I’ve been trading stock options since the mid 1990’s and it’s a lot of fun, especially now that I’m retired. I am by no means an expert and I can tell you first hand that it’s risky and a lot like gambling. Fortunately, however, I’ve learned a ton from my many mistakes and failed strategies and that has helped me to improve my average. It’s important to realize that we must only invest what we can afford to lose, kind of like going to Las Vegas or as my friend calls it Lost Wages. Below are some tips that you may find helpful as you get started.
- Technology is your friend as you begin to trade options so take advantage of the many trading tools available. A few of them are listed below:
- T.D. Ameritrade has a great 6-minute video for beginners to get a cursory understanding of exactly what options trading is all about. https://youtu.be/B43HsjSvdJE. They also have an awesome platform called Think or Swim and it’s FREE and incredibly powerful. It gives you a trading account and a play account where you can pretend to buy and sell equities as well as trade options. Learn from their education library and before you spend one penny, do so with play money. You’ll be glad you did.
- Charles Schwab has some amazing educational tutorials which can help educate you on investing.
- CNBC, Bloomberg and Yahoo Finance have live investment content all during the trading day. You’ll get some immediate business news and some offer entertainment as well so not only are these educational, they are also fun.
- Establish a set amount of money that you can afford or are willing to loose for your options trading account. I give myself just a few hundred dollars as an options budget each and every month making it a fun and hopefully profitable game for me to look forward to each week. And separate your retirement and long-term savings accounts from the account you will be trading options from and that will act as a firewall to protect you.
- When you are convinced that your crystal ball has given you inside information about a trade that is sure to make you a multimillionaire, follow these three simple rules.
- Reduce the amount you were about to spend by half or more.
- Triple the timeline on your trade.
- Close-out your trade at least 21 days before expiration date.
- Don’t try and be all things to all industries and focus on one area and become an expert. If you have a background in technology, focus on that or if you worked in medicine before you retired, focus on healthcare.
- Search for experts to follow and be diligent about staying up to date.
- Finally, there’s plenty of time to learn all the sophisticated option trades such as the Iron Butterfly, Iron Condor, Straddles, Spreads and Collars as they can be very difficult to internalize. Stick to the basics for now, buying and selling Puts or Calls as well as selling Covered Calls if you happen to own the underlying equities and that should serve as your elementary options education for now.
I have two friends that are surfers, Griff and Angie and a parallel between options trading and surfing is this . . . THE ONLY TIME TO SURF IS WHEN THERE ARE WAVES!
RISK – Trading options may result in potential rewards, but also large potential risk. You must be aware of the risks and be willing to accept them in order to invest in the options markets. Do NOT trade with money you can’t afford to lose.