From $0 to $100k (whilst working full time)

tr1ps_master

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Hello All,

Aim of this journal - document my progress and show what it actually takes.
Most useful information - I will be showing my statistics along the way.


I studied trading seriously over a decade ago futures/fx/commodities, realised I needed a full time job with security for mortgage etc so not really gone back to trading properly until a year and a half ago. I really enjoy my work and will continue progressing in my career whilst trading on the side.

Due to the nature of my degree and work I am well versed in finance and maths - however as most will tell you...this means Jack sh*t when it comes to trading. Sometimes the less you know the simpler things are!

Throughout my career, I always looked back at charts...but not taking this seriously, that is until the advent of online prop firms. I could not really see myself making proper money from trading previously because even if you have a good strategy (and your able to stick long enough to it) the biggest issue one has is undercapitalisation. Now you can opt to buy a challenge with some of these firms $50k account for ~$300 (or $100k for ~$500). If you pass the metrics required (which I've done twice previously in 2023) that's some serious capital which you can grow to more accounts. There are numerous 7 figure traders out there, including one of my close friends, who has been trading 7 figures consistently for a few years now and receiving their share of payouts on a regular basis.

This has led to back to trading and taking it seriously once again.

I had learnt swing trading in the beginning and went through umpteen courses/material - so much stuff is out there... honestly... - but I realised this is all the same stuff...just named differently the real edge is doing what others are not doing (and I am not talking about strategy). I had tried short term trading to longer term, using indicators and no indicators, to using some ema's.

From the numerous material I have covered, there are a few standout ones (some free, some paid) which completely changed the game for me. If anyone is interested, I will share.

Strategy I've been using - H4/H1 Swing Strategy with emas

Simple ema's, using structure also. Will explain later if anyone is interested.
Biggest game changer for me - Backtesting

Until I learned backtesting, I was not profitable - no two ways about it. Understanding my statistics has really helped me.

My personal aim of this journal - is for this documentation process to help me with sticking with my strategy and sticking to it long term.
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For absolute clarity - I am not a consistently profitable trader yet. Shock horror! Until I have at least 2 years of profitability, documented professionally, I do not consider myself a profitable trader or a trader...but rather a novice/newb whatever you want to call it.

I think it's important to stop the posturing as so many others do - you are Not a bloody trader until you can show your stats!
If you cannot walk into a trading firm or to an investor meeting and show without a shadow of a doubt your process and stats and why they should hire/invest - you are not a trader...so shut up.
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My struggle - I struggle with the flipping and flopping between strategies even though I know I have a good expectancy on my strategy...shit it's very good actually. I have had periods of great consistent returns...but then if I flip from it looking for a better return...that's just what a muppet will do!

Long term goal - show 2 years of consistent returns, documented properly.
Notice - I am not talking about profits or money. If I can show my process to be consistent and profitable...then that will come.

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I will share my journey from 2023 and some stats in time to come.
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Alright, that's the plan. Catch you in a bit.
 
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A little about my trading style up until now

This journal is Not for me to teach people to trade - as mentioned before - I am not a consistently profitable trader... so why listen to my strategy or my thoughts on this.

My aim is to document my journey and show you this in the process - my ups and downs, moments of realisation and absolute despair.

I have been using Trend Swing Trading - H4 and H1 using ema's.

Positive's - very clean, mechanical. I have a very specific entry.
Negatives - few setups, multiple charts - on top of a full time job this can be extremely draining (for me at least). You never feel like you "know" the chart as well as you could. It is impossible to be a master of all the pairs you track. Could be a week or two without any setups.
 
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1st Prop Firm Challenge - Phase 1 - March 2023 to April 2023 - Passed
Phase 1 - 8% target

Something to note - back when I started this challenge - online prop firms had a Time Limit to reach a profit target (30 days).
So when you think about it, 8% in a month is an absolutely ridiculous target.
With my strategy, I had backtested a few pairs, but the setups come whenever the charts setup. Therefore I decided to play a numbers game and trade my trend swing trades + reversals.

Most trades were 0.50% per trade.

Summary$ terms% ROI
Trend Trades
11​
2,886.83​
5.77%
Reversals
13​
1,284.86​
2.57%

1719312181003.png
 
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1st Prop Firm Challenge - Phase 2 - April 2023 to June 2023 - Passed
Phase 2 - 5% target
(allowed 60 days)

Summary$ terms% ROI
Trend Trades
24​
5,273.54​
10.55%
Reversals
15​
-2,384.29​
-4.77%

1719312422544.png


I had more time, so decide to be a bit more relaxed with finding setups and risk less per trade. Trades ranged from 0.25% to 0.50% a trade, apart from the last trade where I used a larger risk.

