We were a thousand miles from home when the car gave up the ghost.
To be honest, I was surprised we made it as far as we did. My old Nissan had been on life-support for the better part of the last decade. Now that it was dead, I almost felt relief, like the machine could finally be at peace in the great afterlife parking lot in the sky. Of course, that relief was easily outweighed by the newfound panic of being stranded in the middle of an unfamiliar nowhere.
Jerry was under the hood doing everything short of dark magic to get the engine running again while I paced the road with a cell phone over my head, hoping for a single bar of connectivity and feeling about as useful as male nipples. This certainly wasn’t the highlight of our cross-country road trip, but it wasn’t the worst moment either (that particular honor fell upon the roadside “marsupial petting zoo”). To be fair, this was
taking my mind off of all those things I’d left back home, which was the entire purpose of this surprise vacation, after all.
That’s what my friends called it--a “surprise vacation.” Their delicate phrasing conjured a much kinder image of what turned out to be a low-key kidnapping. I got home from my overnight shift to find them all waiting for me in my living room, intervention-style. My roommate Jerry--the mastermind behind it all--had two go-bags waiting by the front door and a map plotting our impending road trip to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time in my life.
Jerry had been prone to these spontaneous well-intended (but highly irresponsible) gestures for as long as I’d known him. At least this time he didn’t try to gift me a stray animal he found. Normally, I would simply say “thanks” and shut it down before things got out of hand, but I wasn’t in the proper headspace to fight back. I’d just gone through what can only be described as a traumatic event. Some people close to me died, and there was a major “misunderstanding” with the new sheriff (but that’s probably a story best saved for another day).
Suffice to say my friends saw that I was going through a "rough patch" and thought it would be "good medicine" to get me far away from everything for a few days. They made sure my shifts at the gas station were covered until the end of the week, just long enough for things to settle down and go back to “normal.”
I couldn’t blame them for not understanding what was really going on. Hell, I only had a tenuous grasp on it myself. But the doctors assured me everything would be fine now, just as long as I stuck to the plan and took my medicine.
After a few long days filled with tourist traps, roadside attractions, cheap motels, and car farts, it looked like we’d finally reached the end of our adventure. We were a few states shy of the west coast, but low on money and even lower on time. This trip was as close to a success as we were ever likely to get, and the car’s breakdown was the final straw. I decided to give Jerry a few more seconds of vacation before breaking the news to him, which was why I was taking so long looking for cell service when I knew there was none to be found way out here.
When I got back to the car, Jerry popped his head out from under the hood and said, “Okay, try the engine now!”
I turned the key to the sound of stubborn silence.
“Nada,” I announced.
“Really? Fuck-a-doodle. I bypassed the ignition switch. It’s not the battery or the starter. Spark plugs are good. Fuses are good. Wiper blades are new. Blinker fluid is full.”
“Maybe it’s out of gas?” I offered, exhausting the full extent of my vehicular knowledge.
“Nah, it’s still got half a tank.” He slammed the hood shut and said, “Well, I’m gonna go make friends with a tree. When I get back, I’ll start taking the engine apart. In the meantime, you should build a fire and find something to cook. We may be here a while.”
“That plan isn’t going to work.”
“Relax, dude. It’s just an expression. I’m not really making friends with the tree.” He scoffed. “If anything, I’m about to give it a good reason to be mad at me.”
“I meant we can’t set up camp here hoping for a miracle or a friendly passer-by. I mean, what are the odds a good Samaritan would take the same shortcut we did?”
I wasn’t trying to be mean, but he was the one to discover this brilliant “alternate route” between highways over an hour ago, and in that time we hadn’t seen a single car besides our own. Our path had been nothing but acre after acre of farmland and trees... and of course that one enormous house back at the top of the hill.
“Alright,” Jerry relented. “What’s the plan then?”
“Did you clock that spooky house we passed about a mile ago?”
He laughed. “How could I not? It was so extra.
He wasn’t wrong. The place stuck out like a pink bikini at a Mormon funeral. Unlike the traditional farmhouses and double-wides that decorated most of our adventure through the backroads of the American south, this place was a certifiable mansion. A mix between Greek revival and Gothic architecture, including spires, columns, and even a widow’s walk. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a gargoyle or two hanging out on the roof, and I would have bet my last dollar the place was haunted. One thing was for certain, it was the sort of place I’d love to avoid at all costs.
“I think we need to go there,” I said, regrettably.
Jerry eagerly agreed. As he relieved himself by the side of the road, I went into the car’s trunk and collected a few necessities for the walk up the hill: a bag of trail mix, bottle of water, and some sunscreen. I wasn’t expecting this to take very long, but “not very long” was exactly enough time for me to burn, and poor preparation had kicked my ass too many times lately.
Jerry must have had a similar thought. He came up next to me and reached under our bags, pulling the baseball bat from its hiding place.
“What’s that for?” I asked.
“Protection. Duh. There could be wolves out there.”
“No, dude. No weapons. I don’t want to show up at a stranger’s home looking any more suspicious than we already do.”
“Oh, good point.” He tossed the bat inside and slammed the trunk shut. I thought we had everything we needed. I thought we were being smart by leaving the weapon behind. In retrospect, it was the first of many bad decisions.
It took half an hour to get to the top of the hill. Another five minutes just to walk up the winding driveway through the meticulously manicured lawn. When we finally reached the enormous double doors, I was too exhausted to even feel nervous anymore. Jerry knocked while I fished (unsuccessfully) for cell reception.
“Who do you think lives here, anyway?” Jerry asked. “Some kind of supervillain? King of the farmer folk? The Munsters?”
“If I had to guess, probably the kind of people whose family used to own people.”
