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Wondering how to start...again

I tried trading twice in the last 15 years with no success(-35k). Trading is something I always find myself attracted to so here I am again wanting to make it work. The one advantage I have now is I appreciate how hard it is. I am a contractor by trade and thus have to work during the day. I could trade west coast time from 6am to 730am (day trade?)and or review the market at 5pm and have a trade ready to place in the morning (trend trade?). I also have Vantage Point software but have not used it yet.
I have a few questions after just reading Trading for a Living by Dr. Alexander Elder and Trade your way to financial Freedom by Van K. Tharp. If you consider the basic costs of trading such as data feed, commission and slippage is it really possible for a beginner with a 5k account to make enough to cover those costs plus grow the account. My guess that with taxes one would have to make 10% a month just to cover costs. Can a beginner do that?
Has the recent volatility in the S&P made it a bad time for a beginner with a 5k account to trade the S&P mini?
I have a line on four different systems/methods/classes whose salespeople would love my money. Is there a great class or teacher that people would agree on would be great for someone like me?
Thank you
Virgo: Instead of trading real money have you tried paper trading (sim trading)? Before you lose another chunk of money I would suggest honing your skills by doing a whole lot of paper trading and see what sort of profits you can make.

Systems/methods/classes: There may be something out there but my logic and research says that there isn't. One of the best ways to learn, in my opinion, is to follow the day trading discussion thread on this forum each day and ask questions.
data feed is free, trading platform is fee you should get no overhead cost.
I'm gonna try to answer your questions as best I can, then I'm gonna add my 'two cents'.

There is plenty of volatility in the e-mini S&P from the times you say you can trade (6-730 PST, which is 9-1030 EST). Unless you're trend trading, which I would not recommended for a $5K account in the S&P emini, I would ditch the idea of reviewing the charts at night to set up a trade for the next day. Instead, I would look back at what the day session did and then use that data to build on your knowledge base and shoot for daytrading, which decreases your risk (besides, this is a daytrading forum). Instead, look for set-ups in the morning. Start with Charter Joe's Mini-IB setup, or Bruce's Pitbull method (or a slew of other suggestions in this forum and elsewhere). I'm not saying to trade them, just look at them and experiment and decide if that is the style of trading you want to do (which is good for the morning)

If you look in the right places, there are many brokers that will not only be happy to open your account with $5k, but they will also provide the charting and data with it in real time, and yes you can trade with $5k, that is how I started. Some brokers will let you park your capital there until you are ready to trade, so there is no pressure to start trading immediately.

As far as what markets to trade, that depends upon your comfort level, so I would tell you not to trade a thing until you have mastered the instrument you are tracking. For example, if you are interested in trading the emini S&P, then put the time in and know the market before you make your first trade. This leads me to what I'm about to say...

Virgo, I speak for myself but I'm sure others will relate to what I'm about to say. Trading takes practice, lots and lots of it. There are no short cuts, no systems, methods or strategies that will make you successful overnight without practice. I've been there, done that with the sales vendors. I always thought that If i could get just one thing down, some secret 'technique', then I would be on my road to riches (much like OurHero's post, see above). I would tell you, do not waste your time on venders with their methods; everything that they do has been done before, and most of it is free on the web, and even in this forum.

Some points I can tell you that helped me:
1. Screen time: watch the markets you are interested in everyday..track everything you can about them. track the ranges, the time of day that make moves, and the high and lows, etc.
2. Risk management
3. Have a trading plan
4. Have a handle on you; you have total control over the market risk you assume, and you take the responsibility for your trades.

I know this is a lot to digest, but I hope it helps you find your way
Hi! Im new to this forum and a novice so far on futures,
but I am a experienced forex trader,
I thought I could give some advise,
I definitely agree that you should honing your skills before diving into futures,
I don't think it would be more difficult trading but you need rather large acounts
compared to other financial instruments.
did you try the forex market?
if not it would be more suited for your money,
I suggest opening a micro acount with a reputed broker,
then you would get the chance to work on your trading and your self (psychology)
and keep your losses down to a minimum,
you don't get the psychology part with paper money,
I think this is the main reason why people are loosing,
the market is fear and greed and reactions to that.
learn some technical analysis,
you could begin trend trading which is really easy,
what you do is simply trade with the trend and set your stops above below swing highs lows,
I suggest you get the book " technical analysys of the financial markets" by Murpy
it's all in there,
don't waiste your money on useless courses.
I'd say when you can do that and be profitable,
then you can jump up to futures.
Great advice and I appreciate the thougtful responses, keep um coming please, I am reading and rereading them and following it up with exploring the site.
One question right now... is forex generally considered better for a beginner with a 5k account than the s&pmini? I have a feeling (that is not based on any experience)that the forex is impersonal and thus harder to predict its movements and thus harder to trade.
I agree there are no shortcuts but if you remember these few tidbits, your learning curve will be much shorter:

1. Dont ever lose site of the big picture - I still use Elders triple screen concept to this day (although I have altered it for the various time frames I trade and the indicators that I trade with. Ex.) For my day trading, I use the 30 minute chart for my big picture and then trade off the tick charts & the 1-5 minute charts.

2. The highest probability trades are buying dips in trend - you may want to look for repeatable patterns within this concept.

3. MASTER 1 SET-UP AT A TIME! Don't try & trade multiple systems/set-ups until you have mastered one. Buy the book - 'Trading in the Zone', read it, & then do the exercise at the end of the book (chapter 11 in my copy)
Gret post bingo I couldn't agree more.

I don't care what market a trader trades, or what time frame or even what method the 1st and most important rule is to try to identify losers asap and get rid of them. This is the traders rotten fruit, or "overhead" The choice is the traders large overhead that takes much larger chunk of the day to pay for or a small overhead that can be made quickly on a right choice. I'll never say it enough I have seen great traders trade a bad idea and make money because they know when there wrong. Forget indicators buying dips in a trend like davent said is one of the best things out there. When the trend flips and thats where screen time comes in take a small loss.
I love reading these kinds of posts, it's great real life info you won't get from a trading book.
Thanks everyone

I watched the movie "The Legend of Bagger Vance" ... In it he says "its time for you to see the field"

When he does ... all the people (clutter) disappear ...
How I went from losing to making $ as a trader:

1. Character - Perseverance, commitment, & self-control
2. Time - I wasn't profitable as a day trader for 3 years
3. Mentor-ship - I joined a few trading rooms for a brief period just to see how different traders traded in real time (I do not use any of their methods today but did gain some knowledge that I have incorporated into my own trading). I did 4 different ones each for about 1-2 months.
4. Focus - I narrowed my focus to trend trading equities & day trading the e-minis. I stopped swing trading, option trading, & any other kind of trading you can think of.
5. Re-read #1 & #2 above - cant be done without them.

One last point, aspiring traders need to have realistic expectations in terms of the time & effort required to succeed as well as the type of returns you can expect. I often come across newbies who think they can return 200% a year within 3-6 months. This is unrealistic in 99% of the cases IMO & experience.