I had a few bad beats...prop firms gaming the overnight spreads, news spiking and slippage etc...the usual stuff people complain about.

Coming into the end of the allowed trading period, it seemed like I was just having one bad beat after another, sort of like when you're all in preflop with AA and your opponent calls with 72 offsuit and still rivers you... So I had "one shot...one opportunity" and put some significant decent size on a trade with a 1:2.4R, and it worked out.
 
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1st Prop Firm - $50k live account

I had made 49 trades.
I can see from my trade categorisation that I had started to slip from my original plan...courtesy of 'needing to learn' more and progress more. This was detrimental to my performance.

Luckily, I was trading very small size, so after 49 trades within 2 months, I was only -2%.

After approximately 6 months of grinding work - full time job, family commitments, early mornings, late nights, reviews, adjustments - and 112 trades...

The Prop company goes under in early Sept 2023.

If you were in this field at the time, you could not have missed this and your accounts probably suffered too.
My friend lost $600k in funded accounts too.

This was my first ever attempt, I poured my heart and soul - passed the challenge and had a live account...it felt
absolutely gut wrenching.
 
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After the above experience... it really put me down - massively.

What can you do...sit on your arse? that's just not me.

Life is short, and your brain power starts to deteriorate with age also - so just get back on the horse.

I went back to doing another challenge in Oct 2023.

2nd Prop Firm Challenge - Single Phase - October 2023 to January 2024 - Passed
$50,000
Single phase - 10% target
Unlimited time to pass
1719410828779.png

67 trades yielded 9.75R = 10%
it was actually 61 trades, some trades I scaled in, and I count that as a single trade.
I flipped between 0.50% risk per trade to 1%, back to 0.50%, then 1.50%...

What I remember - my last trade on Gold
This last trade which got me to pass the challenge, I risked 1% on a swing trade.
AD_4nXdowBN7e9n-KBi7xC1G2fj1XqIMDU-gdg_Zhnyqy0VeogdIHV7RN22rTITUUWvYHKbyltnIao6tj11_GIIys3sRa2q30uddJBliEhJZx-8F2lIYDeQ59Zshc66fBl2Ce803KGEpfAdeqtGWR4rWHD5AStY

Got in on a nice retracement, quite a few rejections...this started go in my favour nicely, then it retraced completely and went back in my favour.
At this point - probably due to listening to a famous London trader and his expression "got the market by the balls" got me thinking...you need to make the most of this if it goes.
So I entered again with 1% risk, larger SL.
Moved original SL to almost BE (can see on chart)
Total risk on trade still only 1%



AD_4nXernAfmIiABp7Mnf-mlI22rXtd8jj6I0260ZFiW2b5s3LDXe0QjuNu8PprEwA-HCBD3o_-WoyrFpfL7xZTGxxMm0aeJH4icKQxKcmdsRnTQ3lnJs-E0HdrWvfT6BmXYohFlIs6-6-wilXY4Uc9_KHlWvMI


I held into NFP - ...oh no news!
No I do not trade the news, but this was a swing trade with larger targets. My SL was far enough for me to have limited slippage if anything.
Price was at 80 pips - equidistant between SL and TP.

But I had a 1:5 (actually 5.17)... I had the "market by the balls"
I am certainly taking this setup all day long...I only need 20% to break even...doesn't take a genius to realise this is a 50:50 punt, by a very calculated and manipulated in our favour with the RR.

and Kaboom - actually got positively slipped!

AD_4nXeTjZYydCbvFX2I9Q2DsNjU0q7sSIojUQXy8c-5zemZrmrqXEGxtozPLzGCSJMb69RXtujNSYpIqRe-sXxhgzn9Flb9YBlK8T0pwzcxAnj3jYKZuVDzYu1yRLuTfd-0f1GolW4ULKhaIGvigXwwmQ_4eld8


I remember thinking, this is an absolutely incredible trade which does not come round that often and I was over the moon with how I managed this throughout the trade.

Thinking after I had passed the challenge - Gimme my live account...I am about to tear this Gold market a new one!
 
2nd Prop Firm - Live account 7 Jan 2024 to 26 January 2024 - Lost
One thing to bear in mind - because this was a single phase account challenge I passed - the drawback of this Live account is that the allowed drawdown was only 5%.

My risks per trade was between 1% to 0.50%.