The door opened, and I quickly remembered how to feel nervous again.
“Can I help you?” the old woman croaked in a voice that sounded like paper tearing. She was a little over four feet tall and dressed like a Victorian era doll. With gray hair tied back below a cloth bonnet, bristly nose-hairs, skin the color of canned meat spread, and the thickest pair of wire-frame glasses I’d ever seen magnifying her pupils to the size of quarters. To put it bluntly, she was difficult to look at.
I nearly dropped my phone, but Jerry didn’t even flinch. He just tipped an imaginary hat and said, “Hello there, ma’am. My name is Jerry, and this here is my associate Jack. We hate to be a bother, but our vehicle broke down just up the street and we were wondering if it might be possible to--”
“I wasn’t expecting any more company,” she interrupted. “Are you sure you have the right address?”
Jerry and I shared a look.
“No ma’am,” he said. “I was just saying that our car stopped working out of the blue. We were stranded on the side of the road, and Jack is a nervous Nelly, so we decided--”
“All the guests have been accounted for,” she said, her voice registering somewhere between a creaking door and an angry drill sergeant. “You must check your invitations, please.”
Jerry took a breath and rubbed his hands together. “Is there someone younger we can talk to?”
“Jerry!” I snapped.
“Relax, dude. I don’t even think she can hear us.”
I pushed him out of the way, stepped up to the feeble old woman, and looked into her enormously magnified eyes. “Excuse me,” I said gently. “We need to use your phone, please.”
She tilted her head up, then back down, presumably giving us both the once-over. Then she turned around and said, “Follow me this way to the telephone machine. Local calls only. No long distance, please.”
As she disappeared into the bowels of the ancient manor, I hesitated. A familiar feeling washed over me, one I could neither trust nor ignore. A feeling of dread, and an unshakable sense that something was wrong
here. Only this time, it felt stronger. It felt realer. Before I could comprehend what was happening, Jerry had already marched past me into the dark entryway, leaving me all alone with my paranoia.
I took a breath, then plowed ahead after them.
The short, elderly woman spoke in a dry monotone as we followed her past the entryway into an enormous great hall that wouldn’t have looked out of place on the first class deck of the Titanic. I was only halfway listening, but I picked up enough to understand that she was reciting the house's history like some kind of tour guide. The home was built in 18-something-something by Colonel someone-someone. It began as a plantation (I knew it!
) and then served as a hospital during the Civil War (or, as she worded it, “The War of Northern Aggression”).
As her words droned on, the interior of the manor was busy telling its own story. The hardwood floors with century-old claw marks. The enormous painting hanging over the fireplace depicting a man with side-burns and an I-dare-you-to
grimace. The suit of armor, bearskin rug, crystal chandelier. I half expected to see a diamond billboard sign reading, “We have old money, so fuck you!”
The air smelled of tobacco and old books. Voices muffled from far away transferred through the walls. There was a jovial nature to them. Some laughter, even. The place was alive with people. (At least, I hoped
that was what I was hearing).
At the base of the grand staircase was a thin door. The woman opened it, revealing a much less impressive set of steps leading down into a basement. She descended, and Jerry followed. I considered the wisdom of staying put, keeping the exit in sight just in case one of us needed to make a break for it. I looked over my shoulder to make sure the door was still there. Not that it would do much good. If things went south again, I knew I wouldn’t make it very far on my own.
When I turned towards the basement, it was already too late to tell them to stop or wait. I looked back at the exit. I was stranded. It’s remarkable, really, that even with my attention being pulled in such opposite extremes, I somehow managed to notice the shelf of books against the wall by the fireplace. Even more remarkable how I gravitated towards it, almost unwillingly, how time stood still, how I forgot where I was for only a moment. And in that moment, I must have pulled a book out and begun reading. It had been ages since I let myself relax and get lost in a good story… Krikrikrikrik. What the hell am I doing?
Time whip-snapped back into place around me. How long have I been standing here?
I was already a chapter and a half in. I closed the book and inspected it. “The Basilisk Stare.”
It was an Agatha Christie mystery I’d never heard of before. Strange… I thought I’d already read everything she’d written. How did this one escape my radar?
All at once, I became aware of an unsettling presence. A looming shadow. The same feeling you get when a cop car starts tailing you on the interstate. I put the book back where it belonged, then turned around and confirmed my suspicion--I was no longer alone here.
The young woman was silently watching me. For how long, I don’t know, but I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and say she wasn’t Edward Cullening me this entire time. She wore a light-blue formal dress--one that could have been plucked straight from the nineteenth century, complete with a hoop skirt and white, elbow-length gloves. She was about my age (assuming she wasn’t a ghost or a vampire, of course), with piercing blue eyes and black hair in ringlets framing a heart-shaped face. In her hands, she held an old book, the cover worn down enough to obscure the title.
She didn’t say anything. She didn’t smile or nod. She just stood there, quietly staring. I thought this behavior was a little weird until I realized that I was guilty of the same thing. I managed to get out the words, “oh,” and “hi,” in that order.
She turned her gaze momentarily to the bookshelf, then back to me. Her voice was barely more than a whisper. “You’re like me, aren’t you?”
I didn’t answer right away. I didn’t know how to answer. Part of me, deep down, wanted to say yes,
but I couldn’t understand why. Instead, I tried, “What do you mean?”
When she spoke again, her voice had a little more heft, “There’s something wrong with you.”
The way she said it carried no malice. It was an innocent statement. I gave an honest response.
“Yeah. How did you know?”
Her next question made the hairs on the back of my neck stand at attention.
“The weird stuff... Does it follow you, too?”
I looked around to make sure we were still alone before answering. “I don’t know yet.”
