Learning to invest can be confusing and daunting. It’s one thing to try before you buy, but a whole other game entirely when you have to spend your hard-earned dollars on something you’re not sure of. And yet the only way to truly learn how to invest is by investing – but no one said you had to invest your dollars when you do.
Along with digitized trading, the internet brought virtual investing, where you can practice investing with fake money. The problem with most investment games, however, is that they focus on stock trading. Stock market games teach investors to trade stocks for quick profits when most investors are better served by learning the slow-and-steady art of long-term investing.
Successful long-term investing is less about picking the right stock and more about choosing the right asset allocation, or mix of investments, that will help you reach your goals and staying true to that allocation through ups and downs.
These five free investment games will help you become a better long-term investor:
- Build Your STAX
- The Stock Market Game
- Wall Street Survivor
- How the Market Works
- Watch Lists
Build Your STAX
The Build Your STAX investment game compresses 20 years of investing into a half-hour game. It starts out pretty slow by giving you only a modest savings account, but over the years your growing wealth and investing skills unlock more investment opportunities. You get to branch out into CDs, index funds, individual stocks and bonds and even commodities. As you unlock each new investment, the game gives you a primer on what the investment is and the role it can play in your portfolio.
Along the way, the game also throws sudden life expenses at you, like a wedding and your BFF’s new restaurant venture, so you learn how to protect your portfolio against real-world financial threats.
You can play as a group or on your own against the computer. It’s browser-based so no need to download an app.
The Stock Market Game
Created by the educational nonprofit organization SIFMA, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, The Stock Market Game lets participants trade their own $100,000 virtual investment portfolio. While the investment game is designed with teachers in mind, any adult can register to participate either with a team – go ahead and make it a family event by bringing your kids and spouse in – or individually.
If you want access to the full educational curriculum also provided to teachers, register to both “teach students/others” and “participate by myself.” Once registered, you can choose to participate in a competition or a non-ranked session. Portfolios can be invested in a mix of stocks, bonds, mutual funds and cash. Last year they even added a sustainability index to help participants practice values-based investing.
Wall Street Survivor
With the Wall Street Survivor investment game, you invest fake money in real companies. Start with anywhere from $10,000 to $10 million in paper money. You can join a public league or create your own public or private league. Play for bragging rights or compete for $2,000 in monthly prizes.
The best part of practicing investing with Wall Street Survivor is the educational component that comes with the game. Personalized how-tos and step-by-step guides help you along the way. You can also access the site’s library of free starter guides, investing ideas and 18-course curriculum covering financial topics from building a portfolio to developing your credit.
How the Market Works
How the Market Works is another investment game that excels at investor education. The built-in research tools, interactive personal finance calculators and library of more than 30 articles on personal finance, business and economics keep learning front and center.
While the investment game is designed for teachers or investing clubs, anyone can join and play for free. Once in, you can join a live contest or create one of your own. If you opt to start your own contest, you can even create rules for contestants like not using penny stocks and maintaining a certain level of diversification to keep things more level-headed. Investment options include real stocks, ETFs and mutual funds.
So this isn’t a game per se, but you can certainly turn it into one. Most major brokerage firms allow clients to create watch lists to track stocks or funds they’re interested in. These watch lists typically allow you to add up to 50 investments so you can “watch” an entire virtual investing portfolio.
With watch lists, you can track how much each investment gains or loses since you added it to list. The notes feature lets you add notes to individual investments, which can be a great place for keeping a reminder of why you thought this would be a good investment or what percentage of your portfolio you wanted it to account for. When you’re ready to buy, you can have price alerts sent to your email or phone.
Copyright 2019 U.S. News & World Report