UPDATE – 2018 edition is live.
Before we get to the results, here’s a quick summary of what’s happened here at StockTrader.com over the past year.
StockTrader.com Year in Review
For StockTrader.com, we launched a new ETFs directory and made a big transition last year from providing free nightly market recaps to weekly market recaps. While the nightly recaps were great, readership had stagnated. With our new weekly market recaps, writer Mark Hanna is able to take a much deeper dive and cover the macro picture in more detail.
The results have exceeded our expectations. Email subscribers currently stands at a record of 18,724 and the number of opens each week has increased by ~50%. Needless to say, quality over quantity is a winning formula. (Not signed up yet? Fill in your email using the form on the sidebar!)
Meanwhile, Trade Journal continues to be an excellent free tool for analyzing completed trades. We had another record of monthly active users (MAU); currently around 600 users sign in each month to analyze trades. Several thousand trades are logged, by hand, each month. See: The 3 Phases of Trade Analysis & The Big Secret Few Know.
Last but not least, site traffic had another record finish as we wrapped up 2016 with 2,744,105 visits from 1,989,478 unique visitors with 4,350,880 total pageviews. Awesome.
Trading Computer Setup
First, it’s extremely important to note: do NOT get suckered into paying several thousand dollars for a trading computer from a day trading / professional trading website you’ve never heard of. You will be ripped off. You can spend around $1000, or less (building your own rig or finding a sale helps), and get a fine desktop that supports, at the least, dual monitors. Most mid-tier gaming rigs work great for trading. Here’s a pre-filtered list of desktop computers with recommended specs from Amazon.com.
Overall, my trading station setup at work and at home are identical. Same desk, similar spec machines, same monitor stand, same monitors, mice, keyboard, etc. This makes it seamless if I ever trade from home. While my desktops are a bit older, built back in late 2013, they still get the job done just fine.
PC Specs (rig originally built in 2012) – Six ASUS 24″ LED Monitors, Intel Core i7-3770 Processor, 8 GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1600 MHz memory, 2 AMD Radeon HD 7770 video cards, and a 120 GB ADATA S510 SSD Hard Drive.
My day job is running our portfolio of websites including StockTrader.com as well as StockBrokers.com, InvestingTeacher.com, and new addition ForexBrokers.com. Because of this, I trade only when I have free time.
More specifically, trading is strictly a passion and hobby. I do not trade for a living. 100% of my retirement savings and over 90% of my personal portfolio simply is invested in the S&P 500 Vanguard index fund (VOO). I buy each month and forget about it. See: How to Build a Warren Buffett Portfolio.
I did try full-time trading when I was 19, however it ended in failure. My portfolio size was too small and despite an impressive win streak, one bad trade nearly wiped me out. Now that I am 30 and have 16 years of market “wisdom” under my belt, and I’ve learned a thing or two. See: 10 Trading Secrets I Wish I Knew When I Got Started.
For one, I invest my retirement assets and any extra personal funds in the S&P 500 with Vanguard and keep my personal trading portfolio small. In 2015 I had ~$60,000 allocated to trading. This remained the same for 2016. Thus, $60,000 is the number I used to calculate my performance returns against the S&P 500 below.
I ended 2016 with a realized portfolio return of +$4,906.52 after commissions or +8.18% vs the S&P 500 Return of +9.54%. I did not have any commission spend for 2016 thanks to taking advantage of a free trades offer at Fidelity in late 2015 (read my Fidelity review). Like thousands of other users here on the site, I manually enter my trades using the free StockTrader.com Trade Journal.
For those that read this post each year, you will quickly notice how little I traded last year. This was one of my big, multi-year goals. TRADE LESS. In 2014 I made a whopping 443 round trips. In 2015 I cut that number down to 45. Now in 2016, I set a personal best of only 15 trades.
Cutting back on trade frequency was no easy task for me. For years I struggled with over-trading which not only leads to expensive mistakes but hefty commission charges as well. Here’s a summary of 2016 trades,
One final note on returns. I invested about half my portfolio in Wells Fargo (WFC) as the whole sales-tactics scandal unfolded. I was expecting a bounce back over the next few months as things blew over. Lucky me though, Trump was elected and bank stocks exploded higher on expectations of higher US growth and thus higher interest rates in 2017, and beyond. I still hold the position, which has been a nice winner thus far.
Investment Sites, Services, Subscriptions
The below services and subscriptions are part of my investment routine. It should be noted that several of these services are provided for me at no cost since we occasionally include research from the products in our market recaps. That said, I personally use all of these services for my trading.
- Trade Journal – Free – Inspired by my passion for post trade analysis alongside a goal to bring my personal excel trade log to the web, the StockTrader.com Trade Journal was born. This is where I log all my trades, notes, chart images, and analyze performance.
- Evernote.com – Free – I love Evernote. Evernote is a journaling and note taking app. My “Stock Research” notebook within Evernote currently has over 350 entries. Journaling has been a critical part of my growth as a trader.
- Briefing.com – Subscriptions start at $50 per month – Briefing.com (read my full Briefing.com review) is a 24/7 research service that monitors the markets, social sphere, and beyond to deliver real-time news and a slew of research reports. I started using Briefing.com in 2014 and have loved the service since.
- Bespoke Investment Research – ~$400 per year up to ~$2,000 per year – Bespoke Premium produces institutional market research reports. If you want to make sense of historical data to help breakdown the noise of the market and bring clarity, then Bespoke will serve you well. The Bespoke blog is a good feeler for the content provided to paid subscribers.
- StockCharts.com – Free and paid (basic package $14.95 p/m) – StockCharts.com is the site we use to produce all the stock charts for the weekly market recaps here on StockTrader.com. The primary reason we have the basic package is so we can have access to more than three years of chart data and save chart layouts. The free version is the exact same as any paid package less a handful of features. See: 5 Best Free Stock Chart Websites
- FINVIZ Stock Screener – Free – FINVIZ’s stock screener is my favorite screener available on the web. See: 5 Best Free Stock Screeners
- MarketSmith – MarketSmith ($999 per year) – MarketSmith is a browser based charting software provider powered by Investors.com CANSLIM data. Besides the easy to read charts and optional auto pattern recognition, the real value drivers are the IBD metrics that display with each chart.
- ChartPattern.com – $125 per month – ChartPattern.com is home to Dan Zanger. Read my full Dan Zanger review. Dan has a chat room and sends out a nightly newsletter several times a week with technical analysis and personal notes.
I see investing as a life long game. Every trade is another lesson to be learned and even though I have over a decade of “experience”, I am still learning something new each day. See: 10 Trading Secrets I Wish I Knew When I Got Started.
How was your 2016 in the stock market? What tools and services do you use for your trading? Feel free to email me, “blain (AT) stocktrader (DOT) com” and let me know!