If you’ve heard all about investing in stocks, and you want to get started but aren’t sure how, Google Finance might be the perfect baby step for which you’ve been looking.
Google? Finance? Yes, you’ve heard of all of Google’s other tools, from Gmail to Android, but Google Finance is a somewhat hidden gem that needs to be on your radar if you’re interested in the stock market.
It looks simple when you see it for the first time, but don’t be fooled. It’s the perfect starter kit for wanna-be investors.
Here’s how it works
Google Finance’s portfolio tool is the best way to build a mock stock portfolio without investing any of your own money, and track that portfolio over time.
Instead of contributing real dollars, you can start by adding (fake) “cash” to your account. Unlike adding cash to your real-life bank account, adding money to your Google Finance account is as easy as choosing a number, clicking “Deposit” and presto, you’ve got that amount of money ready to invest in real-life stocks.
Then, find the stock tickers – aka those abbreviations you see in the newspaper or in the ticker on CNBC – and use those to add a certain amount of stocks to your portfolio. When you go to add them, you can select the amount of stocks you want to buy, and the date you want to buy them, and Google Finance will take care of the rest, including adding in the price you bought it at, based on the date.
There’s even a handy “Deduct from cash” checkbox, so that each of your stock buys comes out of the total amount you wanted to add in as your investment money. Keeping tabs on that number is how you’ll know that OK, you put in $5,000 and turned it into $10,000 by the end of the year.
Hypothetically, of course.
Then, you wait
Once you’ve got all your stock buys in place within Google Finance, the waiting-and-watching game begins. Google uses the information you’ve provided regarding the stocks you bought and when to track your portfolio.
You can leave your portfolio invested for as long or as short as you’d like, and you can buy and sell additional stocks whenever you want. That’s the nice thing about a mock portfolio: absolutely zero trading fees or commissions (unless you want to account for that in your performance, in which case Google gives you a field to input that info too. Because of course they do.)
Over time, you’ll get to see the real-life impact of owning stocks, and how your money can grow in the market based on the stocks you chose to buy.
But remember, it’s not real money
Even though building a mock portfolio is an amazing way to get a feel for picking your own individual stocks, and managing your own investments, it’s important to remember that it’s not real money.
You might be thinking, “Sure, of course it’s not real money, how could you ever get confused about that?” While you’re not going to be tempted to withdraw your hypothetical investment earnings, it is important to remember that your behavior and reactions towards your investments will be a lot more rational when it’s not your money on the line.
If your pretend-portfolio has a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day in the market, you’ll probably look at that loss with mild interest. However, if that same day happened and you lost real money in the markets, it’s hard to maintain that same level of just mild interest. It’s important that you do, though, for the sake of your money.
Buy low, sell high, remember? Selling low does you no favors. Figuring out the right time to sell an investment, even with all the financial media screaming to “Sell! Buy! Sell! Buy!” is why trading stocks on your own is something that requires some extra effort and knowledge.
But you can start gathering that knowledge with Google Finance right now.
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*This piece is meant only to expand awareness of available financial tools and products and should not be considered an official endorsement of the product or its outcomes by GenFKD.