The good and bad aspects of day trading, from someone who has been trading for more than 14 years. – By George Papazov
Day trading for a living is an exciting prospect; you can be making millions in your pajamas while sipping your favorite beverage. Ahh, the dream life. Or so you think. Maybe the dream and reality aren’t quite the same thing.
Today I list a few of my favorite things about day trading for a living, and some of the less appealing aspects that only successful day traders can let you in on.
So grab that favorite beverage of yours and enjoy the read.
The Good – Day Trading For a Living
1) I am my own boss, I get to set my own schedule and decide when to work and for how long.
Having the flexibility to dictate your own schedule is a massive benefit. I love spending an afternoon with my precious niece Mikaela, whenever I want. Or sipping a latte at the coffee shop to plan my next vacation.
2) I can make the average monthly salary in a week, or even a day if there is a lot of volatility.
The money is a significant motive for most people who have considered day trading for a living. When an opportunity arises, a disciplined and experienced trader can make a big return in a short period of time. The problem for most new traders is that they expect to make this kind of money all the time, and start chasing it. There is a difference between making big money off a good move and trying to force big money out of just any move.
3) My commute is 12 feet every morning, and a few more feet to the kitchen and fridge.
When I worked in the corporate world I had road rage, a short fuse and a hatred for commuting in rush hour. I love driving, just not in gridlock. My trading office is in my home, and the convenience is unbeatable.
4) Time slows down and the months seem to take longer to pass, because everything is less hectic. This gives you the opportunity to really enjoy life and time with your family.
My fiance is also self-employed and works from home. Some people may think that is a disaster. Quite the opposite. I love spending time with her and every day is fulfilling. I very rarely have those moments where I reflect and say, “Where did the time go?” I feel like trading eliminates the corporate breakneck pace and lets you take more out of life.
5) The lifestyle forces you to stay mentally sharp and keep your life in order.
Traders need to develop discipline and to have a positive outlook. I am not saying that optimists make better traders, but you really do need to have your head together and be free of distractions to hit peak performance. The focus and mental sharpness that you develop while becoming a successful trader has a spillover effect into other areas of your life. You become a problem solver. You become a better person overall.
6) A sense of breaking free from the system, independence.
It’s a satisfying feeling to know that you don’t need to be part of the corporate system to earn a living and support your family. You can do it on your own terms. There are no politics, gossip or fighting over getting a raise. When you are day trading for a living, you get to decide what you are worth, every minute of every day.
The Not So Good – Day Trading For a Living
1) The lack of having a boss and accountability.
This one can be tough for those that are new and considering day trading for a living. Not having a boss means you are accountable/responsible for everything. Your new boss is you. You have to evaluate yourself regularly, be harsh, honest and most importantly be tough on yourself. Big egos are often humbled in trading. There is a saying in the business that “there are bold traders and old traders, but no bold old traders”. Each trade you place, when you are day trading for a living, should be good enough to keep the “boss” happy and off your back.
2) You eat what you kill. The income is never consistent. Negative salary.
I always get a kick out of people interested in day trading for a living asking me “Is it possible to make $5,000 every day?” No, it is impossible to know exactly what your return will be on a daily basis. Nothing is promised. Some days you make lots, others day a little, some days you lose.
Imagine waking up every morning and not knowing how much money you will make? Does that excite you or scare you? Now imagine working very hard and losing money. The concept of negative salary is enough to keep most people away from the business. They need a guarantee. So they get a normal job with a guaranteed wage…but then they complain every day because they don’t like the work or the pay.
I love to wake up and not know what the day will bring, because I know the result will be my doing, good or bad. That motivates me. You need to be ok with daily fluctuating returns.
3) You can’t have a day off, not if you expect to get paid. You work for every penny.
My good friend said to me one day, “George, you are a lucky guy. All you do is sit at home in front of the computer and make good money.” I told him it is a hard job to be good at. If my friend wants a day off or decides to do little work on a Friday afternoon, he will get paid his regular wage. If I have a quiet day, or worse, get sick and cant’ trade – I don’t get paid. I often joke with our TRADEPRO subscribers when I’m having a bad day by saying, “Well, it looks like I’m eating Kraft Dinner tonight, who wants to come over?”
4) Trading at home can get lonely.
This is primarily why I run an education business. I love to give back and love to see others succeed.
I am a very social person, and I love to interact with others and make new friends. Trading at home in front of a computer can get very boring, very quickly. This was partially my motivation to start TRADEPRO Academy; to build a community of like-minded individuals that trade together as a collective. My other motivation is seeing others succeed. I grew up not having much, but my family and friends were everything. Because of TRADEPRO Academy, both my family and my groups of friends have expanded.
5) The lack of career progression. Some would even argue that being a day trader makes you less employable in the future.
Your career is being a trader. If you get bored of that or decide that you want to integrate back into the business world, it will likely prove to be tough (but not impossible if you have good connections). The transferable skills of being a trader are not always evident to employers. The benefit of day trading for a living is that you develop a similar skill set to entrepreneurs; opening your own business is always an option.
6) It is a sedentary lifestyle, despite how exciting some YouTube marketers make it seem. You are sitting in front of the computer for hours at a time which can affect your lifestyle and health if you are not active.
You know what I’m talking about, you’ve seen the videos. The young, tattooed kids driving around in Ferraris and posting pictures of LV luggage bags full of cash. Images of trading on a laptop in an infinity pool, with the backdrop of the Caribbean islands.
What an amazing job, it almost feels like you do nothing and make millions (my friend from above loves those videos haha). That may be a nice way to sell the lifestyle from a marketing perspective, but it is far from reality and I’m shocked anyone believes it.
The truth is that in order to day trade for a living, the process has to be dull. It is repetitive, and a lot of traders find it difficult to travel and trade because they can’t adapt to changing conditions and environments. It may work for some people, but those are the minority, not the majority.
The sedentary lifestyle can cause some major health issues, affect your eyesight and ruin your back. I suggest proper diet, posture and getting regular exercise.
7) Your job is increasingly being automated, with high-frequency and algorithmic trading now responsible for nearly 60% of all volume in the market.
Sure, there will always be a place for humans in the market, because market movements are driven by psychology, but I’m sure that floor traders in the pits also thoughts that their jobs would be around forever. They weren’t.
Day trading for a living will always be possible, but you have to constantly look for new ways to gain an edge or advantage, and new ways to battle the ‘bots.’
I love batting the bots. Finding the weakness and vulnerabilities of machines, and making money from them, is a very satisfying feel.
Conclusion – Is Day Trading For a Living Worth it?
Yes, without a doubt. I would not do anything else in the world, and luckily I don’t have to. I hope I have given you some points to ponder, helping you decide if day trading for a living is the right move for you at this point in your life.
Learn to trade futures in a live market and interactive environment. Read order flow, identify trading zones and learn to manage risk like the professionals. Plus, live trading exercises to help you perfect your craft: http://www.tradeproacademy.com/futurescourse.
By George Papazov
George Papazov has over fourteen years of trading experience in currencies, stocks, futures and options. In 2012, he founded TRADEPRO Academy to offer traders a complete development package.