How to Trade

Right now, there are millions of people sitting at their computers, trading financial products -- stocks, equities, futures, options, forex, and others -- and earning returns. Trillions of dollars are being traded every day and a substantial amount of leverage exists in the markets. If you use it cautiously and with proper risk management, you can do quite well.

So, how do you find your way into this lucrative lifestyle -- make great money, set your own hours and live the life of your dreams?

The answer is simple: learn to trade, then start doing it.

It’s not easy, though. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Successful trading is complex, filled with risk and oftentimes dependent on timing. But, lots of people do make consistent profits by following some of these steps.

First, familiarize yourself with the markets. Get to know the differences between financial products and how each works. Learn the language. Become comfortable with the landscape.

“News sites such as CNBC and MarketWatch serve as a great resource for beginners,” writes Blain Reikensmeyer, head of research at StockBrokers.com. “For in depth coverage, look no further than the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg. By casually checking in on the stock market each day and reading headline stories, you will expose yourself to economic trends, third-party analysis, and general investing lingo.” He also suggests checking stock quotes on Yahoo Finance to view a stock chart, viewing news headlines, and reviewing fundamental data.

Now you have a bit of an overview, it’s time to learn how to do the actual trading. There are countless books, websites and other resources that explain trading using varying degrees of complexity. But like learning a new sport or software, it helps to get the fundamentals from a person or company with strong trading experience.

Toronto’s Matt Choi CMT has been a professional trader for more than 17 years. He’s also the author of The Winning Way and founder and chief strategist of Certus Trading, a company he founded that teaches people all over the world how to trade stocks, ETFs, currencies, and other financial products. Importantly, he emphasizes the value of having a well-tested process when it comes to successful trading.

“I’m a very process-oriented trader,” he explains “and my courses and programs are very methodical. I give my students step-by-step details that they can easily follow. Then, as they become more advanced traders, I show them all the nuances to further enhance their consistency.”


Ready to begin?

Now you need to select and sign up with an online broker. Look around and learn what’s available. Try their demo accounts to see how you do. “Get used to the various order types available,” writes Chartered Market Technician Cory Mitchell.

“Begin formulating strategies and testing them on historical price charts. Place fake money trades based on those strategies and analyze the findings with statistics to see if the strategy is likely to produce a profit.” He adds that, “If you can't make a profit trading fake money there is little purpose in wasting real money. On the other hand, producing fake money returns doesn't necessarily mean real money profits will come just as easily.”

When finally selecting your online brokerage, Nerdwallet’s Arielle O’Shea, a financial expert, suggests that beginning traders prioritize customer support, educational resources, and account and trade minimums over the lowest commissions. “As a beginner, you probably won’t be trading frequently,” she writes. “If you do start trading more often, you can always move to a lower-cost broker.”

Once you’re online and trading real products, you’ll start to feel more easy the more you do it. While there’s lots of hard work with no guarantees, hopefully you’ll start moving toward a flexible, financially independent lifestyle.