Alan: Welcome, passive traders, to another episode of The Option Genius Podcast. Today, I want to be talking about trading for a living without trading. Huh? What? Allen, what are you talking about? How do you do trading without trading, but to doing it for a living? That doesn’t make any sense. Alan, what you talking about? Well, allow me to explain.
Now, you see trading for a living sounds great. Whether you do it professionally and you manage other people’s money and you get a percentage of the profits or whatever, or you trade for your own. You trade your own money and you grow it, grow it, grow it over time, and then you have enough money to earn a decent income from it so that you don’t have to work. You don’t have to do anything else. You’re covering your expenses. We have people doing it both ways, and it just sounds interesting and exciting.
It’s like I trade for a living and it gives you a boost to your confidence as well, I got to tell you that. If you feel bad about yourself, but you’re like, yeah, I trade for living. Oh, man. You’re on top of the world. That’s why they call themselves, these hedge fund guys, they call themselves masters of the universe. Because he is a key man. You got your chest stuck out like, I trade for a living! It’s like if you’re at a party, people come up to you and say, hey, how are you doing? What do you do? And you’re like, I, trade for a living! I go into the markets and I bend them to my will to do my bidding, with just my wits and my brains. I make money from thin air. Ha, ha, ha, ha.
Well, I mean, you probably don’t want to do it with the evil laugh at the end. But I mean that’s the way most people look at it. Unfortunately, most people have, even traders, have a misconception about trading for a living because they normally think of day traders who by definition have to trade for a living because that’s their job. That’s what they do. If they don’t trade, they don’t eat. If they have a trade on, they have to go to the bathroom, they can’t. They have to wait until the trade is over. They can either pee their pants or if they leave, then they might lose money on the trades and they can’t do that. But most professional traders are not like that. They let their assets or their money work for them. They let the markets come to them and they only trade when they feel they have an advantage.
This advantage, it doesn’t come every day or multiple times a day. I mean, you take for example, Jesse Livermore. Now he’s not famous anymore, but back in the day in the 1920s and ’30’s, this guy was the major trader. Everybody knew his name. He made millions back then and this is in 1920 dollars. He actually wrote a book about it called Reminiscences. I don’t even know how to say this word. Reminiscences of a Stock Operator. He used a pseudonym as the author of that book, but there’s another book specifically about him called Jesse Livermore, World’s Greatest Stock Trader.
Now I would urge you, if you’re interested in stocks and trading and whatnot, even options, you should get both of these books. I love them. I read them from time to time. He’s one of my favorite classic traders and you can actually learn a lot from the way he thought by reading his books and understanding what he was going through when he was thinking about trades, when he was … when things were happening in the markets, how he would react to them. How we would see them.
He was probably one of the first people who ever used technical analysis before they even knew what that was. At that time back then, they didn’t even know or they didn’t have any understanding that markets would move in certain patterns. And so, he was in his brain without even doing the charting in his brains, he was able to discover these patterns. But, he did not trade every day. He wasn’t in the market all the time.
His keys to success, one of them at least was to wait. One of his most famous quotes is that the money is made in the waiting. He was called the boy plunger. So what he would do is he would wait. He had his whole big stock portfolio just sitting there waiting. Not in the markets every day. He didn’t care what happened every day. But then, he would notice something happening in the market. He would notice that there is something abnormal happening and then when that happened, he would go all in. Now I’m not saying we need to do this. Eventually he did end up going bankrupt. Actually he went bankrupt several times, but the last time he couldn’t recover. I don’t remember if he actually killed himself or not. I don’t remember that part, but he ended up, he never recovered the last time. But, he was able to make millions along the way If he had put it into other investments, he probably would’ve been okay, but he didn’t, so there’s also that lesson to be learned.
