Different trading and investing strategies
Every trading strategy has one thing in common: your emotions. In chapter eight: "The mental Approach" you learned how psychological decisions can make or break any strategy. Actually, many markets are driven purely on emotions. For example, if everyone is looking at the same charts and using the same indicators, most traders will do the exact same thing causing a specific reaction to the market. Creating a self fulfilling prophecy. Whatever strategy you use, your emotions will determine how effective the strategy becomes.
Reading time: 18-24 minutes (4.746 words)
There are many trading strategies to choose from. I will discuss the most common ones:
- Buy the dip
- Using technical indicators
- Value investing
- Dollar cost averaging
- Cash ready to invest
- Trading like a casino
The following strategies are just examples. Always do your own research before using any strategy.
Buy and hold is probably one of the most practiced strategies for a beginner. Some benefits:
- It’s relatively easy to understand
- You can eliminate emotions more easily
- One of the best strategies for long term investment
Buy and hold means simply buying a stock or other asset and keeping it in your portfolio no matter what. Even if the market plummets, you just hold your position (preferably buying even more if you aim for the long term). This works very well with global or local stock markets. Because global stock markets have never (since their creation) lost value in the long term. Now this does not mean this will always be the case. Only statistically speaking, no one would have lost money if they had bought an ETF tracking S&P 500 twenty years ago and still hold it to this day.
At some point in Warren Buffets early career, he provided some people close to him to buy some stocks. His only advice for those people with no knowledge of investing was:
The people that followed his advice are now millionaires. If you are patient, you can make significant gains. If you are impatient and emotionally attached you will probably only lose money. As one of the best investor in the world, Buffet knows that controlling emotions are the key for success on the stock market. That’s why he did not give any technical advice about stocks but just told those people not to sell.
With a buy and hold strategy you only have to buy. In theory, you never sell. So this is a perfect strategy if you can’t control your emotions. But it’s also a very boring strategy. There is no excitement in buying a stock or other assets one time and just being patient. When you first start investing, everything is exciting. But the most exciting feeling comes when you see your plan is working like intended. Then again, who says that investing should be exciting? In the end, only your return on investment is what counts.
9.2 Buy the dip
Buy the dip is a strategy that can get you near or above average results. It’s main focus is to buy in at the bottom and sell at the top. Instead of buying in at a fixed position with your whole stash you buy or sell in steps. This strategy works very well in times when markets are trending (going up and down). Your position size will increase when the trend goes down and when the trend goes up.
Let’s say we want to invest $10.000 with this strategy:
|Position size downtrend (buying)|
|Position 1: $100|
|Position 2: $200|
|Position 3: $300|
|Position 4: $400|
|Position 5: $500|
|Position 6: $750|
|Position 7: $1000|
|Position 8: $1500|
|Position 9: $2250|
|Position 10: $3000|
Do note that you can determine any amount of positions you like. In this case, we made ten positions. But you might also make twenty positions with smaller steps in between or three positions with big steps. The key is that in a downtrend the following step always has a bigger position then the step before. In an uptrend you have exactly the same positions but then the other way around.
An real life example:
This chart represents the bitcoin - US dollar chart on bitstamp in the one day timeframe (each candle is one day of trading) from januari 2020 until june 2020.
Summer 2019 and early 2020 bitcoin was not doing anything special. There was no big news driving the market. Although the market rose from $7000 to $10.000 in just a few months. Then suddenly around march 2020 there were signs of Covid-19 causing issues. People started dying and the virus seemed highly infectious. Hospitals all around the world started to get under immense pressure. They could not handle that many sick people. People started worrying, countries introduced lockdowns and other measures in an attempt to keep the hospitalizations unter control.
As you can imagine, this is very bad news for investors. Because the lockdowns will put pressure on many people and businesses. As a result, almost all markets (stock and crypto) started plummeting. This started at the red arrow in the chart. If you were an investor at that time or not, it would be impossible to not hear or read about this virus. It was everywhere in the news for weeks and months and is actually still controlling the news at this time of writing (july 2021). In other words, something big is going on all around the world. The exact same thing happened in 2008 when the financial crisis hit.
