14. The Top 10 Trading Mistakes

I want to talk about the top ten common mistakes that most Forex traders make and more importantly how you can overcome them. So let’s start right at the very beginning.

1. In my opinion probably the most important mistake that most new Forex traders make and even some experienced traders is that they don’t really understand how to approach the Forex market as a business, in terms of how to treat it and take your trades with a very low risk approach. You see its all well and good reading all these glamorous websites that tell you how you’re going to make hundreds of percent return per month or per year, that’s fine. It just looks really attractive, doesn’t it? Because most people like the sound of doubling your account every month. But the reality is that’s probably not going to happen and unfortunately most people get sucked into the belief that is going to happen. So if you were to do that yes, you could probably do that but you’re just risking an obscene amount of money on your trades and it’s not really what you call a true business approach. So I like to look at things from the other end of the scale and really why I’ve being trading for more than 10 years and why I am still trading is probably because I have treated my trading as a business with a very low risk conservative approach and it’s something I think that you probably need to do if you’re not already doing that.

So look at trading with half of one percent (0.5%) or maybe one percent risk maximum per trade. I mostly like half of one percent. It’s what suits me and it’s what I suggest people look at. I often take trades at a quarter of one percent (0.25%) risk. Whatever level you’re comfortable with whether it’s a quarter or half of one percent - whatever it is just find a level that suits you. Look at the number of trades that you have open; look at the potential down side, the drawdown if your trades all went wrong that you have open. If you have five trades open in your account and you say, “Look I’m happy the risk three percent per trade.” Well would you really be happy of all five trades went wrong and you’d now lost fifteen percent out of your account, I probably doubt you would be happy. 
So the reason I like to have a low risk approach is because if I have five trades open at half of one percent and all five went wrong, first of all if all five gone wrong is highly unlikely but if that were to happen I’ve now lost 2.5% of my trading account. Well, I’m still not happy as 2.5% is a big amount but it does mean that at least I can take the next trade and I can continue trading tomorrow. 

So have that really low risk trading approach, it’s something that is very important because it’s a well and good having plans and strategies and looking at different timeframes but unless you have some capital left in your account the rest doesn’t really matter. So that’s the number one thing.

2. The second thing also I think that most people don’t fully understand is in my opinion you need to forget about making pips. Now I’ve covered this topic in this book already but it’s something that a lot of people really do not understand and it’s why I’ve got on my website a free lot size calculator which you can download if you don’t already have it. It’s a fantastic tool and what it does is it helps you understand risk to reward out of your trades and it helps you do understand if you risk X percent then you likely to make Y percent if your trade works. So having a low risk approach to your trading, high reward to risk trades, looking at maybe two or three times your risk amount as your profit target. For example, if I’m risking half of one percent (0.5%) I’m looking at making a profit of 1% or 1.5% or greater on my trade. That means that you can actually be wrong more times with your trades than you are right but you still make money.

When you take away the importance of making pips it means that you can trade all timeframe charts, all currency pairs and it really doesn’t matter so much which one is profitable and which one loses because you’re looking at making a percentage return. As I’ve already mentioned the problem is with a lot of people is they look at the daily chart and think “I can’t trade it because I need a 135 pips stop loss” for instance. “Well there’s just no way I can do that” so they don’t trade it and they think the only way to trade is to trade the five minute charts and scalp 5-10 pips here and there with small stop losses. The downside to that is unless you really know what you’re doing; you’re more likely to get stopped out of those short timeframe charts because the movement required to take you out at your stop loss price is not very much. 

The example I’m trying to make is that if you had a 135 pip stop loss on the daily chart or if you had a 10 pip stop loss on a five minute chart, using the way that I trade, both of those trades have an equal risk. The way that is worked out is that both of those trades have different position sizes, different lot sizes. If either trade lost they would still lose the same amount of money from my account or the same percentage of my account. Likewise if they both had a 3 to 1 reward to risk ratio, it doesn’t matter which one makes or which one loses as they both make the same amount. However, if you were looking at making pips, most traders would say, “I can’t afford to lose 135 pips but I can afford to lose 10 pips.” That is just a very incorrect way of looking at your trading. So if you understand the whole money management approach, you understand the percentage gain as suppose to the percentage risk and you take away the importance of making pips, those two things alone regardless of your strategy will make a huge difference to your trading.