But then we have, what he was waiting for, the proper opportunity. He was waiting for the chance where the odds were in his favor. Now he wasn’t selling options. I don’t even think they had options back then, so he didn’t have the opportunity that we have as option sellers and passive traders to wait and to do trades that have the odds in our favor from the beginning. But his thing was, he was a stock trader and so he would wait until the market showed him or a particular stock showed him that he was going to make a big move in one direction or the other. That’s when he would go all in for it.
Now, I bring this up today because right now it’s August, 2019. When I’m recording this, it’s today’s the seventh. The markets this month have started off very rough. We’re down about 7% on the S&P 500 as I record this. Now, I don’t know what’s going to happen later on, and it doesn’t really matter if you’re listening to this much later. You could be listening to this to a year or two years from now. It doesn’t really matter. But the fact is that this is going to happen. There are going to be times in the markets where we have big declines or we have big upswings, but mostly the declines happen really, really fast. The bull goes up the stairs, the bear goes out the window. The bear’s going to go down a lot faster than the bull makes it up to the top. But in that event, what do you do? Should you be trading in such a market when in one week the market is down 7%, it’s down 3%, then it’s up 2% then it’s down 5% or 4%.
Well, if you can make money in a volatile market or you’re a pro short seller, then yes, go ahead and trade. That’s your element. That’s your thing. You go and you do it. But if you’re a at home gamer option seller, then probably not. I had this argument with one of my students in our Blank Check Coaching Program in which we sell oil options. That’s the whole program there. We sell oil options. He was upset because he was trading for a living. Doing well at it for several months, over a couple of years. But he was upset when the oil market was not cooperating.
Now I tried to explain to him, I said, look man, you don’t always need to be in the market. Every month the market is not going to cooperate. It doesn’t matter how good your strategy is, how good your trading plan is, how good of a trader you are. There are times when you will lose money and there’s nothing you could do about it. But the reason that we sell options, we know that over time we are going to continue to win. It’s a longterm game. Not just over one month or two months but over 12, 24, 36 months, we know that we’re going to come out ahead. So yes, this month, August 2019 might be a volatile month. It might be a down month and you might have lost a little bit of money. But if you’re an option seller, we have the opportunity to get back in right next month and do it again and make money and then make money and make money and we’ll go recover our losses. Over the long term we come out ahead.
But if you are trading for a living, sometimes you don’t have that ability to look at the long term because you’ve got to pay the mortgage this month. And like the student, he expected to take his expense money out of the market every single month. That’s just not realistic. Now you might be sold something otherwise, you might be told oh hey, you could be a day trader or take this course or take this course and we’ll teach you how to make money every single time. All your expenses will be paid from the market. No, that’s not realistic. I’ll tell you the truth, right now the markets are down.
I currently only have one trade on in my trading account. I mean, in my retirement accounts, I still have my covered calls and I have some naked puts on that I sold to take advantage of the situation of this downturn. But in my trading account, I have one trade and it’s a small trade. That one trade is not going to pay my bills this month, but that’s okay because I knew that this type of event can happen. I built in a safeguard and I have a cushion. I know times like this will come when I don’t want to be trading.
You look at any hedge fund, they are not fully invested all the time. Heck, they’re almost never fully invested. Meaning they don’t always have 100% of their money at risk in the market invested in something. They don’t have to make a killing every single month to survive. They play the long game. It’s about a yearly return for them. Even though we sell options and we trade and we talk about trading for a living and our expenses come every month, that doesn’t mean that we have to look at our trading on a month by month basis. I mean, of course we do because we want to see how we’re doing. But if you look at it on a yearly basis, you’ll get a much better picture and a much better idea. If you look at long term 12, 24, 36 months, that’s how your account grows.
So when people asked me, Allen, how much of my money should I put into this trade or into this strategy? Or how much money do I need to make X every month? I’m not sure what to tell them. It’s surprisingly how often I get that question. Alan, I need to make $2,000 a month. How much money do I need? I can’t tell you. I mean, we did an episode on that to help you figure out what number. I don’t know what it podcast episode it was, but if you go on the list, that’s the title of it. How Much Do I Need to Make X? You can listen to that one. I go into that more detail, but every month is different and every person is different.
