the creation of a generic educational program, each of the constituent exchanges leveraged its marketing budget. Marketing drives options-order flow. In short, OIC was created to grow the pie, freeing exchange monies to promote each member's own slice of the options business.

There are plenty of other resources for getting free options education, too. The very medium you employed to read these scrivenings has democratized options knowledge. Internet content devoted to options has been mushrooming. Some content's good, most is dreadful, and a few are gems. Below, I've listed a few pearls of options knowledge to be found on the Net. (The lawyers, however, want you to know that the listing of these sites should not be construed as an endorsement or an indication of the value of any claims, recommendations or other information contained in them.)

(

Neither TheStreet.com nor the author has any affiliation with these sites, except for the Pacific Exchange, where Zigler is employed.

)

General Options Education

Options Industry Council

Download free educational software

View strategy discussions

Order free videotapes

Quotes

Options Exchanges

Pacific Exchange

Chicago Board Options Exchange

American Stock Exchange

Philadelphia Stock Exchange

Options Trading Simulation

Ameritrade's Darwin game

Technical Indicators

Put/call ratio: www.decisionpoint.com

Volatility data: www.optionstrategist.com

Options Calculators

CIBC World Markets

McMillan Analysis Corporation

Options Strategy Guides

Option++ Internet

Options Trading Ideas

Holt Report

OptionsAnalysis.com

CoveredCalls.com

Options Broker Ratings

OptionSites.com

Ambrose Bierce

once described a prescription as a physician's guess at what would best prolong, and a lot of options education slicksters hold that same outlook. They want to shake just enough coppers out of your pocket to keep you coming back for more.

But just because a medicine is costly doesn't mean it's effective. Better to keep your money as trading capital rather than turn it into pocket lining for greasy seminar promoters.

TSC Options Forum aims to provide general securities information. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell securities.