Investment Tools, Software and Resources You Can Get For Free

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2009-07-1711

I started investing in the stock market in my early 20’s. And during that time, I got most of my education through magazines, periodicals, books and even newsletters. The internet was just taking off during that time so the whole online investment landscape had not been widely developed. If you can imagine it, I used to make my stock trades and transactions through the phone, even compulsively checking my account balance and stock prices in this manner. Well, now that a few eons have past, saying that “things have changed” is a complete understatement. If you want to learn how to invest and make money in the stock market, there are a zillion places that you can now visit in order to get started.

Part of getting educated about the stock market and the whole topic of investing involves picking up the theory and the knowledge behind these activities. Part of it also involves getting the experience as an investor. These days, I’m picking up a lot of my knowledge (or at least supplementing it) through online resources that are (mostly) freely available. I’d like to use this post as a platform for discussing those online investment resources. I’ll start off with a list of investment tools, software and sites over here, and if you’ve got more to add, please feel free to do so!

Free Investment Tools, Software and Resources

Most investors visit Barron’s, Smart Money and Motley Fool for their investment information. But why not add these other sources to your resource list?

1. Online Stock Brokers

Sign up with online stock brokers to get access to free tools and resources. Technically speaking, you may not have to get an account with a discount broker to begin learning about investing. Brokerages such as TradeKing, ETrade and Zecco already provide rich resources for investors and traders in the form of tutorials, webinars, reading materials and a built in investment community (via forums). But some of the more sophisticated tools may be available only if you sign up and become a customer at these brokerages.

The kind of tools you’ll find on these sites range from stock screeners, charting software and virtual trading environments and may be of particular interest to more active investors. There are also options brokers that cater more towards traders and have outstanding tools that help you pick up skills and knowledge for dealing with both stocks and options.

For more information on great brokers, check out our Best Brokerages Section. We’ve screened these firms and have created a directory, which we hope you’ll find useful.

2. Morningstar

This company is an investment research firm that’s in the business of stock market analysis, research and education. They offer investment products for retail and institutional clients and is an awesome source for independent market analysis and data. They cater to investors of varying knowledge levels, from novice to experienced. One of the free tools I’ve used from Morningstar is the Instant X-Ray, which allows you to evaluate your investment portfolio, and tells you how it’s weighted. This is particularly useful if you’ve got mutual funds and are wondering about how much their underlying assets overlap. They also have useful stock screeners that you can use to help build your portfolio. You might also like their Morningstar Mobile iPhone application which you can download to receive quotes, news, ratings, etc through your iPhone.

For more information, check out our Morningstar review here.


I’m a member of and have been privy to their investment materials and resources for some time now. They are an online company that also provides investment research and tools for their customers. I’ve also written about their free stock charting tool in some detail and covered some of their free videos on occasion. If you decide to sign up for their free analysis tool, you’ll be able to monitor your virtual portfolio and receive email alerts for quotes and other investments that you’re following. They also have a free investment video channel you may want to peruse.

4. Zacks

Yet another familiar name in investment research, Zacks offers a free membership for you to check out stock recommendations, market commentary, wealth management tips, strategy screens and stock analysis reports. A free registration will get you some basic services such as a daily newsletter, news, charts, research and use of a portfolio tracker and email alerts. Their premium and elite subscriptions offer much more (such as targeted recommendations, stock lists, research reports and stock screenings and rankings), which you can review through a free trial here.


I like the premise of UpDown; they describe themselves as the “leading social platform for virtual investing”. It’s a place where you can improve your stock trading and picking skills without having to risk your own money (think: fantasy football meets trading floor). They also host regular stock market contests which you can join for some nice rewards (how does a few thousand dollars sound?) — if your portfolio performance wins out, of course. Beat the S & P and earn some money!

6. WeSeed

Here’s another virtual trading platform brought to you by the same people behind OptionsHouse, that low cost options broker. Their goal is to empower people to understand the stock market better by providing an investing and trading platform for virtual portfolios and fake money.

There are many more tools out there that are available to budding and experienced investors alike. What we’ve listed is just a sampling! If you’re interested in additional resources and education along these lines, you can, of course, also try out investment periodicals like Investor’s Business Daily and The Wall Street Journal. If you want the perspectives of a recognized “financial guru”, you can check out newsletters, subscriptions and books by some of them. I particularly like the works of John Bogle and dabble a little in the world of Jim Cramer; I find that different “gurus” allow me different perspectives and views of the investing world. This keeps me learning new things all the time, something I appreciate as a lifelong stock investor.

Copyright © 2009 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Rob Bennett July 18, 2009 at 5:01 am

I’d like to invite people to review the unique tools that I provide at my site, These tools are the product of seven years of work I have done in the Retire Early and Indexing discussion-board communities. Thousands of community members participated in the development of the tools, which advance an entirely new model of understanding how stock investing works (the Rational Investing Model, which rejects the dominant model of today, the Passive Investing Model) and a new strategy for making use of index funds, the Valuation-Informed Indexing strategy.

The distinction between Passive and Rational is that the Rational Model takes valuations into account in all its analyses. So, for example, the Passive model says that it is fine to stay at the same stock allocation even when stock prices get to the insanely dangerous levels they were at from 1996 through 2008 but the Rational model says that investors hoping to have a realistic hope of long-term success MUST lower their stock allocations in such circumstances (that is, they MUST time the market).

