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I have come across quite a bit good information about investing (real estate, stocks, bonds, etc..) and so far, almost all of my investment knowledge comes from books and online research. I would like to start actually playing with the numbers and realistic investment scenarios. Are there any programs, games (online or on paper) or maybe even a way to watch real people handle their own (or others') money? How willing would people be to mentor me? (in the 'real' world)

If anything, just mention your personal favorite experiences related to investing.

Any information will be much appreciated. Thank You.

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Fake stock market trading may teach you about trading, which isn't necessarily the same thing as investing. I think you need to understand how things work and how to read financial news and statistics before you start trading. Otherwise, you're just going to get frustrated when you mysteriously win and lose funny money.

I'd suggest a few things:

  • Start an investment club. I did this in college with a few friends, had a good time and we learned alot.
  • Watch financial media. The Nightly Business Report on PBS used to be really good, although I haven't watched it since the long-running host retired. He's a bit of a clown, but watch Cramer on CNBC -- listen to the guests and track stocks and sectors that he talks about often.
  • Follow a few stocks in diverse sectors. Do research, listen to earnings calls.
  • Read financial media. Pick up the Wall Street Journal and the Economist when time allows. Read the book reviews and read recommended titles that interest you.
  • Don't get distracted by exotic stuff.

Also, don't get into individual stocks until you have at least $5k to invest -- focus on saving and use ETFs or mutual funds. You should always invest in around a half dozen diversified stocks at a time, and doing that with less than $1,000 a stock will make it impossible to trade and make money -- If a $100 stock position goes up 20%, you haven't cleared enough to pay your brokerage fees.

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    Vanguard's Insights: personal.vanguard.com/us/insights -- all squarely aimed at the long-term buy-and-hold investor. – fennec Dec 17 '10 at 3:50
  • Understanding your own psychology and being able to actually save money is more important than fake trading. Try to save the minimum ($3k?) to buy in to a growth fund, and then see how you feel as it goes up and down. Perhaps start a long-term journal about the financial side of your life. – poolie Dec 20 '10 at 3:10
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One way to start with stocks is by playing the fake stock market. Investigate what trading fees would be with a broker, then "invest" a certain amount of money - note it on paper or in a spreadsheet. Follow your stocks, make decisions on selling and buying, and see where you would be after a year or so. That way you can get an idea, even if not exactly precise, on what your returns would be if you really invested the money.

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    updown.com allows this. So does top10traders.com. Search for fake stock market. – Michael Pryor Dec 16 '10 at 22:41
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    Blah! Buying and selling is a lousy way to start investing with "very little to no money", so there's very little reason to simulate it. Speculating and playing the market is like launching a small business. You need a significant amount of money, lots of attention and time, and a high tolerance for risk. The poster would be better served by a good low-fee diversified mutual fund strategy. – fennec Dec 17 '10 at 3:53

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