Trade smarter not harderAs we approach the holiday season, you may ask yourself, what holidays should I take off from trading?

You don’t want to miss any good trading days, but, at the same time, you want to be smart about avoiding low-probability days.

From an early age in sports and in school, we learn that the harder we work, the better our result.

I remember a saying that I heard, repeatedly, during my tenure as a trainee stockbroker, “hard work brings good luck”.

Put another way, the more effort and the more hours that we work, the greater the probability of our success.

However, successful trading is more about trading smart, than it is about the great number of hours devoted to it.

Before I begin with my theory of when to take the day off, let me issue a caveat.

Nearly everyone I meet and, certainly, everyone I coach in my Electronic Trader Mentoring Program is fully committed to trading.

My problem is not getting people to take their trading seriously.

My problem is getting people to take time off.

The following is meant as advice for people who would rather trade than do almost anything else.

Here is how to make your own holiday schedule.

Some days, are predictably non-productive. I would make a list of days that I would not trade and plan my schedule to include doing things I like, besides trading, on those days.

The following days are simply not worth trading:

  • The day before any holiday and, in the case of Thanksgiving, the day after as well;
  • All federal holidays that are not market holidays (Veterans Day, Columbus Day);
  • The 2-3 days before and including quarterly futures roll-over in the case of stock index futures;
  • The days between Christmas and New Years;
  • The day before FOMC announcements and until 1:15PM CST on the day of any planned rate announcement; and
  • European holidays (May Day, Easter Monday).

What about December and January?

The first three weeks of December can be excellent for trading.

Every year traders tell me they were surprised at how good their trading was in the first part of December.

The markets are liquid and volatile for the first three weeks and, then, a day or two before Christmas Eve, this exciting market comes to a screeching halt and remains quiet for the last week and a half of the year.

As for January, traders come back from the holidays on January 2nd ready to start what they hope will be their best year ever. Instead of the predicted great start to the New Year, they very often get “cooked” during the first few trading days of the New Year.

My advice is to avoid the first full week of the year, altogether.

This year, go someplace warm and extend your holiday to January 11th. By doing so, you will have avoided a potentially disappointing start to the year and you will arrive on January 11th prepared to confidently face 2010 fully rested and nicely tanned – ready to begin your best trading year, ever.

There you are; days that you can take off guilt-free knowing that you will be trading smarter because of it.

If trading smarter, not harder in 2010 is important to you, I can help. Check out my Electronic Trader Mentoring Program at

One more thing, you might want to act now as the program is filling up with traders who will be trading smarter, not harder, next year.

Wishing you success in your trading, Jeff

Copyright © 2009 by Jeff Quinto
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