If you’ve always wanted to start investing, but you’ve been afraid of losing money, get over it. And if you’re clueless about basic budgeting, stop making excuses and learn how to track your cash. It’s time to jump in there and make your money work for you. At a time when the economy is in a tailspin, it’s more important than ever to get a handle on your finances.
But before you dive in, you can practice with programs such as The Stock Market Game, which was developed by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Foundation, an organization that strives to promote investor education. Who says investing has to be boring? This game allows you to test drive your skills by investing with virtual cash. That’s right; a (hypothetical) online portfolio containing $100,000 is yours to make investing decisions with. It’s sort of an investing tutorial.
Another way to test your investing skills is through MarketWatch’s Virtual Stock Exchange. This is a free stock market game that allows you to set up simulated portfolios with a virtual cash balance that you set. Games can be played privately or with others. The Website gives you the option of joining a game in progress, starting a new game, or setting up a new portfolio.
The game Budget Hero challenges your money management know-how by asking you to balance a fictional $3.3 trillion federal budget. You’re scored on how well your taxing and spending strategies meet your priorities as well as how long it takes for your budget to be depleted. Could you save the U.S. economy? Play this game and see if you’re up to the challenge.
I haven’t forgotten the kiddies. There’s a board game called Moneywise Kids, which teaches children how money works as well as how to make and manage a household budget. (Do note, however, that this game is not suitable for children under the age of 3 due to small parts, which could pose a choking hazard.)
Once you’ve gotten the basics down and you’re ready to move on, check out investing Website Sharebuilder, which lets you invest in stocks for as little as $4. And once you’ve gotten your budgeting skills together, take a look at online budgeting tools such as Mint.com.
Sheiresa McRae is the consumer affairs editor at Black Enterprise.