Tribute to Chester Bennington

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the frontman of Linkin Park, whom many of us in my generation grew up with

I woke up to he news of Mr Chester having passed away due to suicide.

Linkin Park’s music, fronted by Chester with his distinctive style and expressions through his screams and yet fluid vocals, gave solace to many who can relate to the songs the band wrote.

I am one of those who found solace in their music during the worst times of my life. It may sound crazy, but it is known as a fact that when feeling low, listening to music that express your feelings can be therapeutic, instead of you expressing it yourself through self-hurt.

Suicide is not something to be taken lightly and the irrationality of it is well understood by those who are lucky, privileged, perhaps, to have never experienced going through depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses that create thought loops that lead to one conclusion, as one of their song titles aptly put: In the End  (it doesn’t even matter)

I won’t be adding contrived statements on how this is related to trading. I have already discussed about mental issues affecting trading in a previous post.

Dedicated to those who are pushed to the edge. There is always the choice to be made. TO jump, or to step back, and pick yourself up again. Fail, pick yourself up, and carry on away from the edge towards infinite possibilities that you never knew were there.

Dreams are meant for you to happen. Ending it all ends everything, including your chance at making dreams come true.

Trade Smart, Trade Casual, and seek help if you find you’re pushed to the edge.

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June 2017 Monthly Reflection: Lessons Learnt

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Previously I blogged about the importance of reflection in trading. And I  do that alot. I do it weekly, and monthly, and during drawdowns, perhaps every 3 months, but I try to reflect as much as possible. Simply because it is the best way to learn.

June has been a good month so far. And I’m not just talking about the numbers. I’m talking about the lessons.

As a reflective trader, I’m always looking for ways to improve the process. And to try new things. Because there is no such thing as “the only way to trade”. Why do you think prices move? It’s because people are trading thousands of ways giving them thousands of signals on different timeframes. The only one way to trade, is your way.

So coming back to June. I experimented with several things with my trading. One is adding trailing stops once the move has gone about half in my favour, and another is to place breakeven orders when the price is about halfway towards my target price.

I’ve always been experimenting with these two, and through reflection, and looking back at my records, I don’t see clear advantages, for my strategy.

So I started to highlight when these stops actually “save” me, or make me “lose money”.

The other thing I experimenting with is taking profit early, based on current price action, and oscillators, and day of the week. For example, if it is close to the end of the week and my profit hasn’t been hit, I take profit. Another example, is when the profit amount is very attractive, and I say, “why not, just take lah”, and I close the trade.

The other thing I added to June, late June, is actually increasing my risk, to test and push my stomach for drawdown.

So here are my reflections, and findings, specific for my trading style. Just to share with you the outcome of reflective learning. These are specific to my trading style, so please, don’t take these lessons as yours. I’m just sharing you my own reflections, as examples.

  • Break even and trailing stops very seldom “save” me. They make me lose money instead, because of whipsaws hitting those stops, before eventually hitting my target.
  • Taking profit, ironically, makes me lose money. As I shared before, it’s important to have a right perspective. And to get the right perspective, you need to reflect, to discover it. While taking profit early puts money in the pocket, I actually lost money because the trade eventually hit my targets. That’s the right perspective to take. I lost money by taking profit. And this is harsh, because I know, losing money slows down the compounding rate, for every week that passes.
  • Increasing my positions size from 1% to 2% is starting to eat into me and push me to the edge. So now I know I am still not ready for a 2% position sizing, and perhaps, next month, I will try something like 1.5%, or less. Because I know that to speed up compounding, I also need to try to push up the position sizing, to gain a greater percentage growth per month.

 

So you see, hopefully, why reflecting, and keeping records, and making it a habit and having the mentality that trading is a job, is very critical to trading successfully. I have met several interested persons in what I do, and I am very happy to hear them tell me “I’ve never thought of trading in this way before.”

Give reflection a try. Keep good records. And reflect on why you took those trades, how they went, and what were some lessons learnt. And keep them. And go back to them once in a while, and reflect if you have made progress. Focus on process more than the results. The results come from process, not the other way round.

Happy trading!

 

Call to Action: NOW OR NEVER

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Humans are creatures of habit. And it gives us predictability. Safety. Security. Work is routine. We all have our own routines.

And when you’re working, a 9-5 job, for the sake of income, you will be in a routine for a long, long, long time. Because you are an asset to your boss/company. And they want the rats to continue running for as long as they can.