“This way, please!” The old woman had returned. Despite the word “please,” I could tell it was more of a command than a request.
The girl with the piercing blue eyes stepped in front of me, shelved her book, and walked away without another word. This time, when the old woman descended the stairs, I was quick to follow. The sooner we got a call in to the mechanic, the sooner we could leave this place forever. The underground room smelled exactly how I expected an underground room to smell--musty and damp. A single bare incandescent bulb hung from the ceiling, illuminating our surroundings. A broken grandfather clock against the far wall, an industrial washer and dryer combo, cardboard boxes stacked to the ceiling, and an eight-foot-tall taxidermied polar bear that begged the question, how the hell did they get that thing down here in one piece?
Jerry already had the receiver of the corded telephone between his ear and shoulder when I walked in. His hands held a yellowed phonebook.
“Alrighty, thanks bud… Yeah, you too...” He looked at me with a strange expression. His mouth formed a smile, but his eyes were saying “you’re not going to like what I have to tell you.”
“What is it?” I asked.
He put the phonebook on the table, cradled the receiver, took a deep breath, then answered slowly, “I’ve got good news and bad.”
“You know I hate this game, right?”
“The mechanic knows exactly where we are. He’s sending out his truck for a tow, but…”
“He won’t be able to get to us until morning.”
“Then we try someone else.”
“Yeah, about that… He’s the only mechanic in the entire county.”
“Oh? Did he tell you that?”
“He’s the only mechanic listed in the phonebook.”
“He… what? How is that even possible?”
I stepped over to the table and picked up the book. It immediately opened to the page for mechanics. If I weren’t so paranoid, I might not think anything about it. But the fact that it fell open directly to the exact spot I was looking for registered less as serendipity and more as a red flag big enough to propel a sailboat.
I sighed once I saw that he was right. A single entry under “Mechanics, Automotive.”
I put the book away and said, “That’s fine. We can make it through one night in the car. We’ve survived a lot worse.”
I nearly jumped out of my skin when the old lady began speaking (I’d honestly forgotten she was still there). “If this is what must be, I will not begrudge any travelers the safety of shelter for one night. There is a spare room available on the third floor--the Woodrow Harper suite.”
“Oh, no,” I said. “We couldn’t possibly accept such an imposition.”
Jerry made a noise that sounded like a quack and said, “Uh, yes we can! What are you talking about?”
She insisted, “It’s no imposition at all. My family has long been blessed with the fruits of fortune. It is only right that we extend our hospitality to those in need. However, there is one... condition upon which I must insist.”
“No, really,” I said. “It’s okay.”
“No, really,” Jerry echoed. “Did you say ‘suite’?”
The bad feeling in my gut was growing stronger by the second. “Jerry, do you mind if I talk to you in private for a moment?”
He followed me to the far corner, below the watchful eyes of the dust-covered bear. “I don’t like it,” I whispered. “There’s something wrong here. Something about this place doesn’t make sense.”
Krikrikrikrik. For a flash instant, I thought I saw something crawling up the wall next to us... but upon closer inspection, I realized that there was nothing there. My mind has a tendency to play tricks.
Jerry didn’t bother with the inside voice. “Yeah, I know. It’s creepy as fuck, but grandma over there hardly strikes me as a murder-cannibal. I’m reasonably certain that if push comes to shove, we can take her.”
I looked over my shoulder to see if “grandma” had heard us. If she had, her face didn’t show it. I turned back to Jerry and continued, “It’s not her I’m worried about.”
“Then what is it?”
I took a second to try and find the answer, but realized I didn’t know. Instead, I shrugged.
“Hey, it’s cool,” Jerry said. “If you’re getting bad vibes, we can peace right outta here. But let me ask you this: If your gut is correct, if something is wrong, do you really think we’ll be any safer waiting it out in the car?”
He had a point. Whatever was triggering my nope-radar could probably follow us a mile down the road. But if we did go back to the Nissan, at least I could spend the night with a baseball bat in my hands.
The old woman’s patience must have finally run out. She turned to the stairs and called over her shoulder, “Follow me this way. I will show you to your room.”
Jerry read the look on my face and tried to pump the brakes, “Actually, we’re just gonna rough it in the car tonight. No need to show us to any… oh look, she’s already gone.”
We hurried up the stairs behind her. When we’d all reemerged on the ground floor, she started towards the grand staircase. But Jerry and I took a different route, heading straight for the front door. Just before I could reach the handle, the lights flickered, and a booming noise filled the room, freezing us in place. The sound of a distant explosion lingered for a couple seconds, then dissipated. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought it sounded like thunder...
I broke free from my deer-in-headlights moment and opened the door to see that the sky outside had turned murky black. Waves of thick, torrential rain rocked the trees on the horizon like hands frantically waving goodbye to the world. I’d been through enough tornadoes to know what bad weather looked like, but this… this was something different.
A bolt of lightning cracked open a tree on the other side of the road. A half-second later, the noise washed over us. I instinctively stepped back and shut the door.
Jerry laughed, “I guess that settles it, huh? Looks like we’re hunkering down for the night whether we want to or not.”
“It appears the looming tempest has finally reached us.” Once again, the old woman snuck up on me, only revealing her presence when she spoke.
I turned to her. She showed no signs of concern. No smile or frown. No emotion at all, really. She just stood and waited for me to say something, which, after finally finding my voice again, I did. “You said there was ‘one condition’ to our staying the night?”
“Yes,” she answered. “As you have undoubtedly discovered by now, this is no ordinary Bed and Breakfast. A typical reservation is made a full year in advance. The experience of spending a night in Bedside Manor is quite valuable--in more ways than one. If you will be present, I expect you to behave as legitimate guests. That means engaging in all of the evening’s activities, exploring the various mysteries, and staying in character. Above all else--” She raised her voice to emphasize this next part. “--You must not let any of the other participants know that you did not pay for a room. Is this understood?”