I don’t know. I can’t give you a number and say, if you want to make $5,000 a month, well you need to have an account with, oh, let’s say $50 thousand dollars and you’ll make 10% every month. I can’t say that because there might be some months when you do, but they’re going to be other months when you don’t. That would be a lie. There’s too many variables. You need to have your trading money and if you trade for a living, you need to have savings, a cushion that you can tap into when you are not trading or the markets are not cooperating, which they do from time to time. The worst thing to do in this situation is to force a trade.
Because if you feel like, oh man, I have to do something. I have to do this. I have to do something. I have to take advantage of the situation. Oh, the market’s dropped 7% I don’t think it’s going to go up anymore. I think I’m going to go short the market right now. Well, when the market drops two, 3% in a day or more, it can turn around the next day and jump up the same amount or even more. If you force a trade, you stand the chance of getting your face ripped off and that’s going to double the compound.
I mean, maybe you already lost money because the market went down unexpectedly. Okay, fine. You lost money. Well, now you’re going to double down and say, all right, now I’m going to short the market and the thing’s going to rally because that’s what markets do. Then you’re gonna lose on both sides and then you’re going to be even more upset. Then you’re definitely going to be on tilt, which means you’re not going to be emotionally stable. You’re going to be looking at all different kinds of trades and you’re always like, aw man, I got to pay the bills this month. I’ve got to pay the mortgage. Oh my God, what do I do? What do I do?
That’s not the way to trade. That’s not the mental status you need to be trading. That’s not the way, the time, the mental frame that you need to be in to trade effectively, to trade properly. It doesn’t matter what strategy you’re using. So yeah, if you want to trade for a living, you need to know when not to trade and that you don’t always have to be trading. That’s the whole point of this episode. Don’t force trades. Don’t always be trading.
Like that student I mentioned, if you have to always be trading to earn an income, then that tells me that you don’t have enough funds to be trading in the first place for a living. You should go up and save more. That’s the bottom line. So while the pundits on the financial media are freaking out right now and nobody knows when the markets are going to stop falling. I am just going to sit on the sideline and wait. I’m going to wait for the VIX to calm down. I’m going to wait for markets to calm down before I dip my toes back in the water. I mean, I had my trades on and this month I’m going to lose money. I already know that.
Well not necessarily, the month is still young. But I had my trades on, and the markets turned around and I got out. I took losses and I got out of every single trade except this one. I’m like okay. My losses that I took are manageable. I didn’t wait and think, oh, things are going to turn around, things are going to turn on. No, I saw a change in the market and I said I’m getting out. We did that. We did that on all of our services Option Genius, Simon Says, every trade we’re out. Now, when the market calms down, we’re going to get back in. Then the trades that we put on, hopefully, will recover what we lost and hopefully more. Or if not this month, then in the next two, three months we’ll recover everything that we got back. That’s how you play the long game.
Because yeah, you’ll lose a little bit of money in a month or two, but you add up all the wins from all the good months and that recovers and it gives you a good yearly yield. So when you look at the longterm picture, 12, 24, 36 you come out ahead. That’s what I mean by you come out ahead that way.
So again, trading for a living without trading means that if you are having to be forced to trade, if you have to be in the market all the time, there’s a very good chance that you’re going to lose all your money and that you’re not going to be able to trade. Just like Jesse Livermore, he sat around waiting for the perfect opportunity for him. For us, we have good opportunities every month, but that doesn’t mean we need to be trading. Doesn’t mean we need to be in the markets. If we don’t understand what’s going on in the market. If the market is too volatile for our taste. If our strategy calls for a slow market and we don’t have that, we wait. We only trade when the odds are in our favor. That’s what it comes down to.
Thank you so much for joining me on another episode. See you next time.