This took 20 trades - I took some partials and scaled in a few times, hence it shows 28 trades on the X axis.
-5%.
1719848120511.png


Traded my strategy, veered away from it at times... that was the result... lost the account. I actually didn't feel like I traded that bad, but that's how the cookie crumbles I guess.

Let's face it...20 trades in the span of 15 working days is way too many trades.


I believe at this point my psychology was shot to pieces.
 
Trying to recollect on what exactly happened in the Live account I believe when I got my Live account...somehow my mentality changed.

I believe it is quite common, when you go from Sim to Real (even though prop accounts are all Sim...but you can finally make some real money) it does do something to you.

So yes, I believe I fell into that trap that most do when they trade live.

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As I mentioned before this is really a documentation of my journey - the High the Lows

A lot of retail people who decide to want to trade think its super easy and all you need is a strategy and that's it.

I wish it was that simple, or at least it is not for me (and I believe for most).
 
So what do you do when your up against the wall and your psychology is shot to bits, strategy seems to be in tatters, you have a full time job and family to look after...keep on going, what else is there to do??? You're already in pain...keep going.

Or you could just carry on working your day to day job, which as I said I thoroughly enjoy, but why have an easy life eh, its not my style.

I wish I could just be a super simple person, and to be honest life would be fine, but I am just wired a little differently.

Big exhale...here we go.
 
3rd Prop Firm Challenge - Phase 1 - 29 January 2024 till 26 April 2024 - Fail

Approximately 100 trades until it went to total shit.
Profitable trades - 40%.
-10%

1719914711578.png

I think I should have taken some time off before jumping into a new challenge straight away.
Right from the get go, I was not performing well and had I been smarter about it I would have stopped trading, re-evaluate and come back to it.

After about 100 trades, it was pretty much pointless trading - I had about $500 left of drawdown and needed to not only get that back to break even but then actually return 10%, effectively a 20% swing. So turning $500 to $20,000 which would require 3,900% ROI.

I am sure some twitter traders can do this in a single day...every day... lol...

Time and opportunity cost is something to bear in mind with these things.
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Might as well start a tally of challenges instead of people needing to scroll up and see

DateAccount SizePass/FailPass datePayout
27 Mar 2023$50kPass26 June 2023Company shut down
13 Sept 2023$50kFail
5 Oct 2023$50kPass5 Jan 2024Lost account - 26 Jan 2024
27 Jan 2024$100kFailLost account - 26 Apr 2024
 
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* Correction...I do not understand why I cannot edit my last posts - however as you can see from my table you can see that I failed a challenge from 13th Sept but have not posted this, got caught up in the excitement of posting my losses I guess..

This is super strange as I typically record everything - but somehow this has slipped the net and I cannot login to the prop firm anymore also.

So really above where it says Challenge 2...it should say Challenge 3 and so forth.

Not that this makes a difference but in the interest of being transparent and for my own records, I wanted to correct this.

Anyway hey ho... lets move on.

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Challenge #DateAccount SizePass/FailPass datePayout
Challenge 127 Mar 2023$50kPass26 June 2023Company shut down
Challenge 213 Sept 2023$50kFailno records... and missed above
Challenge 35 Oct 2023$50kPass5 Jan 2024Lost account - 26 Jan 2024
Challenge 427 Jan 2024$100kFailLost account - 26 Apr 2024
 
Challenge 5 - Phase 1 - 25 Feb 2024 to 6 June 2024 - Fail

Total trades - 86
Risk per trade 0.50% - 1%
I promised myself that I would stick to the same strategy I traded when I passed Challenge 1 and 3.

My start could not be worse. The first 10 trades were Losers but they all fit my trading plan. In fact after my decent recovery, I went on to have another 10 trade losing streak.

This really got me pissed off. I was doing everything as per my plan which I know works but yet the punishment is just continuous.

No matter how good you think you know your strategy or what your expectations through backtesting are, the market will punish you continuously. I am starting to think that this is the way of the markets - learn to get slapped about and accept it.

I began to think that I would be happy to exchange R for a higher win rate, of course as long as we still have a positive expectancy.

When I was heavily in drawdown, it became almost a worthless venture. I tried to reinvigorate this account but it fizzled out.

1721211401472.png


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I think it is a good idea to point out that the money spent on these accounts is money I can afford to lose without this affecting me and my family's life.
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Challenge #DateAccount SizePass/FailPass datePayout
Challenge 127 Mar 2023$50kPass26 June 2023Company shut down
Challenge 213 Sept 2023$50kFailno records...and missed above
Challenge 35 Oct 2023$50kPass5 Jan 2024Lost account - 26 Jan 2024
Challenge 427 Jan 2024$100kFailLost account - 26 Apr 2024
Challenge 525 Feb 2024$100kFailLost account - 6 June 2024
 
Are you trading with FTMO after MFF got closed or do you use another prop firm?
 
