Very few people are available to trade forex full time. Often traders make their trades at work, lunch or night. The problem with this type of trading is that with such a fluid market, trading sporadically throughout a small portion of the day creates frequent missed opportunities to either buy or sell. This could mean a complete loss of funds if a position is not existed before the market moves against it or a loss of opportunity to buy at a desirable price. These missed opportunities can spell disaster for the part-timer trader.

TUTORIAL: Top 10 Forex Trading Rules

However, there are strategies that can work based on a part time schedule. For example, those who trade at night might be limited to the types of currencies they trade based on volumes during the 24-hour cycle. These night traders should employ a strategy of trading specific currency pairs that are most active during the night time hours. An example would be trading the Australian dollar (AUD) / Japanese yen (JPY) pair or something a little less known like the New Zealand dollar (NZD)/JPY or AUD pair. It is extremely useful to look at the correlation between the two currencies when choosing a pair, so having a block of time during the day to study the market and implement trades can lead to a successful strategy. (Learn how to set each type of stop and limit when trading currencies. Check out How To Place Orders With A Forex Broker.)

The main problem comes with true part-time traders who might pop in and out throughout the day. These traders have time constraints and may only be available to trade for an hour or two per day or even per week. Here are some strategies for trading part time when you have an inconsistent schedule.

Know Your Markets
Assuming you work nine to five in the United States, you could trade before or after work. The best strategy for trading in either block of time is to pick the most active currency pairs during that time. Knowing what times the major currency markets are open will aid in choosing major pairs.

New York opens at 8:00 am to 5:00 pm EST
Tokyo opens at 7:00 pm to 4:00 am EST
Sydney opens at 5:00 pm to 2:00 am EST
London opens at 3:00 am to 12:00 noon EST

During the 12:00-2:00 am time, the markets in Japan and Europe (open 2:00 am – 11:00 am) are in full swing so part-time traders can choose major currency pairs such as the EUR/JPY pair or the EUR/ CHF pair for major currencies or look to other pairs that involve the Hong Kong dollar (HKD) or Singapore dollar (SGD) for example. During the 5 pm to midnight time frame, trading the AUD/JPY pair is an available choice for this time period. Despite the pairs the part-time trader chooses, before placing any bets, the trader needs to understand the market by studying the technicals for these pairs as well as the fundamentals of each currency.

Stop-Loss Orders
Assuming you can only trade for a minimal amount during the day, for example, one hour, the best strategy may be to let your computer be your "trading partner." Because the forex market is so fluid, not having the flexibility to watch the market may leave you with numerous missed opportunities, so employing a trading program where you can let the information technology work for you might be the best strategy. Another common strategy is to include setting stop–loss orders such that if the market takes a sudden move against your position, your money is protected.

Price Action
Assuming you pop in and out while you work (10 minutes at a time), a strategy that can be used during these brief but frequent trading periods may be to use price action trading. Price action trading can be described as analyzing the technicals or charts of the currency pair and trading based on what the chart tells you. In its most basic definition, traders can analyze up bars, which is a bar that has a higher high or higher low than the previous bar, and look at down bars, which is a bar with a lower high or lower low than the previous. Up bars signal an uptrend while down bars signal a down trend. Other price action indicators may be inside or outside bars. Choosing the chart time frame that best meets your schedule availability is key to success with this strategy. (Learn to bank short-term profits by placing stops away from the crowd. See Stop Hunting With The Big Forex Players.)

Other Strategies
Assuming you cannot even trade for an entire hour or for regular increments during the day, you can still trade the forex market. Since you cannot watch the market during the day, the following strategies may be implemented so you can be a successful part-time forex trader:

  • Take fewer positions and hold for days.
    After studying the market and narrowing down particular chosen currency pairs, you can take only a few positions and hold these positions for a longer period of time. It is critical that you understand the drivers of your currency pairs and have taken the time to really understand your market. Another wise strategy is to put in stop-loss orders with all your trades to minimize any losses if the market moves against you.

  • Look at long-term trends.
    Instead of looking at hourly or even four-hour charts, you may want to look at the trends for a day or week. This will allow you to trade while looking at your computer only once a day.

  • Set up trading orders.
    Setting limit, stop-loss or other entry/exit orders can ensure you do not miss opportunities to enter or exit positions. Most trading platforms allow you to set up these orders with no additional fees.

  • Use technology!
    Set up auto alerts to your mobile phone or email to keep you informed while you are not actively trading.

The Bottom Line
The forex market is one of the most desirable markets to trade because it is a 24-hour market that is constantly in flux, providing ample opportunities to make profits at any point in the day. Because of these features, the forex market lends itself to part-time traders. However, despite these favorable characteristics, the forex market is very volatile, which makes it risky for all traders, particularly the part-time trader, if the proper strategy is not implemented. Trading specific currency pairs that are at play during the times of day you can trade, looking at longer time frames, implementing price action strategies and employing technology are all strategies that will help you become a successful part-time forex trader. Other things to consider are understanding your level of understanding and tolerance for risk and leverage, as well as your time horizon (from hourly to weekly). These all elements that are an important part of any trading strategy. (Most brokers will provide you with trade records, but it's also important to keep track on your own. Check out 4 Reasons Why You Need A Forex Trading Journal.)

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