Learning to Invest in Stocks with Virtual Investing

Like many people, I’ve been interested in stock market investing for much of my adult life.  Not just the standard ‘buy an index fund that invests in the stock market, add money to it regularly, and  hold it until you retire’ standard investing advice.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s sound advice; if you do that with at least a sizable portion of your money from a relatively young age, you’ll find yourself quite well-off when retirement time rolls around.

But buying individual stocks offers the potential to reap some serious profits.  Pick the right stocks, and you can find your portfolio growing much faster than the market at large, allowing you to increase your net worth faster and higher than simply buying index funds (see, for example, Warren Buffett).

Pick the wrong stocks, though, and you can wind losing most, or even all, of the money you put into the stock market, possibly losing much of your net worth (see, for example, a great number of people during the Great Recession).  How then can you gain the experience needed to do well in the stock market without putting a sizable chunk of your own money at risk?

Practice Stock Investing in the Virtual Market

Why, with a practice stock market, of market!  By putting fake money into a pretend stock market, you can see how your investment choices would do if you went through with them, without the risk of losing your money.  You’ll be able to measure your skills, compare stock judgement methods, and test any sources of advice you might be considering.  Plus, it can be pretty fun, to boot.

Olim DivesMy current favorite Stock Market Game is Olim Dives.  There are quite a lot of virtual investing markets out there, though, including practice accounts at nearly every stock trading website, so what makes this one stand out?  Firstly, it’s more social than your typical virtual investing site.  While most mimic a real stock account in not connecting to other accounts (or letting anyone else see how well/poorly your investments are going), Olim Dives enable you to link to other practice traders, compare performance, challenge each other for badges or bragging rights, or simply shoot the breeze.

Second, you have the same tools and accessories available as any other stock market game or website to use to test your skills.  You will start with $100,000 (in fake money, alas; no chance of immediately withdrawing from your account and heading down to Rio) and get to trade, compare stocks, and see how your trades would do if you enacted them for real.  True, you won’t get to walk away with a fortune if you happen to pick the next Microsoft (or Google, or whatever example you wish to use), but you will avoid losing your shirt or any other garments should your trades go south.  Plus, if you are successful in your trading…

You can end up earning real money in Olim Dives.  Unlike, well, basically every other virtual investing site that I know of, you can actually snag real cash prizes for good stock choices, both for the top trade in a month and for being the best overall investor.  (As well as being the top blogger, should you want to try that route…).  Granted, your successful investments will not end up yielding tens of thousands of dollars, as could successfully investing for real, but when there’s possibility to earn some money with your stock choices with no risk of losses, it’s definitely worth a look.

My Personal View

As you have probably guessed, I’m definitely giving Olim Dives a chance to test my stock trading skills.  I’ve been meaning to get ‘on the horse’, as it were, with a practice account of some type for quite a while now, as I’m hoping to be ready to invest in individual stocks once I have gotten my personal finances better straightened out and have the money to invest.  Add in the fact that I possibly earn some of said money by practice investing, and it definitely seems like a worthwhile way to spend some time and effort.    (If you’d like to say hi to me, you can check out my profile.)

4 Responses to Learning to Invest in Stocks with Virtual Investing

  1. I agree before jumping into the wolves den you should have a little practice for about 6 months. Be realistic and ask yourself if you were losing this money in real life how would you feel. Would you be ok with the ups and downs. The big lose days will drive people to drink. It would be nice to earn a little money by practicing investing.
    Thomas´s last blog post ..Stats Update, Side Hustles, and Post Schedule

    • Yeah, practicing for at least six months (possibly even closer to a year, depending on how much you understood investing before starting your practicing) is definitely a good plan. You pointed out a lot of the issues that arise when you start to invest in individual stocks, and here’s hoping more would-be individual stock investors will make sure to practice before they jump into the stock market.

  2. I really wish they would have had something like this when I was younger and just getting into stocks and investing. To some degree my 401k was pretty much my first “battlefield” when it came to choosing funds, etc. I used to keep a spreadsheet for my stock picks, and I’d sometimes track them once a month. It was simple, but it lacks all the fancy charts, statistics, and other great things that comes along with stock investing that you later find to be helpful. So a simulator like this could have some great potential value.
    MMD @ IRA vs 401k Central´s last blog post ..Traditional vs Roth 401k – Which One Is Better?

    • I hear you, MMD. I didn’t really start investing until 2008, but as you might guess, I’ve been more than a little bit cautious about investing in individual stocks since then. It’s nice to see that methods to practice the skills needed to invest before actually jumping in.

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