The most basic tool is The Stock Return Predictor:

This calculator tells the investor the likely 10-year return on a broad index fund starting from all possible valuation levels. It essentially tells you the “price tag” for the stocks you buy. This is the element that has been ignored in recent years and that has caused all the trouble we are in today.

The Retirement Risk Evaluator is the only retirement-planning calculator on the internet that includes an adjustment for the valuation level that applies on the day the retirement begins. The Investor’s Scenario Surfer allows the investor to examine hundreds of possible 30-year returns sequences and see that valuation-informed strategies almost always leave the investor far ahead in the long term. The Investment Strategy Tester lets investors perform 1,000 tests of hundreds of possible strategies and compare how they are likely to work out, presuming that stocks perform in the future somewhat as they always have in the past.

There are also 129 podcasts (each of about an hour’s length) that examine various aspects of why we need to make a change from the dominant model and how the change to the new model alters our understanding of every aspect of the investing process.

None of this would have been possible in the days before the internet. We have benefitted from input from many people coming at these questions from many sorts of backgrounds and with many sorts of life experience. We have also benefitted from input by lots of big-name experts, people like John Bogle, Bill Bernstein, Scott Burns, Bill Shultheis, Jonathan Clements, Ed Easterling, and Michael Kitces.

I invite all to take a look at the tools and I of course welcome feedback on any improvements that could be made on them (and tips on how to do a better job promoting the new model throughout the Personal Finance Blogosphere).


jason July 18, 2009 at 7:26 am seems interesting. I knew of the other ones but not I will check that out.

Dave July 18, 2009 at 12:18 pm

Great post and some great tools, thanks!

Green Retirement July 19, 2009 at 5:23 pm

Try Green Retirement’s free retirement calculators to find out how much you really need to retire. Green Retirement enables individuals to retire earlier, and with much less savings, by calculating the positive financial impact living a green lifestyle has on your retirement savings needs. Lower your consumption in retirement and you lower the amount of savings you need to retire.

Investing is important, and your free investing tools are great, but you can reach financial independence much quicker by simply lowering your consumption.

Dr. Disability July 19, 2009 at 10:39 pm

Very well written, thanks for the information. I’m always looking for tools, tips and tricks to protect my income and have my money work harder for me.

jokowa July 20, 2009 at 10:02 pm

Investing is important, and your free investing tools are great, but you can reach financial independence much quicker by simply lowering your consumption.

Silicon Valley Blogger July 20, 2009 at 10:32 pm

I don’t believe that lowering your consumption allows you to reach financial independence more quickly than if you invest. In fact, I believe in the completely opposing view, which is that you’ll reach financial independence much more quickly if you invest well (rather than if you just scrimp and save).

Shannon Paul August 7, 2009 at 4:05 pm

I work for PEAK6 Online – the parent company of OptionsHouse and WeSeed. I just wanted to stop by to thank you for including WeSeed on your list of free resources. WeSeed is defintely a place where those who are brand new to investing can learn about the market and make a few virtual trades without risking any real money. In fact, a lot of teachers are using WeSeed in the classroom to teach students financial literacy. Just as an FYI, we also have a virtual trading platform on OptionsHouse that lets people try out the platform before they choose to start investing. This way, investors can get comfortable with the platform before making real trades in their account.

Thanks again for the mention – and please let me know if you have any questions. I may be reached directly at spaul[at]peak6[dot]com.

Shannon Paul
Communications Manager
OptionsHouse/WeSeed/PEAK6 Online

Matt MacClary August 12, 2009 at 12:26 am

This article has a useful set of tools. The links in the comments are cool too – is a great find, I sense a kindred spirit!

I have a company that is currently creating software for financial advisors. We have a free online portfolio back-tester and diversifier that would be useful for self-directed investors not just professionals.

This program is a fresh approach to portfolio creation that happens to outperform mean-variance optimization in terms of reducing portfolio losses. Since it is pretty new, I haven’t seen any reviews in the financial blogosphere yet. hint hint 😉

Yermo November 21, 2009 at 2:49 pm

You may also wish to take a look at a low cost portfolio management, stock tracking, charting, alert,trading and alerting platform for Microsoft Windows.

William Nolan July 15, 2012 at 8:33 pm

I am a full-time independent hybrid trader/investor. I use many free tools, but not all free websites offer enough, while too many sources do not offer a clear overview picture of current conditions.

People like me need every edge they can get and the more useful tools the better. I have had some real success using a subscription website for traders and investors. I believe in the 70/20/10 rule of thought for success. Whereby, all stock plays are impacted 70% by the overall market moves, 20% by the industry the stock resides within, and 10% by the individual stock conditions of the company.

The Market Data Tracker ( website provides some very good gauges and indicators of the market internals and has some very interesting visual gauges and charts not found on similar websites. I get a complete market picture with all of the economic factors also included on the website in one place. I just thought I share this since it costs me about $30/month, but saves me a lot of time each day. I use it for about 20-30 minutes daily. Market internals are what the institutions are viewing and make decisions on, but they deploy multi-million dollar systems.

This is the best website I found in all my internet searching for market internals available to the individual trader/investor like me. Furthermore, these guys must be making money from subscriptions alone because their website has zero annoying advertising on it. Check it out and decide for yourself.

NOTE: Wait for a discounted price per month as they run specials every couple of months for 25% off retail pricing. Or just write them for a coupon discount code like I did. They were pretty cool about it and sent me a code within 24hrs. I was told the website was developed for these guys to play the market themselves with greater efficiency. I cannot describe the proprietary non-technical visuals that are used — you have to see it for yourself.

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