These kinds of events are prone to trigger investors to take profits and dump their shares causing a collapse of the stock and crypto market. Bitcoin plummeted from $8000 to almost $3800 in just a few days. When the market is crashing, more and more people will start noticing. Some people will panic and think:
This panic thinking will cause other people to do exactly the same thing. But at some point, investors will always start buying. In this scenario, bitcoin went down to almost $3800 but in a matter of minutes/hours already bounced up again to $5000. There is no way of knowing beforehand how far and fast bitcoin would drop. That's why you already need to set your positions before the panic starts. You had at least a few days (after the red arrow mark) before the real panic started to set in.
Using this strategy you could use the following positions:
|Position size||Price of bitcoin||Amount of bitcoin bought|
Note that the last two positions are not hit. The last successful position was hit around $4100 (blue arrow in the chart). Although you have two more big positions, they were never hit. When you are setting your positions, you have no way of knowing how far bitcoin will drop. So you have to spread out your initial $10.000 in different positions and different prices. Based on your own analysis.
If you want to make sure you always buy in at the lowest position possible, you simply put multiple positions all the way down to $0. So this strategy requires you to think about how low a market will go. Is there anyone on this planet that thought:
Not a chance. And if someone actually thought about this, it was pure luck that bitcoin bounced back up around $4000. You simply can’t know. So that's why you buy in at set positions before the panic starts. It’s up to you how many positions you want and how much you want to buy at each position. If you set your positions too tight you might end up missing the lowest low. If you set your positions too low, you will miss out on your biggest positions. But always remember the mental approach, don’t be greedy!
You could also change the position size to $1000 each position instead of raising the amount each position. In this case, if you had $1000 in position 1 - 10 you would have more bitcoin vs the above example. But if bitcoin would have dropped to $3450, you would have more bitcoin with the above example.
So basically you have to think about your strategy:
- How many positions do I want?
- How much do I want to spend or buy in each position?
There are literally millions of choices. When you are using this strategy to buy stocks you have to determine how many stocks you want to buy each position. Because you can’t buy half stocks. You have to buy whole stocks. For example, when a stock is trading for $100, you can’t buy a half stock for $50. It’s either one stock for $100 or nothing. Some companies do have an option to buy small parts of a stock. This is usually the case when the original stock is trading for very high prices. For example, the investing company of Warren Buffet (Berkshire Hataway) is trading for $400k +. While it’s B stock is trading for $280.
If we look at the bitcoin chart you will notice a big drop marked by the blue arrow. This drop occurred in just one day:
If you did not set your position before this day, you would have missed this dip. In this case, our positions are all the way down to $3400. This also means that (most of the time) your biggest positions will not be filled. If you set your position too tight and prices drop much lower than your last position, you end up buying the asset for above average prices. And it will be harder to make profits. So it’s crucial to really think about your positions and determine how low the market might drop.
With taking profits, you’ll use the same strategy just the other way around. You first need to determine when you want to sell. This can be at whatever position you want. In this case we have set the first sell point (green number 1) at $5850. From this position and up, you will sell more bitcoin at each position.
|Position size uptrend (selling in bitcoin)|
|Position 10: 0.8696|
|Position 9: 0.5921|
|Position 8: 0.3659|
|Position 7: 0.2247|
|Position 6: 0.1546|
|Position 5: 0.0952|
|Position 4: 0.0684|
|Position 3: 0.0465|
|Position 2: 0.0284|
|Position 1: 0.0131|
When selling your position, you can also determine how many positions you want and how much you want to sell at each position. In this example we have ten positions buying in and ten positions selling. But you might as well have ten positions buying in and just five positions selling. The key point of this strategy is that you will always buy in the most at the lowest price points and sell the most at the highest price points. It does not mean you always have to sell. That totally depends on your strategy.
When prices were dropping march 2020, I used this strategy to buy Vanguard FTSE all world ETF:
When we look at the chart, you can see at 21 feb. the price of this ETF was €87. I started buying when the price was €75 and bought more with each step.
And the lowest price (visible on this chart):
In reality, the lowest price was just below €60. In this case there was €5 between each step with the aim of buying more each step. There were more orders set below €60 but the price never went below €58. I did not sell any positions because I want to hold this for the long term. The price of this ETF is now €108 (november 2021). This investment is now €4000 + in profit excluding the payout of dividends.
