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Your Stock Trading Rules

Nov 30, 2007
One of the hardest things about stock trading is self-discipline. You have a set of rules you use for trading, whether you realize it or not. The hard part is sticking to those rules. For example, you may tell yourself that you will never buy a penny stock. Then one day you get a spam email that is boasting about "the next big thing" in the stock market and you go ahead and buy that penny stock. One day later, you have lost 50% of your investment and you are mad at yourself for violating your own rules!

A good solution to the self-discipline problem is to write out your rules on a piece of paper. Better yet, make many copies of this paper with checkboxes next to each rule. Before you place a trade, make sure the stock fits within each of your rules and put a check next to them. That will help you stay on track! It may sound silly, but it is actually quite helpful. After all, we are human, and humans like to break rules!

In fact, one of your rules might even say, "There are no rules." There will be times when it's okay to break one or two of your rules because of a special scenario. You may find a stock that is a "sure thing" and you just have to ignore those couple rules that it violates. Of course if you get burned on the trade you will know why! Remember, there are no sure things in the stock market! There are no stocks that can guarantee a profit or a dividend. They can always drop in price or go bankrupt. So stick to those rules as much as you can!

Here are my rules:

1. Never put more than 1/3 of your money into one stock.
2. If no opportunities are found, stay out!
3. Avoid trading on Mondays. They have big drops sometimes.
4. Look at charts of the Dow to see how the market is doing.
5. Keep track of economic news schedules, such as Fed meetings.
6. After a huge loss, take a week off.
7. Research your holdings once a week.
8. Never short-sell more than 50% of your account.

Here are some stock-picking rules used by other people:

1. Predictable growth in free cash flow
2. Rich in assets, with little or no debt
3. Low multiple of price to free cash flow
4. Generous returns on equity, coupled with a reasonable cash flow multiple
5. Insider ownership and shareholder-friendly management
6. Insider buying, especially by executive officers
7. Leadership of an important niche

Feel free to use these rules or modify them to suit your trading style. There should also be different rules for day trading, short-term trading, long-term trading, and so on. Also, getting an accountability partner will help you stay on track. Show them your trades, when you bought them, why you bought them, and when you plan to sell.

There's a popular saying on Wall Street that goes, "Plan Your Trade and Trade Your Plan." That simply means, decide when you're going to buy and under what conditions you will sell, and then stick to your plans!

Best of luck to you in your trading endeavors!
About the Author
Nicholas Swezey is the creator of the website: http://www.HowTheMarketWorks.com
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