Here’s a bunch of important things you should know about day trading before you start. First off, can you daytrade if you don’t have the requisite $25,000 plus? Yes.
You can start Day Trading with as little as $750 if you decide to trade using a spread betting account rather than a standard broker, allowing you to ignore most day trading regulations about trading frequency. To day trade stocks using a standard brokerage account (8 round trips or more per week) you will typically need more than $25,000 in your account as per Uncle Sam’s regulations designed to stop newbies blowing up.
You don’t necessarily need a ‘mega PC’ and a direct access account either. The average spread betting firm will give you access to a day trading system that runs happily in the browser of any low end PC on a dial-up internet account. Just remember that the better your initial setup is, the easier you will find it. You will NOT enjoy seeing your internet connection crash just as you try to pull off a perfectly timed exit, so it pays to have alternatives for everything you use in trading.
Is day trading the most dangerous form of trading? No. The press is full of stories about how dangerous day trading is. This is pure scaremongering by the misinformed, because day trading simply means not holding any position beyond the current trading day; i.e. closing all outstanding positions by the end of the session putting you 100% into cash overnight. In reality, day trading can be one of the SAFEST form of trading, because you are not exposed to unforeseen events that happen out of hours (like the fall of Enron, Tsunamis in the Far East etc) and the accompanying gigantic losses that can happen during the hours when you cannot trade.
Many day traders only hold positions for a few minutes – and the less time your cash is in play in the market, the less chance something will go wrong. Anyone claiming to be day trading who holds positions overnight is fooling themselves – remember this.
Build up your day trading skills with training – practise paper trading till it is second nature to you! Day trading is like running any other kind of business. Adequate training, experience, capital and dedication is always required. Over time, you may find that day trading becomes relatively easy, but you will still have to ‘put in your time’. Day trading is a full time job – you need to be ready to trade whenever the market shows you a great opportunity. If you have limited time to trade, you should consider swing trading instead of day trading.
Preserve your capital at ALL costs. Limiting your losses when day trading is by far more important than making big profits. Day traders go bankrupt because they lose money, not because they don’t make enough of the green. When day trading, set yourself a limit on how much you are prepared to lose on any particular trade, and set your stoploss at that level. NEVER move your stop the wrong way (i.e. if you are long, and price starts to fall, NEVER lower the stop). If the stop is hit, take the containable loss on the chin (rather than a bankroll-busting loss later!). Over time you will get better at placing stops on your trades. Remember that you can make a fortune day trading being right only 30% of the time, as long as you cut the losses on your 70% losers so that the profits on your 30% winners outweighs them. If you reach 50-50, you should be making money, and if you get above 50% winners, well… welcome to the club! It is also wise to set yourself a daily limit – if you lose this much in a day, quit trading till the next session. It really isn’t possible to ‘force’ profits from the market.
You won’t learn day trading in a single day. An obvious point, but different people learn at different rates. The only way to jump start the process is (a) find a mentor (a successful trader who will ride shotgun for you) or (b) use one of the proven methods that have defined rules. Even this requires practise though, and you should expect to be still paper trading by the end of a month. Keep at it – day trading is like any skill – nothing worth having ever comes easy.
Knowing when to exit is as hard as knowing when to enter. Day trading is an inherently variable business – some days you might make thousands of dollars, some days you might lose a lot of money. The one thing you WON’T do is make consistent amounts of money day trading every day – markets just aren’t like that. If you learn to day trade in a style that lets you run your winners, and chop your losers ruthlessly, you WILL succeed at it, and may even become wealthy.
Day trading doesn’t mean trading every day. If you don’t feel like trading, then don’t trade. If you try to force it, you will most likely lose money. And too many losing days may start to give you a complex about it until you eventually become too scared to ‘pull the trigger’ and initiate a trade!.