9.3 Using technical indicators & day trading
Day trading is all about trading at short time frames. Most day traders use the hour or (five or fifteen) minute charts. This means that every candle represented in the chart is either one hour or one minute of price action. Most trades are opened and closed within the same day. Since day trading is done on the same day, you need volatile markets to make profits or you need leverage. Most day traders are trading forex and have to use leverage most of the time to make profits.
What is forex trading?
Reward: +10 XP 0 0 0
Why would most day traders need leverage when trading forex?
Reward: +10 XP 0 0 0
Day trading is mostly based on determining a strategy beforehand. Meaning calculating the risk and profit before you place a trade. In the world of trading, there are countless technical indicators you can use to determine a trading strategy. If you want to know everything about day trading and technical indicators you can read the Ultimate Day Trading guide.
9.4 Value investing
Value investing is all about finding companies that are below their intrinsic value using fundamental analysis. Every company on the stock market is being valued. This value is represented in the price per stock. Sometimes companies are overvalued. This will mostly happen because of future predictions. For example, around 2000 everyone thought that computer companies would be the next best thing to owning gold. Because the internet and IT were booming at these times. Everyone bought stocks of IT companies. But this overvaluation was not based on the intrinsic value of the companies involved. Most IT stocks were very overvalued at that time and when this became apparent the market collapsed.
We can see the same thing happening today with stocks like Tesla and Gamestop. Tesla is a great company but their current stock price does not represent their intrinsic evaluation. Gamestop was pumped by many investors not relating to anything the company is doing. In crypto, the same thing happened when Elon Musk pumped Dogecoin to all time highs. The price was pumped based on emotions rather than intrinsic value.
Value investing is a strategy practised by Warren Buffet and revolves around diving in the fundamentals of a company first before buying stocks. Because all companies are obligated to deposit their financials with the SEC and other institutions, you can dive into those numbers and make your own evaluation of the company without ever looking at the current stock price. When you have figured out their true value, then you can look at the stock price if it’s priced below or above the intrinsic value. If you did you analysis correctly and found that the current stock price is undervalued you may decide to buy this stock and hold it for the long term.
9.5 Dollar cost averaging
What is dollar cost averaging?
Reward: +10 XP 0 0 0
An effective approach is investing a certain amount of money each month instead of a lump sum of money. For example:
If you have $10.000 you can put $10.000 in an ETF at once. Or you can buy the same ETF for $833,33 each month for the next twelve months. One of the benefits of dollar cost averaging is that you will always buy for the average price. Markets will always go up and down in the long run. With dollar cost averaging you are averaging out the highs and the lows. That does not mean that it will always return more money vs lump sum investing.
You can never time the market. Dollar cost averaging is always the better option in a bear market. Since in the bear market prices of stocks will mostly go down. Meaning that you can buy the same stock for lower prices each month. If you just use a lump sum you will miss out on buying lower than your initial buy. But the chance that you start investing in a financial crisis is pretty rare. There is actually not much difference between investing a lump sum of money vs dollar cost averaging.
Dollar cost averaging:
- You will always pay the average price of the stock
- You will always get average returns
- You will buy more stocks when the price is low and less stocks when the price is high
Lump sum investing:
- Buy and forget approach
- More money in the market
- Returns are based on your entry
With lump sum investing, there is more money in the market vs dollar cost averaging (dca). With dca, it takes time to build up your account. While with lump sum investing your money is all in from the start. The drawback of lump sum investing is that you might buy at a peak in the market. If you do so, that means you will have returns below average. But, if you buy at near lows you will see big profits. But since you cannot time or predict the market, both strategies have very similar results in the long run (10+ years).
9.6 Cash ready to invest
It’s very important to understand that there will be times that you simply should not invest. For example, when stocks are very overpriced it might be best to stay in cash. Cash is very important because cash allows you to take positions regardless if the market is good or bad. You should always have some percentage of your assets in cash. At some point in time markets will collapse. This happened multiple times in the last 20 years. There were very big drops in the market. The funny thing is, almost everyone thinks these drops are bad and people start selling. But these are the exact moments when a pile of cash can give you the opportunity to buy in low. This is not possible if you have no spare money on the side. These events only happen a few times in a decade. Some examples:
- Internet bubble 2000
- Financial crisis 2008
- Covid-19 pandemic 2020
And although you can never time the market, at some point you will notice patterns. The most recent event during this time of writing is the Covid-19 pandemic. As soon as every newspaper was talking about Covid-19 infections, sick people and deaths, markets all around the world plummeted. When newspapers are flooding with bad news, then it's worth taking closer look.
