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My Journey to Become Profitable Long Term


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My Journey to Become Profitable Long Term

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  #1 (permalink)
Bay Area, CA
 
 
Posts: 136 since Jun 2010
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Hey all --

I'm starting this thread because my other thread that I recently posted was just a question about multiple time frames.

I have a lot to say in this post and I don't have any idea how it is all going to come out so here it goes... I have thought about posting this for the last couple months but to be honest, I've been too embarrassed that I've spent this much time and haven't really made it work yet. I'm working on getting past that and asking for help. I think watching Mike's webinar with the guy from Bend, OR and the video he posted talking about the guy who lost a lot of money on /CL really made me want to stop everything, re-evaluate, and get some help. I'm not going to keep pounding my head on the wall in hopes that it stops hurting after the 3000th bash into the wall. I'll just bloody myself to death.

Eight years ago I decided that I was going to learn to trade so that I could unleash myself from the corporate world and I know that I won't be able to rely on social security when I get old. I set out to learn to be profitable in 10 years. I gave myself 10 years to get going right in the positive direction.

I started by buying some education through a pretty large online learning center. I spent a lot of money on that back when I started and it did help teach me a lot. I had a trading account that started about $14k and I pretty much paid for more education through the many losses I had. I did all the good stuff like over trading, revenge trading, you name it. I would get so irritated and mad at the market that I told my personal coach that I was going to get back at the market and get my money back. But you see, my coach that came with my "education" that I paid for wasn't able to really point me in the right direction. All they could say was "Come up with some rules" - stuff I can have anyone tell me. ..and if I came up with some they couldn't say "Hey, those look great to me. They must have been bound so much that they couldn't ever give any advice for fear of being sued. It really crippled the learning experience because there was so much they couldn't say. Once my education time ended, I had some tools in my toolbox but still struggled.

I dabbled in everything trying to find out where I "fit" in the trading world. I tried options for a long while trading verticals, iron condors, spreads, etc. All to come up a loser in the end. Over the years I've bought so many books on a variety of subjects looking for something that would speak to me. I took about a couple years off in the middle of the eight years due to life events and so about 2 years ago I started getting back into it.

Fast forward to today. I think I'm doing better but still not there. I don't get mad at the market anymore and I am more aware of my shortcomings. I still however am not able to put all the pieces together longer term. I was doing pretty decent for a while selling vertical spreads during this past year but then the premium seemed to dry up. I realized I don't want to deal with options like that. The weekly options are just too short for me and I just don't want another element in the market to deal with(the greeks).

What have I learned about myself? I've learned that I am impatient. Since I work in the tech industry my mindset is very binary. It's either a 1 or a 0. There is nothing in between. If I leave my rules so that I have any judgement on my own that can easily be seen one way or another, I will make it look the way I want and take the trade. This is why I've tried to structure my rules in a more rigid fashion so that I don't have to trade if "it feels right". If signals all line up, I need to get in. I can follow that day in and day out. I came up with some rules that I was trading on /ES and /YM. They worked great in the bull trends. But I lost all of what I made plus some when the markets turned. I did this two years in a row. I also flip back and forth between strategies because I don't have the confidence in what I'm doing and can't tell if I need to stick with what I'm doing or not.

Hows my account balance? Well, it's higher than it was when I opened this account, but not by much. I think I've made forward progress with my trading due to the fact that I have been trading this account for two years now and I am still ahead of where I started. I've heard that this is a stage you will go through into trading full time. So I guess I have been preserving capital and being successful at that for at least two years.

What trading do I think I need to do? I am too jittery to day trade. I need time to digest what I'm seeing and make decisions. I don't want to be strapped to my monitors all day. I work full time and I need something that will fit that schedule. I've been reading Dr. Alexander Elder's book "Come In To My Trading Room" and I really like it but once I put it into practice I get more questions and don't really know where to turn. I don't know how to get the right advice. I feel like I just need someone that I can trust to steer me in the right direction. Right now I'm trying to trade what I learned in Elder's book. I'm using a weekly chart with an EMA and MACD for trend and direction and an EMA and StochRSI on the daily as well as kelter channels. I'm also using Elder's safe zone stop. I think with my work schedule that this is the best thing for me. I don't care what I trade really, I don't have to trade in the big kids pool with /ES or /CL, I will trade whatever will work out for me. If I have to go play in the kiddie pool for a while then so be it. I'll be in the big kids pool once I'm ready. I also have too many things on my watch list. I don't want to have to wait a month for a trade to happen either.. I'd like to be able to execute a trade every 1-5 days if that makes any sense.

I have put way too much time into this to stop now. I won't stop working on this. I am completely committed to making longer term profits in my account.

I don't know if I should start another journal for this and get all my questions out in the beginning of that thread or just work from this one. I do however want to start another journal here but I feel like I should only do that once I'm ready to start moving forward trading whatever rules I'm going to use.

