Several GRS readers have asked me to recommend a “stock market game” so that they can learn the basics of investing without risking actual money. Though I’m aware of such tools, I’ve never used one myself. During my recent interview with The Motley Fool’s David Gardner, I asked him if he could suggest one. He recommended CAPS, which is The Motley Fool’s stock evaluation tool. But that’s not really the same thing. 

I was recently contacted by a representative from Young Money, the personal-finance magazine for college students (which I reviewed in 2007). It turns out Young Money has their own stock market game, and it’s open to everyone. Here’s info from the site and from the promo e-mail I received:

Young Money Stock Market Game is a free game that allows members to practice trading in a lifelike brokerage simulation.  By participating in the community, you can learn the ins and outs of Wall Street by investing $1,000,000 in virtual money.  This virtual stock market game features real-time trading simulation and multiple contests. Beginning investors can practice stock market trading, compete with friends and investors, and win real money.

  • The Grand Prize: $1,000 (1 winner)
  • First Prize: $200 (3 winners)
  • Random Prize: $50 (5 winners)

Winners will be determined by the percentage gain within their portfolio during the contest period. The First Prize winner will be the investor with the highest percentage gain in a two-month period. Contestants must enter by Friday, 06 February 2009, to be eligible to win. One portfolio may be created per email address.

This contest is being sponsored by Sharebuilder, which is probably hoping that some participants will be so enthused by the game itself that they’ll move on to real-life investing — at Sharebuilder, of course!

I don’t have time to play a stock market game myself. If I were to do this, I’d be obsessive about it, researching stocks for hours a day. Really, though, I’m presently an index-fund investor, and not ready to move on to individual stocks.

Still, I know that many GRS readers would like to try a game like this. If you do try it, I’d be curious to hear about your experience. Was it easy to use? Fun to play? Did you learn anything? Are there other stock market games out there that GRS readers should look at?

Note: Several commenters have made an excellent point. Winning a stock-market game like this usually involves short-term speculation, which is the opposite of what most of us should be doing with our money. Still, they say, they’re worth doing in order to learn the mechanics of the market. (I love GRS commenters!)

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