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How to Trade Stocks While Working a Full-Time Job

Just because you have a day job doesn't mean you can't try your hand at the stock market. Here's how to trade stocks while working a full-time job.


To someone new to investing, the world of trading stocks can be an exciting, but scary, realm to enter. While prudent and conscientious investors can have a highly rewarding experience, many people struggle with the constant attention and focus that is required for day trading or other high maintenance stock market activities. These issues are further compounded if you try to balance exploring the stock market and stock trading while working a full-time job.

If you've been interested in trying your hand at the stock market, but you're wary of leaving your full-time job, fear not! With the knowledge of appropriate trading strategies and long-term planning, it is absolutely possible to trade stocks while working a full-time job. The advice and strategies in this article will help you find the perfect balance for your own needs as you start trading. And hey, if you find you have a knack for the stock market, you can set the longer term goal of quitting your day job and becoming one of the stock market's full-time traders.

Picking the Right Kind of Trading

There are endless styles of stock trading, but most fall into two broad categories: day trading and swing trading. Day trading is generally less forgiving, requiring constant focus and attention during business hours. The best day trading strategies stem from an awareness of everything between major trends to minute, five- or ten-cent shifts in the market. If you're trying to trade stocks while working a full-time job, day trading is probably not for you.

While you could theoretically try your hand at day trading part-time, you can only focus for so many hours in a day. Even if your day job doesn't interfere with regular market hours, it's a tall order to try and focus for several hours of live trading after a full day of work at your regular full-time job. Eventually, your day trading or your day job (or both) will start to suffer, so I can't recommend this approach for most people. And I certainly don't recommend trading while working your day job, as that's just asking for trouble.

Swing trading, on the other hand, can be much more forgiving than day trading. Rather than focus on small price fluctuations and other short-term activity as it happens, a swing trader studies price moves and trends over a longer term so that constant, direct attention is not required. Thankfully, the learning curve and core principles of how to work the stock market are basically the same whether you're day trading or swing trading, and any experience you gain with one style won't be wasted if you decide to switch to the other.

Take advantage of features on your trading platform.

Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

The modern stock market is much easier to tackle compared to what it was like in past decades. Mobile stock trading apps allow you to monitor the market and buy or sell stocks from anywhere in the world. It only makes sense for you to take advantage of these technological advancements to make it easier for you to trade stocks while working a full-time job. Even some free apps have the capability of setting alerts, allowing you to go about your life until the opportune moment when a stock reaches the exact price you want to buy or sell at. The app will alert you immediately via email or text, and you can make your move from your trading platform immediately.

Modern mobile trading platform apps make it easier than ever to start trading on the stock market, even if you're still holding down a separate full-time job. Be aware of this fact and the advantages that it holds for you. For example, full-time traders are much more dependent on successful trading than you are. These high stakes can make them more prone to making mistakes. If you already have a full-time job in addition to working the stock market, that means you don't have to stress as much as full-time traders. Take your time and think about your decisions, but don't let yourself become complacent. 

Pitfalls

There are a number of issues that can arise if you try to trade stocks while working a full-time job at the same time. Generally, however, the most common investment mistakes can be avoided or coped with as long as you're aware of them.

I mentioned that the basic principles of swing trading and day trading are relatively the same, but if you are new to stock trading, it is not recommended for you to shift between the two. Part of learning to become an efficient trader on the stock market is studying your past decisions in order to learn from your mistakes as well as capitalize on your successes. If you're constantly flip-flopping between day trading and swing trading, it'll become almost impossible to analyze trends in your own investments. Until you really know what you're doing, it's best to find whichever method is most suited to your lifestyle and stick with that method for at least six months, preferably a year, before considering a change.

Impatience is the single greatest enemy of part-time and full-time traders alike, as it can invite countless pointless mistakes. Never make a move just because the market is stagnant and you're bored. If your stocks are stable, take a step back—especially if you're a swing trader. Long-term patience is even more important, as you must overcome the conception that the stock market is somehow an effective way to get rich quick. The majority of part-time traders don't follow through after just a few months. Patience and persistence is the only path toward eventually turning stock trading into a highly profitable venture, and that is true regardless of what method you use or whether you have a full-time job or anything else.

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