The Difference between Stock Market and Stock Market Simulators

by Investing School on March 30, 2012

With a recession upon us and gas prices climbing daily, we live in a time when everyone needs to make a buck. When attempting to figure out the quickest way to get that dollar, many might consider testing their luck in the stock market, the bloodline of our economy, and a fantastic way to make your money grow. How many people with little to no formal training really feel comfortable jumping into the game with investors? Not many. Companies have now begun to develop programs that actually let you practice and test your trading skills, in the comfort of your own home, with accurate data from the real live stock market. These stock market simulators are helping the average Joe gain the confidence he needs to get in and play dirty with the big players and make a little money while he’s at it.

Fantasy Simulators

These stock market simulators allow the inexperienced trader to create their own fantasy stock portfolio, investing in places that may seem too risky for “real life” trading. Fantasy trading provides a safe environment for testing out trade strategies before backing them up with real money. These programs absolutely eliminate the risk and relieve the pressure normally associated with live trading and provide new traders a chance to perfect their skills, watch stocks rise and fall, and learn the game before playing for real. This is a drastic difference from the real live market, where moment to moment any decision could cause you to lose hundreds and hundreds of dollars.

Virtual Currency

Aside from providing a safe place to learn, these stock simulators give novice traders a supply of “virtual currency” to play with. Having a chance to play with large sums of money, but with no risk allows beginners the opportunity to learn the necessary timing needed for the high paced stock market. They can literally watch their money grow or disappear the same way it would if they were playing for real; however, their actual risk and loss, or gain, is null. Using this fake money sometimes allows beginners to try out trades that they may be too hesitant to make, were they actually risking their own money. Alleviating the pressure of the real life precious dollar sometimes allows one to make moves that are slightly bolder than they would attempt if the risk were actual.

Time Delayed Data

It wouldn’t be quite fair to allow first time traders to test their skills with live data, providing an opportunity to “cheat” in the actual stock market. To eliminate this possibility, the stock market simulator programs offer time delayed data, stock information that is fifteen, sometimes twenty, minutes behind the actual market. With this lag in stats, practicing traders have the opportunity to compete with other beginners using real highs and lows, but not exact, up to date, current stock information.

The difference between the stock market and stock market simulators is clear. One is real and quite simply, one is not. They operate on the same principals with the same data. The biggest factor to consider when trading is your risk. Though calculated, risk is always present when playing the game. Simulators allow you to flirt with the risk while losing nothing in the end. The only drawback from dabbling with the fantasy market is, just as the losses are not real, neither is the gain.

Those interested in getting their hands wet on these stock market simulators should check out companies like OptionsXpress.

George Gallagher is an expert on student loan consolidation services and news. He works with cuStudentLoans to help past students find the best not-for-profit credit union delivered options, while staying up-to-date of the latest trends in loans and personal finance.

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