I'm a high school technology teacher and sponsor for the Charity Student Investment Project. Currently our students track our investment portfolio via a google spreadsheet (http://charitystudentinvestmentproject.com/index.php/portfolio) that calculates unrealized capital gain, total ROI (excluding dividend payments), market value, etc..

We are looking for a solution that will allow us to track the 'total return' including dividend payments for our entire portfolio and each individual investment. A bonus feature would be the ability to share the report on the internet, but this feature is not a requirement.

Any suggestions for free or low-cost solutions for calculating 'total return', including dividend payments?

Basically, I want a solution that 'automatically' calculates (total dividend payments + unrealized gain) to show the 'total return' of a current investment.

Thanks, Todd

A little background on the Charity Student Investment Project. We are a high school student organization and part of a 501 c3. Our mission is to teach students about personal finance and how to invest in the stock markets via real-world experience and actively managing a real-money student-managed investment portfolio.

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    $\begingroup$ Maybe I'm missing something but what is stopping you from calculating Total Return on your own through the spreadsheet or adding it as a function to the site? $\endgroup$ – jeff m May 30 '13 at 19:43
  • $\begingroup$ @jeffm, the =GoogleFinance function does not send dividend $ amounts or yields. Also it will not 'auto calculate' the dividends from the purchase date to current. I'm looking for a solution that automatically calculates dividend payments + unrealized gain. $\endgroup$ – Mr. B May 30 '13 at 19:50
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    $\begingroup$ Can you pull adjusted close? That would give you a total return between dates. $\endgroup$ – jeff m May 30 '13 at 20:08
  • $\begingroup$ @jeffm, Google Finance does not provide 'adjusted close' data. I did find this post thought, it relates to my question but it does not offer a portfolio management solution that shows 'total return'. I am not tied to using Google, I just want to find something that tracks 'total return' automatically. money.stackexchange.com/questions/21963/… $\endgroup$ – Mr. B May 30 '13 at 20:29
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    $\begingroup$ Yahoo finance data should provide what you are looking for. I second what Jeff said: do not make your life harder by introducing a software application. Just add to your spread sheet. $\endgroup$ – Matthias Wolf May 30 '13 at 21:31

You should definitely check out the Virtual Stock Exchange Games* by Marketwatch it provides simple interface, and many options for the rules of the game. Its instantly online, free, and uses real-time prices, but it only allows trading NASDAQ stocks, as far as I know.

These games are meant to be played by students, and thought, so I hope it fits your needs.

*a random guys current virtual portfolio in a major competition, for example. You can set portfolios to be hidden btw.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks Jani, we use the simulator at INvestopedia.com. It allows us to trade any US market. $\endgroup$ – Mr. B May 31 '13 at 17:20
  • $\begingroup$ It seems similar, but why doesn't it fit your needs? $\endgroup$ – Jani Kovacs May 31 '13 at 17:37
  • $\begingroup$ Because that is a 'simulation', I'm looking for a solution for 'real' investments. The current portfolio that I built in Google Docs does not include 'dividend' payments in the ROI and I want to know the 'total return' for the investment, not just the unrealized capital gain. $\endgroup$ – Mr. B May 31 '13 at 18:25

Sharesight does this well - you can easily see your total return as soon as you enter your transactions. The site also shows capital gains and total dividends separately in the same view.

The problem with Sharesight is that the free plan only allows you to track 10 holdings, and the basic plan still only allows you to track 20 holdings.

There must be another service that does this well, but I haven't found it.

I'm submitting an answer because I've been trying to find an easy way to keep track of total return as well, and we are a long ways from 2015.


Very few websites give Total Returns...Morningstar and mutual fund companies give performance numbers which include dividends... the ReturnFinder app and CorrectCharts app give this information in tabular and graphical form with the plots showing both price and total returns.

  • $\begingroup$ Hi zeroisallornothing, welcome to Quant.SE! Please disclose your affilation. $\endgroup$ – Bob Jansen Jul 21 '15 at 8:36
  • $\begingroup$ I produced the correctcharts.com site [on my profile] and developed the associated apps [2012] to provide an actionable solution to a problem written up in the 2011 WSJ wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304793504576434102752272650 The question posed by Todd in this forum is almost a rarity since most investors do not realize that in the 'compare to' mode the web charts ignore all dividends and income. It can create performance ranking inversion if say a bond ETF is charted vs a growth stock. Pls. see the site for examples, if you'd like. Thanks. $\endgroup$ – zeroisallornothing Jul 22 '15 at 9:55

Have you thought about opening an Interactive Brokers paper trading account? They keep track of the total return, though their reporting can be trickier to use than it should be. It's also a very good simulation of what investment professionals use, since it's what investment professionals use.

If you want to teach investment, I believe Equities Lab might be helpful: it can track total return, can plug into a paper trading account from Interactive Brokers, but it also is a good tool to learn investment. You can simulate strategies, figure out what works, and why, and have a variety of jumping off points to research stocks. Plus the charts are pretty :-)


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