The S&P 500 was skyrocketing at the time, reaching all time highs of $3400 early 2020. When Covid was here, in just two months the S&P 500 plummeted to $2200. This was the biggest drop in history of the S&P 500. As an investor, as weird as it may sound, this is very promising news. Because of the simple fact that you can now buy the S&P 500 for $2200 instead of $3400 two months earlier. Just 1.5 years later, the S&P 500 is now (july 2021) trading for $4400. You now have 100% profit for all the shares you could buy at $2200. That’s a big amount of profit for assets like the S&P 500. Although it’s impossible to buy at exactly the lowest point and sell at the highest peak. In theory you could make 100% profit by just reading the news and watching the sentiment on the market.
What are shares?
Reward: +10 XP 0 0 0
In reality you could have combined cash ready to invest with the buy the dip strategy explained above. If you did the exact same thing on the S&P 500, you would now (2021) have thousands in profit (depending on how much money you invested).
These are the exact moments you wish you had some cash (that you don’t need) to invest and gain profits in troubling markets. You should always do your own research on patterns because markets are mostly emotional driven. If you can spot trends in emotional events you can profit from them. While it might be a good idea to have some cash on the side for these big emotional events, you also might lose money. For example:
Let's imagine you start investing in 2014 (first green arrow). At that moment in time, the S&P 500 reached its highest price in history. The highest tops before that were in the year 2000 and 2008. If you have a pile of cash waiting for an opportunity you have to wait all the way up to the end of 2018. But even the lowest low in 2018 is much higher than the starting price in 2014. Although you could buy relatively cheaply in 2018, you still lost money if you would just invest it all in 2014.
There actually is no best moment to jump in the stock market. The right time is now. Because you'll never know what will happen next. The market could double in the next 10 years like it did the last decade (2010-2020). We could also face ten years of despair due to new Covid-19 variants. Who knows…
But always remember cash is king when markets are going down.
9.7 Trading like a casino
Successful day trading is purely based on mathematics. There is no luck involved. Because numbers don’t lie. Many businesses are built around mathematics. Think about betting companies like Unibet. The things you bet on are based on mathematics. If it was not, Unibet would be bankrupt within a month. All casinos in the world follow the same system. The simple fact is, if probability is on your side, you’ll never lose in the long term. That is mathematically impossible.
A casino will never lose money in the long term. Simply because they win more trades (games) then they lose. And the amount of games they lose is actually quite big. A casino loses at least 40% of all the games played. Even if they lose 49% of all games played, they still win 51%. One percent seems small but this applies to every game ever played. So they make 1% profit of every play in the casino on average. Multiply that with all visitors all around the world and that will make a huge amount of money. They even throw in free food and drinks. Because they know that for each bet you make, they have a higher chance of winning. The best tactic for anyone visiting the casino is simply place just one bet and call it a day.
In European roulette you have 37 numbers to bet on. Only one number is not in your favor: 0. When the ball rolls on zero the house wins. Your chance of winning when placing a bet on a red or black number is:
- Red: 18/37 = 48.6%
- Black: 18/37 = 48.6%
Without going into the specific numbers, you can already see that the casino has a higher chance of winning. The longer you play, the more you lose. Adam Khoo made a great video about this:
If you base your trading system on mathematical outcomes, it is impossible to lose in the long term. As Adam explains in the end, even a negative amount of winning trades can be in your favor. For example, if you make one hundred trades and you lose sixty trades and only win forty that might seem bad. But if you lose $1 every time you lose and win $2 everytime you win then you lose $60 but win $80.
This is how professional traders make money in the long term. Using trading systems where they have a mathematical advantage.
