Aviators don’t start flying in a real aircraft. Emergency responders conduct disaster simulations, and orchestras rehearse their music before performing it live. In every great endeavor, great people practice before doing it for real. That’s why investors have simulators of their own. Simulators allow investors, especially new students of the craft, to see how various trading decisions impact the performance of their positions. You might try out a new options strategy or watch how world events affect certain stocks and not others.
Here are some of our favorites
How does $100,000 of free cash sound? Unfortunately, it’s virtual cash but that’s what you get when you register for Investopedia’s simulator. Investopedia gives simulated trading a community feel where you can connect with more than 700,000 people, according to its website.
The platform even allows you to set up competitions with others on the platform to see who performed the best over a certain period of time.
Similar to Investopedia, TD Ameritrade has a virtual trading platform that it made into a game as part of its WOW!Zone financial literacy program. Start with $100,000 in virtual cash and trade in more than 25,000 stocks. You compete with friends and others on the platform. TD Ameritrade keeps track of your success and ranks you against other players.
If you have a Yahoo! Account, go to finance.yahoo.com and log in. Then, click the My Portfolio tab. The platform allows you to set up multiple portfolios and track the performance of each over time. If will even give you important news related to the stocks in your portfolio. In July of 2015, Yahoo stopped recording information on each virtual transaction you make but the platform still works well and is easy to use. WIRED Magazine list the Yahoo! Finance app as one of its favorites for simulated trading.
Google Finance is similar to Yahoo’s platform except that it does record transactional data. It even allows you to import past transactions from other platforms. Whether you’re a Yahoo! or Google fan, both platforms work well if you’re looking for a simulated trading platform that doesn’t put you into a community of other people.
If you’re looking to practice on an app, Stockfuse is worth a look. This relatively new app allows you to set up a virtual portfolio on your iPhone or Apple Watch. The most popular app, Stock Wars- Virtual investing has more than 1,000 reviews but hasn’t been updated since 2013.
Your Trading Platform
Most of the discount brokers, as well as many others, have simulators built into their platforms. Call your broker and ask if they have one.
Especially if you’re a new investor or trader, start with fake money. By observing stocks over time, you will learn to understand how they behave when faced with various market events. Great investors become experts in any investment they hold. Simulators allow you to do that before risking real money.