i was gonna ride the recent theme of "taking $x to $y" with the title "taking $20k hopefully not to $0" but it turns out that's not as funny as i first thought. neither did i want to use the word newbie in the title. i'm a relatively new trader; started full time in october '07. i've been inspired by reading some of these journals to start my own. whereas it seems most people here are trying to test their trading prowess by setting high goals for their accounts, i'm simply hoping to survive. it seems like it might be a different twist and a compelling journal to follow for those of you who have already achieved success in this field, although maybe that's presumptive of me as an ET forum and trading "newbie." i figure i'll never know if i don't try. i will try to be especially candid with my errors, past and present, not because i'm interested in "full disclosure" or think anybody needs to know, but because i don't want to gloss over my failures or make myself look better than i am. i figure the best way to refine my skills (or prove to myself i have none and am in the wrong line of work) is to be as honest as possible. this is my attempt to longer be an irresponsible trader. a brief history: i started trading stocks with around $20k in my scottrade account in october, and at one point in january i had achieved my goal of reaching minimum equity requirements for pattern day trading. at the peak i had about $28k, but quickly in the span of two weeks and two trades the account was back down to $20k. i never developed a trading plan, and though i told myself i would when i reached $25k, i revised my planning stage up to $30k because that's the level i wanted to maintain before making withdrawals for expenses. i knew i was taking chances and not trading wisely but thought i could make another $2000 without getting burned. so much for that idea. i got hit for about $3000 trading IDMI in mid-january (though i knew i should have never touched it with a ten foot pole), then promptly let a day trade on ETFC @ $4.90 turn into a swing trade because the profit was moving too slowly (first sign i should have bailed), then a position trade as the pps dropped sharply and i was caught with my pants down. i held that for a month in order to get past the wash rule and realized a loss of about $3500. i've since decided to make the mark-to-market election this year so i could have cut it way sooner, but oh well. here i am. oh, i cut at $3.94 last week expecting another flirt with the low $3s, and ETFC was trading in the $4.30s two days later. again, oh well. ok, i won't be trading for the next week and a half because i initiated a brokerage transfer to thinkorswim just last night, but i intend to use this week to develop a basic trading plan and get myself ready to take this more seriously. i'll update my plan here this week as i hope to chronicle every step towards profitability. i don't intend to update live trades during the day, but part of my plan may be to use this journal and my blog as a way to review my trades at the end of the day. i want to be disciplined, i want to be thorough, i want to prove that it's possible for a newbie to not only *not* blow up his account but be genuinely profitable, and most of all i want to be successful before my extremely high student loan payments drain my savings. here's to survival!