3. The third thing to move on to then once we do understand money management and low risk approach is to look at a strategy and a plan. You see most people don’t have a plan or a strategy and again it’s a big danger of trading the Forex market. We are bombarded on a daily basis with different websites, with different emails with different offers and robots, etc. 

4. The next mistake that so many traders make is that they don’t really know what timeframe charts suit them and as I’ve mentioned I like daily charts, four hourly charts and hourly charts. It’s what’s suits me and with my working commitments and family and lifestyle I find that those really work well. However I’ve got clients who trade one minute, five minute and fifteen minute charts fantastically well and make an incredible amount of money and that’s fine because it’s what suits them. So it’s really important that you as a trader understand what type of trader you are and what type of trading personality you have. What gives you a buzz out of trading? Are you the sort of person that likes to sit there for 2 or 3 hours in a trading session looking at scalping the five minute charts? 

If you are, fantastic because you know that; you know that you can handle that, you know that you can enjoy that, you know that you can make money from that. At the other end of the scale you might be someone who likes to trade just once a week and so the weekly charts might suit you; neither is better or worse than the other. Neither it’s guaranteed to make more money or not than the other. It’s what suits you. Having consistent trades with low risk, with high returns per trade and good consistent trades - in other words spotting trades on your charts having the ability to take the trades right now as they happen and to see the trade through to a conclusion and to manage it if necessary is the most important aspect.

You need to discover the timeframe charts that suit you and the time of day that suits you to trade. I can’t trade the US session. Well I can but it starts around 2 o’clock in the morning in my time zone. I really don’t want to trade the US session because I’ve got better things to do at that time of the morning. If you’re working and you can’t trade in the European session then that’s fine you aren’t going to trade then. You might just trade the daily charts or the four hourly charts or look at trading when you can. If you’ve got lots of other commitments I strongly suggest you don’t look at scalping the market and I’d suggest that you look at the longer timeframe charts.

I’ve got a client who owns a restaurant. He works ridiculous hours but he trades the weekly charts. He takes between 100 and 150 trades per year and makes a lot of money from his Forex trading. On the other hand I’ve got clients who take 10 or 20 trades a day scalping the market. So it’s finding what suits you the best, the time of the day and the time of week that suits you. I generally find that on a Monday, the first day of the week is generally a quiet day. Most of my really good trading comes on a Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. By then any weekend news or opening gaps will be factored into the market, so Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are definitely the days that I preferred to trade and I find the most profitable days. So again it’s researching what works for you. 

5. The fifth point is to treat a demo account as if it were a live account. Now I know that it’s not really a live account, I know you don’t have quite the emotion involved with a demo account like you would real money. It’s never going to be exactly the same but the problem is that so many people (and I did this myself when I started) I opened up an account of $100,000 or $250,000 as a demo account knowing full well that for my first live account wasn’t going to be very much at all. A lot of people run in to that problem of making a huge amount of money and not really knowing how they’ve made that money on a demo account and when they go live it all falls apart. 

So I strongly suggest that if you are looking at a new strategy or at a new way of trading or a new course then you do start with a demo account and prove yourself that you can consistently make gains on that demo account. But the important point I’m making here is if you think that your live account with contain $10,000 or if you have a live account it has let’s say $10,000 in it, then make sure that you open and trade your demo account with $10,000. If your first live account is likely to be $2,000 then open a demo account on $2,000. You see you then don’t get that let down when you go live and nothing really changes. So if after 2 or 3 months of consistent gains on a demo account, treating it like it were real one, definitely making sure that you’re managing your trades as if it were real and proving to yourself that you can make consistent gains over 2 or 3 months on that demo, then when you make that transition to a live account there really shouldn’t be too many changes. 

Yes there will be a slight emotional change in terms of now it’s really money but really there shouldn’t be too many changes at all and by having that approach making that transition to demo to live will be far easier for you and also that would then ensure the profitability of your live account is far greater than opening up a $100,000 demo, not really knowing what you’re doing treating it like Monopoly money - a bit of a game which doesn’t really matter, having the attitude of “I’m not bothered if I make or lose”; don’t trade like that because when you go to live you won’t be able to trade very consistently.

