My Trading Journal – An Overview

Everyone should have a trading journal.

Hey, you, asshole! Yeah, you! Do you have a trading journal?

I don’t care if you’re not trading. You should have a trading journal.

Don’t worry, I’m not expecting you to write the next big Diary of Adrian Mole or anything. Trading journals are literally when did you open your trade, why did you open your trade, what did you do with your trade, and repeat all of those questions for a close.

The benefits are pretty obvious. You’ve got context for each trade. You can see very specifically when you’ve screwed up. You can log the trades you would’ve taken but couldn’t for whatever reason. You can log trades taken in error and see how they perform or didn’t (and this particularly could lead to an entirely different trading strategy you never even saw originally). You can wrap everything up in statistics to give you better guidance.

There’s a lot of things you can do with a trading journal. Even better, they’re very little work to set up and only require a few minutes a day to update (depending entirely on how many trades you’ve taken). Trading journals are quite specific though – there’s no point you using mine if you trade in an entirely different way to me, as I’m going to have a bunch of columns and data to enter different to your strategy.

I’m going to show you mine as a sample and even offer it for download as an Excel spreadsheet but you should still build your own from scratch. In short, do some work, you work… shy… slacker. Bastard.

Let’s start with the basics that every trading journal should have.

Entry # – Pretty obvious really.
Date – Pretty obvious really.
Time – sigh
Instrument – Hooray! Actually something that might not insult your intelligence. This would be the pair you are trading on. e.g. GBPJPY
Direction – Is this trade a long or short?
Entry Price – What price was this trade officially taken at by your broker
Initial Stop Loss – What price did you place your initial stop loss (even if you don’t have a stop loss in your system you should still have this in your journal in case you change your system in the future)

If you had a coin flip system with set pip targets for your take profit and stop loss, you could probably get away with this and be done. It’s really that simple.

When your system is a little more complicated, like mine, you ideally need more detail. So, where do we go from here?

You look at your system, and determine the data you want to record from it.

At present, I trade on the 15m and have the following indicators:

  • A trend following indicator on the 15m that provides entry signals
  • An MTF version of the above that provides signal confirmations on the 4h and 1d
  • An exit indicator on the 15m that determines my initial stop and when I start moving my stops/take profits
  • An MTF version of the exit indicator that acts as an MTF confirmation for entries
  • A second confirmation indicator on the 15m that provides a secondary confirmation for my entry
  • An MTF third confirmation indicator that provides a long term trend confirmation for my entries

The things I know about my trend following indicator is that it repaints. In the moment it’s very strong, but it uses a repainting average so weaker signals can disappear (hence the multiple confirmation indicators to back up the indicator that determines my entries). As such, I have no ability to backtest this indicator outside of the alert entries I get. I can’t get much data off this if I’m not looking at it in the moment, so any historical logging is going to be weak at best.

My other indicators, potentially I can see quite a bit of data, but I also have a system where everything has to match. Therefore, any data I get from any of my indicators can’t really influence what I put on my trading journal at this point.

Okay, so none of that needs to be in my trading journal. What about the system though? How do I trade it?

Well, I know I have a stop loss and I know it moves based on my exit indicator. This can be candle-to-candle as well, so it can move quite a bit. So, I want a Final Stop Loss column, and in that, I can have a Pip Difference column to determine the jump between my Initial and Final stops.

I only have one way of exiting my trades at the moment – when the stop is hit – so I don’t need a column detailing what my exit’s triggered by, but I do need a Time of Exit. I can get an average time of trades using that information.

The next colums are all reasonably self-explanatory and all float around the result. Result, Actual Exit Price, Profit in Pips and Profit/Loss are all about getting the individual elements of your bank management/win and loss status committed to history.

The next bit can get a little bit complicated but it’s so important. Percentages. Maximum 100%. Minimum 0%. Perfect, or rock bottom. There is no extension.

% of bank – how much did you risk?
Running % – The running % increase or decrease of your initial deposit during your entire trading
Average trade % – what’s the average gain over time for your strategy?

It’s always worth noting the Recent News column as well, but also put a couple of columns aside to include Commentary and Chart. In commentary, add everything about how the trade changed and evolved and when. Did you change a stop loss, did you cash out a small amount, did you set a TP, was their an abnormal pip movement or change to one of your indicator’s status readings etc etc. This information will help you develop your strategy further in the future if you can find one or two things that keep happening in ways you aren’t expecting.

