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A Survival Guide During Slow Stock Market Times

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Written by Timothy Sykes
Updated 1/9/2023 7 min read

Slow Market Survival

Nobody likes thinking about a slow stock market, but sometimes it does happen so you better be prepared. Yes, yes I know; it’s not fun, it’s not exciting, and it’s not typically time when traders are making big earnings. However, it is an important and inevitable part of trading so you better to learn to survive during the bleak times as it’s good for your training as if you’re going to be my next millionaire trading challenge student you must learn to adapt to different market environments.

Since the stock market is cyclical, it’s very important to consider your game plan for when the market gets slow as it does happen from time to time. Here are some tips for how to stay sane when the market seems to be standing still, too many traders get impatient and do stupid things that cost them big so don’t let that happen to you!

1. Know that the market moves in cycles. It may not be the most exciting fact of trading, but the market is ever evolving. Various factors including the economy, the time of the year, and world events can play into stocks and how they perform. As a trader, it can be scary and disorienting to realize that the market has shifted. If you’ve been working a certain setup that has been working well, a change in the market can throw your technique off balance. 

Simply knowing that the market can, and will, the shift is a big part of slow market survival. You can’t take it personally, and you can’t change it. Accepting it versus fighting it is really a big part of the battle…adapt…or perish.

2. Consider whether or not trading is a good idea. Actively trading during times when the market is slow isn’t always a good idea. It’s a risk that should be strongly considered. This is a key aspect of slow market survival.

Overtrading in slow times can be a bad decision, not only for your account but for your state of mind. When the market is thriving, that is the time to get in there. However, when the market is very still, you are likely just going to mess with your own mind and self-confidence as a trader, not to mention grind your account down. Sometimes, an element of watchful waiting can be beneficial. 

3. Know how to recognize market changes. One of the biggest keys slow market survival is simply being able to recognize that the market has shifted. Believe it or not, it’s not always immediately evident; it might just seem like you’re having some off days. But if you’ve been reliably making profits using particular setups and it doesn’t seem to be working anymore, in spite of your best efforts and careful research, it might not be you: it might be the market. 

Recognizing market changes is something that you’ll learn in time as a trader. The ability to identify market shifts will allow you to be proactive about altering your trading methods so that you can survive. 

4. Adapt to the market. Beyond simply recognizing market changes, it’s important to know when it’s time to make a change in your trading based on the state of the market. One way to stay on top of this is by monitoring your winning percentages. If your percentages are going down consistently, this can be a sign that it’s time to adapt. Be honest with yourself: is it just you getting lazy, and not doing your research? If so, it may be time to get yourself back into following good habits. However, if you’re being responsible, studying, doing research, and working reliable setups and your percentages are still going down, it may be necessary to adapt to meet the market where it stands.

5. Look at who is making profits. The market may get slow, but it’s not at a standstill. Someone is still profiting. If you want to continue trading during slow market times, one technique that members of the Tim Sykes Million Challenge team might use is to really study the market to determine not only who is profiting, but how…for example learn from my newest millionaire student here as he’s been banking nicely lately!

Tim Sykes studying and trading
© Millionaire Media, LLC

Copying another trader’s techniques will rarely work out for the best. However, you can gain plenty of inspiration and direction from other traders who are making money when the market is slow. So if you can find who is making money, try to evaluate how they are doing it so that you can adapt their methods to fit your own routine.

6. Know what to look for. Particularly as a new trader, it can be hard to know what to look for in a trade. This is true all of the time, but definitely when the market is slow. Unfortunately, there’s not one easy answer to this: a lot of it comes with observation and experience. But over time, you’ll begin to identify what types of trades work in various market conditions. Take notes and learn from your experience. The market will come back up to speed, but in time, it will become slow again. Knowing what to look for in trades in all sorts of market conditions is a truly valuable thing for traders…be sure to watch this entire complimentary guide to learn how to pick the best stocks to trade and obviously this tool is crucial too!

7. Improve your knowledge base. So, if you’re not actively trading when the market is slow, what are you doing? Members of the Tim Sykes Millionaire Challenge won’t be surprised to hear what I have to say. Study!

When the market is slow, you have an opportunity to increase your knowledge base, study up, and improve your trading know-how. This means that when the market bounces back, you’ll be a better trader.

8. Enjoy the time off. When the market is moving at a rapid pace, you need to keep up with it as there are plays galore, but it can also be exhausting. So when the market is slow, be sure to enjoy your time off!

