Let's face it: trading stocks is a complicated business. It would be a huge help if you had a place where you could easily manage and keep track of your financial assets, including adding new stocks and quickly comparing how they're performing on the markets. Fortunately, Google Finance is here to help! Its "Portfolios" section lets you build your very own virtual stock portfolio in order to keep track of your transactions related to investing your money in shares of publicly-traded companies.
Note that any transactions that you make in your Google Finance portfolio don't actually happen; your portfolio is just a tool to help you record and manage the purchases, sales, deposits, and withdrawals that you make in real life. This means that when you use a Google Finance portfolio, your actual money is safe and isn't going anywhere!
Also note that to use Google Finance portfolios, you will need to create a Google Account. An easy way to create one is to sign up for Gmail, which is Google's email service. This doesn't mean that you have to use Gmail as your email client now, but if you feel like doing so, then you sure can!
See our How to Create a Gmail Account tutorial to learn how to sign up for Gmail.
How to create a Google Finance portfolio
Go to www.google.com/finance in your web browser and click Sign In at the top-right corner.
If you have multiple Google Accounts, click on one to select it. Then type in your password and click Sign In.
Once you are signed into your Google Account, click Portfolios in the left-hand menu.
You will have one portfolio, called "My Portfolio", created by default. To create a separate portfolio, click Create New Portfolio in the top-right corner, type in a name for your portfolio, and then click OK.
How to add a cash transaction to your portfolio
(NOTE: Just a reminder that these transactions are just to help you track cash moving into and out of your financial portfolio in real life. You won't actually be moving your money around with your Google Finance portfolio, so it's safe!)
Beside where it says "Cash", click Deposit if you are adding money to your portfolio, or click Withdraw if you are taking money out of your portfolio.
Click in each of the boxes that appears and type in the date of the transaction (you can use the little calendar graphic that pops up to click on a date), the amount that the transaction is for (just input the numbers, not any currency signs), and any other information you want to add about the transaction (like where you got the money from or where it's going to go). Then click Add to Portfolio.
You will notice that the "Cash" section of your portfolio will change to reflect the transaction that you just entered.
How to add a stock or stock transaction to your portfolio
(NOTE: Again, adding purchases and sales of stocks in your Google Finance portfolio just helps you remember that you did them in real life. These transactions won't actually happen, so your money and finances are safe!)
Click in the box marked "Add Symbol" and type in the name or stock market symbol of the company that you want to add to your portfolio. As you type, Google Finance will come up with suggestions as to what you might be looking for. Click one to automatically paste it into the box, and then click Add to Portfolio.
You can also add a company to your portfolio by visiting its information page, clicking on Add to Portfolio, selecting which portfolio you want to add it to, and then clicking the Add to Portfolio button. (It's similar to the process in the step above.)
When adding a company to your portfolio, you can also add details regarding a transaction you made with that company's stocks. Follow step 1 in this section, but before clicking Add to Portfolio, click Add Transaction Data.
Here, you can select the type of transaction, the date it took place, how many shares were involved, and the price of those shares. If you want, you can also note any commission you had to pay on the transaction, and any other notes you want to add. You can also choose whether or not to have the sum of the transaction added or deducted from the cash currently in your portfolio (depending on whether you're selling or buying). When you're done, now you can click Add to Portfolio.
Other portfolio functions
To create a chart that compares the performance of one or more stocks in your portfolio, click the check boxes beside each of them and then click Compare. In the same manner, click these check boxes and click Delete to remove these stocks from your portfolio.
Click the headings in the top-left corner to switch between different views of your portfolio; Transactions is probably the most useful one, as it shows you a record of all transactions that have been made in this portfolio. Click the parameter headings to sort the stocks in your portfolio by that parameter, either in ascending order ("up" arrow) or descending order ("down" arrow).
You can also click Edit Transactions if you need to make any changes to a transaction that you've previously made to this portfolio. Then simply click on the area of the transaction that you want to change, and then select or type in the new information.
You can also click the check boxes under "Cash-Linked" if you want a transaction to directly affect the cash assets in your portfolio, or click "Delete" if you want to delete the transaction. When you're done, click Save Changes.
You can also download your portfolio as a spreadsheet, so you can take it anywhere that a computer (storage device) will go, without needing to connect to the Internet. Simply click Download to Spreadsheet, and follow the save prompt (i.e. click the button beside "Save File", click OK, and then — if applicable — use your computer's file explorer to select the location that you want to save the file, and click Save).
That's a brief overview of how to use Google Finance portfolios!