9.8 One up on Wall street
Peter Lynch (manager of the Magellan Fund at Fidelity Investments between 1977 and 1990, Lynch averaged a 29.2% annual return) wrote the book “One up on Wall Street”. He described some interesting tactics that large hedge funds and other big players on wall street can’t use. This tactic is based on your eyes and ears. You can already know in advance if something might be a potential winner. For example, when you hear your kids and their friends talk about a certain game or toy all day long. This will tell you that this game or toy is doing something positive. This gives you the signal to check out the manufacturer of that game or toy and check if they happen to have any stocks.
You might also hear random people talk about a service or product in the supermarket or grocery store. If you keep your eyes and ears open, you can find hidden gems that the market has not appreciated yet. In general, successful products or services can make a company very big. If everyone is talking about a certain brand, service or whatever, you should take a look if this company is trading stocks and what the current stock price is. Two prime examples:
At some point in time, Tesla was more prominent in the news. Tesla is one the main manufacturers of Electric Vehicles or EV’s. They were the pioneers in mass producing and marketing their cars. As conventional resources are running out, EV is the next step in the future. And it makes sense. Though Tesla is certainly not the best EV manufacturer or has made the most progress, they certainly have the best known EV named Tesla. If you think about EV, you think about Tesla right?
That does not mean you should blindly invest. There are some tricky things about Tesla. The EV market is rising so quickly it’s becoming overpriced. The current stock price does not represent the true value of Tesla but is purely based on wishful thinking and hopes for the future. The exact same thing happened in 2000 with the internet bubble. The Internet was the future back then and investors overbought any company they could find that had something to do with the internet.
Tesla is a great company, but also has a somewhat weird owner. Elon Musk sended out multiple tweets about his company which caused investors to panic and lose a lot of money. It’s also prohibited by law to influence investors like this.
Elon is a brilliant man but sometimes he does some weird things. He’s also criticised by the community when he was influencing the price of Dogecoin. Many people lost money, but also many people made profits.
Main story is, Tesla is doing something great. If you managed to buy some stocks in 2010 for no more than $3 you could sell them in 2021 for $1200 (!) a piece.
The second example is moderna. This example is purely based on some logical thinking. Sometimes it’s very obvious what might happen with certain stocks. Moderna is a pharmaceutical company producing all kinds of medicines and vaccines based on Messenger RNA, or mRNA. This is a new way of fighting diseases. They entered the stock market in 2018. At that point in time, there was no specific reason to buy Moderna. But then in 2019/2020 the corona pandemic hit…
The race began between multiple pharmaceutical companies to develop the first working vaccine. And the main reason they wanted to be the first is $$$. Can you imagine if you were the first company that developed a successful vaccine against a current virus? You will hit newspapers and TV stations all around the world! The best free marketing you can ever get. Any global crisis is a very strong signal of upcoming disturbances in the stock market. Just like the internet bubble and financial/housing crisis in 2008. Many stocks plummeted.
If you simply look at this from a distance, what would happen to the stock of pharmaceutical companies that successfully developed a medicine or vaccine for a currently threatening virus? This vaccine has great demand so they are able to sell hundreds of millions or even billions. The stock of Moderna went from $17 in 2019 to $430+ in 2021. Would this have happened when there was no Covid pandemic? Certainly not.
Since we are dealing with a highly contagious virus, that means traveling is out of the question. As a logical response, airplane companies all around the world suffered greatly. You don’t need to know any fundamentals. Even if these airplane companies were doing great for the last ten years, the only logical response to a pandemic with this proportion is that airplanes must stay grounded. And that is costing billions of dollars resulting in heavy losses in the overall market. American airlines plummeted from almost $30 to $10 in just a few weeks. They are recovering at this moment (2021) with a stock price of $20.
If you keep an eye out for global events, you already have the knowledge that something will happen in the stock market. With events like Covid-19, you already know that every airplane company gets hit and that pharmaceutical companies creating vaccines will be rewarded by investors. Also be on the lookout for things you hear in the supermarket, from your kids, neighbours and colleagues. If someone is excited about a product or service that is not well known yet you might find a hidden gem.
How to find great opportunities in the market before Wall Street and the masses:
One Up On Wall Street
One Up On Wall Street. Find hidden gems in the stock market not touchable by Wall Street and not noticed by the masses.View book on Amazon.com
Chapters: Trading and Investing Guide for Beginners
Join the conversation.