From: Trading Guy (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: A Daytrader's Story Newsgroups: misc.invest.futures, misc.invest.stocks, misc.invest.technical Date: 2003-02-04 08:31:30 PST A Daytrader's Story The following is a true story of my career in daytrading. All the events described herein actually happened and I am posting this both as a catharsis for myself and a cautionary tale to anyone who is currently daytrading or has notions of doing so. For obvious reasons I wish to remain anonymous therefore certain specific details not relevant to the account will be omitted. I am married with two young children, and have been self-employed for several years. Up until spring of 2000 business was booming and life was good. As luck would have it, right before the economy started its downturn that spring, we purchased a much larger house and took on a much larger mortgage payment. Also we racked up some credit card debt along the way. Business really took a downturn the fall of 2000. By spring of 2001 things were getting desperate financially. Having always had thoughts of daytrading for a living, or at least to supplement income, I decided to open up a trading account with one of the major online brokers with money borrowed on a credit card. Initially, I made some small profits trading mostly tech stocks. The roughly $8,000 account grew to about $10,000 in a months or so. Bear in mind I had zero experience daytrading, though I had bought a couple of books. If something was going up, I bought. If going down, I shorted. Candle patterns, support/resistance and all other forms of technical analysis were foreign to me at that time. After a while I started losing money. I was not cutting my losses as I should, only bailing out at the lost minute. I had no trading plan in place, or even reliable charting software. In the fall of 2001 (just before the terrorist attacks of 9/11) I closed that account, borrowed more money and opened an account at a different broker. This broker used RealTick software (so advanced charts were available) and also required a minimum of $25,000 to daytrade. Readers may remember the pattern daytrading rules that went into effect around that time. This required constant replenishing of the trading account as losses caused it to dip below the $25,000 minimum ? funds often borrowed from credit cards. I started using technical analysis much more also: support/resistance and moving averages, studied candle patterns and so on. Trading was almost exclusively the QQQ's. Small profits were made over 2 or 3 days, following by a day or two of huge losses that would more than offset any profits made. For example, I might make $300 for a couple of days in a row, and then suffer a $1200 loss the next day. It was during this time that a started having real doubts about my ability to daytrade. I should mention at this point that I treated my daytrading career as a business. It wasn't ever meant as a "get rich quick" scheme or thrill seeking. I was always attempting to determine a method of taking consistent profits with minimal losses over a period of time. I spent evenings and weekends poring over charts, trading books and so on. Even after getting beaten up over and over by the market I kept coming back. Sometimes I would take some time off to regroup, but never gave up. I was very serious about learning the skills to be a professional trader. In early 2002 I joined a daytrading group and bought a video course in order to learn about daytrading the QQQ's. I tried mightily to apply the principles learned (and they seemed sound), but either always seemed to get wiggled out of an otherwise good trade, or have the trade turn against me. Later that spring I moved my account to yet another trading firm, and continually had to replenish my account. At this time I started pulling money from my IRA. I felt I could justify this since I was treating the trading as a business, and many business owners pull capital from their retirement funds. Also, the debt was getting so deep (and my business was barely covering it's own expenses) that learning to daytrade successfully seemed the only option. In the late summer of 2002 I moved my account to my current trading firm, one that allows me to trade e-mini futures with low commissions. My first month there I actually made a tiny profit ? my first profitable month out of over a year of daytrading. I was elated and felt I had finally "figured it out". However, this was not to be. Subsequent months led to more losses. I no longer had to maintain the $25,000 account minimum since I was daytrading futures, but felt I had to trade somewhat large positions in order to recoup previous losses. I developed trading plans that seemed to work on paper (even allowing for slippage), yet when I tried to trade the plans they never seemed to work. There have been times I felt there was someone on the other side of the screen who was watching my every trade, causing the market to go against me at every turn. I even questioned if my own trading firm was somehow working against me. Which brings me to today. Total daytrading losses are nearly $160,000. Funds in trading account are around $5000, which is basically all the money we have left. My confidence has been destroyed. I should mention that my wife has been very supportive along the way, perhaps too much so. I have completely and utterly let my family down. It is apparent now I should have stopped earlier on. It was not an addiction ? I've read the symptoms and I had none of them. My stomach was often in knots as the trading day started and I was always glad when the trading day was over. So trading was not something I "had to have". It may be possible to consistently earn money daytrading, but having tried to learn all I can I am very near giving up altogether. This has been by far the most stressful year and a half of my life. To take trades that by all accounts should work (buying at support, selling at resistance, etc.) and have them go against you again and again and again. Missing huge moves because the signals weren't there. An so on. It's easy to look back and see the mistakes I made, but at the time I could (and in some cases still can) justify every one. It was, after all, a business I take very seriously. At this point I would love to have a mechanical approach I could use until my confidence gets restored somewhat. I will likely spend the next few days at least attempting to make some decent trades. I hope this story will help any current or would-be daytraders out there. If you want to daytrade, start small, and know what you're getting yourself into. If anyone would like to post responses, please be kind. I've been knocked around enough?..