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Online investing simulators help you learn the ropes without risking your money. (José Luis Gutiérrez)
Online investing simulators help you learn the ropes without risking your money. (José Luis Gutiérrez)

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Get your investing chops, without the risk Add to ...

My goal this year is to run a half marathon. First up is comfortably mastering 5k. I’ve got some work to do, but slipping on my runners and hitting the pavement without a plan isnt going to get me to my end goal. Step-by-step actions, reading up on the best practices and nutrition, and finding support in a running group will. Learning to do something new first requires learning the fundamentals by researching and practising.

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Gaining confidence through practice is especially important when we have something on the line to lose, like our money.

If your goal is to start investing in 2012, then an online practice account is one of the best ways to get started. With a practice account you can increase your knowledge, gain confidence in your abilities, and learn about yourself as an investor without any risk.

With an RBC Direct Investing practice account, for example, you start with $100,000 in practice money. Your accounts mimic most of the different transactions you can make in a real account, including buying and selling mutual funds, buying fixed-income products, and monitoring holdings over an extended period of time. You must be a client of the bank to access all of these tools.

However, you could open up a Tax-free Savings Account (TFSA) with the bank, one that comes with no fees or minimum deposit requirements, for access to all of the investing resources available. There are also a number of simulators online, like the one offered by Investopedia.com to get your feet wet as you learn about basic investing ideas, different trading strategies, and how to read stock tables.

More and more women are taking their newfound knowledge and going the DIY investing route, according to the first TD Waterhouse Women’s Online Investing Poll. The survey finds that the number of women who invest online is increasing, with 66 per cent signing up in the last five years.

Additionally, 50 per cent of women plan on increasing the portion of their portfolio with their online brokerage. According to the poll, the No. 1 tip from women who invest online is to be willing to do your research. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and start small and work your way up once you are comfortable.

Mock portfolios and online simulators are a fantastic way to do all three of these suggestions and build your investing knowledge. Involving a planner to help define your financial goals prior to investing, and creating or joining an investment club, will also help prepare you prior to investing.

Of course, one thing that practice accounts don’t fully prepare you for is learning to control the mix of emotions that inevitably come with investing real money. It’s easy to stay calm when you’re playing with a mock account. A financial plan that takes into account this potential roller-coaster ride, and an adequate knowledge of how to manage investments, will ultimately make you a calmer and more confident investor when you are ready to open your first account with an online brokerage.

Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies money group. Read her weekly column on managing debt and saving money at the Globe's personal finance site.

<p> With an RBC Direct Investing practice account http://www.rbcdirectinvesting.com/practice-accounts.html for example, you start with $100,000 in practice money. Your accounts mimic most of the different transactions you can make in a real account, including buying and selling mutual funds, buying fixed income products, and monitoring holdings over an extended period of time. You must be a client of the bank to access all of these tools. However you could open up a TFSA with the bank, one that comes with no fees or minimum deposit requirements, for access to all of the investing resources available. There are also a number of simulators online, like the one offered by Investopedia.com http://simulator.investopedia.com/#axzz1lnyoHNI1 to get your feet wet as you learn about basic investing ideas, different trading strategies, and how to read stock tables. </p> <p></p> <p> More and more women are taking their newfound knowledge and going the DIY investing route, according to the first TD Waterhouse Women’s Online Investing Poll. http://www.smrmediaroom.ca/TDWomenDIYInvestors.html The survey finds that the number of women who invest online is increasing, with 66% signing up in the last five years. Additionally, 50% of women plan on increasing the portion of their portfolio with their online brokerage. According to the poll, the number one tip from women who invest online is be willing to do your research. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and start small and work your way up once you are comfortable. </p> <p></p> <p> Mock portfolios and online simulators are a fantastic way to do all three of these suggestions and build your investing knowledge. Involving a planner to help define your financial goals prior to investing, and creating or joining an investment club, will also help prepare you prior to investing. </p> <p></p> <p> Of course, one thing that practice accounts don’t fully prepare you for is learning to control the mix of emotions that inevitably come with investing real money. It’s easy to stay calm when you’re playing with a mock account. A financial plan that takes into account this potential rollercoaster ride, and an adequate knowledge of how to manage investments, will ultimately make you a calmer and more confident investor when you are ready to open your first account with an online brokerage. </p>
 
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