After a relatively calm 2017, this year has seen the return of an old but not completely forgotten market phenomenon—volatility. While definitely not a bull market and not quite a bear market, analyst Charles Schwab dubbed this year’s performance “a ‘bunny market,’ as the jittery stock market hops up and down.” In just the first week of February the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) shot up more than 175%, and Investopedia’s Anxiety Index (AIA), which gauges the level of negative sentiment based on the terms searched for by readers, rose to its highest level in nearly two years.
While the return of volatility may be bad news for some, experienced day traders can generate profits whether the market goes up or down, but that means following a strategy. Below are 10 tips, according to MarketWatch, that aspiring day traders should factor into their respective strategies. (To read more, see: TD Ameritrade: Elevated Volatility the ‘New Norm’.)
1. Start Small
The saying ‘go big or go home,’ while inspirational, is not for beginning day traders. As it can take years to develop the skills to become a consistent day trader, it’s important to limit the size of losses by limiting the size of the trade. As experience is gained and less mistakes are made, investing larger amounts of money becomes less risky.
2. Forget those practice accounts
Trading is a mental game, which is why it’s important to feel the pain of losing real money and the joy when real gains are made. Open a real account to get exposure to the real psychological effects of surfing the market waves.
3. Be choosy
Don’t jump into the markets head first with dozen of trades a day. Take it slow and easy, thinking carefully about each trade, and the intuition for good trades will eventually come.
4. Don’t be overconfident
Confidence is good, but overconfidence can break the bank. It’s important to trade only what you are comfortably able to afford losing. Maintaining a reserved humble attitude will more likely lead to consistent profits in the long run.
5. Be emotionless
Follow your trading strategy not your emotions. Losing can eat away at your confidence, while winning can lead to overconfidence. If you stick to your strategy and routine, emotions will be less likely to affect your behavior.
6. Keep a daily trading log
Tracking performance over time allows you to fine tune a winning strategy, and you’ll be less likely to make the same mistakes over again.
7. Stay focused
As already mentioned, trading is a mental game and requires significant amounts of concentration. When positions are opened, they need to be constantly monitored. Even taking a break for lunch can lead to devastating losses.
8. Trade only a couple stocks
When first starting, focus on just a couple stocks or market indexes. Trading too many stocks throughout the day gets confusing fast.
9. Be content with small profits
Greed is another trait that can kill you quick. Be satisfied with small gains and work on becoming a more disciplined and consistent trader.
10. Don’t trade every day
Day traders do well in volatile market environments, so if volatility calms down again, rather than trading every day you may have to change to a longer-term buy and hold strategy. (To read more, see: Day Trading Strategies for Beginners.)
And never forget, trading is risky. It’s not like your average job where you clock-in and get paid for your hours. When you trade for a living, it’s entirely possible to actually lose money for your day’s work. That’s why it’s important to develop a risk-management strategy, test it and follow it.