The carrots that you are chasing surely put food on the table. But where do you put the excess carrots? Spend or save? Neither. You need to learn how to grow those carrots, instead of waiting for the bonus and promotion that is already calculated into what you are worth, and what you are given will ALWAYS be below your true worth, in order for the boss/company to be profitable. As long as you are running on the wheel, chasing the carrots.

And I’m not referring carrots as money. Staff benefits don’t add to your bank account. But they make you stay running. For the same amount of salary.

Again: You will never, be paid your true worth. It is simply unsustainable for any company to pay their assets their their true worth. Especially if you are at the bottom of the becking call.

This is a call to action to start NOW. And this shows it very clearly why:

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And much more clearly put here:

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Another picture I love to illustrate compounding is this:

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Time and tide waits for no man. And the magic of compounding reveals itself only at the final few years of a long term commitment to reinvesting, no matter how small the interest rate is. But it must exceed inflation.

Leaving $500,000 in the bank does not make you rich. It makes you poorer and poorer, especially in the current low interest rate environment, as inflation is, while still low, is picking up. How does that 0.05% interest rate in savings sound to you compared to a 2% inflation rate?

You’re losing value in your $500,000.

WAKE UP NOW.

I’ve been there, in the routine, stuck in the routine, tricked to believe I can retire comfortably with my salary and savings, but in the future, your dreams of retirement simply get delayed and delayed. the CPF drawdown age will increase. And you will find your savings have lost so much of its value, it’s utterly too late.

Unfortunately we still live in a society stuck in the routine 20 years of study + 40 years of working until 60 and finding ourselves poor without knowing it.

So the call to action is NOW.

  1. Start early. Start NOW
  2. Learn how to invest or grow your own money. Not buy into sales pitches that puts money into others’ pockets. Grow your own carrots, for yourself.
  3. Be in it for the long term, because the 8th wonder of the world as some call it, compounding, reveals itself only towards the end.

So instead of realizing you’re 60 and still not enjoying as much as you thought you would, you would be at 60 wondering how on earth did you get so many carrots you don’t know what to do with them.

You can start by learning. Find the time to learn about simple investing in stocks. That’s how I started. Even simple investing a small amount every month into a ETF for 40 years will reveal the magic when you’re 60. If you’re lucky, and able to generate 10% yearly of compounding, you are going to DOUBLE your $500,000 into a cool $1mil in 7 years.

It doesn’t matter if you have $100, $200, $1000, or $10,000. Let the power of compounding do its own magic. But you must follow the 3 rules:

  • Start early. Start NOW
  • Learn how to invest or grow your own money. Not buy into sales pitches that puts money into others’ pockets. Grow your carrots, for yourself.
  • Be in it for the long term, because the 8th wonder of the world as some call it, compounding, reveals itself only towards the end.

It’s your choice. It’s your excuses to make. Remember. You only have 1 life. And time does not turn backwards.

Smart Casual Trading is only one way.  Running your own business is another. Investing early, regularly in a long term portfolio with a decent interest rate is another. Trading equities is another. Investing in property is another.

The most important thing is to take the action, slow down your running, start saying “no” to your boss, invest time to learn, and take the action NOW.

You can take action by checking out my facebook page, where I have put up a course with a fantastic discount to get you started on starting a forex business.

Get up and get going!

 

How to trade Smart and Casual when under stress, or suffering from mental illness?

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Depression, anxiety are increasingly common.

So far I’ve been blogging in a pretty lighthearted manner. And on reflection, I haven’t really talked much about what goes behind the scenes of the Smart Casual Trading method. I’ve shared about drawdown in my Forex Help SG Group on Facebook, where I aim to help struggling traders in forex.

I realize, the way I have pitched the way I trade as being Smart, Casual, may give the impression that I may be making it sound too good to be true. So I felt, okay. It’s time for me to reveal a little bit more behind what appears to be a lighthearted approach towards trading.

I still believe very strongly, and have the results to show, that being smart and casual towards trading forex is the best approach. But I must say it is very hard to do so under certain situations. And such is life.

I have a strange type of depression for many years. I am not a happy-go-lucky kind of person. In fact, I take things too seriously most of the times.  I have swings and down cycles of mood, and it shows on my face very clearly.

Stress, depression, anxiety are increasingly common. And yet, these are what pushes some to seek solutions to their problems at work, at home: Money is one of the best ways to buy temporary relief, or even permanent relief, if the source of stress comes from struggling with income.

The sharks are out there seeking these poor suffering souls, promising “no risk” secrets to trading to make hundreds a day. And when the truth comes out, these souls sink deeper into debt and depression.

