Forex a Great Hobby, But Not a Great Job
by Steve Epperson, Recovering Full-time Forex Trader
Ever wonder what it’s like to be a full-time trader? To set your own hours? Be free from that horrible boss?
Well, sit back and let me tell you my experience. It was short-lived, about two years total. But that’s an eternity in the trading world.
Let’s suppose you get good enough
Suppose you take a few excellent, professional-level courses that set you apart from everyone else. Yes, they do exist. And I spent a lot of money learning how to be a “great trader.”
Unfortunately, becoming a good trader is what your broker wants you to be. After all, the better you are, the more money you’re willing to risk. And, of course, that translates into more commissions (spread) for them.
Let’s suppose you save up just enough cash
Nobody ever tells you exactly how much you need to have at a minimum to go full-time. But I’m going to now:
That’s it. That’s the magic number if you want to trade and make as much as the guy working full-time as a general manager at an auto parts store. Not bad money, really. And you don’t have to worry about a boss or anything.
I had 16.5K. Close enough, I thought, especially since I was so darn good. And it still gave me a stop loss of about $165 (1% risk). That’s pretty awesome for a guy living in the deep south.
Of course, that’s all I had, every last dime. I even cashed in my pennies at one of those crazy change machines you see at Walmart. I tried to reach 20K, but I just couldn’t quite get there.
So, now that you have money and expertise
Now that you’re ready to go pro, it’s time to deposit all your hard-earned money into your forex account. And if you’ve never sent more than a few thousand to your broker, it’s a harrowing experience at best. I liken it to sending your favorite child across the Atlantic— on a rubber dinghy.
You start to make money, wow!
It’s an amazing feeling when you start paying for your groceries with your winnings. And sometimes, you can even pay your water bill. So, now you know you’ve hit the big time.
But then, it starts to happen. There are a series of unfortunate events (stolen title alert) that come on unexpectedly. They don’t occur all at once but gradually over time.
Here are just a few examples.
You can never utilize your nest-egg
One of the biggest problems (for me, anyway) is to sit there looking at that account balance day after day. It just sneers at you as if laughing at the fact that you can do nothing with it.
If you need to fix the car, tough. If you have to make a repair to the house, tough. You can’t touch it. You need it to trade that crazy exotic pair you’ve had your eye on all week.
The mortgage gets paid, no matter what
Losing months are a reality in forex. There’s not one trader who has made profits indefinitely. But, if only someone would have explained that when you started.
However, even if you manage to break even, you’ve still lost. That’s because you have to take real money out of your account each month to pay your bills. Isn’t life unfair?
And then, it hits you
Burnout. It’s an ugly word that no one wants to face, especially a full-tme trader. I remember trading the London breakout, going to bed for three hours, getting up in time for the US session until the consolidation, and heading back to bed for a couple more hours until Asia.
I got to where I was trading all three sessions. That’s because I would lose on the one-hour chart and have to scratch and claw my way back on the 5-minute during the next session.
It worked, but yikes, was I tired. In fact, I got so tired that I started making dumb mistakes.
I blamed it all on forex, so I tried trading commodities. I started with the e-mini and got burned. Then, I switched to crude oil and got burned even more. I may have even tried sugar, but I’m not really sure what I was doing at that point. After that, it was all just a blur.
I started to really hate trading
I began to hate getting up in the morning, or evening, or whatever. But I wasn’t alone. I talked one day with a trading buddy online. He said the same thing.
He lamented, “I hate trading. I hate having to watch those damn charts all the time. Im sick of it. I would rather wash dishes than do this.”
He wanted to quit, but his wife wouldn’t let him. I thought that was weird, but I figured he must have been making some pretty serious bank.
The bottom line
I didn’t blow my account, but I was well on my way. So, I went out and got a real job as a taxi driver, which was a lot less stressful. Go figure.
And now, I am working in a job I enjoy. But it has nothing to do with trading. Still, forex is a fun hobby that doesn’t take up too much time, and it certainly won’t put me in an early grave.