Why I couldn’t be a day trader


I was watching an interesting program the other day about a bunch of people who were – in one way or another – making their living from the stock market. This episode of the program focused primarily on an individual hedge fund manager from the US and then a group of wannabe day traders taking a day trading course in the UK.

When I was younger I always thought that day trading was something that would excite me and the thrill of making huge amounts of money in just one trade was pretty appealing. Nowadays though I’m not so sure I could handle having the kind of portfolio that needed my constant attention, here’s why?

I can’t switch off

I’ve always had a massive problem in life and that is an inability to switch my mind off. Some people are great at coming home from work and forgetting the day they’ve just had, me not so much! I have real difficulty switching off from things and my mind is constantly ticking over with one thing or another occupying my thoughts.

In some ways I think this inability to switch off would be a big attribute when it comes to day trading because there would probably be less chance of you dropping the ball and losing money. On the other hand, I think that if I was to get into day trading in a big way it would probably wreck my home life as I can’t help but feel that I’d get completely obsessed with it, always wondering what the market was doing. Sure you still have to keep an eye on your portfolio when trading with a long term view but not at all in the same way as you would if you were trying to predict the market hour by hour, or even minute by minute.

I’d worry for my health

On top of my inability to switch off I also have an inclination to overthink and worry too much about certain things. Again this could be an attribute in day trading as it would probably make you good at analyzing small changes in market trends and things like that. The problem is that I think it would also really stress me out, worrying too much about every trade. I really don’t want to be one of those guys who worry’s himself to death, giving myself a stroke or a heart attack due simply to being under too much stress.

I’d probably get addicted

Now let’s just say I did start making money from day trading and actually found I was quite good at it, great right? Well I’m not so sure. The problem with the modern day stock market is that you can pretty much find some kind of market to trade around the clock. I know that if I started making good money day trading I just wouldn’t want to turn off the computer screen in the fear that I might miss a good trade or miss some kind of shock event or surprise economic announcement.

I need to be in control of my life

All in all then, I do think that if I put my mind to it I’d be able to do OK as a day trader. When it comes down to it though, I don’t think it would be a good thing for me to do. For my home life, my health and my sanity I need to be in control of what I’m doing and I can’t help but feel that day trading is the sort of thing that would quickly start controlling me.

Could you be a day trader? 

7 Responses to Why I couldn’t be a day trader

  1. Coming from a guy who makes his living almost entirely from the markets, you would soon go broke.

    The markets are too big and too fickle for you to be able to focus your attentions on more than a few sectors specifically if you wanted to successfully day-trade.

    You either figure out what you’re good at trading and narrow it down or you burn out in a huge mess in financial ruin.

    I do make the occasional day or swing trade, but they are few and far between. What works best for me? Bull-put-spreads. You find companies you like and set your position accordingly. Typically mine run for 3-6 months, and are 10% below the current market price. That means the stock can go up, the stock can go sideways or the stock can go down 10% and I’ll still make my money.

    If it goes below that, I will “roll” the position (to give yourself more time for it to recover) provided I still think they are solvent. Otherwise you take the loss, which is very controlled and far far less than owning the stock outright.

    • Adam Buller says:

      Yeah one of the trainee’s on the show was making the same mistake that you mentioned actually, trading too much over too many markets. Sounds like you have a nice little strategy worked out.

  2. I could not be a day trader either, I have a lot of the same qualities you mentioned above… especially the one where you say you like to be in control – that’s totally me!

  3. Not for me either. I wouldn’t have the discipline to not make a foolish trade on top of the skill necessary to follow everything. Day trading is like learning a new language, but every mistake costs you a lot of money. Too stressful for me.

  4. When I was younger, I was a much more active trader than I am today. I would watch the financial news channels and research stocks all of the time. The kicker was that I was spending all of this time and I wasn’t seeing that great of a return. I would rather just take what the market was giving me and have a lot more free time. That is what I ended up doing and am much happier.

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