6. Another problem that I encounter all the time from people who are not my clients who are looking at trading is that they expect to make a fortune from day one. Now some people come to me who have never traded any market at all and they just think they’re going to make 100% a month. I have other people who have traded for a little while and they suddenly think even if they put my course that they suddenly can make a fortune in the first month. I just have to be really blunt and say, “Look, don’t think like that it won’t happen, it won’t work like that and you shouldn’t approach your trading like that”. It’s a big danger and as I’ve said so many times it comes back to the clever marketing that the people selling robots, courses and systems spout. Many traders read this, join the forums and think they’re going to make an absolute fortune and that Forex is this magic pill that’s suddenly going to solve all their lives’ financial problems.

It’s true, Forex can be just the most amazing business but once you’ve taken the time to understand it and learn it and after you’ve been through the hard knocks. Jumping into Forex from day one thinking that you’re going to make yourself a fortune and get yourself out of financial problem or pay off mortgages whatever it might be, it’s not going to happen. Then you put so much pressure on yourself trying to make money from day one rather than taking the time to study the charts and to become consistent with small amounts and then overtime build up your account into larger amounts. Someone once said to me “Look I’ve got a hundred thousand Dollars that I’m willing to invest in Forex.” I replied with, “That’s fantastic I’m really pleased for you as you’ve got a decent account there but please start with about $5,000-10,000. Learn to make consistent gains on that and then slowly add to it. Don’t suddenly go from $10,000 to $50,000 as that’s too big a jump and you will then find that taking stop losses of $250-500 when you were used to stop losses of $50 too big an emotional jump. So slowly build that up over time, make your gains, add to your account by making money, add to your account by adding some more capital and slowly build that up if you have that amount of capital to invest”. 

If you have one thousand dollars to invest don’t expect to live off the returns, you can’t do that and again some people come to me saying “Look I’ve got one thousand Dollars Andrew, how much can I make per month?” If I say, well if you do really well you might make one hundred dollars or a couple of hundred dollars if you’re doing extremely well but they’re expecting me to say $10,000 per month. That won’t happen and as you’ve only got one thousand Dollars to start. So be real with the likely returns.

7. Another problem that I find that is very similar to the last problem is that so many people jump between strategies and ideas all the time simply because they can’t make their strategy that they’ve either worked out themselves or paid for work immediately. You have to give things time. Preparation is important, it’s like painting a room, you have to do the preparation, the hard work, the boring work upfront in order to get the nice results at the end. So whether you’re decorating and painting a room or trading Forex, it’s exactly the same principle. You need to that work upfront. If the trading strategy that you’re looking at doesn’t work all the time or you’re finding that it’s going through a bit of a rough patch, that is probably not a reason to suddenly scrap it if it’s worked well in the past. I find that people are very quick to jump back to the forums and go searching through the threads looking for the next latest greatest strategy. I find it quiet interesting how some people are very reluctant to invest in their Forex education, yet they are quite happy to go and spend a fortune on robots and with most robots you have no idea how that robot is designed. So whether it’s going through good patch or bad patch, or how, why or when you need to change any settings on it, you have little idea, you just buy a robot, add it to your account and expect it to make money. It’s quite interesting isn’t it how people will happily let this robot which they have no idea how it works continue to take trades on their account. Yet when they’re looking at educating themselves and taking trades themselves manually, they will doubt that strategy as soon as they have two or three losing trades. 

It’s really important that once you found something that suits you, something that suits your personality and you like the methodology behind the strategy that you don’t give up on it straight away just because it doesn’t work for few days or for a week or a month. You’ve got to accept that, that is part of trading, stick with what you have. Don’t keep adding more indicators to a strategy because so many people have a strategy that works and then they’ll think, “I’ll just add this indicator” or they’ll add something to it when in reality nothing needs changing as you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. If it’s not broke don’t change it and it’s a big danger that so many people run into so please if you have a strategy that’s been a proven successful strategy stick at it because the markets are never constant but your strategy will come through and work for you. So that leads on to the next common mistake that most Forex traders make. I’m hoping that by explaining these common mistakes I can assist you in overcoming these problems.

8. The next mistake I would suggest is the biggest problem for most people is that they cannot accept losses. It’s a part of trading and if you can’t accept losses then you really probably shouldn’t be trading. If you can’t handle your account going down for a period of time then don’t trade. If that’s too emotionally hard for you don’t trade because it’s going to happen. No system, no strategy, no method of trading, no robot, and no anything will consistently make gains all the time without draw downs. I’ve never done that I don’t know anybody has done that so with my experience I’m telling you that you will have losses. Sometimes you have losses within a day, sometimes you have losses for the entire week, sometimes you go through even a month and you might have a negative month. Of course none of us want to have negative months; I’ve had very few of them and so do most of my clients. But it will happen from time to time so you just have to accept that. 