What was my latest failure? I got into IT on 10/17/2012 @ 47.91 by the end of the day it fell to damn near my stop. I've also been stopped out on a couple others. I can just feel it - I'm missing some fundamental skills that are causing me to enter bad trades or not take profits when the profit is there to take. I need to be rigid in making those rules so I just follow them and get with the program. I just don't have the wisom to know if it's just noise along a winning journey or if the noise is the sound of a losing strategy. I just don't know...

Ok, so what am I good at? I can follow rules very well. I try to write them such that it's black/white. I am pretty good at determining if we're in an uptrend or downtrend without using any indicators of any kind. I draw trend lines pretty well I think. I am familiar with quite a few indicators like MACD, stochastic, StochRSI, moving averages, etc.

Sorry for the long post, I figured if I was going to get better at this I'd have to spill my gut and get past the emotions of being embarrassed and just do it. So here it is.

Where do I go from here? I'm going to start by taking Mike's suggestion that I just saw in my other thread. Any help would be appreciated.

If you're still with me, thanks for taking the time to read this.

-Allistah

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  #3 (permalink)
Bay Area, CA
 
 
Posts: 136 since Jun 2010
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Hey Mike, I just went and tried to read the thread you suggested in my other thread but I don't have access. :-/

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  #4 (permalink)
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Why not start by converting this to a Journal. I can move it to Journals section for you if you give me a new thread title.

You should journal your process so you can later review and evaluate the decisions you've been making, try to be as objective as possible when doing so.

Mike

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  #5 (permalink)
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Allistah View Post
Hey Mike, I just went and tried to read the thread you suggested in my other thread but I don't have access. :-/

It's up to you if you want to be an Elite Member.

Mike

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  #6 (permalink)
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Yeah I want to but I'll have to wait to do it. It's been a rough week this week so I'll have to wait a week or two. :-/

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  #7 (permalink)
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Big Mike View Post
Why not start by converting this to a Journal. I can move it to Journals section for you if you give me a new thread title.

You should journal your process so you can later review and evaluate the decisions you've been making, try to be as objective as possible when doing so.

Mike

Yeah, go ahead and move it over I guess. You can give it a title of "My Journey to Become Profitable Long Term"

Thanks Mike.

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  #8 (permalink)
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Allistah View Post
Yeah, go ahead and move it over I guess. You can give it a title of "My Journey to Become Profitable Long Term"

Thanks Mike.

Congrats on starting your journal

Mike

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  #9 (permalink)
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Thanks for moving this over Mike.

I guess these are the questions that I need to figure out. I'm not directly asking everyone that reads this, but helpful tips on how I can answer these myself is what I am after.

What should I be trading?
I feel like I want to trade futures as it will help me cut down on commissions and I won't have to worry so much about earnings and that. It will also allow me to go short if I wanted where I can't do that in my account with stocks. Options just complicate the picture so I want to stay out of those. If it really is recommended I stay away from futures, I will do that. I want to do this right - I don't want to try and satisfy an ego and trade futures as it's not about that. I want to feel successful.

How many charts should I use and what time frames?
I'd like to do a trade once every 1-3 days or so. I think that will satisfy my impatient brain. I think weekly/daily charts would not give me trade opportunities every 1-3 days so maybe a 2h chart should be used for my entry chart. What is recommended for the longer term chart? Elder recommends a time frame five times the chart you use for entries. Five times a 2 hour chart is 10 hours. So that would be a 1 or 2 day time frame. Maybe if I went to a 1h chart I could use a daily for the longer time frame. Opinions here?

What indicators should I use?
In Elder's book he recommends using an EMA and a MACD on the longer term chart and they both must be going in the same direction to give a "signal" that you can move on to the entry/exit chart for a possible trade. Then on the entry chart he recommends some sort of an oscillator indicator like Stochastic, RSI, or his Force Index. I sort of like the idea of not having any indicators but I'm not sure thats for me. How would I know?

I think once I get these questions dealt with I can move on to some rules for entries and exits.

Thanks,

-Allistah

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  #10 (permalink)
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Allistah View Post
Thanks for moving this over Mike.

I guess these are the questions that I need to figure out. I'm not directly asking everyone that reads this, but helpful tips on how I can answer these myself is what I am after.

What should I be trading?
I feel like I want to trade futures as it will help me cut down on commissions and I won't have to worry so much about earnings and that. It will also allow me to go short if I wanted where I can't do that in my account with stocks. Options just complicate the picture so I want to stay out of those. If it really is recommended I stay away from futures, I will do that. I want to do this right - I don't want to try and satisfy an ego and trade futures as it's not about that. I want to feel successful.

Don't trade futures until you are a consistently profitable (years) trader on other less leveraged instruments. Swing trading equities is a good place to start. Also spot forex, risking minimal dollars per day and just focusing on percentage return.

