Case Study: My Adventures in Forex Trading (Update: 3/16)

Posted by 16 March, 2009 (17) Comment

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Wow, already a month since my last update on my forex trading adventures. Here is a link to my previous two updates to note my progress:

· 1/15/09: Balance: 15,485.80 Equity: 13,530.00

· 2/16/09: Balance: 16,768.40 Equity: 13,981.30

Before I comment on current progress, let’s recap what the above numbers mean. This is a demo account which started at a value of $15,000. I am being mentored by a person who trades Forex full time. She has been trading for 8 years and full time for 6 years. I speak with her daily through Skype. Her trading style is such that she doesn’t take losses. She waits for the trading pair, EUR/USD in her case, to become profitable before trading. You’ll notice that my balance and equity are far apart. Basically, the balance is how much I’ve made from trading above the $15,000 mark. The equity portion is lower than $15,000 because I have trades that are currently not profitable giving me an equity position less than my original amount, $15,000. I currently have four trades that are not profitable. Three of the trades I’ve had since the first week that I began trading. The other position is from a trade I executed last Thursday or Friday.

What does all of this mean?

An equity position of less than $15,000 means that if I were to “cash in my chips”, I would actually lose money on the entire deal. However, that is not how I learned to trade. I will wait until the trade is positive.

New Balance and Equity Numbers

Account Summary 2/15/09-3/15/09

Beginning Balance 16,768.40
Comm Trading Commission 0.00
Rollover Rollover Fee 15.50
PnL Profit/Loss of Trade 1,187.30
Depos Deposit 0.00
Withd Withdrawal 0.00
Option Options Payout 0.00
Comm Options Commission 0.00
AdminFee Administrative fee 0.00
MngFee Management Fee 0.00
PerfFee Performance Fee 0.00
Void Deposit Rollback 0.00
ASPComm ASP Commission 0.00
MargInterest Interest on Usable Margin 0.00
Ending Balance 17,971.20
Floating P/L -2,855.00
Equity 15,116.20
Necessary Margin 300.00
Usable Margin 14,816.20

For the past month, I’ve profited $1,187.30. Again, if I were to close my account and put all of my trades in, I would be positive, but not by a whole lot. As a matter of fact, I would be positive $116.20 as of the night of 3/15/09. So, why is this significant? Well, for starters, this is the first time I’ve had a positive equity position. I am therefore more likely to have a positive position in the future and will look to even increase it by a larger amount. There are three possible scenarios for my account. If the market holds at the same relative position, give the past performance of the last three months (~$1000 per month in gain), my account would increase by $1000.00. The other scenarios are that my three negative trades would either become less negative and even positive leaving me with even more gains, or I will only be slightly positive next month (assuming I stay on the trend of making ~$1000.00 in trades every month). None of these scenarios are guarantees by any means. My mentor, nor anyone else knows what the market will do. The pundits are predicting an upward trend for this week for the EUR/USD pair, but none of the pundits predicted the market crash late last year either so we’ll see.

Be sure to subscribe to my FULL RSS Feed to stay tuned and see how good or bad I perform next month.

Other Posts

Book Review: Ready, Fire, Aim – Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat
Interview: Pledgehammer
What Time Do You Wake Up?
What Did The New Obama Speech About His Budget Mean to You?
Are Real Estate Guru’s Worth the Money?


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Families GO GONZO Carnival

Posted by 15 March, 2009 (2) Comment

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Welcome to the Families Go Gonzo Carnival. This is an idea that was suggested to me by Kilroy_60. I hadn’t really discussed family much on Happiness Is Better so I thought I would give it a try.

Family and friends are a large part of the lives of most people. They are a source of laughter, encouragement, and support in times of need. Some might say that families are an institution through it’s inherent guidance and support. I’m sure your family has been instrumental in shaping who you are today.

This carnival is a bit different from past posts, so please keep that in mind.

Families

You’ve got to love families. Some family can test your nerves. Other parts of your family may be optically challenged (go with me on this one), but you love them all the same.