I am fortunate to have no major issues with money. I live frugally, and the only debt I have is towards my car, which I have taken up as a challenge to test the Smart Casual Trading method rather than as a reward or as an impulsive purchase; as well as for my flat, a modest 4 room BTO which is great value for money. And of course, the debt to my parents, for their unwavering support through the darkest times of my life.

But despite these fortunes, the internal emotional mechanisms are broken, and I have lived with them for many years.

Hence it is indeed strange, that a person like myself would come up with a “Smart Casual Trading” style, which emphasizes on being chill, lighthearted, and emotionally on the lighter side.

Perhaps it is precisely because I find it stressful and emotionally draining to trade forex, that I had to make it smart casual. I had to make it comfortable. I had to make it lighthearted. I had to make it possible, even for those who are deemed by professionals to be “out of their league”.

My dear friends. We are in a league of our own. We have an edge against the so-called professionals that only we ourselves, as individuals, can find, and sharpen the edge, and use it against the professionals.

So don’t trade like the pros. Trade smart, and trade casual, because that’s your edge against them.


So the very first principle in the Smart Casual Trading method is baby steps. Babypips is a pretty popular website to learn about forex and I like the approach, taking one pip and a time. Similarly, the Smart Casual Trading method emphasizes on baby steps, starting slow instead of crashing everything you MUST now into a 4 hour course (as an educator, 4 hours of teaching has only maybe 30 minutes of effective learning from students). Hence, there is less stress. The emphasis is on building confidence, slowly.

The second principle is to accept and change our perspectives about failure, that failure is necessary to achieve success. There is plenty of proof of this, but it is still frowned upon. It is up to ourselves to build up our own resilience to failure, which ultimately will launch us above those who never failed before. With this resilience, it builds up emotional strength, and eases our depression, worry, and builds our confidence.

Lastly, the Smart Casual Trading method is all about simplicity, focusing on the process, earning little victories while losing as small as possible, until you hit a breakthrough as you go on your journey. With the breakthrough comes a great surge of confidence. But it doesn’t cure depression, or anxiety. But at least, now, you are ready for the next resistance, the next down cycle, because such is trading. With every breakthrough will come the next resistance. But with your built up resilience, confidence and emotional strength, you have a very sharp edge over those who cruised their way through exams and work as professionals, and finding hard still to beat the market, as you chip at it a little at a time, in a Smart, Casual manner, all the while building up more confidence and resilience, and finally, perhaps with my help, to consistent profits.

I hope this encourages you.

Dedicated to all sufferers of mental illnesses and the accompanying stigma from folks who need to be more aware and mindful of everyday people with hidden, silent illnesses.

James

One week of meeting folks interested in Smart Casual Trading Forex and I’m the one getting coached

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Over the past week since I’ve officially..hmm. Ok, since making the plan to help and coach aspiring forex traders, I myself have been coached by my potential clients.

Firstly, my targeted demographic would be SAHMs who would like an income instead of going back to work. I had this notion that it was their choice to be SAHMs but want to be independant as well, to earn a side income or even a full income on their own.

So I met a SAHM and was schooled. She wants to work, but cannot find work.  She strongly wants to be independant, but has little resources except pockets of time. I sensed her determination, but I wanted to make sure it was not out of desperation, and to ensure what her intentions were in approaching me. What were her expectations? What pushed her to make the move to meet me?

I felt a very strong spirit in her, a very down to earth personality, weak in resources, yet strong and resilient. I could not help but feel a little bit of empathy, yet I knew she needed none.

So I went through how little baby steps will be needed, since she lacks resources, and it will not be realistic to earn a reasonable side income even within a year with what she has. Nonetheless, she was undeterred. And this, despite her zero knowledge about anything to do with forex, she was willing to learn.

I left the meeting inspired by her determination inspite of the odds against her. She has a good chance to be a Smart Casual Trader.


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The second client I met is basically everything above. And I would never have thought that working in the CBD would be something of a hell, until he explained it to me. Wasn’t it a sign of success? To climb the corporate ladder? When I exited Raffles Place MRT, I took a photo of what I saw, a symbol of success, a goal to achieve…Everyone was so nicely dressed (except me, in berms, flip flops and active wear). I felt so out of place.

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Prior to meeting him I knew he was well versed in investing and had lots of experience with it. In fact, I was wondering, what he had now was perfect. A good job, reinvesting in dividend yielding counters, and growing a portfolio. That’s what I want to do too, of course, after building up a more substantial warchest to invest to gain higher passive income I am earning from my forex trading. Well, that’s if he likes his job.

