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.)

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