It’s always fun to get the family together around the holidays and although different heritages may have slightly different customs, most people have very similar experiences. At family gatherings, you can sit around the table and tell stories about your other family members and their shenanigans. Some people may hang out and watch football or others may go around the neighborhoods caroling.

What are some interesting stories that were told during your family gatherings?

Besides Thanksgiving (I love turkey, mashed potatoes, and macaroni & cheese), I would say that two of my favorite holidays are mother’s and father’s day. I like to make sure people know they are appreciated and those two holidays fill that void. What sorts of things have you done for mother’s or father’s day? I usually try to come up with a creative gift or treat my mother or father to dinner. I’ve also created some interesting mother’s day cards in the past using great photos. My wife, hoping that she might one day open a bakery, has come up with some creative cookies for people during the holidays. We typically try to give a present or gift that means something instead of just grabbing a gift card down at the nearest big box store. This isn’t just to save money, which I do enjoy, but I feel like these gifts come from the heart.

I recently took a look at the great photos and video from the past. A lot of great memories. From family photos to baby foot prints to pictures of friends at birthday parties and other events. Life is full of interesting stories.

What is your favorite holiday to spend with friends and family? Christmas? Hanukah? Memorial Day? 4th of July?

Family is an institution. Friends are also the family you choose. Much like the founder of this carnival created a blog to honor someone, this carnival is a reflection of the appreciation of the good time spent with some of the most important people in our lives, family.

Many thanks to Kilroy_60 and our sponsor, For Your Success, in addition to the contributors: Anthony McCune, What I See Out My Window, The Vanity of It All, The North Canton Beat, Stark County, Ohio Views, and News, Stark Reporter, Danny Brown, Josh Payne, The Banquet Manager, Sigrid Landau, AIC, Suzanne Casamento, munfaridon, and Julian Pollock.


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Book Review: Ready, Fire, Aim – Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat

Posted by 12 March, 2009 (8) Comment

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Ready, Fire, Aim is a book about taking your business to the next level by Michael Masterson (pen name). I had my doubts about this book prior to reading it. I have subscribed to and read many different articles from the same publisher who published this book and they usually provided carrots of information to entice you to subscribe to an newsletter or to buy some other product. I’m happy to report that this book in no way does this.

Through Michael’s writing, you can see how passionate he is about business. This is his criteria when considering whether to take a job, or in this case, whether to start a business.

Demanding the Best from Your Job

1. What you do

2. Where you do it

3. With whom you do it

4. When you work and when you don’t

There are five areas that a business must be very good at to achieve desirable results.

1. Coming up with new and useful product ideas

2. Selling those products profitably

3. Managing processes and procedures efficiently

4. Finding great employees to do work

5. Getting people, procedures, products, and promotions going

Four Stages of Business Development

Once you have a business up and going, according to Michael Masterson there are four stages of development that have their own problems, challenges, and opportunities:

Stage One: Infancy – zero to $1 million in revenue

Main Problem: You don’t really know what you are doing

Main Challenge: Making the first profitable sale

Main Opportunity: Continuing to sell until you have achieved a minimum critical mass of customers.

Stage Two: Childhood – $1 million to $10 million

Main Problem: You are only breaking even or may even be losing money.

Main Challenge: Creating additional, profitable products quickly.

Main Opportunity: Becoming a business of innovation, increasing cashflow, and becoming profitable.

Additional Skill Needed: Coming up with a constant stream of new and potentially tipping-point ideas.

Stage Three: Adolescense – $10 million to $50 million in Revenue

Main Problem: Your systems are strained, and customers are noticing.

Main Challenge: Turning the chaos into order.

Main Opportunity: Learning how to establish useful protocols and manage processes and procedures.

Additional Skill Needed: Running your business with just three or four simple management reports.

Stage Four: Adulthood – $50 million to $100 million in Revenue and Beyond

Main Problem: Sales slow down and may even stall.

Main Challenge: Becoming entrepreneurial again.