Challenge 6 - Phase 1 - 29 April 2024 to 2 July 2024 - Fail

Total trades - 90
Risk per trade 0.50% - 1%

Following the Challenge 5, I still tried to swing trade and stick to my original strategy from Challenge 1 and 3, even though I had a terrible time on Challenge 4...its like I am asking for trouble.

I promised myself that I would stick to the same strategy I traded when I passed Challenge 1 and 3.

First 8 trades swing trading and 'hunch' type trades, 6 losers, 1 breakeven and 1 winner.

Mentally - could not take this any more. As mentioned the thought of let's increase strike rate in exchange for R, so I tried to go on a complete tangent and attempted to Day Trade. I enrolled on a course, which was pretty advanced and moved really fast with its material, but being quite knowledgeable (not profitable) I picked it up fairly quickly and I have to say it was very good and I can see the possible way of day trading profitable. I had mixed success. As with anything, you have to stick to it long enough.

Swing Trading, Total trades - 10
Winners - 2 (20%)
Losers - 8

Day Trading - 61
Winners - 21 (34%)
Losers - 34
BE - 6

Reversal trades (Fades and Psych Levels), total trades 12
Winners - 7 (58%)
Losers - 4
BE - 1

Non specified trades, total - 7
Losers - 6
BE - 1


Total Stats based on 90 trades
Winners - 30 (33%)
Losers - 52
BE - 8


So actually my win rate was pretty bad.

Interestingly - my reversal and fade trades did pretty well, although a small sample size. I believe if I day trade in the future I will look to explore this as the go to strategy which needs refining.

In isolation a low win rate is not a problem if you bring the high R, and have positive expectancy...but this was not the case for me as I tried to reduce R at the same time.

Day trading however is just not sustainable for me to be able to do my work, have family time, do some fitness etc, and failing this challenge was actually a bit of a relief. I do not recommend Day Trading if you are in a similar position as me - this has completely burnt me mentally and physically.

1721313462501.png
1721313450504.png


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Challenge #DateAccount SizePass/FailPass datePayout
Challenge 127 Mar 2023$50kPass26 June 2023Company shut down
Challenge 213 Sept 2023$50kFailno records...and missed above
Challenge 35 Oct 2023$50kPass5 Jan 2024Lost account - 26 Jan 2024
Challenge 427 Jan 2024$100kFailLost account - 26 Apr 2024
Challenge 525 Feb 2024$100kFailLost account - 6 June 2024
Challenge 629 April 2024$50kFailLost account - 2 July 2024
 
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You will be pleased to know, or rather I am pleased to say (because I do not have to report it in a lengthy post) that there are no more challenges to write about. You are all caught up.

So that's that.

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I have to point out that my motivation for trading is monetary, but I also just have a disgusting passion for trading and have done for years, I think trading is the best thing in the world.

You are competing against the best of the best out their - just let that sink in.

For you to trade profitable, you have to learn yourself and trade something that works for you - clearly I have not found that...yet!

This endless pursuit of being better every day/week/month/year has actually improved my critical thinking and desire to carry on climbing up even further in my career. Because of this you continue to learn new things and what is life without learning - you become stale.

It's hard work but interesting work, and I love it.

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Next post will explain my thoughts following these challenges and what my plan is going forward.
 
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Let's take stock

I tried:

1. Swing trading in a very mechanical way - Had 50% strike rate, and my decent RR gave me a positive expectancy. Actually the expectancy was very good.
  • Positives - easy to implement
  • Negatives - constantly scanning, gets tiring. heavy drawdown periods.
The mechanical strategy is great, but no matter how long I try to stick to it, it just does not feel natural to me. The whole time I traded it, which has been the better part of a full year, it felt like putting a square peg into a round hole.

2. Day Trading - poor strike rate around 30%.
  • Positives - this felt better than being mechanical. If you get it right, you can really make some decent R. You really get to know the pair you are trading well and feel 'in tune' with the market. I did not even have to look at the chart, I remembered the chart and knew if I open the chart and its at a certain level I take the trade no questions asked. I remember thinking...right London traders are looking at this...then NY traders doing that... it was a great feeling to be part of this huge organism (that is trying to take your money).
  • Negatives - those high R days are far and few between, because as we know markets range mostly. It is completely draining mentally and physically.
I did learn a very valuable entry method here which is absolutely simple which I can see would help trend trading also, so I am very grateful for this.

