Personal finance has many facets, starting with budgets and good money habits, building up to a debt-free lifestyle, and eventually moving onto making healthy financial investments.
A lot of people think that investments are akin to casinos due to the unpredictable nature of the future, but there are plenty of lower-risk alternatives like bonds and index funds. That being said, nothing can match the thrill and excitement of playing the stock market, especially if you hit the jackpot.
But before you dive in with real money, you should get yourself acquainted with all the nuances. Use these virtual stock market games to get comfortable first.
MarketWatch is a financial website that’s intimately connected to several different stock exchanges, which doesn’t come as much of a surprise once you realize that MarketWatch is actually published by Dow Jones & Co. This is where to go for stock market updates.
What’s great about MarketWatch is that they have a section on their website for a Virtual Stock Exchange, which is an online game that uses real stock market data. There’s no better way to test out the stock market than playing this.
Note that it’s not one big game that everyone participates in. You can create your own game or join another person’s game, and games can be either public or private. Build a virtual portfolio, have discussions with other in the game, and see how you perform!
Investopedia is one of our favorite websites when it comes to learning personal finance. We don’t recommend it until you’ve built a solid foundation and wiped out high-interest debt, but once you’re there, Investopedia is a fantastic resource for newbies.
What’s cool is that they have their own stock market simulator where you can practice building portfolios and seeing how they perform in accordance with real stock market ups and downs. With over 700,000 active virtual traders, it’s a great way to learn the ropes.
Accounts are free to create. Investopedia runs a number of official games that each have different formats (e.g. never-ending vs. Q3-only), but you can also pick from member-created public games which have their own rules and rewards.
For those who are in the UK and have no interest in American stock markets, this one’s for you. Virtual Trader is the “largest investment game” in the UK and uses data from the London Stock Exchange to drive its simulation.
You start off with £100,000 in virtual cash that you can spend to build a virtual portfolio. You can create as many portfolios as you want, but only one of them can be designated as a “competition portfolio”, which is used in Virtual Trader competitions.
If you just want to play with a small group of friends or coworkers, use Virtual Trader’s league system to establish a private league. Otherwise, feel free to join any of the public games available.
Wall Street Survivor is another resource that we highly recommend as far as getting your finances in order. They have an awesome blog with near-daily posts that teach you everything there is to know about investments, personal finance, and the economy.
The site also offers several different courses that cover varying topics related to personal finance, and you can get access to all of them with a single subscription for $30 per month.
But their stock market game is also quite good and is the cherry on top. Register for free and you can compete using virtual cash on a virtual stock market for real cash prizes up to $300 through their official leagues.
For what it’s worth, I think this virtual stock market has the most modern interface, so if that kind of thing is important to you, you’ll probably want to join this one.
There’s an organization called the SIFMA Foundation whose mission is to educate people on financial markets. They’re involved in middle schools and high schools across the United States, but they also run an educational exercise in The Stock Market Game.
The game has actually been around since 1977 (not always online, of course) and over 15 million students have participated since then. Even now, approximately 600,000 students play every year as they learn what it means to be a smart investor.
The downside is that only students of participating schools are allowed to register and play here. If you’re out of school but are interested in being an educator, consider getting in contact with the SIFMA Foundation to see how you can help out.
Mastering the Stock Market
Practice is important if you truly want to master stock market investments, but practice has to be built on a solid foundation of knowledge. As such, we recommend supplementing your games with good financial advice.
Start with our guide on how to start investing as a beginner. It’ll get your feet wet with a few helpful services like Betterment and WealthFront. Other useful resources include these financial advice websites for staying on top of the markets.
We also highly recommend these free ebooks on personal finance, which cover everything from money management, financial planning, and yes, investments. Most are quick to read and will provide a ton of useful information.
Which stock market game is your favorite? Got any tips of your own? How did you get started in investments? Share with us in the comments below!