Main Opportunity: Getting the business to run itself.

One of the most important points from this book for you:

Without sales, it is very hard to sustain an ongoing business.

Although this is may seem like common sense to some, this is an important point to remember. There are a lot of important functions of a business such as product development, customer service, accounting, operations, and marketing, but nothing beats marketing. Ditch the idea of leasing an office space and purchasing furniture and focus on selling your product.

I really enjoyed this quote:

Don’t go out and sign a lease. Rental contracts are like marriage licenses. They feel good when you are heady in love, but after reality sets in they may feel expensive and restricting.

I think one of the most important features of the book is what Michael calls the Optimum Selling Strategy or OSS. While these may seem like common sense guidelines, I think you’d be surprised at how many people don’t ask themselves these questions:

1. Where are you going to find your customers?

– Michael suggests imitating the competition, initially.

2. What products will you sell them first?

3. How much will you charge for it?

4. How will you convince them to buy it?

Once you’ve determined your OSS and you’ve gotten the ball rolling, ask these questions to optimize your OSS:

1. What other products can we sell?

2. How can we make the offer more enticing?

3. How can we make the advertising copy more compelling?

4. What other media should we test?

Another nugget that Michael gives is that you should not play the cheap game. Cheap price means to the customer that the quality is also cheap. If you want to have a lower priced item to attract customers, surround it with more expensive items to give it perceived value.

In regards to other products that you may introduce in the future, Michael explains that you should make sure you remain only one step removed from your original product or something that you know well. The further away you get from your original product or what you are familiar with, the less likely you are to succeed. This makes perfect sense to me and will certainly help me narrow potential business ideas in the future. Michael isn’t saying that starting a new business in a market that you are unfamiliar with won’t work or succeed, but your chances for success are proportional to your experience in that market.

What is meant by “Ready, Fire, Aim”?

The title of the book, Ready, Fire, Aim is definitely a catchy title and is probably a big reason I picked the book up from the library. There’s a lot to be said with this technique in building a business and can be applied throughout your life. The “ready, fire, aim” approach comes from the premise that some planning is involved, but before you spend hours upon hours of work on a business plan, you should make sure someone actually wants to buy your product. You can have the coolest widget in the world, but if people aren’t willing to buy it, there isn’t much of a reason to pursue it, is there?

Ready, Fire, Aim gives you the ability to come up with a short plan (basically your OSS) and then try it out! If it works, great! If it doesn’t, move on and try something else. The aim of Ready, Fire, Aim is to accelerate failure to figure out what works. In shortening the amount of time spent on planning, you are able to try many ideas quickly and at a low cost. Both of these benefits are music to my ears! Once you do find an idea that works, Michael suggests that you work on and improve that product. Don’t fix something unless it isn’t broken!

Throughout the book, Michael mentions many of the luxuries that he has such as how much money he made from a job or client or how clients pay for him to fly around the world. This is mentioned early and late in the book, but not at length. This usually signals a red flag for me, but despite that, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone with an entrepreneurial pulse. In fact, I’m definitely going to be adding his other books to my queue!

I give this book a 4.6 out of 5 stars.

Photo by: B. Sandman

Other Reviews of the Book You May Enjoy

Review Ready, Fire, Aim @ The Simple Dollar
Book Review: Michael Masterson’s “Ready, Fire, Aim” @ Today’s Financial News
Michael Masterson’s Blog

Other Posts You May Enjoy

What Time Do You Wake Up?
What Did The New Obama Speech About His Budget Mean to You?
Are Real Estate Guru’s Worth the Money?
Book Review: The Art of The Start
Interview: Professional Blogger


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Cool Links for Week of March 9th

Posted by 10 March, 2009 (5) Comment

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I hope your week is off to a good start. I will be hosting Families GO Gonzo on March 16th. Be sure to check out Kilroy’s website for more details.

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. ~Winston Churchill

The Dark Side of Twitter: What Businesses Need to Know – An interesting article illustrating the power of Twitter.