“Clear as mud,” Jerry answered.
“Excellent. Please follow me to your accommodations.” Her explanation was way too much for me to digest all at once. Activities? Bed and breakfast? Character??? She continued to speak as we followed her up the grand staircase, further from the safety(?) of the outside. “Bedside Manor contains thirteen bedrooms: five for guests, three for family, and an additional five for the servants. At one point, it was considered quite progressive to allow the help to live within the main quarters, but Eustice Bedside saw it as an exercise in practicality. Keep your friends close, and your workers closer.”
I hung back a few steps and caught Jerry at a safe whispering distance.
“That storm really came out of nowhere.”
“It’s a cloud burst,” he said with a shrug. “They happen.”
“I got sunburned walking up the hill. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky.”
“Good thing we got here when we did, huh?” He wasn’t taking the hint.
“Yeah,” I said, resigning myself to the situation. “Good thing.”
The old woman reached the top of the landing and waited silently for us to catch up. When we were together again, she continued the monologue, explaining the sordid history of the generations of Bedsides like it would somehow be relevant to the plot or something. I wasn’t really paying attention. I just assumed Jerry was listening and could fill me in later.
Before we knew it, we were standing beside a reddish brown door with a mercury knob and a brass nameplate above the frame that read: “Woodrow Harper. (1846-1857)”
“Do you have any questions for me at this time?” she asked.
“Is there a WiFi password?” Jerry asked.
“Bedside Manor offers a full experience in the immersion of a simpler time. We have neither computers nor television machines. Save for emergencies, the telephone will not be available to anyone during the course of their stay.”
I asked the next question, “And what did you say your name was?”
“My name is Margaret. Margaret Bedside. But you may call me ‘Maggie.’”
“Thank you, Maggie.”
She offered us the key, as well as a strange apology--“So sorry. I’m afraid there’s only one bed in the Woodrow Harper suite.”
I took the key and replied, “That won’t be a problem.”
She looked like there was something she wanted to say but didn’t. Instead, “I’ll leave you two to get cleaned up. Please feel free to use any clothing you find in the armoire. Dinner begins at seven sharp. There will be a chance for social mingling at six. I expect to see you both there.”
With that, she turned and shuffled back towards the stairs.
The room was--in a word--magnificent. There was a king-sized bed complete with its own curtains. A separate sitting area by the book cases. Even a crystal chandelier.
I tried to keep a calm voice. “Jerry, what is your understanding of the situation we find ourselves in right now?”
“Isn’t it obvious?”
“Not at all.”
“Dude. Check it: This is one of those murder-mystery themed bed and breakfasts!” He could barely contain his excitement. “I’ve always wanted to try one of these!”
He started exploring the room like a kid in a candy shop. “It’s like an escape room mixed with a dinner theater! Here’s what’s going to happen. Someone’s going to ‘die’ tonight, and then we get to spend the weekend playing detective. The reason everything here looks and feels so creepy is by design! Old Maggie’s probably just an actress. This is going to be awesome!” He rushed into the bathroom, then excitedly called out, “They got a bidet and toilet paper! How fancy do you feel right now? Because I’m feeling monocle fancy.”
I approached the window overlooking the front of the property. At the rate the surprise storm was churning along, it couldn’t have much longer to go. Eventually, the sky would have to run out of water, right? “You are aware that we can’t stay here overnight, aren’t you? We don’t have any of our stuff. We don’t have clothes. I left my medicine in the car, and I can’t afford to skip another dose. Not after what happened last time.” I thought about the moment earlier at the book shelf. About the lost time. And then, I thought about the girl with the blue eyes.
Jerry soon interrupted my train of thought, returning to the main room wearing a silken bathrobe around his neck like an oversized scarf. “Yeah, I haven’t forgotten about that,” he said. “Tell you what--when the storm clears, maybe we can pull an Irish-Goodbye. But in the meantime, let’s see if this wardrobe comes with its own complimentary Narnia portal.” He opened the double doors to the armoire, took a step back, and whistled.
“What is it?”
“Hey Jack, what size suit do you wear?”
“I don’t know. Medium? Why?” I crossed the room to see that the piece of furniture held two complete tuxedo suits--formal wear, with tails and top hats (no thank you), shoes and bow ties. Exactly two sets. At a glance, they seemed like they would be pretty close to Jerry’s and my sizes. The pull-out drawers beneath the suits contained socks and underwear. The bathroom contained two unopened tooth brushes.
Jerry showered up first. When he was done, he tried on his clothes to find that they fit perfectly. After my own shower, I wasn’t even surprised that mine fit like every piece had been tailored specifically for me. Coincidences abound, but even Jerry had to admit that this one was a little too lucky.
Everything about this room felt like someone had been expecting us.
Continue to part two
This industry has a lack of transparency so I'm more than happy to say I will provide lots of that throughout this post with screenshots. There are LOTS of imgur links to back what I say so it's not just words on a post expecting you to just believe what I'm typing.
This post I suppose is "Part 2" my post back in April, "After 2 years of Daytrading. 7 months full time. Here's my advice"
. I'm doing this to update everyone who came/comes across this in the future. Yes, it is possible. No, it won't be easy. You will pay homage to the rite of passage into this career. I'll also provide some examples of styles of trading so for the newer aspiring traders, there will be some things I rarely see discussed on forums. So here's to 1 year of Full Time Day Trading
- You'll become desensitized to trading. Stubborn to other strategies (There are biggebaddemore lucrative strategies. Don't chase them. Why fix what's not broken? I know what works for me and I'm content with it. No strategy is better than another. It's a personal choice. ). Losing individual trades won't faze you, they're inevitable. Profiting certainly feels better. After a while, you won't be as enthralled to trade every morning, it'll become just another part of your day). Trading is just managing your money through a statistic and the medium to execute it is trading on your platform. Think: "If. Then. Because".
