A year and a half ago I took the plunge and took the massive decision to trade full time. Regular readers will have followed my initial progress as I struggled to get my head round trading being my sole income, family/marriage problems and the resulting loss in confidence that I just hadn’t anticipated. The first 6 months were pretty tough.
The first thing you need to trade successfully is very few distractions. Stress, arguments and lack of sleep do not a trading god make. Working from home sounds like a dream job. No travelling. No traffic jams. No boss. The thing a lot of people don’t consider is how it affects the rest of the people in your life. That was one of my mistakes. How nice is it sometimes to have the house to yourself? Feet up on the sofa with a coffee watching what you want to watch or reading that book you’ve had for 2 years and not got around to. No one else to show consideration to for a few hours. Its not the same if you know someone is working upstairs. It just isn’t.
A three week separation focused my mind on the need to make time for the family. We all know how addictive trading can be. Its easy to look up from the laptop and realise you have been concentrating on the screen for the last 4 hours. The laptop is like a barrier between you and the others around you. The solution really should be obvious to people like us. Its a trade off between family and trading time. You may tell yourself that your family are the most important thing in your life. Where we fall short is in not telling them that. Obviously not all marriages are the same but I would think that any spouse who felt neglected would respond well to time set aside for them. It doesn’t have to cost a lot. I’m not talking about weekends in Paris or expensive restaurants. For us a trip to the cinema or a bar snack gives us time alone that is “us time”. A recent couple of days in the Lake District topped up the brownie points nicely too.
A lot of people have told me that their partner hates the time they spend on the laptop. “How does your wife cope with the hours you must spend on yours?”.
Ok it’s time for the TradeShark Top Tip to trading and marriage harmony.
Step 1 – If she hasn’t got a laptop get her one.
Step 2 – Introduce her to Facebook.
Step 3 – Suggest she has a look at Farmville, Cityville and any other games ending in “ville”.
Et voila! She will now spend more time on her laptop than you spend on yours! ( well, almost )
So you see it doesn’t take a lot to combine trading and family life.
So that sorted a lot of the stress that was affecting my trading and I could get on with making some money. The markets have changed over the last 12 to 18 months. Whether that is due to some of the big players being put off by the premium charge increase I’m not sure. I have noticed that traders seem less willing to leave money in the market. A lot now seem to want to be matched almost instantly and anything that is left gets cancelled. This has resulted in more “gappy” markets except on the really big matches. Markets will always be evolving naturally anyway. As traders we need to adapt our trading methods to current market conditions. It is more important than ever to match our methods/strategies to the match and market situation.
One big difference I have found is that I have been forced to learn more about the WTA players. The gappy markets that we get in a lot of matches don’t allow us to take some of the more simple profits that were available before. That had allowed me to be lazy. I didn’t need to know much about the players. That isn’t the case anymore. I have learned to love the predictable unpredictability of the women’s game and more importantly have learned to take advantage a lot more than I used to.
Having said how unpredictable the women’s matches are what’s going on with the men? Something has changed in the ATP too. Whether it’s due to the balls being different or the court surfaces being generally slower than before ( by design to limit the games that are dominated by a big server) I don’t know. Maybe racquet design or string technology has levelled the playing field a little but it is noticeable how there are fewer players who you can have real confidence in to win in straight sets having won the first. We also seem to be seeing more and more players who lose the ability to serve as soon as they have broken their opponent’s serve.
Some of these changes make short term trades more difficult. Even laying WTA players on serve can be dodgy if done on individual games. In gappy markets if the server goes 15-0 up it can bring about a minimum of 10 ticks against you with another 5 or more for 30-0. Backing the women on serve can sometimes be a good plan if they have proved to be solid in previous games but I have found that value entry points are a better way to go. I have always looked for value but my perception of what is value has changed. Value for a short trade will often be very different to value for a longer term trade.
When I was trading as a hobby I always felt that I could open any market and make a profit. With the whole combination of events affecting my mental state when I turned full time I had lost some of that feeling. It took the best part of 12 months to get it back. During that time as I developed my trading and in particular my WTA trading, I think my trading has improved greatly and I am now a significantly better trader than I ever was as a part timer.
I get a lot more enquiries these days that are obviously motivated by the tough economic climate. People all over the world are looking for ways to either earn a little extra cash or even replace a job that is less stable than it used to. They have looked on the internet for ways to make money. There are too many sites that promise unrealistic returns. They make it sound like anyone can make good money on Betfair with a little practice. That’s part of the problem. The other is that more and more people want the results NOW. We live in a world where everything has to be quick. Microwaves reduce the time to prepare food. High speed trains cut a few minutes off journeys. Drive through restaurants eliminate the need to even get out of our cars. No one wants to put any time into something anymore.
People see others who are able to sit at a computer and earn money while watching a sports event. They don’t want to know about the years spent learning and developing that skill regardless of how many times you tell them about it. They see that it is possible and they want it. They want the end result without the horrible bit in the middle. They don’t want to hear about how you worked a 10 hour day for someone else and then came home and traded for 6 hours. Every day for 2 years. My email responses to these people get ever more blunt until the message gets through.
Then you get people who say they understand that work is involved. They are keen to ask questions about what they should do. What stakes should they use? There’s the next common issue. They accept that it will take time to learn. But they want to make money while they learn! They will come into the chatroom saying they have been trading for 3 days. They have been lucky perhaps to make money. You ask them what stakes they use and they come back with, “oh small stakes. I use £100“. So here comes the first bit of advice that they claim they are looking for. They are advised to cut stakes to minimum while they learn. During the next match they start moaning that they lost £40 on it. Asked again what stakes they use they explain that they cut them to £5 on my advice. How on earth did you lose £40 with £5 stakes?? ” Ah well I clicked a few times when it looked like they were winning.” You then explain to them that if your “stake” is £5 but you enter ten “stakes”………YOUR STAKES AIN’T £5!!
Another common questions is, ” If I have a trading bank of £2000 how much can I make in a month?“. No mention of trading experience. <Face Palm>
Thankfully there are people who actually listen to what you tell them. They understand that it isn’t easy. They take the advice offered to them. When people like that ask for further help they get it for as long as they need it.
I recently moved the chatroom into the TradeShark Tennis members homepage as I ran out of patience with non members using us as a free information service but then ignoring the advice and blaming everyone but themselves when they lost money.
If a skill is worth learning or having then it takes time and effort to get there. Even then you might not have the aptitude needed to trade. I have known people who have tried for a couple of years and just can’t get it. Often this is down to their lack of discipline and/or a lack of the required commitment. Ask yourself why so few people trade full time. It isn’t easy but gets easier with practice. LOTS of practice.
If you have the right mindset, dedication, open mind and aptitude then it can be a fantastic hobby, second income or even full time job. The freedom it offers is great if you can get the right balance between work and family.
Am I happy that I took the plunge? Absolutely. Never been happier.
If you are thinking about learning to trade or perhaps about moving your trading to the next level then please get in touch and I’ll be happy to answer any questions.