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I am new to investing (only just set up my CommSec online trading account) and I was thinking of setting up a paper trading account for obvious reasons. If I can better understand the types of things I might expect/hope/dread to happen I feel I will be able to make more informed decisions for what to do with my money.

To my understanding, paper trading is specifically and only for current trades and you can watch how it does in real time. My problem: basically, I am impatient. Practically all of my financial goals are the long term (or at least longer than I'm willing to watch a paper trade for). So now I am looking for some way to simulate or calculate the profits from buying/selling stocks within any given timeframe.

Directions to, or a breakdown of the maths that needs to be considered to calculate this would be wonderful. But ideally I am looking for some sort of tool that can do this for me (if it exists). I have access to all the brokerage fee's and other information but I want to sit down and figure out how much I would have actually lost/earnt if I had done this or that so that I can have some more meaningful numbers based of the actual planned timespan in my head.

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The thing you want instead of paper trading is backtesting, which uses historical stock data to evaluate the hypothetical performance of a given trading approach. See Investopedia and Quora for some pointers.

  • Bit late ;) and a bit vague, but yep this is what i was looking for – Jesse Jan 20 at 5:40
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Brokerage firms provide the best paper trading simulators. The good ones force you to trade at the bid and ask and only give you fills in the amount of shares/contracts that trade at your price. They also keep track of the profitability of each trade as well as your overall P&L.

Keep in mind that simulators offer limited trading benefits because trading with play money is very different than the emotions involved with real money. The major benefit of a simulator at your broker is that it will help you learn the ins and out of the platform, reducing the odds of placing a fat fingered bad trade when you go live. It will also help you to learn how to create more sophisticated orders, if so inclined (various buy and stop orders, combos for options, etc.).

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