Your trading plan should be that black and white. Ask "Why" for everything you do and use. If you can't answer it with documented results, drop it.
I get a bunch of messages all the time from people asking -
. Out of those who follow
me and chat me seeking further tips
through my previous posts. I'll be answering the FAQ's and addressing things I see frequently in this sub as far as trading axioms Disclaimer
: I won't sugarcoat anything. I'll share my experiences and add pieces of advice I'd give to those who are currently experiencing the same thing becoming a full time day trader and what day to day life is like, the occasional distress, (DRAWDOWNS
). Some of you follow my Twitter for the past few months where I post my daily watchlists with a snippet that reveals my DayTradingBuyingPower. I do this not to brag but to demonstrate that the account does yield growth, I pay myself, and there are days where the balance does not move because there was no edge. I also do this since nobody else shows their account performance. (Yes. You, Mr. YouTube gurus and wannabe gurus).
We do this for income, the numbers on our accounts are real. Treat it as such. Get your initial capital out of your account THEN try to "Scale your account
" with your profits AKA The Market's Money.
I'll go over:
•FAQ's that I get in my inbox (I'm still welcome to further questions if I don't answer here)
•Decision Fatigue (You will experience this)
•The previous year (2019-2020) of ups and downs
•How to use my watchlists that I post on Twitter in the morning to your advantage
•The pivotal moment that changed my trading career (NFLX 10-17-19)
•The road to becoming a full time trader. (It won't be fun unless you're handed the money)
•You'll have a better grasp of my strategy (Between ProTip 4 and 5. ProTip 8.)
There are 10 "ProTips" throughout the post that I wish I could tell myself years back
and I'll periodically throw them in here as the post goes on. I make posts long in order to segregate those serious about this business and those who will just become another statistic in the failure rate of this business.
At the end of this post, I'll go over the frequent questions I receive such as
: (Answers to FAQ at bottom of post.)
- "How do you prepare for a trading day?"
- "What would you go back to tell yourself?"
- "Books?" (The most abused question, but I get it. I could start a public library with just trading books I bought over the years)
- "What is your background?"
- "What is a normal day for you?"
- "How did you discover your strategy?"
- "What did you do/How did you get started?"
- "What is your % return?" (Not a fun question since a trading account is not an index or investment account. Intraday traders do not measure performance in %. Most are measured in "R".)
- "Is enough to start trading?"
- "Why do you need so many monitors"? (This one is rarely asked but I do see it discussed on platforms and people trading on mobile phones love giving flack to anybody who trades on multiple monitors. Hint: Everyone's different. Whatever works for the individual. There are no rules in trading. The only rule is that it works.)
My story: Background:
I heard about daytrading during the 2008
crash while in high school. We all want to make more while working less. I entertained day trading from time to time but always realized I never had enough money. Horrible mindset because I could have still researched WHILE saving money to put into my trading business. 2015 - I opened my first trading account with Scottrade
while in the Marines. Apparently if you have a net worth of over $1,000,000 you can get out early (Biggest rumor ever).
I frivolously bought crap penny stocks. In short - I was a hair away from gambling. What made it NOT gambling was the fact that at least I owned something tangible (Securities of a company) and anything can happen. Buy low sell high was my strategy. Didn't work obviously. No idea what I was doing. I'd buy and hold hoping to wake up to the stock price being way higher and it never happened.
: If you hold a trade overnight... It is not daytrading. Stop turning into an investor because you can't admit a minor defeat.
I started taking this business seriously while working in the oilfield as a Logistics Planner (If you're wondering what company since I am asked this from time to time, Google: "World's largest oilfield services company").
No kids, girlfriend/wife or financial obligations. I worked 10AM - 7PM CST and would trade the open from home for roughly 1 hour. Later I was offered to be a Data Analyst... Only downside was... I couldn't trade since I had to be at work now at 8AM CST during the market open. In the moment of signing the offer letter, I was bummed thinking, "No more trading,"
That wasn't the case though. You can still build your trading business with a 9-5 and while never making one trade. The data is there.
•ProTip #2 : We all see the same data. It's there forever. Many strategies show their edge both live and in hindsight the same. (Especially if you trade patterns). You CAN build your business as a trader without even taking a trade. You CAN build your strategy while working a 9-5. Just because you're not trading, does not mean you can't build your business through research. You won't know how you'll react to the losses but at least you can diagnose the raw data with a large enough sample size for assurance and confidence.
If you have a 9-5 and want to go fulltime into this business. Stay for a bit, save, live so far beneath your means that it is almost
miserable, (depending on your expenses, area you live, family etc) and get a few hundred sample sizes of your strategy! And for your PTO/days off... trade the open. I sacrificed my vacation days to trade.
years in corporate America, eating cheap food, never going out, saving relentlessly, I made the decision to just do it and resigned. I went straight into the ring of fire known as trading. That was on: September 23rd, 2019 "" (Sound familiar?
When you hear these types of comments.. your response should be
: "Nobody put the time I put into this. The 90%+ who fail, don't have it all written out, computerized backtests, manual backtests, statistics, SOP manuals, JUST like the job I have which is a business, I'm just another cog in their wheel. I'll just be wearing all the hats in my trading business. Instead of Oil&Gas, it's just for trading"
. One thing I see here a lot is people saying to trade X amount of months/years or make X.