Rest up, go travel or workout, spend time with friends and family, engage in activities that are meaningful to you. The market is not going to be slow forever, so enjoy this rest while you can and make the most out of it!

Surviving a slow market is challenging for traders of all levels, from the newbies to the old pros. However, by following these tips you’ll be able to improve your overall outlook and mindset during these slow times so that you can ride whatever waves the market sends your way…and this is part of your journey to becoming my next millionaire trading challenge student as knowing when NOT to trade is a key component of your overall knowledge.

So, leave a comment below and let me know what you like to do during slow periods and make sure you stick to it when the time comes!

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Timothy Sykes

Tim Sykes is a penny stock trader and teacher who became a self-made millionaire by the age of 22 by trading $12,415 of bar mitzvah money. After becoming disenchanted with the hedge fund world, he established the Tim Sykes Trading Challenge to teach aspiring traders how to follow his trading strategies. He’s been featured in a variety of media outlets including CNN, Larry King, Steve Harvey, Forbes, Men’s Journal, and more. He’s also an active philanthropist and environmental activist, a co-founder of Karmagawa, and has donated millions of dollars to charity. Read More

* Results are not typical and will vary from person to person. Making money trading stocks takes time, dedication, and hard work. There are inherent risks involved with investing in the stock market, including the loss of your investment. Past performance in the market is not indicative of future results. Any investment is at your own risk. See Terms of Service here

The available research on day trading suggests that most active traders lose money. Fees and overtrading are major contributors to these losses.

A 2000 study called “Trading is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors” evaluated 66,465 U.S. households that held stocks from 1991 to 1996. The households that traded most averaged an 11.4% annual return during a period where the overall market gained 17.9%. These lower returns were attributed to overconfidence.

A 2014 paper (revised 2019) titled “Learning Fast or Slow?” analyzed the complete transaction history of the Taiwan Stock Exchange between 1992 and 2006. It looked at the ongoing performance of day traders in this sample, and found that 97% of day traders can expect to lose money from trading, and more than 90% of all day trading volume can be traced to investors who predictably lose money. Additionally, it tied the behavior of gamblers and drivers who get more speeding tickets to overtrading, and cited studies showing that legalized gambling has an inverse effect on trading volume.

A 2019 research study (revised 2020) called “Day Trading for a Living?” observed 19,646 Brazilian futures contract traders who started day trading from 2013 to 2015, and recorded two years of their trading activity. The study authors found that 97% of traders with more than 300 days actively trading lost money, and only 1.1% earned more than the Brazilian minimum wage ($16 USD per day). They hypothesized that the greater returns shown in previous studies did not differentiate between frequent day traders and those who traded rarely, and that more frequent trading activity decreases the chance of profitability.

These studies show the wide variance of the available data on day trading profitability. One thing that seems clear from the research is that most day traders lose money .

Millionaire Media 66 W Flagler St. Ste. 900 Miami, FL 33130 United States (888) 878-3621 This is for information purposes only as Millionaire Media LLC nor Timothy Sykes is registered as a securities broker-dealer or an investment adviser. No information herein is intended as securities brokerage, investment, tax, accounting or legal advice, as an offer or solicitation of an offer to sell or buy, or as an endorsement, recommendation or sponsorship of any company, security or fund. Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes cannot and does not assess, verify or guarantee the adequacy, accuracy or completeness of any information, the suitability or profitability of any particular investment, or the potential value of any investment or informational source. The reader bears responsibility for his/her own investment research and decisions, should seek the advice of a qualified securities professional before making any investment, and investigate and fully understand any and all risks before investing. Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes in no way warrants the solvency, financial condition, or investment advisability of any of the securities mentioned in communications or websites. In addition, Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes accepts no liability whatsoever for any direct or consequential loss arising from any use of this information. This information is not intended to be used as the sole basis of any investment decision, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the investment needs of any particular investor. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future returns.

Citations for Disclaimer

Barber, Brad M. and Odean, Terrance, Trading is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors. Available at SSRN: “Day Trading for a Living?”

Barber, Brad M. and Lee, Yi-Tsung and Liu, Yu-Jane and Odean, Terrance and Zhang, Ke, Learning Fast or Slow? (May 28, 2019). Forthcoming: Review of Asset Pricing Studies, Available at SSRN: “https://ssrn.com/abstract=2535636”

Chague, Fernando and De-Losso, Rodrigo and Giovannetti, Bruno, Day Trading for a Living? (June 11, 2020). Available at SSRN: “https://ssrn.com/abstract=3423101”