Mock portfolios are great tools for people new to investing and for those trying out new investing methods. To employ a mock portfolio, you simply go through all the motions of investing, stopping short of actually plunking down your hard-earned cash. Research some companies, decide which ones you'd buy, and then set up a pretend portfolio, either on paper or online.

Many websites, including, offer online portfolio tracking. Check out ours at our Quotes & Data area -- click on "Set up a Portfolio." Keep track of details such as when you "bought" the shares and at what price. Then track your performance over time, aiming to beat the market. As news is released about the companies, or as rumors emerge, you'll see the stock prices react. See how you react when your pretend holdings surge or plunge. Just don't draw too many conclusions from any short-term results. Terrific companies and stocks can falter in the short run but may do spectacularly in the long run.

With a mock portfolio, you can learn from mistakes you didn't technically make, and learn from successes as well.

To learn more about investing Foolishly, visit our Fool's School and our Investing Basics area. Or check out some of our inexpensive and well-regarded online how-to guides (which feature money-back guarantees). You can also learn all about brokerages and find one that's right for you in our Broker Center.