So it became very clear from the start his motivation was freedom. Freedom to dress comfortably (ok fine. I was sloppy) like me to a place like Raffles Place (I could feel the contempt from the gorgeous ladies…nah it was just me haha). Freedom on weekday afternoons to avoid crowds, and to spend time with family, loved ones. And enjoy weekday lunch specials at weird timings. (Okay this one I added myself)

There was a strong resonance between his motivation to learn forex and my own. And he had the resources. He had plenty of resources. And best of all, only just married, hence haven’t gone through fatherhood hell, and has lots of time to learn. He had the right mindset, about risk, about emotional control. He is possibly going to be able to achieve his aim very fast if I can do my job well as a coach. I just hope that he can find what he is looking for in forex, because if it’s anything else, I cannot coach him. I would have to refer him to others.

I was schooled that it was not money that drove him to look for me. It was the chance of a better, more casual, carefree, happy, content, lifestyle. Well, that’s what I want too, but because I trade for a living and only earn very little as a part time lecturer with a family to feed, I cannot just ignore the fact that I need to make sure my forex trading for a living is not just sustainable. It has to be outperforming. Hence the challenge I gave myself. (Oh God I hope I don’t fail this challenge…)

I hope he can squeeze in as much learning as possible while he can. He’s definitely got what it takes to be a Smart Casual Trader.

Until the baby arrives.

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The most recent client is a young entrepreneur who is happy with his job, no worries about money, knows friends who play forex, and was willing to meet me, offer me a drink, and tell me he wanted to learn forex so he wouldn’t be bored as well as to distract him from smoking.

I told him ok. There are much better tried and tested methods of smoking cessation.

We had a good chat, but I just couldn’t catch what was his motivation. I had a tough time, because I had my own biases and impressions of what kind of demographic would approach me: People who needed money, wanted side income, sick of job etc…

But this young chap was willing to learn, and pay, for me to teach him Forex 101, (Stay tuned for a Forex 101 course for Smart Casual Trading!) to see what it’s like. I guess as a successful self employed person, boredom could be a reason? I told him to go play Clash of Clans instead and as an IT guy, he said it was too easy to “crack” it. So that’s what they call it these days.

It was a good meeting nonetheless. There were deliverables to be done, a plan set up, and, a negotiation for a win-win situation since he can also help me with my blog and coach me in how to improve my blog traffic! In exchange, I would teach him Forex 101 for no charge. (Even after emphasizing and encouraging him to learn on his own.)

Finally I kind of figured out, well, I had to be coached in what kind of clients I would meet, and to be prepared for even more varieties. And in these 3 examples, I think it’s a great experience to meet people from all walks of life, and their motivation to learn about forex. Perhaps to them, forex trading is a mystery, and they are curious. Some of course are conned to think it’s a quick get rich scheme but for these 3 people they are fully aware of it, and thankfully, fully aware of the amount of work and time needed to invest to even get started, let alone become successful.

I learnt lots from just these 3 potential coachees. It will be my honour to coach them. The determination. The motivation. The intensity to be independent.  They all resonate with me, because that’s how I started my own lonely journey to where I am now. My heartfelt thanks to them for letting me post about our meetings.

If you like what you’ve been reading so far, please contact me, and we can learn lots from each other.

Happy trading!

James

Principal Forex Coach

Smart Casual Trading

5 Things you ABSOLUTELY need to start on your Smart Casual Trading journey

startThere are really many pages on this topic. But what I’m about to give you are exactly what I personally went through, rather than the information you get through banks or forex brokers. And without further ado:

Number 1: A reputable forex broker

When I first started I had absolutely no idea how I could trade forex. Through a bank? So I went to OCBC, since I had a stock trading account, and enquired about trading forex. It was soooooo complicated I couldn’t even understand it. You had to close positions within 3 days. That didn’t sound like the type of forex trading I heard about.