•ProTip #3 - Think in man hours, not calendar. Example: Trader A
puts in 1 hour of study/work/research everyday for 1 year. (365
Hours) Trader B
puts in 12 hours of work every day
for 4 months. (~1,450
Hours) Trader A
lives in a major city while Trader B
lives in the middle of nowhere. (Think cost of living)
2 totally different living expenses and 2 different calibers of dedication. I'd put my money on Trader B
because he put in more man hours. (~1,000 more hours
on the clock to be more exact).
- Have a cushion in your account AND your personal bank account. Having a strategy is great but you won't know entirely if you can fulfill and execute your plan until you experience the ups and downs both short and long term. A strategy is constant over long periods of time... there will be days, weeks, and perhaps a month here and there where you aren't making much money. We hear all the time, "Trade like a casino". Casinos don't make money day after day but the odds are in there favor over the long haul.
Month 1 of full time trading was great:
Immediately after going full time, the first month (September 2019 to October 2019
), I did super well. Business as usual. No stress. Everything going as planned. No turbulence. At least not like I had ever experienced...
The 2 prerequisites I had before resigning was:
- Show consistency in returns. Consistent Sharpe Ratio.
- Make a 4 figure trade (I achieved this while short 100 shares on ROKU September 20th, 2019 and even made a victory post if you scroll down my profile's posts.)
First life-changing trading lesson learned as a full time trader:
That money printing spree ended on NFLX October 17th, 2019
. Less than 1 month of being a full time trader. Deviating and going against my plan I actually made $500 in a matter of 4 minutes
. If you follow my watchlists on Twitter, I always trade with the direction of the gap
. If I notate, "Long Watches" that means I will only trade it IF (and only IF) I see a long biased pattern. Likewise I will only be looking to short my "Short Watches". Plenty of times I'll call out a ticker and it immediately goes the other way. No harm no foul because there was no long biased pattern to confirm my thesis.
On 10-17-2019, I went against my plan and it worked..
NFLX gapped up to resistance and I went short when it tanked off of a short pattern.(This is known as fading)
. The market gave me a free lunch and then some. So now I'm walking on air in my mind: "I'm an absolute unit" "I'll do it again and clear another $500 to make it a 4 figure day before 9:30AM Central" "Should have quit my job way earlier being this good."
Within 30 minutes of the open. I gave all $500 back. Yes I wanted to trade it back. Never have I had the desire to smash anything but I do understand those who do! Yes I stood there and felt like each passing second was wasted opportunity. The next 24 hours were long!
ProTip #5: It's circumstances like that that help you in the long run. FunFact: I never once deviated from my plan since. Not ever again.
"I could have paid for my groceries and electric for the month after 4 minutes of trading if I just took the free pass the market gave me" I felt dumb but in hindsight, I'm glad at what happened. It was this exact instance that married me to my strategy/business plan. The next day and the 7
trading days following. I didn't make 1 profiting trade. My longest ever drawdown - 11 straight trades.
While researching I found out this was Decision Fatigue
(I'll go over this shortly below)
Put yourself in that situation...
You have bills and your income is strictly trading. I don't care how much a robot you think you are or how strongly you believe in probabilities, when you were in an office less than a month ago making almost 6 figures sitting in an air conditioned office knowing direct deposit is on its way every other Friday no matter how well or poorly you performed at work.. Now you're in the hot seat. Its a bottomless feeling. Now all of your friends and families words are ringing in your head.
But just like a boxing match.. you gotta take a hit to get a hit. Win some, lose some, shake hands and get back to normal life. Water under the bridge.
•No guaranteed direct deposit every 2 weeks.
•No more medical/dental insurance.
•401K retirement is no longer being matched.
11 trades is nothing. You only require ~5.5 trades at 2:1RRR to make it back OR 3.5 trades at 3:1RRR. It's nothing especially in your research because you can easily just scroll a little more and see, "Oh that's just a drawdown. No big deal".
How will you react in real time? Will you buckle or choke? But the thing is, I was skipping trades out of fear and JUST so happened to be picking all of the unsuccessful ones. (Decision Fatigue)
Think about those 2 weeks of being in a drawdown. Half of the month. You're not just stagnant, your account is bleeding slowly but surely. Next time you're looking at your spreadsheet/backtest/predictive model/research.. try to put yourself in those days of drawdown. It's not just 11 boxes of red with "-1R" or "Loss" in them
. The screenshot above on Imgur is just a recent example.
Think about your daily routine, going to the gym, hanging with friends, grocery shopping, cooking, going to bed, waking up, doing a routine, then losing again.. and again.. and again. Try to think of life during those 300+ hours (Weekends too) of, "I haven't made money. I've lost money. And I still have bills. After paying them, I'll be closer to my set Risk of Ruin".
Here's a lesson you won't learn before going fulltime but I'll do my best to emphasize it here:
Pick a strategy. And stick with it. It can literally be anything. Don't spread yourself thin watching 20+ tickers and be a jack of all patterns/tickers. Be a master of 1 pattern and master of 1 circumstance.
There's this real thing called "Decision Fatigue"
which explains exactly why what happened.. happened. The article explains that the 2 outcomes of this mental strain known as "Decision Fatigue"
- Risky Decision-Making
- Decision Avoidance
Sound familiar? Does it kind of make sense now? As a new trader you have YouTube, Facebook, StockTwits, Twitter, "gurus", books recommended on Amazon, all throwing their ideas/strategies around, the market has opportunities littered all over.. Decision Fatigue is inevitable for the unprepared. Decision Fatigue happens in every profession. If you mess up at your 9-5, its just a blunder, your paycheck will remain the same. Just a slap on the wrist and move on. With trading, you make a mistake.. it's less food on your table, lights don't stay on, and/or water isn't running. That pressure adds up. No wonder so many fail...
