The well-known saying “practice makes perfect” is a bit misleading because it’s almost impossible to become perfect at anything in life. In the world of trading, we don’t aim to be perfect, but to be generally profitable—and one way to pursue that goal is to practice, practice, practice on the paperMoney platform on thinkorswim®.
paperMoney, a stock market simulator, allows you to test your trading strategies as you would in a real, live situation, but without risking a penny on a stock exchange. It’s a great way for anyone to hone their trading skills, but it’s particularly well-suited for those who:
- Are interested in the trading stocks but don’t yet have enough funds to do so
- Have the capital to trade but aren’t sure where to start
- Are experienced traders that want to use paperMoney to test new strategies to add to their arsenal
Be the Kid in the Candy Store
Now that you have access to paperMoney, there’s no better way to explore the power of the thinkorswim platform—with no risk—than by digging in and trying things you normally wouldn’t.
This is your opportunity not just to trade stocks, but perhaps to perform in-depth research on those biotech or fintech stocks you keep hearing about. Or maybe you want to step outside your comfort zone and trade different assets classes like futures, forex, or options, and in the process you may notice why these are not for everyone. This is also a great chance to try out different chart indicators and studies to see how they work in conjunction with your trading.
Now, Settle Down with These 5 Tips
Once you’ve gotten that all out of your system, it’s time to develop your trading mettle by focusing on the type of asset and strategy with which you feel most comfortable. Here are five helpful tips to get the most out of paperMoney.
- Optimize your layout. The paperMoney platform has a variety of customizable configurations. For example, the left-hand column provides “gadgets” for watchlists, live news, Level II quotes, Trader TV, and much more. There’s even a scratch pad to write down trade notes. In the main screen, you can set up multiple charts in a flexible grid system. This can be the perfect opportunity to create the layout that works best for you.
- Use the power of data. Your trading data can be a powerful learning tool, and with paperMoney it’s all at your fingertips—automatically. paperMoney records all your trades (including paper commissions) and displays them in the form of profit and loss analysis, which you can view in multiple time frames. Reviewing this data regularly is a good way to spot holes in your trading strategy and fix them.
- Trade “as if.” When no money is at risk, you can’t get hurt—but you should trade as if you can. If you trade outsized positions and take wild risks, it won’t help you when it’s time to switch to live trading. The power of paperMoney is that it gives you the ability to refine a strategy based upon the way you’ll trade with real money, so trade “as if” you are. Use your “do overs.” You’re going to make mistakes; that’s the nature of learning and the reason for practice. But if you think you’ve made too many, don’t be afraid to start over from scratch. You can do this by going to the Monitor tab on the upper left-hand corner of the main screen, scrolling down to the Position Statement line, and looking to the far-right hand side. There you’ll see a button titled Adjust Account. When selected, you’ll see an Account Adjustments box. Just check Reset All Balances and Positions and hit Apply, and you’ll get a clean slate. See figure 2.
4. Go on about your business. The reality is that most of us don’t have the luxury of sitting at a trading desk all day long. Life intrudes and often we have to be elsewhere during the trading day. But just like the live thinkorswim platform, paperMoney goes with you wherever you go via the TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader app. Use it to practice managing trades on the go the same way you would with live trading.
And for those of you currently in college and interested in studying the markets, paperMoney has a special significance. Starting October 9, TD Ameritrade will hold the annual thinkorswim Challenge, where you can form two- to four-person teams with your schoolmates and trade a $500,000 virtual money account using the paperMoney platform. You can even win some real-world prizes. Registration begins on September 4, so visit the thinkorswim Challenge page for more information.
College Students: Want a Challenge?
Are you ready to trade against college students nationwide for a chance to win big prizes? Get a team together and register for the thinkorswim® Challenge. No purchase necessary. Subject to Official Rules.