By now you’ll be able to see how everything now starts to gel together because if you have low risk money management you then basically help control your emotions. If you have low risk money management strategies working and you have a draw down more likely that draw downs going to be quite low. You might end the week with the one or two percent draw down let’s say and if you do that’s fine that’s just a part of accepting how to trade. This is far different from the gambler mentality where you might hear of someone who has a 30% draw down in a week, that’s when you have a problem!

Accepting a draw down and a small draw down is a natural part of trading it’s no different to any other investment; it’s no different to buying a house. Most people who buy a house as an investment rental property are expecting the value of that property to go up overtime but within the time that you hold that property there is more than likely going to be a period of time where it’s actually worth less than what you’re paying for it. At that time probably you don’t panic about it and get all stressed about it but I find that if someone has a draw down for an entire week in their Forex trading account then it’s like the end of the world is about to happen. 

So accept those losses as part of trading. No one really likes them but learn from them. Go back and review your trades if you have losing trades and look at the charts. Now it’s easy in hindsight to look at things differently but do go and look at your charts and say, “Look if there’s anything on this chart that I can now see which will give me a reason as to why I should not have entered that trade at that time”. Even if it looks a really good “A grade” trade setup then it’s just one of those trades that didn’t work. Remember that trading is all about probability, there’s no absolute certainty or guarantee so if you look at that setup at that time and say “I’m really pleased with the way that trade setup looked, I took the trade and it just didn’t work” that’s fine accept that it just didn’t work – not all trades will. 

But you can also learn if you go back and look at that setup and say “oh why did I take that? I took a buy trade and now I can see there was a really obvious resistance level in the way” or “I was buying into the pivot point or round number, why do I take that trade!” You can learn from that experience and you can learn from those mistakes so treat your trading as an ongoing learning tool. Learn from your winning trades as well, look at your winning trades and go back and say “Well yes this was a really great setup and it worked fantastic.” or you can find sometimes that you might just get lucky and say “This wasn’t really that great setup and this time I’m lucky it ended being at full profitable trade.” But just be careful because next time you see that same setup you might find that you lose more often than you win. There is so much you can learn from your past trades on an ongoing basis.

9. The next problem that I think so many people have with Forex trading is that they have an inability to actually read the market. Like I’ve already mentioned, successful price action trading is having the ability to read the charts and almost treat the charts like a work of art. You need to study the charts and make decision as to where the market is likely to be heading and why. So if you find that your charts are completely cluttered with too many indicators and the actual price action is shown in a tiny area on your charts then you probably going to find it really hard to actually read the market. 

There are some quietly straight forward tips I can give which will help you with reading the charts. If you were in a trade and let’s say you’re buying a particular currency and then all of a sudden you saw a big uptrend. Great news as you’re now making money out of the trade. However a while later you see an exhaustion candle and then you see a reversal candle and it bounced at a certain resistance level and if you look back at your charts a number of bars prior you can see that the price bounced at the same level. The likelihood is now the price is going to reverse and actually starts to eat away at some of the profits that you’ve made from your trade. When you see that happen and respond to the pattern, I’m calling that reading the market, so you then need to make that trade money management decision about maybe closing out of your trade, closing part of your trade, do you move your stop loss up to protect some of the trade. 

Another example is when I publish my strength and weakness analysis each day on the Forex Peace Army site and also on my own website. If for example you are in a trade and you’re buying the EUR/USD and the trade was still open into the second day and then I’m looking at the market and I can see massive weakness in the Euro today and I can see huge strength in the USD - so overall that’s telling me that the likelihood is that the EUR/USD pair is likely to fall. 

If you are still in a buy trade and you hadn’t hit your profit target yet then this information is giving you a bit of a clue. By reading the market, it’s giving you a likely scenario of what is likely to happen during the upcoming day. The way I’d like to trade that scenario is I’m anticipating that the EUR/USD is now going to fall against my position. So I need to do something about that. I could just leave it to play out but the market’s telling me the likelihood is that trade is eating away at my profits and it may get down to a level where it stops me out for a complete loss and of course you don’t want that especially if you’ve already been in a profitable trade. So it’s having the ability to read the market. 