The signs of Decision Fatigue:
When you find what clicks with you AND its either statistically or performance proven, have the courage to risk a healthy sum of your capital into it. There are strategies/patterns/styles of trading littered all over the internet:
Very broad example:
"IF circumstance happens THEN "Execution"
. Stoploss is XYZ
. Target is XYZ. BECAUSE over a series of Y trades, I will make $X,XXX.xx".
ProTip #6 : Strategies are all over the internet. It's your account/money, backtest it. People share their strategies here all the time and although I don't agree with them because I know what works for me, it's something to chew off of for you newer traders. YouTube is a harbor with people who give just enough info to figure their style out. You will lose trades. Sit for some screen-time and pay homage to the edge that you discover. All in due time.
Insert key metrics and find correlations. This is how you create checks and balances to create/formulate a black and white trading plan. When I first started doing this, my spreadsheet(s) had so many columns it was annoying and would kill my desire to continue working. You'll find things that are imperative and some that are unimportant. For a lack of more colorful terms: "Throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks" Trim the fat. Rinse and repeat.
Here's some things I used to remind myself of and perhaps it'll ring some bells for you:
•Surrender your capital to your edge
. If you truly accept the risk and trust your proven
edge, losses don't feel like anything nor do profits. Although we're not here to put on losing trades and yes it does feel nice to profit. I still from time to time will excited when I hit target after a series of multiple profiting trades depending on my mood.
•If you're nervous
or your heart starts beating quicker when you hear the sound effect of a trade getting entered/filled. Be honest with yourself and ask yourself if you're truly accepting the risk.
•Things you can't take to the bank:
- Number of trades.
- "This one great trade that I hit target in less than 30 seconds and I got filled better than expected"
All of these are integral metrics. But you're trading to make money. It's up or down, green or red, profit or loss, TRUE or FALSE
. So with that said, find what works flawlessly and is easy to follow. Checks and Balances. Then allocate a good sum of risk into it. I read it here all the time, "Don't risk too much" and that's great and true for new traders. But don't sell yourself short. Push yourself over the edge and admit that you know your stuff. Think of Trader A
and Trader B
. If you've put the time in.. don't sell yourself short. You've built enough courage to learn a business so many fail at. This business has such a negative connotation. But remember that not everybody can handle meritocracies and that's exactly what the market is. Don't try to be the best, just work harder than everyone else and the output of your input will be relative.
ProTip #7: YouTube trading ads from gurus... they're subconsciously making you think you're a novice trader. It's in their marketing. They study marketing psychology. The EASIEST things to sell:
People that are desperate for those things are the most vulnerable and these
marketers are fantastic at portraying all 3 of those things at once.
(Broken record alert
) : Write a business plan. Your strategy shouldn't take longer than 4 sentences to explain to another trader. When you have a plan that's proven through a statistic and WAIT for it to happen, you feel 100X better taking the trade. You don't even care too much when it results in a loss. Because that was your plan, you accept it much better, and you know it was just an expense for a winning trade.
Want my strategy? "I scan for stocks with a market cap of over 250M, 10k shares premarket, gapping to support or resistance, priced over $10, and I look for a pattern biased to the direction of the overnight gap.
It isn't rocket science. Check my Twitter, look at the dates I posted, and you'll notice the gist. Yes this is an edge but not the entire edge. How fast can you sift through 15 time frames? How long does it take you to fill out your order ticket? Your Fibonacci time extensions with 5 EMA's and Bollinger Bands aren't helping you. They're lagging. If they work for you, great. In my experience, they hindered my visibility.
Pro Tip #9
: Yes statistics are highly applicable to trading. Patterns do work. All patterns do is tell you WHEN to enteexit, and how many shares. Humans will never think differently of money. Be the frontrunner of the market's emotions. Nobody remembers the indecisive leader. Risk taking is a commonality amongst leaders. Trading requires courage and it's O.K. to show a bit of confidence as long as you also have the humility to admit when you're in a bad trade. (Notice how I didn't put, "wrong". You're only "wrong" when you deviate from a proven strategy.)
ProTip #10: Risk management is 24/7. I've never heard anyone mention this but think about it a little bit. Having financial obligations can become stressful regardless of how you earn your income but its far more stressful while running a business. Not just any business, but a business where you can go to work on your A-game, do every single last thing right, trade without emotion etc... and still walk away with less money than what you came to work with. Meanwhile somebody who JUST started trading made a 4 figure profit not knowing what the heck the difference between ETB, HTB, or NTB. Think of it like this, a JV high school baseball player can hit a homerun off of an MLB pitcher once.. but how will he fare at the end of the season? Traders don't predict stock prices, traders predict the outcome over hundreds of trades. People chat me asking what TO do rather than what NOT to do. You don't learn labor intensive jobs or how to fly a plane by what to do.. you learn what NOT to do to stay alive.
That's all I have. Once you have a trading plan underway and you're executing it, you don't have much time when your hobbies are cheap but I still do respond to chats/messages. I do get asked from a previous post when I'll build a website and to answer that: I'm learning how to build a site on rainy days. Can't put a definitive date on it. I will say that its coming, if you don't give up on this business in the next year or so, you'll see it. What I plan on putting on there:
- RiskReward Calculators
- Position size Calculators
- EV Calculator
- Dictionary with examples
I just don't want some generic WordPress site. I want my website to be stellar and a great resource for aspiring traders. Something I didn't have learning this business. I want it to be something I'd consider a staple in a trader's resources. Perhaps one day it will be referenced on this sub frequently.
