Day Trading for a Living


Authored by Lee Wright in Investments 
Published on 01-15-2010

Many people dream of quitting their regular jobs in order to day trade for a living. They imagine the perks of being their own boss and raking in money as they do nothing but execute trades all day. Although this is certainly possible, and there are people who make a living day trading, there are several issues to consider before you embark on such a risky venture. To be successful at day trading for a living you first have to acquire extensive investment knowledge, refine your trading strategies with trading simulations, accumulate an initial capital outlay, and adhere to strict to profit and loss goals.

In you intend to consider day trading for a living you need to make sure you have a thorough understanding of the stock, options, and currency markets. Thorough research about what effects the ups and downs of these markets is necessary before you can design a trading strategy that might be profitable. Online research, investment books and manuals, and/or investment strategy software may make it easier to learn from experts what does and does not work. You should also educate yourself on the tax laws and the difference between mark to market taxation and capital gains and losses taxation. The tax method you choose can make a big difference to your bottom line.

Once you have thoroughly educated yourself about financial markets and chosen your tax strategy, you should work out some trading strategies to test. There are several online trading simulators like Investopedia or Virtual Stock Exchange or software packages that will let you test your strategies with real market date. You should spend enough time practicing with trading simulators to thoroughly test and tweak your strategies and analyze what does and does not work before you do any real trading. As you use a stock simulator you can also figure the taxes on your trades to help you further decide the best tax strategy for you as a day trader.

Once you have tested and refined your strategies you can begin trading for real. Many experts recommend a minimum of $100,000 in initial capital to be a successful day trader. Others say you can start with less, but not if you intend to day trade for a living. If you are looking to day trading to replace the salary from a regular job, you need a large initial investment pool to make sufficient profits to cover living expenses and taxes. One of the keys to being a successful day trader is to carefully define your goals. Day trading profit goals are much different than long term investment goals. You should decide on profit and loss goals and stick to them religiously. Being greedy and staying in a stock too long or refusing to accept a modest loss can lead to disaster.

Although day trading for a living may sound like easy money, the reality is risky and requires large amounts of knowledge, time, cash, and a certain amount of luck. If you want to try day trading for a living you need to spend some time on research and trading simulations before you risk real money. With careful preparation and research, a dedication to proven strategies, and strict adherence to profit and loss goals you may successfully turn day trading for a living into your new career.


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