For those extra complicated trades, you can also include the screenshot of a chart so that things make sense when you look back on them in visual form.

So, there you go. My trading journal constantly evolves and this is just one part and one form of it – so should yours. Mine is available for download here as an Excel template in really basic form, but do develop your own. It’s important that you’re keeping the right data that’s going to help your own trading.

Fresh Start

So, you’ve woken up and discovered the terrible truth that you’re still on this hellhole of a planet and you’ve and stumbled into 2020.

Just… kill me now. But, I guess whilst we’re here, we may as well try and do something with it.

I do all my best thinking in the shower, and sometimes my best wanking as well. Given I’ve just gotten out I’m both proud and disappointed in equal amounts to state that in this case, it’s best thinking, about my trading and where to take this blog.

As of next week, I’ll be back up to relative trading full speed. The markets should start to see liquidity from the banks again as everyone comes back to work and tries to pull apart all the financial news that came from Christmas, and as the business news from Christmas retail sales and failures come through, so will come the first big impact to stocks and currencies alike.

Sometimes I wish this dispensed acid.

So, I’ve got quite a few articles I want to write to flesh out the content I’m delivering here a bit more, but also I’ll be starting to publicly monitor my trades here too, which was the whole point of this place from the start.

Let’s talk about how that’s going to look around here for the next month.

Fridays and weekends will feature both a preview of how I see the upcoming week and a roundup of trades from the previous week. Wednesdays and Saturdays will feature a variety of articles about both general trading and things more specific to me – breaking down my algorithim, my trading journal, things that I can share with you and you can hopefully contribute to and use, and reviews of existing trading systems and indicators and where they might plug in to both yours and my trading.

Hopefully by writing this for your pleasure, I can enhance my business too.

On February 1st, I’ll be reviewing this style and seeing if it’s worked out – and if I can keep up that kind of production level. Might be a big ask!

Onwards to next week!

Happy New Year – Let’s Go Get It!

Nope, I’m not tapping this out on my phone at midnight thinking about my almost non-existent readership as we start 2020 (I actually scheduled this post on the 22nd December, huehuehue).

But! I do care about you all making money, so this is the year we’re going to do it.

As far as I’m concerned, this is how I’ve finished off this year:

I’ll be damned if I’m repeating the same thing at the end of 2020.

Let’s go get it. Together.

Happy New Year.

His(my)Story, Part 4

I have an addictive personality. It’s fuelled by the need to be the best that I can be. I’m totally fine with losing, but I’m not okay with losing when I know there’s more in the tank. If I give up on something, it’s only ever temporary. So a massive cash injection gave me the fuel I needed to go deep.

My new job did not afford me the time to daytrade lose money every hour of the day, so I had to start looking at the daily timeframe. This was something of a revelation to me – those market spikes evaporated from the chart, trades seemed able to run longer, and I gained a whole new perspective from position size and risk management. Although I was not particularly any better at making money, I was starting to design my own systems that obeyed consistent rules and didn’t blow banks all in one go.

My bank manager would be so proud (or probably doesn’t care because I doubt he earns a single penny off my bullshit account)

However I was tired. Tired of searching for reasons why indicators weren’t working the way they promised. Tired of searching for third party junk that may or may not repaint a chart in its own way. Tired of still losing money. I’d made such a huge leap forward in terms of my understanding of market mechanics and trading psychology, but it hadn’t particularly made me any better.

I needed a break. Metatrader was uninstalled, and for a while it seemed like it might be the last time. Or so I thought.

Everything changed in 2017. Like, literally everything. I had a new job – one I actually liked – and a chance encounter that led to a chance relationship brought me back to the fold a few years later. The object of my affection was a single mum living in a far flung location. All of a sudden single life on a single man’s wage was no longer really viable. Gee, who knew?

I don’t know what my thought process was at the time to be honest. Probably infatuation? When you start thinking with your dick, your dick starts thinking for you. It wanted vagina, lubricant, handjobs and, I can only assume, with the general lack of attention I’d given it during “The Depression Years” it made an educated guess I was paying for the privilege. Therefore, the answer to this equation was…

Having had a year off, I was pleasantly surprised to find I was adopting a more considered approach. A couple of other forums and websites had come to prominence since my temporary retirement/massive paddy, and they had some proprietary indicators of their own that picked out market conditions with much greater accuracy than before.