- "How do you prepare for a trading day?" I get behind the computer about 20 minutes before the bell. Reason being: "If you study long. You'll study wrong". If the chart isn't grabbing my attention and gets me excited, then I flick to the next ticker. I don't even know the companies I trade half the time nor do I care about a news report some journalist wrote. Also there is no magic news outlet that lets you know about "Major events that affect stock prices". If there was, I wouldn't be here because we're all subscribed to the same edge nor would I be trading my style.
- "What would you go back to tell yourself?" Get more data. Save a little more, your hairline and sleep schedule will thank you. Take only perfect trades and don't feel forced to trade. There will be days you don't touch an order ticket. And days where you are busy and have tunnel vision. Next thing you know its time to shut it down for the day.
- "Books?" - I try to humble myself when answering this but off the cuff, they're all mediocre. Andrew Aziz's was ok, definitely get it, it's only a few bucks on Kindle. Just don't expect it to give you strategies BUT it will give you ideas. If you're brand new, it is good as it will teach you the common vernacular of a day trader. Mark Douglas was interesting but his YouTube seminar recordings are much better. No book, Facebook group, YouTube channel is going to be the end all be all perfect strategy. Expect losses. Don't be a one hitter quitter after suffering a few tiny losses/paper cuts. Stick to it. Most books will help you familiarize yourself with the common vocabulary amongst traders and will hint ideas. It's your job to formulate the strategy and template for research.
- "What is your background?" I was a logistics planner for a major oilfield services company. Later I then became a data/buyer analyst so yes, data analytics/research was a 2nd language for me entering trading. I did have that upper hand and did shave off months if not years for me.
- "What is a normal day for you?" I'm always done trading after 10:30AM Central. I will hold onto a trade until right before the bell if it hasn't hit either target or StopLoss by the time I leave the house but it is absolutely closed in entirety by 2:55PM Central. After I trade, I enjoy the day. No I'm not riding around in my Lambos posting IG/Snapchat (I have neither) stories of my profits with my private jet waiting on a runway trying to sell an $7 eBook or a $100 membership (HINT HINT). I grill/cook, read, workout, ride my motorcycle, attack my other sources of income (small businesses I'm building), hit the driving range, shoot guns, etc. I live in Texas. Life is cheap and fun here.
- "How did you discover your strategy?" I bought TradeIdeas premium, went through all of their computerized backtesting patterns, tested them. Then did what I mentioned earlier... Tried to find correlations in metrics. It distilled the trades to a strict criteria and here I am. I post on average 4-5 tickers on my watchlist. 7 max. I do not like spreading my attention thin across multiple tickers. I do not recommend buying TradeIdeas, it does have lots of bugs.
- "What did you do/How did you get started?" Was a data analyst, was good at research and applied it to trading. My incentive was, "I could have made more money trading rather than sitting in 2+ hours of roundtrip traffic and 9 hours in an office. The data is there. Everybody sees the same charts all over the world. There are ways to make this possible"
- "What is your % return?" (Not a fun question since a trading account is not an index or investment account. Intraday traders do not measure performance in %) I trade to make money AND pay myself, so my equity curve will look like a small loss or small gain after I pay myself. % return? I measure my account's performance in Sharpe Ratio and Risk Units. My Sharpe Ratio is ~1.85. While I yield roughly .8 - 1 R per trading day. Some weeks I make 10R. Some weeks I lose 2R. Yeah one week I might make $2,500. But the next week I might lose $300. The following week my strategy will yield $0 and the last week I might make $1,000. Some weeks suck. Some weeks are great. But overall. Just shy of 1R per trading day. Some days I'm super busy taking trade after trade. Some days I'll shut it down after 5 minutes without even filling out an order ticket. Some days I won't even see the open because there is no edge for me.. Keywords... "For me".
- "Is enough to start trading?" Depends on where you live. Are you restricted to PDT? If not then how much are you obligated to expenses? I live in Texas. Things are cheap here. If you live in NYC or The Bay Area your expenses will be astronomical compared to mine. A $30,000 account is totally doable for a single Texan with low monthly expenses. Now if you're in California or New York? I'm sure you'll fall below 25k if you have 1 bad month. Also depends on if you have other sources of income or a full/part time job. I encourage every trader and aspiring trader to have multiple sources of income, don't rely solely on trading. Not just for the sake of mitigating pressure but also for sanity. If you have a family to provide for, I don't know what that's like, you never know when Little Johnny is going to randomly pick up Trombone lessons for a school program/play while little Suzie needs transmission work in her car because a simple solenoid went out. $1,700 later.
- "Why do you need so many monitors?" I use 3 for trading. The 4th is for music. The other 2 are useless while trading. That's for trading though. When I made the decision to go full time, I knew I was about to go off the chain with research. And sifting between spreadsheets, a platform to see multiple timeframes for a pattern to backtest. My attention span is short, I'll lose my train of thought before I open the other tab to input data. But the main reason was for research. It's such a time saver and is a headache repellant when doing research while everything is laid out in front of you. Now that I have a system. I'll most likely be treating myself to 2 ultrawides for Christmas.
As always, thank you to everybody who takes time out to message me and letting me know some people read these and show appreciation. I would say, "Good luck" but there is no luck in trading. Just statistics. Remember that! In conclusion:
Yes. Full time trading is possible, depending where you live/monthly expenses and obligations. You're more likely to become a profitable trader than a professional athlete. There is a level of uncertainty each day, perhaps each week, doubtful each month, and definitely not each year. If I ever want a raise, I just consult my business plan and financials, then decide if I can handle it mentally. If you have medical issues, get a part time job for the benefits. If you're healthy, just be careful.
All the best!