More Trading Errors

I printed these out a long time ago I can't recall exactly where I got it or who wrote these, but I feel it would be appropriate to add these to prior lists we have discussed on the topic.

Error: Confusing trading with investing. Many traders justify taking trades because they think they have to keep their money working. While this may be true of money with which you invest, it is not at all true concerning money with which you speculate. Unless you own the underlying commodity, for instance, selling short is speculation, and speculation is not investment. Although it is possible, you generally do not invest in futures. A trader does not have to be concerned with making his money work for him. A trader’s concern is making a wise and timely speculation, keeping his losses small by being quick to get out, and maximizing profits by not staying in too long, i.e., to a point where he is giving back more than a small percent of what he has already gained.

Error: Copying other people’s trading strategies. A floor trader I know tells about the time he tried to copy the actions of one of the bigger, more experienced floor traders. While the floor trader won, my friend lost. Trading copycats rarely come out ahead. You may have a different set of goals than the person you are copying. You may not be able to mentally or emotionally tolerate the losses his strategy will encounter. You may not have the depth of trading capital the person you are copying has. This is why following a futures trading (not investing) advisory while at the same time not using your own good judgment seldom works in the long run. Some of the best traders have had advisories, but their subscribers usually fail. Trading futures is so personalized that it is almost impossible for two people to trade the same way.

Error: Ignoring the downside of a trade. Most traders, when entering a trade, look only at the money they think they will make by taking the trade. They rarely consider that the trade may go against them and that they could lose. The reality is that whenever someone buys a futures contract, someone else is selling that same futures contract. The buyer is convinced that the market will go up. The seller is convinced that the market has finished going up. If you look at your trades that way, you will become a more conservative and realistic trader.

Error: Expecting each trade to be the one that will make you rich. When we tell people that trading is speculative, they argue that they must trade because the next trade they take may be the one that will make them a ton of money. What people forget is that to be a winner, you can't wait for the big trade that comes along every now and then to make you rich. Even when it does come along, there is no guarantee that you will be in that particular trade. You will earn more and be able to keep more if you trade with objectives and are satisfied with regular small to medium size wins. A trader makes his money by getting his share of the day-to-day price action of the markets. That doesn't mean you have to trade every day. It means that when you do trade, be quick to get out if the trade doesn’t go your way within a period of time that you set beforehand. If the trade does go your way, protect it with a stop and hang on for the ride.

Error: Having profit expectations that are too high. The greatest disappointments come when expectations are unrealistically high. Many traders get into trouble by anticipating greater than reasonable profits from their trading. They will often get into a trade and, when it goes their way and they are winning, they will mentally start spending their winnings, and may even borrow against their anticipated winnings to take on additional risk. Reality is that you seldom make all of the money available in a trade. I cannot count the times that I had for the taking hundreds or thousands of dollars in unrealized paper profits only to see most of those profits melt away before I was able to or had the good sense to get out. One trader I know had $700 per contract profits in a short eurodollar trade. The next day his position literally imploded on news of a 50 basis point cut in interest rates. He was lucky to get out with $350 per contract. The money from trading often doesn’t come in as fast or as plentifully as you have expected or been led to believe, but the overhead costs of trading arrive right on schedule. False profit expectations have caused aspiring traders to leave their job before they were really successful. The same false hope causes them to lose the money of friends and family. False hope causes them to borrow against their home and other fixed assets. Too high expectations are dangerous to the well-being of every trader and those around him.
Error: Not reviewing your financial goals. Before you make a position trading decision, or before you begin a day of day trading, review your motives and your goals.

• Why are you trading today?
• Why are you taking this trade?
• How will it move your closer to your goals and objectives?

Error: Taking a trade because it seems like the right thing to do now. Some of the saddest calls we get come from traders who do not know how to manage a trade. By the time they call, they are deep in trouble. They have entered a trade because, in their opinion or someone else’s opinion, it was the right thing to do. They thought that following the dictates of opinion was shrewd. They haven’t planned the trade, and worse, they haven’t planned their actions in the event the trade went against them. Just because a market is hot and making a major move is no reason for you to enter a trade. Sometimes, when you don’t fully understand what is happening, the wisest choice is to do nothing at all. There will always be another trading opportunity. You do NOT have to trade.

Error: Taking too much risk. With all the warnings about risk contained in the forms with which you open your account, and with all the required warnings in books, magazines, and many other forms of literature you receive as a trader, why is it so hard to believe that trading carries with it a tremendous amount of risk? It’s as though you know on an intellectual basis that trading futures is risky, but you don’t really take it to heart and live it until you find yourself caught up in the sheer terror of a major losing trade. Greed drives traders to accept too much risk. They get into too many trades. They put their stop too far away. They trade with too little capital. We’re not advising you to avoid trading futures. What we’re saying is that you should embark on a sound, disciplined trading plan based on knowledge of the futures markets in which you trade, coupled with good common sense.

Not great, but O.K. volume. Looks like PBY may be breaking out of an ascending triangle.


As someone who is new to trading and still learning the ropes, I am impressed with the knowledge you are able to share with us. I enjoy reading your posts. Keep up the great work.

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About me

  • I'm Option Addict
  • From Saratoga Springs, Utah, United States
  • I am a professional trader and an instructor for Investools. I've had relations with the markets for 9 years. Born in Concord, CA, but reside in Saratoga Springs, Utah. Father of THREE, Husband of one.
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