When you become too reliant on other people’s opinions, on the fundamentals, on forums, on robots or on too many lagging indicators you really do lose the inability to read the market and that’s why again I come back to price action and I talk about it like it’s a broken record but it really is that important to be able to read a price action. Look at the right hand side of the chart and make a decision as to what is happening right now.

10. The last point that I want to talk about is that people for whatever reason seem to think that they can learn how to trade by themselves just by looking at some free information on Google. I’ve said many times before that yes you can get some amazing information on anything topic on Google, of course you can. The forums also from to time do have some important information but most of the time they’re populated by people who don’t really trade or who are not really profitable - that’s my own personal opinion so I tend to stay away from too many forums. 

I find it also interesting that a lot of people don’t see a value in educating themselves. They may be more than happy to go and start trading with a $20,000 or greater live account yet they’re not willing to spend one or two thousand dollars on educating themselves on how to make money from that account. It’s not all about the upfront payment either. With my own course, The Forex Trading Coach course, I’m there to help and support people, not only give them the strategy and the ongoing information but it’s also about having a community feel. I have hundreds of people attend my live trading room webinars and we are all there to help each other, to learn from each other. Otherwise trading can be quite lonely business. You just sit there by yourself at home or in your office. 

Most of the time the rest of your family have no idea what you’re doing or think your trading is gambling so trading can be quite lonely and by having that community around you can be quite important. Having support from a mentor can be important. But on top of having a strategy and the backup the other thing that I think is really underestimated by good quality education is not only it helps you with your emotions and is likely to help you make more money than you would by yourself but it actually short cut the whole process. It took me 4 years before I really make consistent gains, yet I’m not putting all that information all that experience into my course and into the help that I provide my clients with the aim of not only making them profitable but making them profitable far quicker than I was myself by shortcutting that whole process.

By eliminating the need for my clients to go through many of the ups and downs and the trials that I went through and many other traders that went through. I find that so many people would have given up their trading at the stage that I went through in my early years. As I mentioned earlier in the book, it does become very hard, it becomes lonely, it becomes frustrating, it becomes annoying - all those words spring to mind because you know there is a way to be profitable somehow but it’s very hard to actually find that way of making money consistently. So it comes back to education; if you value your trading as a business then the education is likely to be a very small cost and time input into becoming a really successful Forex trader.

I find that most people don’t really have a solid trading plan that suits them. Your trading plan maybe different to mine. I’m happy to share a template of my trading plan with people but it may not suit you necessarily so if I’m looking at trading daily charts, four hourly charts and one hourly charts, that may not suit your trading style. If I’m looking at taking mostly continuation patterns, you may not like that so much. So it really does come down to having the plan and the strategy that suits you. 

When it comes to the actual strategy well I firmly believe that the price action trading is by far the best way of looking at taking trades. You see what I’m doing and the way that I trade and the way that I teach is I’m looking at what’s happening right now in the market and it’s almost like an art form. It’s the ability to read the chart. It’s like reading anything or viewing anything. It’s interpreting what a picture is telling me so the picture is my charts and it’s candle patterns and there are a few other support and resistance levels that I have. However, it’s all about understanding what the charts are telling me about the market right now. 

Are there more buys in the market; are there more sellers? What are the big players doing? What are the banks doing? Where is the market likely to be driven to and why? Is it moving up is it moving down? Has it come to this same level in the past? If it did, did it bounce there? Why it did bounce there? If it did bounce there where did it move to? So it’s reading the market at the right hand side of the chart and price action trading is probably the only way you can do that. You see with fundamentals, it then becomes my opinion as suppose to someone else’s opinion. What I think is good news for an economy someone else may interpret as bad news and so fundamentals become a bit more of a judgmental view of my opinion whereas technical trading is actually what is happening right now. Why it is happening is probably less relevant but this is what is happening and from that position I can then take a trade if I see a suitable setup. Understanding price action also means that you can then trade any currency pair on any timeframe in fact probably any market. So it’s really important to have a strategy and a plan within your trading.

"To become a Profitable Forex Trader doesn’t require you to sit in front of your computer all day and night. You can have a life and still trade well."

Andrew Mitchem

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