My Journey to Becoming a Day Trader
My path to a career becoming a Day Trader was far from direct. When I was going through school I learned about the stock market, but I never thought I’d be a Wall Street trader. Growing up a simple life in Vermont made it hard for me to picture myself living in New York City and working in finance. It’s just not something I thought was for me. I have always been very motivated and through college I pursued studies in Architecture & environmentally sustainable design. Ironically, I ended up finding myself living in NYC, but instead of working on Wall Street, I was working at a design firm in Chelsea.
From Vermont To NYC & Back To Vermont
When I moved back to Vermont I was fortunate enough to be able to work part-time for the design firm (they were hoping I would move back to the city after the summer in Vermont). That gave me time to ponder which direction I would take at this fork in the road. I had the option of going to graduate school to pursue a Master Degree in Architecture. In this scenario I realized that working as an architect in Vermont with a Masters Degree would pay about $22/hr (that’s right, $45,760/year) with potential to make $30/hr with 5-10 years experience ($62,400/year).
On the other hand, that same degree in Manhattan, it would pay twice as much. I felt pursuing the degree wouldn’t make sense unless I was willing to move back to the city. After living in Vermont for a few months the idea of going back to a 9-5 routine seemed daunting. While I was home I also had time to sit down and review my managed mutual fund investments. I was frustrated because since I put that money away it had done nothing but lose value, and incur annual management fees. That’s when I had the idea of taking charge of my money and it’s when I started researching day trading.
Becoming a Day Trader
My journey to becoming a Day Trader I started with me funding an account with E*Trade and taking positions in stocks I liked ($AAPL, $CAT, $X). I had no idea what I was doing, but I quickly realized the incredible potential the market offered for successful trader. I just needed to develop a strategy for trading the markets. I was hooked almost immediately. I knew this career could allow me to make far more than I was making in NYC, while living in Vermont. This felt like the best path that lay before me.
My goal for becoming a day trader was to make $200/day using a $25,000 trading account. Little did I know it would take 18 months of trial and error before I found a strategy that would generate consistent returns. During that time I endured over $30,000 in trading losses and had to replenish my $25k trading account on a near monthly basis. One of the best things I did as a beginner trader was to track all of my trades in an excel doc. I would categorize my trades based on time of day, strategy, price range, etc. The biggest realization I made is that almost every single day there is a stock that makes a 20-30% move.
I was determined to find the common denominator among these stocks, and find those setups before the move was over. This launched my research into Momentum Trading Strategies (see my Momentum Trading Strategy page for more details). Today I have refined this strategy to the point that in just 3 months this summer I was able to generate over $90k in trading profits. That’s more than I’d have made in 2 years with a Masters Degree working in Vermont. In my best month this year I made over $34k. So do I regret becoming a day trader? Of course not! The biggest lesson I learned is that the market doesn’t give up profits easily. Most beginner traders will fail, and I consider my success to be a combination of drive, discipline, dedication, and luck.
Warrior Trading: A Hub Where Traders Can Exchange Ideas
In 2012 I decided to open Warrior Trading (formally Day Trading Warrior) to create a hub where traders could come to exchange ideas (see our Day Trader Chat Room). I wanted to create a community of beginner and seasoned traders. I understood that other chat rooms existed, but I felt I could create one that was better. I wanted this community to focus not just on single sentence trade alerts, but instead, on education.
As a beginner trader I knew that I had needed the details behind a trade. I needed to understand the context and the strategy in order to learn. I’ve always said I want to be the mentor for our students that I needed when I was a beginner trader. That’s why I’ve made education the backbone of Warrior Trading. The most important thing to me was that our chatroom offered members live screen share, live audio/video, and detailed market commentary.
Every trade taken in the room comes with a full explanation of the entry, the catalyst, the strategy, and the exit. This allows traders to truly watch over my shoulder as I’m trading the markets. Since we opened our doors, we haven’t had a single month where we didn’t see an increase in membership. Today our chat room has grown to over 2000 active members, and when the market closes, we teach Day Trader Courses to students who want to continue the learning.
Where Does It Go From Here?
When I first started down this path to becoming a day trader, I had no idea that years later I would be running the largest day trader chat room on Wall Street and closing in on $200k in trading profits in 1 year. To the degree that I have achieved success, I attribute it to my dedication, my discipline, and my drive. I had always wanted success, I just didn’t know which avenue to take to get there. I am now the biggest advocate that if you simply do what you love, success will follow. When you love what you’re doing going to “work” is something you look forward to.
Day trading has become my passion, and even though I left NYC because I didn’t think I could sustain working 10hr days, I know have over 6 years under my belt of working 12-14hr/days. Becoming a day trader is the best thing I’ve ever done with my life. I’ve been able to harness my energy into a career that is extremely rewarding & stimulating. As a day trader no two days are ever the same. I’m constantly experiencing the thrills of $10k winning days, then the frustrations of $10k losing days. I hope that I’m fortunate enough to be an active trader for many years to come, and I hope that I can continue to be the educator that I needed when I was a beginner trader.