People don’t know to ask this, but when is probably one of the most important questions to ask if you are going to learn to trade. Guess what? People generally decide to learn to start trading at a crossroads in their life when they need to make money to pay the bills that keep coming in!
Making a living trading, starting from zero knowledge and experience – that is just not going to happen. Trading is a tenuous business at best! Putting pressure on yourself to make money in the markets is like trying out for the baseball team before ever trying to hit a ball, with the expectation of making the cut.
So, when is the best time to learn?
The best time to start is, in my opinion, several years before the anticipated time you plan to start trading real money. If you start early you will actually know what is going on with the chart and have a decent idea of how to trade profitably when you make your first live trade. Take a slow measured approach to learning to trade. Then you can enjoy the process and learn well. Unfortunately, the majority of people I run into cannot allow themselves the luxury of a few years to encourage their skills to develop. Financial and emotional disaster are usually the result.
I only know of one student who was an “instant trader.” He was extremely gifted and took to trading as if he had done it his whole life, and he still is trading successfully. However, I know at least 50 people who were desperate to make a living and tried to start from scratch and make enough to sustain themselves. They all struggled, complained, and at least for the first many months only reduced the size of their accounts.
So, let’s get this out of the way: Statistically speaking, you are unable to earn a living trading when you start from point zero; you simply cannot learn enough in that short period of time to make yourself profitable. You can’t trade on hope and luck.
What is the answer?
Take some time to learn and practice simulated trading, and keep your job to support yourself during this time. Do not come to the markets with a tiny account and no knowledge. The successful new traders I have seen have planned their exit from their job and began the process of learning to trade well before they have come close to needing to be profitable to pay the bills.
In summary, don’t expect to get rich quick trading (or even be profitable!) unless you have spent the necessary time and practice to be competent at your craft. Beginning trading and needing to be profitable to survive will fail you every time.