As of right now, I’m in the “not-so-fun” position of starting to learn about the stock market. I’m increasingly in control of my own money, and trying to figure out how to best save and invest it without making any huge mistakes and losing my hard-earned cash!
The thing is, the best way to learn about these things is just to get involved. Put some money into the pot, and call it a learning experience. Since that’s easier said than done, there’s a way to play with what’s essentially “Monopoly” money – it’s called UpDown.
UpDown gives you a virtual portfolio of money to manage and invest, while teaching you about how finance, stocks, and the like really work.
Creating a free account with UpDown is easy – just supply usernames and passwords, and you’re set to go. You’ll have to wade through a bit of advertising, but it’s a pretty simple process to get UpDown up and running for you.
Once you’ve got an account, you get to start investing! UpDown provides you with $1,000,000 USD that you’re free to invest any way you want – you can make trades and invest by clicking the “Trading” tab. Buying and selling stocks is easy because, well, it isn’t real money.
The rest of the whole system is real, though. The stock prices are a reflection of the real market, and the process of buying and selling works much like it would elsewhere. There are tons of tools to track how your stocks are doing, what’s causing their rise and fall, and how your money would be faring if you were investing real money. Your goal is to make as much money as possible by investing. That’s really the only difference between UpDown and say, eTrade – you’re not using money you can lose.
UpDown’s whole purpose is education – it’s a super-low risk way to learn a lot more about the markets, and how money and stocks really work. I’ve found that even things like the vocabulary of finance is difficult; UpDown helps you figure out what the heck an annualized return really is. The site provides a constant stream of news and information related to both the markets as whole, and the particular stocks and companies you’ve invested in.
The “Home” tab provides a great overview of what people are talking about on UpDown, as well as what the markets was like and how your stocks fared in the last day. You can compare companies by their critical statistics – things like revenues, earnings, and more. UpDown tries to give yo (the fake investor) a sense of the numbers and data you’ll need to make informed decisions, and teaches you how to read the information as well.
The really cool part of UpDown, though, is how well the community works together. It’s easy to see what other people are buying and selling, to get a sense of what the UpDown market is doing at any given time. There are also groups and networks that you can join based on your interests or background, both of which help you with investment advice, lots of tips and a greater understanding of the whole process.
You can add friends on UpDown as well, and communicate with them about anything you’d like. It’s always nice to have someone looking over your shoulder as you invest, and UpDown allows your friends to do just that.
In reality, that’s just the tip of the iceberg – UpDown hosts tons of contests, keeps a variety of educational tools on hand, and does a great job of keeping you actively investing by providing a stream of tips and tools for improving your skills in (fake) investments. And that’s the beauty of UpDown. It’s a no-pressure, easy-to-learn, simple way of gaining an understanding of how the financial world really operates. There’s no risk of money loss, no gaming of systems – just a plethora of tools designed to help you better understand how to invest your real money wisely.
UpDown has been described as “fantasy football meets the trading floor” and that’s exactly what it is. It’s a way to learn the players, learn the system, and see how the game works before (or while) you get involved in a meaningful way. If you play it well, you can even make a few real bucks through contest and referrals.
Are there other sites like this to help you with your investment skills? What’s your favorite?