Profits were coming in, but they were inconsistent and my accounts tended to hover around break even. Something was still missing.

Enter 2019. Enter… NNFX.

(just one more part guys, honest)

The Art of Charts

Disclaimer: If you do any of the things I’m about to shit on and make a profit from it, muzzeltof to you, keep going. However, my commentary is my opinion and is presented as such.

Doesn’t Forex look boring to an outsider? There’s no way to make a set of quotes or chart sexy. In fact, when it comes to Forex and numbers the only thing that’s going to look sexy is that P/L sheet being green (or in MT4 Mobile’s case, blue for some reason). Hardly artistic.

You can certainly blind people by dumping a bunch of indicators on your account and calling it a science though.

I need a PhD in Bullshit to understand this bollocks

Even Picasso’s paintings make more sense than some systems. Things start to get a bit confusing when you have more than 4 or 5 indicators on-screen, let alone multiple indicators that straddle the same types.

Let’s cover the obvious advantages to a clean chart first:

#1 Nothing but price action present. Ultimately price action in our favour is what we want so being able to see the price bend in any direction clearly is, of course, an advantage.

#2 We can paint the key action in our chart any way we want to. If we see anything on the chart that we like the look of, in any half decent charting package, we can paint a vertical line, horizontal line, rectangle, triangle, rhombus, penis, whatever we want that fits our model and trade with that information accordingly.

#3 We can identify candle pattern. Lots of strategies use patterns which follow distinct and clear repeatable models, such as inside bars, or double tops and bottoms. With that information we can effectively trade those positions with minimal risk as well, and our entries are very clear.

“The only way to trade is with a clean chart.”

In a word – total bollocks. Wait, that’s two words. Fuck.

As VP of NNFX has said previously, Forex operates very differently to every other tradable market. There’s virtually no chance of a market being saturated or hitting a lack of supply with Forex. As such there’s no danger of supply and demand being an actual thing.

Therefore – what is the point of supply and demand? What is the point of trendlines (which are intended to follow a market up or down and act as a mobile point of support or resistance)? What is the point of observing price action that tells us nothing about the future?

These tools of course have relevancy, but they have relevancy in the market that they were created for. Trying to form-fit an equation or concept developed for a completely different type of market is going to give you a false impression, and likewise with drawing these things yourself. Trendline breakouts don’t work without further confirmation, and even then not frequently. Supply and demand can be used as a sign of a resistance point in the market, but even that only really extends as far as “when is the smart money at that point going to be withdrawn and let the pair run”.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like indicators and technical trading can tell us the future either. Every single equation is only a reflection over what’s happened over a period of time. However, they can show us which way a pair looks like it’s travelling, and when combined with multiple pairs that show us what a single currency might be doing, I truly believe in the power they can show over fundamental analysis that I perform myself (and the confirmation bias that comes with that).

A bit closer to where we want to be, although still using a ton of useless tools

So, how do we make a clutter-free chart with indicators and what’s the benefit?

Let’s start by assessing what kind of indicators are out there.

  • Trend indicators. Indicators that confirm a trend is starting or happening.
  • Momentum indicators. Indicators that confirm how quickly the market is moving.
  • Confirmation indicator. Indicators that confirm our main indicators are telling the truth, to the best of their knowledge.
  • Volume and Volatility indicators. Indicators that tell us how much liquidity has been put into the market and backing any potential move.
  • Overbought/Oversold indicators. Controversial, but they exist. Markets that suggest the current market position is reaching its top or bottom (for these kind of indicators, you want to concentrate on trend cycles)

From this selection, what do we need? Realistically, only one of each (perhaps two confirmation indicators).

Think about it. Having more than one trend indicator not only matches two indicators which separate rules, but very likely separate settings as well. If the best results for each indicator run across different periods, what on Earth is that telling us? We may as well just flip a damn coin. The lack of accuracy grows when you consider volume indicators. These engimas are already hard to get a read on – why complicate the issue by including two or more?