Note on day trading, I started thinking (probably because I heard someone say this), why replace one job with another. The ability to take more trades over the course of the month will mean you get closer to your true expectancy, but we know that not every day is a good trading day. And it is on those days where you do your arse and start over trading because you think "FFS it can't go any further...F me... I've been stopped out 3 times sure now I can catch and recover with a 1:4...".

I am sure there are absolute legends out there doing this, day in day out, and I have seen some of them do it live also, but like I said at this time of my life with the limited time I have it is not a worthwhile venture.

Funny enough I was reading a Market Wizards book and I paraphrase but a trader said something like, if I lose twice in a row on the day I simply stop trading. Why asked Jack? Because I do not want to lose 30 points within a 10 points range, and I have seen plenty people lose 30 points within a 10 points range. This really struck me as being true that if you're having one of those shit days, you can really do you arse quickly flipping and flopping.

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After much retrospection and going through my journals and analysis - anything can work, you just need to tailor it to you.
 
Day trading gave me feeling of being free and not so rigid. I disliked the idea of 'leaving money on the table', and when mechanically trading I felt like I can see the twists and turns but could not enter and that really ate me up.

What my next steps are

I have decided to NOT do anymore challenges because mentally I am fried.

I will go back trading my very tiny live account and forward test my new approach. Just trying to enjoy this from 1th July 2024 to 12th July 2024.

From the 15th July, I developed the following rules. This will become obvious why I have done this if you read on.
  • Bankroll start £100.
  • Risk per trade £5 - it has to mean something otherwise you may as well demo trade, which imo won't get you far
  • R:R will be 1:2, without any management
  • Max 2-3 trades a week
  • Trade types
    • T1 - Trend continuation
    • T2 - Trend reversal
    • T3 - Range reversal
  • Symbols - Majors, GBP crosses (except NZD), Metals, WTI, Indices, commodities, treasuries.
I have some specific things I look for, i.e. structure holding/rejecting, and I am pretty relaxed about entry. I am focusing on my risk management i.e. 1:2. If we get a 50% strike rate, happy days, but I will look to improve this with more data.

What I am looking for is R return, not the £ gained.

Once our bankroll is down to say £60-70, I will top up back to £100...this is my education cost. At some point hopefully it will start to improve. The idea is once we have a steady equity curve I will actually add much more to the account.

Let's see how this goes and I will show you how I amend my strategy going forward.

Once we have a decent sample size and confidence in our method, I will take another challenge.

Let's get this straight though...we are going to make it no matter what - this could take months or years.
 
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Results:

1st July 2024 to 5th July 2024 - at this point I was just trying some trades with easier management, and did not yet have the above rules in mind.
  • 2 trades
    • 1 Winner - GBPCAD - £12.80
    • 1 Loser - Stoxx50 - (£8.50)
      • Net (after comms) = £4.11 / +1.16R
 
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Results:

8th July 2024 to 12th July 2024 - at this point I was just trying some trades with easier management, and did not yet have the above rules in mind.
  • 9 trades between Monday and Thursday
    • 2 Winners - Sugar, Euro Bund = £26.23
    • 6 Losers - USDJPY, GBPCAD, GBPCHF, USDCHF, Palladium, Gold, GBPAUD = (£42.47)
    • 1 BE - Euro Bund - I was actually +1.3R on this, saw this erode.
      • Net = (£16.24)
I was in an actual daze on the Thursday, so much so that I forced myself to not trade on Friday.
I have 1 trade on from Wed which rolled over, and I had 3 trades on Thursday. Overtraded, and one of the trades was impulsive.

  • 5 trades on Friday
    • 4 Losers - Aus200, Dax40, Aus200, UK100
    • 1 BE - Dax40
      • Net = (£48.42)
Total Net = (£64.66) / -7.12R

I think this is the definition of "I've done my arse". Overtraded, impulsive...oh it cannot possibly go further. Funny how you can think you are smart but yet do dumb things like this. The weird thing is that you can actually understand as its happening that your should not be doing this but yet your brain does it anyway, almost an out of the body experience.

Realised:
- I cannot trade indices, treasuries and some commodities because of minimum lot sizes.
- I have to restrict my universe a little, and once bankroll grows I will expand the symbols again.

Some of the commodity and treasury trades I was not able to risk less than £28, which would decimate my account quickly.

Mood at the end of this week - Jovial, numb, and the persistent thought "even though you are being discretionary with your approach, come up with some basic rules and just stick to that".

This is when I started to implement the above rules - see post #18 - only 2/3 trades a week and max risk per trade £5.
 
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