So I did the simplest thing: I Googled “Singapore’s Top Forex Broker”

It turned out to be OANDA. (Again, disclaimer, I don’t get anything out of promoting OANDA. They just happen to be the first retail forex broker I tried out)

  • A retail forex broker acts as a market maker (middle man) to let you buy and sell stuff, be it forex, commodities, ETFs, etc. Think of it as a middle man that allows you to buy and sell stuff
  • What makes a good broker? That’s a tricky question. Because as with any business, there will be bad rats, and good, honest businesses. OANDA has proven to be one of those good, if not the best, forex brokers out there. Because dishonest brokers, as with any middle-man type of service, exist.
  • Every service provider, such as forex brokers, has its pros and cons. And as a beginner, OANDA provides the best pros you can ever ask for:
    • Free trial account with no time limit.
    • Tight spreads (basically the difference between the buy and sell price which goes into the broker’s pockets)
    • Ability to trade mini/microlots. Basically, forex is usually traded as “lots” of 100,000 units. OANDA allows you to even buy 1 unit of a currency pair. This allows you to make very very small trades, which is great because you need to start small.
    • Free MT4 platform account. Now this is probably once you are more advanced into your trading. Because the basic OANDA trading platform is very basic with rather..in my view, a small range of indicators with below average customization. But that’s not to say you MUST have the MT4 platform to trade. But it is more versatile, and has more functions for the advanced trader, and most importantly, ability to add custom indicators that you can buy from real traders. (Buyer beware!)
    • I won’t go into the disadvantages here yet. That will be a little beyond the basics.

Number 2: Know how to use the platform

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For the more IT saavy, the platform is pretty strightforward to use. There are also tutorials on the website on how to use their platform once you open a free demo account with them.

If you’re not that IT saavy, you can either look up on YouTube for tutorials, meet up with me, get on my email list, and then see my own video tutorials on the very basics of how to use the OANDA platform. How to buy, how to sell, basically all the “need to know” and “all you need to know” stuff. At the very least. You must know the difference between “buy” and “sell” 😛

Number 3: Learn to read candlesticks

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Trading is basically an exchange of numbers. And there are many ways of visualizing numbers. My favourite is the candlestick. It is not difficult to learn about how to read candlesticks. But if you really have no clue or find it difficult, I am willing to offer tutorials to teach you one to one. This, definitely will need a fee, because to be a successful trader, one of the basic tenets is self-directed learning. But I understand that some need help. And if you’re wiling to pay, I am willing to teach. It’s that simple. I offer that service on my Facebook Page.

Number 4: A strategy to test on your trial account

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I have made videos on simple strategies that you can use directly on the OANDA account. But I believe strongly in self directed learning. Once you are familiar with “playing” with the platform, it’s time to  apply a strategy. This is where you need to learn how to add indicators, adjust the indicators, and start reading and understanding price patterns. The simplest trading strategy will be trend trading, which many believe to be the true Holy Grail of trading, just that, it is very difficult to maintain the discipline and emotional control to allow the strategy to work. (This is advanced discussion, we shall leave it for next time.) Here’s a simple strategy you can try out, or, you can get on my email list, and have access to my own tutorials and learn from there and most importantly, try them out yourself.

Finally, number 5: The discipline, emotional control, and commitment to start trading a small live account with tiny position sizes

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This goes back to the advantages of OANDA. There is no minimal sum to deposit to start a live account. You can start with $100. And trade super small sizes that make you lose 10 cents or win 10 cents. Now I say this with EXTREME CAUTION. DO NOT DO THIS IF YOU ARE GOING TO USE ALL YOUR $100 TO BET ON A SINGLE PUNT. YOU CAN EASILY LOSE ALL YOUR MONEY OR MORE, IF THE PRICE MOVED TOO FAST THAT YOU NEED TO TOP UP THE LOSS.

Now I’ve explained why I believe this to be one of the most important beginning steps for a beginner trader, as trading fake money is a whole lot different from trading real money, even is it’s dealing with 10 cents, or a dollar. But again, I must emphasize, do not do this just because you made a lucky $1000 profit on your fake money account and immediately want to do the same on the real money account and throw in all your savings to do the same thing.

That’s suicide. You might get lucky, yes, and become an instant millionaire. But chances are, you will try it again. And that’s when you will fall so hard and so fast you’ll be scarred forever and your life may even be ruined.

Trade with real money, small, real money, as soon as you know how to use the platform and have some kind of strategy. Keep records of your trades, train your discipline, focus on the process instead of the P/L, and you will supercharge your learning towards being a Smart, Casual Trader.

I cannot emphasize this enough. Forex trading can kill you. If you don’t know how it works. Understand it first. It’s not difficult to understand the basic concept of “do not throw all your eggs in one basket”. If you can understand that, and can follow all the above 5 steps, you are ready.

Talk to me first. Get in touch. I don’t bite. I drink coffee. And like Yakun kaya toast.

James

Trade Smart. Trade Casual.

james@smartcasualtrader.com

Facebook: @smartcasualtrading