Trading While Making a Living: What Does It Mean to Trade While Making a Living?

By smilingsynic

Trading While Making a LivingI can proudly say that I have two full time jobs: one is a salaried desk job as a university professor and administrator, and the other is that of a trader. I am one of those who can have his cake and eat it too.

This is the first part of a series in which I will address FAQ (frequently-asked questions). The first several I will ask myself. The rest I will take from curious readers.

What does it mean to trade while making a living? It sounds too good to be true.

If it sounds too good to be true, you might need to check your hearing. Let me put it this way: It is true, but it is not entirely good.

What does it mean to trade while making a living? It means having two sometimes tough jobs that I could lose at any time, if I am careless. Potentially much more pay, but with much more pressure.

Trading for a living has one so-called advantage: you are your own boss. And, yes, that is true. But I don’t necessarily see that as a positive. The only person who supervises me daily is myself, and I am the most brutal taskmaster I know. If I were a boss who treated his employees the way I treat myself, I would be highly unpopular. My employees might even rise up against me and slay me, as if I were a medieval lord and they were serfs on my manor.

What kind of boss am I?

During much of the day, I do my desk job with a timer that goes off every 4 minutes and 57 seconds. Hour after hour, I trade 5 minute bars, and the alarm goes off thirty seconds before the bar paints. That gives me enough time to see if I need to place a trade. The rest of the time I work on my other job.

The alarm is annoying, but I see no other way. Like most annoying things in life, I have gotten used to it. It is like a boss that shouts at you every five minutes, with a scowl. You know he’s still there and is not going away, but what are you going to do? Shout back?!

When the market is actively moving, I will simply “turn off” my desk job and alarm and concentrate 100% on trading (unless the phone rings). I will lock my door and focus like a laser on the task at hand. I will try to avoid knocks at the door as best as I can (that is not always possible).

If the work is not done for the day, I make myself go back to my desk job, after I put my children to bed. I stay late, go right to bed, and get up and go right back to work after having enough sleep. I do not skimp on sleep, since I need it to have the energy and mental focus required.

Traders who skimp on sleep are like athletes who want to gain strength on a low-calorie diet. They are planning to fail.

Does this still sound like fun? If so, read on.

To keep doing what I have done for over a decade I have worked at my desk job on weekends. During Thanksgiving break. During Christmas Eve. On Christmas. I had a key to the building made a while back. Security knows me. I call campus police when I arrive, just so they know why the light is on in my office.

One time I stayed so late on a Saturday that the city police stopped me on my way home because my car “looked suspicious.” They did not believe that I was an administrator wearing a muscle shirt and shorts who was driving back home around midnight. The police in the two cars who pulled me over seemed like nice guys, but considering that they have to assume that everyone they meet is trying to lie to them, they had reason to be suspicious with my story.

Then again, how many go to school until age 28 to earn a Ph.D. and then work in a way that requires going in to the office on a Saturday night?

Yes, there is something wrong with me. I am OK with that. The police were as well. Although they gave me a look, they let me go without asking to search my car. I was free to go home to tell a pretty interesting story about my encounter with the criminal justice system.

Summing It Up

Again, what does it mean to trade while making a living? I earn several times more at trading than I do at my desk job, and if I add up my salary and my trading profits, I make more than anyone here. But obviously I cannot let anyone know. With my old car built during the previous century out in my parking space, they have no idea.

The price I pay is steep. But it is a price I am willing to pay, for now.

Some might be wondering why I keep the other job. That answer I will save for next time.


  • Lawrence August 13, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    Thank you smilingsynic for writing this article series!

    For those readers who trade Emini or stocks, check out his excellent presentation of his five minute flip trading method:

  • Han777 August 17, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    That first article bodes well of a good humored series likely laced with serious trading wisdom given your surpassing reputation in the forum. Thanks for sharing more of yourself and experience.

  • Kel108 August 17, 2015 at 11:15 pm

    I trade while making a living too (I am an engineer) but I have everything automated in Neoticker – so I don’t need to watch the markets that carefully but I do have to watch things – for instance sometimes Neoticker does not auto start correctly in the morning (I reboot my pc every morning at 6 am and then use windows scheduler to startup Neoticker a short while later – other times for some weird reason the trade is not executed as I would expect (maybe an internet connection glitch or something). So I still have to check things. The systems I trade don’t trade that often and I know the type of days I need to keep an eye on things to make sure there are no hang ups. At this point it is a pretty smooth process.

  • smilingsynic August 20, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    Interesting, Kel.

    I trade discretionary. I am sure many more of those who do trade while making a living go the automated trading route, like you have.

    Your story sounds interesting. I am sure many of us would like to hear it. After all, there are many ways to go about trading for a living while making another living.

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