Just as it is impossible to truly "master" golf, learning to play the stock market is an elusive goal, even for the world's top traders. No one -- not even Warren Buffett -- can make the right bet every time: The markets are just too complex. Because of this, learning to play the markets is actually a matter of learning to control risk. You can do this with sophisticated tools, such as option hedging, stop-loss orders and short and long positions. Or you can simply use time if you are a long-term investor, and learn to use diversification and careful investment selection to hedge your risks. The route you choose depends, in part, on your goals as an investor. Either way, though, there are some simple ways to get started.
Take online classes. This is an easy, and for the most part affordable, way to learn how to play the stock market. Most classes that offer help with the stock market can be taken at leisure, so there is no need to rush through the class and start trading. Take your time learning the basics before you start gambling with your own money. Once you have gotten the basics down, try investing some -- not all -- of your own money to see if you can turn a profit, then work into full investing gradually.
Ask a friend. If you know a friend who is very financially savvy, ask him if he or she could show you the ropes. This way you are able to see how they handle the stock market and watch as they trade. Watching someone who has traded in the stock market for years may think that it is as simple as clicking the mouse a few times, but they are sadly mistaken. Good stock traders know that they must research their investments closely before putting in any money.
Go to a stock broker. Have a stock broker handle your money for you. They usually have fees and commission but you will be able to see what they are buying and selling with your money. While your money has been invested, watch the stocks and learn about how to read the charts. Then after the stock broker has made a little money for you take it out and try some on your own. It is always a good idea to practice and watch the market before trying it yourself.
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images