When we’re developing an algorithim, if we’re building it in the NNFX style, we’re looking for 6 indicators at most. It’s just easier to follow and even more key, it’s easier to demonstrate. As traders, we tend to talk a lot about our success and not a lot about our failings because it’s a tough industry to ask for help in. It becomes a lot easier to collaboratively develop and discuss strategies and approaches when you can point out particular successes on your chart.

The ultimate benefit to a clutter-free chart is the same ultimate benefit as an indicator-free chart – we can clearly see all of our signals without them popping up in the way of the price action. As long as we can take a glance at our chart and confirm yes/no without needing to dive into the inner workings of the market or our indicators, then our chart is going to look beautiful by default.

Most importantly, a clutter-free chart with a functioning algorithim that delivers high probability trades might still not look sexy, but the money it generates will put food in your belly and roof over your head. What looks better than that?

His(my)Story, Part 3

“I’m really sorry. Financially we just can’t carry on.”

I joined the company as a ground level customer service grunt in 2001. It was my second job and finally the one that was going to use my skillset. They were a web design outfit (in the loosest possible sense of the word) offering one of those DIY web builders that were all the rage during the dot-com bubble. That’s right, a dot-com bubble business after the bubble had burst. Probably needs to tell you everything you know.

A myriad of things happened out of my control that led to me staying in that position, always one step away from being let go, always being the guy no one could rely on. I’m not ignorant of my failings and will always throw my hands up when I’ve fucked up, but most of the time my fuck ups were I was breathing and existing. I don’t think I need to tell anyone what the impact was on my mental health.

However, a strange thing happened. The company started to die as other technologies leapt past its put-together-with-wallpaper-paste-and-running-on-compromised-Windows2k-boxes and customers started leaving in droves with the time honoured “fuck this shit I’m out” approach. Whilst others were losing hours and jobs, I was static. No one even noticed how little I contributed. When the company was sold off to an investor looking for a DIY web builder extension to their core business, I was part of the package.

It was utterly bizarre and taught me that if you stay out of anyone’s sight, nothing bad can personally happen to you. Advice I have in no way, shape or form listened to ever since. Unfortunately the new owners were savvy. They knew they’d bought an untamable monster very soon into their tenure. At that point the writing was on the wall.

Artists impression of the moment the new owners realised they’d fucked up

So why have I told you all this, when it has nothing to do with forex? Well, due to the length of my service and the appreciated but very misguided boost in pay the new stewardship had given me, I had a redundancy package valued at thousands of pounds.

What do you think the vast majority of that went on, I wonder?

Hint: it was not chocolate cake.

Merry Christmas traders!

Enjoy it with your family, friends, pets, loved ones, whoever’s around. If you don’t have anyone, go find someone, even if they’re online in a chatroom or on social media. No one should be alone at Christmas.

Do your best to not be complete addicts this holiday season. Remember, although the markets are open again from the 27th, the banks won’t be truly back in the game until the New Year. With no smart money, don’t expect things to work the same as they usually do!

Plenty more content to come over the next few days and weeks. See you soon.

New Year’s Revolutions

I know it’s a bit early, but I wanted to set out my stall near the start of my trading blog’s life with some New Year’s Resolutions. Plus it breaks up my history shitposting which is obviously impacting all of your Christmasses because you care that damn much.

Let’s go.

#1 Stick to my algorithim – or at least have tested it long enough to let it live or die. Trying to find success in short term moves has always been my strength, but wobbling too quickly when it’s not coming together has been a weakness too. The two kinda go hand in hand. To classify the failure of an algorithim, it needs to have an extended period of time to breathe and prove itself. 3 or 4 days of losses in a row isn’t anything to be immediately concerned by, but when I see my capital dropping like a stone in those moments I tend to go for the nuke button and go back to the drawing board. I need to recognise that pulling the trigger too early isn’t going to get me to the promised land.

#2 Stop eating crap and unfat myself. Alright, a bit of a personal one but I can’t JUST talk about trading, I’m not some kind of Nick Leeson rogue trading robot and if I spend all year just concentrating on trading… I really have nothing witty here to add. Basically, I’ve put on like a bazillion pounds this year and have almost exclusively eaten Greggs and McDonalds. This needs to stop.

