The stock market is a big thing – too big for anyone to completely understand in a single lifetime. Even the best investors will admit that there’s always a little chance involved. Or a lot.
Still, there are ways for a totally green newbie to start making green by trading.
1. Play virtual stock market games. My favorite is Investopedia because it’s fast, simple, and has real NASDAQ and NYSE stocks on it. It allows short selling, simulated broker delays, etc. It also resides on a site with tons of clearly written beginner tutorials and introductory material. There are of course lots of others; Wall Street Survivor, WeSeed, How the Market Works, etc.
The point is to jump right in and start trading real stocks, but with fake money. Make sure it’s a free game – there are too many free ones to justify paying a fee to play. Usually they’ll give you $10,000 or $100,000 to start out with. It doesn’t matter because your goal isn’t to have as much as possible by the end of the year, its to GAIN as much as possible compared to how much you started with. Every single method I use when trading real stocks, I first tested on a virtual trading game. Oh, it can be frustrating; I wish the $1,000 I made on my first trade was real money, and at times I was doing so badly that I swore I’d never even try real money anyway. In the long run however, it’s definitely worth your time.
2. Ask friends. Ask Anyone. This is the thing about human beings; they like people to know that they know stuff. Millions of people spend hours and hours learning the stock market and will be anything but bored/annoyed if you ask them to drop you some tips. In fact, a great many have been waiting decades for someone to give them an excuse to rant and rave about their theories and rights and wrongs. It’s a win-win situation for wealthy nerds and cool poor people alike.
3. Don’t read too much. Seriously. Don’t make it boring. Trading stock isn’t hard at all. What is hard is sifting through dusty textbooks (and worse, poorly written ebooks) that ramble on and on about every single aspect of the stock market even though you just wanna know about the things you plan on doing. It’s a lot more effective to use trial and error methods (via practice websites) and ask specific questions (via other people) than to sit down and read the whole damn stock market. This is one of those fields that’s so immensely gigantic and complicated that you’ll just end up burned out and stick to your dayjob if you ‘force yourself’. Even the most basic, simple jargon (IPOs and preferred stocks and bears and pigs and zebras) can bore a newcomer to tears. Learn these things as they become relevant rather than torturing yourself.
4. Ignore 99% of the ‘expert writers’. It’s hard to think of stuff to write about. Really. In fact, it’s harder than trading stocks. That’s the thing about ‘expert financial writers’. If they just repeated factual and useful information over and over, they wouldn’t have a job. You can get that stuff by reading FAQs and government documents from 30 years ago. Instead, they’re forced to churn out risky theories, attempt to debunk established methods, and anything else just to give their name some momentum. It’s painful to see an dead-obvious stock climbing at an insane rate right as the markets are opening, throw $5,000 at it then sell, making more on it than you did at your 9-5 that day, then finding some ‘expert’ telling people to do the exact opposite with a bunch of pie charts and Freud quotes. These guys intentionally make the stock market out to be more mysterious than it is because, simply put, they need something to write about.
And that’s it. Give it some time and jot down any patterns you notice while playing practice markets. As soon as you punch some basic math and develop an investing method that leans profit odds strongly in your favor, you won’t be able to wait to use real money instead of the play stuff. Keep your initial expectations low – just managing to play around and study until you’re pulling a consistent $10 a day means you’ve gotten the fundamentals down and can gradually risk more and more.