Trading Should Be Effortless

  • Money comes in bunches.

That one says it all. You can’t force trades. You can’t simply work harder in order to be ‘in sync’. Sometimes you are, sometimes you are not. You simply have to accept that as being part of the trading business. What you can do, is to closely monitor if your performance is in sync with the market’s performance. If the markets make new highs and your overall portfolio is going down something is wrong. You need to address that issue. Fast. The best way is to step aside and drastically reduce exposure and risk. That’s what I did.

  • Trading should be effortless.

A true piece of wisdom. In my experience when I trade well it is like shooting fish in a barrel. Almost everything works. I don’t need to be overly patient with positions. The money comes in very fast. That’s exactly how trading should be. The exact opposite was the case during the first 2 months of this year. So I did what I had to do. I recognized the situation for what it was and admitted my efforts were not leading my portfolio anywhere. It was like folding when you are dealt a bad hand in poker. So I folded. Now I am waiting for the next hand. If it is a bad one I fold again. If a series of trades start to really go my way I push it hard and increase exposure and trade aggressively.

  • When in doubt stay out.

This one is key. That’s how I interpret the adage: It doesn’t mean you don’t trust your instincts or your methodology. As a trader you should adapt to new situations. You constantly analyze the markets and your performance. Then you adjust your trading. Then you compare your expectations with the actual outcome. Then you adjust your trading. Then you repeat the process. At times things simply do not work. That’s when doubt creeps in. You know something is not ‘feeling right’. Your job is to protect your capital. Your job is not ‘to be right’. Put another way: You should be able to exit or reduce exposure without the need for explanations. The markets usually give you those explanations at some later point in time.

Traders Psychological TEST

Paul Farrell observes that 95% of traders don’t make it. 80% of all day traders lose money. One study found active investors turn over their portfolios excessively (258% annually) but made less than 12% on their money. Passive buy-and-hold investors with only 2% portfolio turnover had significantly better returns.

And, most day traders suffer negative health consequences from their hyper active market moves.

To find out what your trading instincts mean — to grade your own Traders Psychological Profile — answer the following questions Yes or N:

Traders Psychological Profile
Y N You’ve tried more than one new investment strategy this year
Y N Feel you’re buying and selling funds at the wrong time
Y N Rarely open up to anybody for feedback about your losses
Y N Subscribe to two or more newsletters, feel overwhelmed
Y N Can count on one hand all the good laughs this week
Y N Have a lingering resentment about someone or something
Y N You love cable news, but need more time to trade
Y N Rarely break a sweat when exercising the past few weeks
Y N Wonder whether you bet too much on recent investments
Y N Need more than three caffeine and alcohol drinks a day
Y N Feel “something” keeps you from making more money
Y N Frequently don’t trust your instincts or your strategy
Y N You’ve had a major family or personal loss recently
Y N Believe losses are caused by the market manipulators
Y N You’re overweight and snack often on comfort food
Y N Fear your future trades may fail due to a losing streak
Y N Diet and sleep are disturbed by worries about money
Y N Your retirement portfolio’s not growing fast enough
Y N No vacation in a year, and lack an active social life
Y N Nothing (or everything) interferes with making money


Add up the number of Yes answers. Farrell notes that if your total number of “yes” answers is six or more, then day trading is too stressful and risky for you.

The alternative to active trading is intelligent asset allocation. At the very least, he advises that you segregate your “untouchable” retirement money . . .

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