Carnival of Personal Development – I want to thank Hayden Tompkins @ Through the Illusion for hosting the carnival and including me.

Success In Life – I really enjoyed this post. Peter has 5 great ingredients for success. I would also add one more ingredient, being humble.

Walk a Straight Line to High Achievement – This is a great post for those of you that set a goal, but haven’t achieved it. Are you adding extra steps?

Average versus Exceptional – A great article on qualities you may want to possess on your route to being exceptional.

No More Goody-Two Shoes – I was and probably still in some sense a good two shoe type of person. Are you a Goody-Two shoes? Have you stepped outside of this “box”?

Sunday Thought for the Day – 41 – I love this quote I saw over at Lance’s blog, Jungle of Life:

“This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. Being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it what I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

Carnival of Personal Finance – Be sure to check out the Carnival of Personal Finance for this week’s great articles.

Photo by: Kris De Curtis


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Interview: Pledgehammer

Posted by 9 March, 2009 (2) Comment

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How are your goals been going for 2009? I came across a website that I thought would be beneficial for all of the goal oriented people out there. It’s called Pledgehammer. Instead of just setting goals and forgetting about them, you now have the option of putting your money where your mouth is at. We were lucky to have Andrus Purde, the cofounder of Pledgehammer, answer a few questions and tell us about his website.

Can you tell us about yourself?

I am an online marketer by profession, an avid reader, kitesurfer and traveler and a big believer in setting goals. I’m originally from Estonia but currently live and work in London.

Why did you start the website – Pledgehammer? How does it work? Why should people use Pledgehammer?

Pledgehammer, like many other things in this world, was started because of a personal need. I’d been writing down my various goals and resolutions for years but this wasn’t very systematic and I didn’t have a good way to keep track of the goals made in various times. There was no great eureka moment in creating Pledgehammer – myself and two co-founders just worked the original vague idea into its current shape.

How Pledgehammer works is very simple. You make a resolution, for example exercising regularly or taking up a new hobby, choose a deadline and a financial incentive. You can then share it friends and family to increase positive ‘peer pressure’, they can also cheer you on the site. Pledgehammer sends an email upon the deadline and (nicely) asks to donate money to charity if your resolution happened to fail. This way there is some good in failing pledges, too.

Pledgehammer doesn’t make anybody’s resolutions true, people do it themselves. What we provide is a simple way to write your goals down, make them easy-to-share and provide a financial incentive with a charitable touch. All of this will give some extra help that is much needed for sticking to a resolution.

What are some of the more outrageous pledges you’ve seen posted?

Most pledges are what you’d expect them to be from losing weight to paying back credit card debt to learning new languages. But there are indeed some resolutions I can only assume are jokes, like someone resolving to “choose one of my girlfriends”, “not be a dumbass” and “take better care of my tractor” by a certain date.

What future plans do you have for the website? Is either a Facebook or iPhone application in your future?

No man is an island, and the same goes for websites. We’re of course looking to improve usability and add features but perhaps more importantly we need to make Pledgehammer work on the facebooks, twitters, iphones and other platforms of this world.

I see that most of the charities are in the UK. Do you have any plans for charities in North America?

We’re actually looking for more charities in North America to work with. If you work for a charity there please do get in touch by emailing join@pledgehammer.com

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Firstly I’d like to thank everyone that has made pledges so far and wish them good luck in sticking to them. And I’d like to tell anyone that has failed their New Year’s resolution already that it’s never too late to re-do your resolution and get back in the saddle. Why not start again today?

Again, I want to thank Andrus for his time. In the spirit of goal setting and giving to a charity, I’ve signed up to make a pledge at Pledgehammer.

I will run a marathon by the end of this year or I am giving $100 to Cancer Research UK. Check out my pledge here!

Other Posts You May Enjoy

Case Study: My Adventures in Forex Trading (Update: 2/16)
What Time Do You Wake Up?
What Did The New Obama Speech About His Budget Mean to You?
Are Real Estate Guru’s Worth the Money?
Book Review: The Art of The Start


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