Start the Adventure by Remembering YOU Are the Adventure

[There are many Traders and investors out there looking for a simpler way to manage their portfolios so they can focus their energies on the things that really matter. Reader Marz Bonfire (a pseudonym) submitted this excellent piece that reminds us to keep it simple and remember why we do what we do.]

 

Marz Bonfire can be found on StockTwits: @MarzBonfire

As well as at his Marz Bonfire blog


 

On the road to becoming a trader I took the long way.

I careened down Madison Avenue and never even set foot on Wall Street, except once for a photo shoot.

Becoming a minimalist trader was even more circuitous . . . 24 years ago I backpacked through Europe and never forgot how good it felt.

I was a free-spirited English major and a bit on the wild side. You could say I didn’t really speak the language of those who were destined for the Street.

I had a slight problem too. In the third grade I was in love with the beautiful girl who sat next to me, and instead of learning how to convert fractions to decimals, I was more concerned with holding hands under the desk.

So while I was always drawn to the stock market, split-second math conversions weren’t exactly my strong point.

The final decision came one October morning in Venice, Italy. I called home from the train station to hear that the stock market had collapsed over 20% in one day. So there were no more jobs on Wall Street anyway.

How Madison Avenue prepared me to be a trader is a long and twisted tale, best told another time.

But backpacking through Europe? Now there’s something that enriched my life and has remained vivid all these years. It was an immensely positive experience that has continuously inspired me to keep things simple.

The simple joy of backpacking came from the Zen feeling of carrying my entire world with me. I was a single unit that could go anywhere and do anything at any time. It was ultimate freedom. It felt pure and clean. A feeling that never really left me.

So the question is how do I incorporate this feeling into my trading and into my travels?

Again, by keeping it simple.

First off, specialize. One thing I hated about “day trading” was waking up to hundreds of new stocks each day that were moving all over the place in a frenzy. Find one stock that you can get in tune with and trade it exclusively. For me, it’s the S&P. I can trade e-minis, ETFs, OEX or SPY options and still focus on just one market.

Second, by being a specialist, you need a lot less screen real estate. You can trade on a laptop, which I do exclusively.

Third, learn how to take the risk out of your positions. I do this by hedging against options. At any given time, I am long and short the S&P in a variety of different instruments and across multiple time frames. Depending on my schedule I can make it as simple or as complex as I want. Life is a lot more Zen when you’re holding free options while off the edge of a map somewhere.

Fourth, like Sean I keep my overhead low. I’m a confirmed renter. I’ve edited my life down to as much as I can fit in my car. The antiques and the funky furniture from Manhattan are gone. So is the Porsche. The rest goes neatly in storage.

Gone are the nagging layers of account people and endless committees and clients and meetings and international language issues or music copyright complexities. There is only the black and white possibility of making money or losing money. No commute, no employees, no overheard. The here and now. Pure and clean.

Coming from that stressful world, I was determined to find a way to trade as calm as possible.

That’s how I found options. And how I learned to hedge. And how I’m still here.

It was a long road. But the journey has been the reward.

Along the way I’ve rediscovered the simple joys of life and that wonderful Zen feeling of carrying my entire world with me.

When my family or friends need a hand, I can be there to help no matter where they live. I’m even “on call” with some of them to move their cars around the country from time to time. I even got a ski vacation in Breckenridge from it.

I’ve lived in California. I’ve lived in Arizona. I’ve driven through all the lower 48 states. Right now I’m in Texas. I agree with Steve McQueen who said “I’d rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth.” ¬†Next I’d like to move abroad and learn a new language or two.

Motion is yang. Stillness is yin. When I travel, I strive for yin trading. When my life is yin, I go for yang in my trading.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that trading success is not something that begins in the future. It begins right here and right now. There is no other place to get to.

You start the adventure by remembering you are the adventure.

[Thank you, MB. This was a powerful piece. If anybody else has stories to tell of applying minimalism to their trading, please contact me. I'd love to share your stories on this blog]

The information in this blog post represents my own opinions and does not contain a recommendation for any particular security or investment. I or my affiliates may hold positions or other interests in securities mentioned in the Blog, please see my Disclaimer page for my full disclaimer.

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