Futures are the last thing you should do until you are profitable.


Quoting 
How many charts should I use and what time frames?
I'd like to do a trade once every 1-3 days or so. I think that will satisfy my impatient brain. I think weekly/daily charts would not give me trade opportunities every 1-3 days so maybe a 2h chart should be used for my entry chart. What is recommended for the longer term chart? Elder recommends a time frame five times the chart you use for entries. Five times a 2 hour chart is 10 hours. So that would be a 1 or 2 day time frame. Maybe if I went to a 1h chart I could use a daily for the longer time frame. Opinions here?

I'd say weekly, daily, 4h is probably enough - and then just scan a basket of stocks every day. You might need to scan 100 stocks to find 5 you want to enter positions on, it just depends. Finviz has a good scanner.


Quoting 
What indicators should I use?
In Elder's book he recommends using an EMA and a MACD on the longer term chart and they both must be going in the same direction to give a "signal" that you can move on to the entry/exit chart for a possible trade. Then on the entry chart he recommends some sort of an oscillator indicator like Stochastic, RSI, or his Force Index. I sort of like the idea of not having any indicators but I'm not sure thats for me. How would I know?

I wouldn't use an EMA for signal generation. I wouldn't use an EMA at all really. For swing trading equities, if you insist on having a moving average on your chart then just stick with the 50 period SMA, commonly referred to as a 50 DMA (50 day moving average). As for the MACD, it is useful only for divergence patterns in my opinion, and not for any type of above/below zero line signal generation. I would recommend against Force Index. As for RSI, it is my only indicator - and I use it very sparingly as I only pay attention to it when price is at a swing high/low point and I am looking only for divergence.

I encourage you to focus on pure price action and support resistance (PSAR). For more heavily traded equities The Nasdaq 100 or etc, you can also add some Volume Profile to the mix, but really just channels, trend lines, failed breakouts, wedges, etc are more than enough to get you started with swing signal generation.

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Quoting 
I think once I get these questions dealt with I can move on to some rules for entries and exits.

I'd suggest considering trying to be right 50% of the time (ideal) and shoot for a 2:1 or 3:1 reward-to-risk ratio. Risk no more than 1-2% of your account in any given trade, and your target should be 2-3x that (2R-3R). Examine your setups and signal to see if there is enough volatility and room for this before taking the trade. Use an ATR or Average Daily Range to show you.

Mike

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  #11 (permalink)
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Thanks for the suggestions Mike.

I have some questions about what you said. I'm not challenging you, just want to understand the thought process.

You mentioned weekly/daily/4h. The 4h will only have 2 bars a day. Is that too close to a daily? Would a week/day/2h be more appropriate?

..and if I'm using three charts like this I would take entries off the 4h/2h chart and only use the other two to make sure I'm at support/resistance/breakout, etc?

Is it more common for people to use three or two charts from those that are making it work?

-Allistah

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  #12 (permalink)
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I commend you on your desire to start a journal, seek collaboration, and ask questions. Please don't perceive my reluctance to directly answer some of your questions as unwillingness to assist. I believe that you will ultimately answer those questions for yourself as you continue to dig.

You asked, "where do I go from here?" Well, I think you're on the right track.

Absorb as much trading information as you can from futures.io (formerly BMT), books, videos, conferences, the web, etc. I don't recommend paying for educational material or tools because so many others have already graciously provided free top notch resources.

Gather as much trading information as you can from screen time and testing your approach(es).

Devote yourself to critically thinking about what you learn from your exposure and experience. Ask fundamental questions about markets, about people, your tools, your method, and yourself.

Try to answer those questions and see if you can successfully incorporate your conclusions into your work.

Don't force it. Go with the flow.

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  #13 (permalink)
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deltason View Post
I commend you on your desire to start a journal, seek collaboration, and ask questions. Please don't perceive my reluctance to directly answer some of your questions as unwillingness to assist. I believe that you will ultimately answer those questions for yourself as you continue to dig.

You asked, "where do I go from here?" Well, I think you're on the right track.

Absorb as much trading information as you can from futures.io (formerly BMT), books, videos, conferences, the web, etc. I don't recommend paying for educational material or tools because so many others have already graciously provided free top notch resources.

Gather as much trading information as you can from screen time and testing your approach(es).

Devote yourself to critically thinking about what you learn from your exposure and experience. Ask fundamental questions about markets, about people, your tools, your method, and yourself.

Try to answer those questions and see if you can successfully incorporate your conclusions into your work.

Don't force it. Go with the flow.

Thanks for the feedback. I think tonight I'm going to get my set of charts together without any indicators and start from there. I'm going to try and apply what I know and look for some possible entries. I'm not going to trade them, just going to try and find them and post them for review to make sure I am on the right track. Going to try and trade my charts naked for the first time ever. Should be interesting..