He never got fat, even after all that stress

#3 Resolve my marital unbliss one way or the other. Yeah, yeah, another personal point. I got married this year. I had second thoughts going into it, and since I’ve been living with her in supposed unity my second thoughts have evolved into third, fourth and fifth thoughts. If she didn’t get so bloody angry about fuck all and talk pointlessly all the time I think I’d probably be quite happy, but sometimes you have to turn around and say you make my mental health complete fucking garbage. By the end of 2020, I either want to be back on my own or happy.

#4 Start freelance training and perhaps even sell signals produced from the algorithim. If you check my About page, you’ll see that I’m in the business of training people. I’m a damn good trainer too, and I’ve got a pretty solid contract for 2 more years – but everyone knows a year moves quickly. I would love to transition into training people on how to effectively build trading systems, as well as provide signals for sale from a working, profitable algorithim. Here’s hoping.

#5 Do the Lord’s work. I’m a Christian. Not a particularly good one, but a Christian all the same. There’s a calling out there for me that I either haven’t heard or the Lord hasn’t given me yet. So many times over the past year I’ve asked for forgiveness and help and He’s always been there. I hope 2020 is the year He gives me the opportunity to really prove myself.

Well, that’s it. Let’s go get it!

His(my)Story, Part 2

In life, you generally tend to find that the greater the intrinsic value of something, the more people will invest in it. Not just monetarily, but emotionally too. It’s a theory I can look back on now and say, hey, yeah, you know what? I put far too much of my brain space into that thing that happened and it cost me. But in the heat of battle it’s so much harder to reflect and see where you’re going wrong.

MT4 has some 30+ inbuilt indicators, mathematical equations that are going on in the background that give you a clear and present account of what’s happening in the market. Perhaps they are closer to providing a clear and present danger, where the major players are going to take your money, shit on it, wipe it in your stupid ugly face and then get their butlers to clean the smeg from it before depositing it nicely in the slush fund.

I researched and tried many combinations over those next few months. A moving average cross would make sense, but then the trend would exhaust itself as soon as I entered. Okay, how about range trading with the outer bollinger lines? Haha, nope, we’re going to break out like Manchester City carving up Arsenal’s defence. What about ADX then? Well, only if your idea of trading is trying to follow a bunch of lines that have no bearing on the current state of the market.

If you look hard enough (and by hard enough I mean type “forex trading systems” into Google) there are hundreds of approaches that use all of these base indicators. Some even find massive followings on websites like Forex Factory. Yet very few seem to provide actual winning combinations.

The inevitable was starting to dawn on me – this wasn’t going to be an easy task. In my period of testing the inbuilt indicators, I’d lost a few hundred pounds. I could ill-afford to lose much else.

I sat at “loss of confidence and money” from the word go.

(I sat at “loss of confidence and money” from the word go)

Except I did. I lost my job.

His(my)story, Part 1


My work colleague’s jaw dropped in amazement as I locked my phone, grinned, and took another mouthful of lager.

“I tell ya mate, next year’s the one.”

That was at the end of 2018, the last drink of the year before we broke up from work for Christmas. Suffice to say, 2019 has not been the one. Not yet anyway.

But I digress, which is quite impressive considering I’ve barely started.

You’re probably wondering who I am, why I’m here and why you’re here. Well, you’re definitely pondering the last one. Let me try and clarify.

I lost my mum in 2013 and had to get acquainted with the real world far too quickly. Financially I was not prepared – I’d been languishing in the same job with no direction and low pay for well over a decade. I had no prospects and all of a sudden, a mortgage to go with them. I had to figure out a way to make some extra coins somehow.

I took my first steps into trading in 2015. Foreign Exchange (Forex) was the game I’d foolishly chosen to play, and I got suckered in to a simple, market breakout based service promising hundreds of pips and vast riches. I wouldn’t particularly call myself gullible, and I did my research, checking for reviews and proofing etc etc, but on this occasion I got taken for a ride 100%. The service lost me money, and taught me a valuable lesson.

Despite that, my first exposure to the market outside of the movie Trading Places had me somewhat hooked. There was an entertainment value to watching charts go green, then red, then green, then red. Like a gigantic endless money making set of traffic lights with body dysmorphia, and a personality disorder big enough to let someone get run over by waiting until they’d put a bunch of money in the market and switching direction faster than you can say “Jeffrey Epstein didn’t hang himself.”

I started to dabble at my own speed, with a small fortune, and all of Metatrader 4’s inbuilt indicators…