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Day Trading for Beginners: A Step-by-step Guide

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Day trading is an approach to the marketplace in which a trader buys and sells a futures contract within the same session. Traders manage open positions within the constraints of an intraday methodology, with no open positions held at the daily closing bell. Day trading strategies commonly target futures, forex, and stocks.

The discipline of day trading is controversial. Industry traditionalists argue that short-term trading resembles gambling more than it does investing. Proponents argue that although day trading for beginners may be a challenge, it’s feasible and potentially very lucrative. Either way, there’s no shortage of traders who engage the markets exclusively via day trading strategies.

However, before embarking on the journey from novice to seasoned market veteran, beginners should take few basic steps at the outset.

Any trades are educational examples only. They do not include commissions and fees.

Step One: Self-Assessment

Before starting any new endeavor, it’s always a good idea to take a long look in the mirror and ask the tough questions. Because the modern marketplace is a fast-moving, hypercompetitive atmosphere, a period of introspection before entering can be extremely useful in overcoming challenges as they arise.

Conducting a rugged self-assessment is an important initial step in developing into a competent day trader. A self-assessment should include the following elements:

  • Personality type: A simple personality test can help shed some light on your psychological makeup. Personal characteristics — such as being a risk taker or being prone to impulsive behavior — can impact performance dramatically.
  • Goals: Understanding what your goals and objectives are before active trading begins is critical to finding a sustainable trading niche in the markets.
  • Attributes: Having a grasp on key personal strengths and weaknesses is a big part of identifying areas that need improvement. If you’re not technologically savvy or are terrible with numbers, then shoring up these areas can help improve your market experience.

Day trading is not for everyone. Understanding your potential compatibility with the trading environment as a whole is a great way to save time and money before placing your first trade.

Step Two: Acquire the Necessary Components

Over the past several decades, the ranks of active traders have grown dramatically. Advances in online technologies have lowered many of the traditional barriers to entry, bringing the markets to the masses.

The contemporary marketplace is an almost exclusively digital venue. In order to interact within it competently, there are three necessary components:

  • Hardware: Whether it’s a desktop or mobile device, basic computing power is a necessity.
  • Market connectivity: Securing a functional internet connection is a prerequisite for accessing brokerage and exchange servers.
  • Software trading platform: The platform is the trader’s portal to the marketplace. Analyzing streaming data and placing market orders in real-time is best facilitated via a robust software suite.

It’s never been easier to become involved in the financial markets. Regardless of your time zone, capital resources, or level of experience, pursuing your market-related goals is now possible.

Step Three: Building a Plan

No primer on day trading for beginners is complete without addressing the need for a comprehensive plan. The most important part of day trading is decision-making. Crafting sound decisions related to when, what, and how to trade efficiently are critical to the eventual success of the operation as a whole.

A complete trading plan must include provisions for the following:

  • Market entry/exit: Identifying opportunity on-the-fly is a critical part of any trading strategy. A rules-based approach can streamline the process, ensuring optimal market entry and exit.
  • Position management: A structured plan can clearly define the location of stop losses and profit targets on a per-trade basis. Advanced systems may include scaling, break-even, and trailing stop functionality.
  • Risk management: Getting the most out of your risk capital is an integral part of day trading. Knowing your exposure within the context of a viable risk vs. reward scenario is the key to not becoming overextended.

A comprehensive strategy ensures that trade-related actions are carried out in a consistent and disciplined manner. Without a strategy, results are not quantifiable and profit or loss often resembles wild luck.

Day Trading For Beginners: Getting Started

Day trading can be a financially rewarding, yet challenging, endeavor. Nonetheless, given the proper due diligence, engaging the markets successfully is possible.

Download the eBook: Futures and Options Strategy Guide