-Allistah

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Allistah View Post
Thanks for the suggestions Mike.

I have some questions about what you said. I'm not challenging you, just want to understand the thought process.

You mentioned weekly/daily/4h. The 4h will only have 2 bars a day. Is that too close to a daily? Would a week/day/2h be more appropriate?

..and if I'm using three charts like this I would take entries off the 4h/2h chart and only use the other two to make sure I'm at support/resistance/breakout, etc?

Is it more common for people to use three or two charts from those that are making it work?

-Allistah

You need to find something that works for you, your style, your personality, your risk aversion, etc. You need to develop your own system. Front to back. Own it. Understand it. It is yours.

Using a 2h vs 4h is fine, but I wouldn't look any smaller (personally) for a swing trade that will be on for several days or so. You want to exercise timing here so that you are doing business in a key area where price should move quickly in your favor.

I place a lot of swing trades based on nothing more than a single daily chart with no indicators, just trend lines. I don't even chart them in my platform many times, I just use finviz.com. In other words, just keep it simple.

Mike

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  #15 (permalink)
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Tell me about taking profits. Some people say to not set targets and just move your stop up until you get stopped out. Some people say you should set targets.

I would think that if I was doing a swing trade and I had 3 pretty good up days I wouldn't ask any questions, I would just get out. But then it's possible to you're cutting yourself short.

Any advice in this area for me?

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  #16 (permalink)
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So I'm looking for some potential entries and I found this one and wanted to get some feedback on it. Looks like a long entry to me. At support on both the weekly and the daily.


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  #17 (permalink)
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On the way home tonight, I was thinking about why I struggle with my trading..

I spend time looking for trades and I would get into trades which at some point almost always make money. But they turn around and I take a loss. I can't tell you how many times this has happened to me. Then I remembered in Elder's book that he said people spend all this time on entering the trade and entering trades doesn't make you any money. Exiting the trades is what makes the money and so many people don't spend much time thinking about exits.

I would set targets, but I think that they weren't realistic for swing trading. I wasn't really looking at indicators once in trades.

So what am I getting at here? I need to spend WAY more time looking at the trades I am currently in and protect those profits and get out before things turn into a loss.

-Allistah

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  #18 (permalink)
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I have my rules set up, I'm following them to get into trades, taking very small trades, and logging every trade entry and exit.

It has been difficult because the markets have been moving down and all of my entries are long. Some trades are working out but I am down overall at this point.

I don't want to change my rules at this point since the conditions aren't optimal. So I will continue to trade these micro positions and track my progress as the markets change direction. As the markets transition to up trending, I will be watching my progress closely.

My rules wouldn't be any different for downtrending stocks, only problem is that I can't short stock in this account but I can buy puts so I had considered doing that in times like this.

Is there anyone that trades opposite of the market or am I just completely asking for trouble? :-)

Any tips or comments are always welcome...

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  #19 (permalink)
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sharing from my learning with you, some stuff i read, some stuff i learned the hard way .. and yes, sometimes i find myself "insisting" on trading against the market.. and i guess that has to do with a "judgement call" that my system (my brain) does when i see the chart and the indicators.. my brain insists on that judgement (for example, i should go long) and the market doesn't care, and it can be going on the other direction .. you need to refresh and re-validate that judgement consistently .. so here goes

- look at the same stock on another charting tool or platform.. StockCharts.com or FinViz .. it will help give you a fresh perspective sometime and help you challenge your current judgement with a fresh look
- take the time to study the difference between a retracement and a reversal .. and the signs of each.. makes such a big difference (the chart above for me is a reversal - not retracement, so my judgement would be that the stock won't bounce off the trend line.. i may be wrong)
- this one i read somewhere .. and i go by it .. chose a stock that's "well-behaved" .. moves in a consistent manner .. i'd avoid any stock that doesn't fulfill that criteria .. if it makes a 5% down move then a 3% up-move next day, and so on .. i can get smashed if i want to ride a trend there, except in rare conditions .. i would seek more consistent movers .. many out there...
- decide on your "best price range" for the stocks to trade (especially important if you'll trade its options).. makes such a big difference .. can take few trades not within that range, but you know it's not your area, and they're like one-offs ... helps better manage your PnL and keep it within limits
- decide on a "simple" setup that you get very comfortable with .. trade it in SIM until you're confident (still real world is different, but that helps getting used to "read" the setup) ..after many months of working with many and all indicators possible, i'm happy now using MA's and price levels & S/R .. simplicity is king .. would still look at few indicators, but now i see them only as "indicators" that confirm my decision or help me pick better informed entries/exits .. they don't make the decision for me..

i'm a beginner (will continue to be for many years to come).. but hope the above will help you move to the next step..

cheers,
RedK

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