Tag Archives: Stock Market

Trading Stonks Sucks

I find myself the Stock Guru at UPS now. It’s cool — I love that people are into investing now — but seeing a coworker with a two-week-old Robinhood account tossing money into some penny stock with a 2 BILLION DOLLAR MARKET CAP and 20 employees and making 175% returns on his $200 account makes me sort of want to die. This will not end well! Dude stumbles into the market, buys some ZOM and SNDL shares, doubles his money and instantly thinks he’s good at trading, attributing beginner’s luck to personal skill or something. Eventually he’ll YOLO his whole account on something stupid, his luck/”personal skill” will fail to materialize, and then he’ll be up at 8:30 a.m. after two restless hours of sleep realizing a whopping 90% loss on his account. I’ve lived that hell myself; that’s what stock trading is — getting cocky and blowing up your account — and realizing that, holy hell, it isn’t actually free money.

Andy will probably blow his account up if he ever gets the balls to invest more than a few hundred dollars. Dominic sold his Dogecoins for a hefty loss and recently bought some SNDL shares; today they’re down like 30%! James is still holding AMC for some reason and he’s probably down 50% on that play, but he said he “bought it for the meme” so I think he’s not expecting to actually get rich. Enrique, even if he doesn’t say a whole lot, still mumbles to Andy and Dominic about biotech penny stocks with names that you’ve never heard of and never will hear of. I’ll make up a few names now so you get the idea of what a biotech penny stock sounds like: Trevelex, ZambiTech, Velero Pharmaceuticals, and Xetezic Diagnostics. Caleb is still waiting for ANVX to drop below $10 to load up and warning the others to not invest in Bitcoin at $56,000 (wise moves from someone not trading at all) while my sister is asking me about call options and strike prices on General Motors of all things. If I want anyone to not blow their account up it’d be her. Allison continually says, “Jeremy! You need to teach me how to do stocks!” and my old coworker from years ago texted me asking, “Guess I’m curious what you use to buy stocks.”

This is all confusing to me because I don’t think I’m that good at trading. This year I’m up $5,000 on a $16,000 account — a whopping 30% return in a month — but I don’t think this is my doing. If anything I’ve been lucky and trading cautiously, trying to remember one of the holy rules of the stock market; don’t lose money! It’s hard to gain money if you keep losing it. Even though I’m doing great this year I vividly remember past years where I’ve made some very stupid moves. I blew up my account to the tune of $10,000 during which I call the XIVpocalypse. Seriously, go look up XIV and see what happened a few years ago. That was me riding it all the way down thinking I found a a way to print money for free or something. There’s been countless earnings plays where I also lost thousands of dollars, stupidly betting half my account on a stock either going up or down. It’s dangerous and it’s stupid and it will bite you. And now? I’m lucky and I’m cautious of pushing my luck too far. Maybe this is exactly what a good trader is?

I think that’s the appeal of the market to these blind novices; the stock market is as close to free money as you can get. These guys see 50-100% returns in a single day if they strike the right stock at the right time; how does this compare with slaving away at UPS for $15 per hour. The math isn’t hard to do: dump $5,000 into the market, hit a 50-100% return (or higher), and you’ll have $7,500-10,000 in a single day or week. Do this a few times and you’ve made your yearly pay doing absolutely nothing but clicking buttons on your phone. Very quickly you get to the point of asking yourself why you’re working at all. It’s easier to just trade. Take all your money, dump it into your brokerage account and trade. Roll profits into large plays and profits and before you know it you have two commas in your net worth and can retire. And easy it is when you’re lucking out with 50% gains everyday.

It’s hard to talk about the dark side of trading to these n00bs. They’re making gains all day, everyday, all week long. They’re excited, they’re energized, and they’ve found a new and interesting hobby. How can you possibly be like, “Yeah, that’s cool, but the market will move against you eventually, and it doesn’t feel good when you lose money, so don’t get cocky. Take gains when you can and stay humble. Above else: be lucky.” When Andy is making bank off penny stocks, do I really want to tell him about SPY and it’s tasty 2% dividend? Or JNK with its massive 5% dividend? Or the benefits of long-term investing? Hell no.

I guess I’m torn between these two extremes. On one hand I do feel like my trading is acting like a second job for me; whatever I’ve been doing the past couple of month is working, while on the other hand it doesn’t seem as easy or a rosy as I’m sure these newbz like to think it is. Investing is a great thing to get into that many people, especially poor people, are too scared or hesitant to get into. There’s a big rant here about the US’s population being especially financially illiterate (but I’ll hold off on that) so a bunch of new people being interested in STONKS is a great change. Yes, invest in your future. Make passive income. Be an owner of a company and not a customer. Use your money for you and not to blow on the newest and hottest electronic device.

Free money? Yes, but not really. There does seem to be some work, some price to pay for the cash. Regular jobs involve boredom, dealing with idiot coworkers, and actual labor. With trading to make MASSIVE GAINS I think what you give up is your psychological well-being. It’s checking your account every 10 minutes even though the markets are closed. It’s laying awake at 3 a.m. wondering if you’ll have more or less money in your account in five hours. It’s insomnia and stress. It’s pondering randomly throughout the day what your future plays will be. It’s a mental mess deciding to sell for a profit or to let it ride. Will it go up or down? Play it safe or risky? It’s being bored out of your mind on the weekend unable to enjoy yourself because you can’t trade at all! It’s being upset and restless during holidays for the same reason. It’s having an abstract idea of money as simple numbers on a screen and a detachment to the value of it. Maybe I’m taking this to the extreme, but trading the past few weeks — despite the free money of my gains — is a subtle form of hell. When I think about it it doesn’t seem like free money at all. There’s a cost to it, just a different sort of cost than time/boredom/hard labor that is typical work.

Which is good in a way. By trading and seeing your worth fluctuate wildly during market hours you become stoic in a way. GameStop is down like 70% from when you bought it? You’ve lost thousands of dollars? Oh well. You somehow have to put this to the back of your mind ignoring the money you’ve lost (which is really hard to do) and live your life the best you can. You still have to eat, sleep, have friends, go to work, and be happy all while having this massive dirty-feeling cloud over your head. With time you can get pretty good at it to.

Maybe that’s what I’m trying to say here. The stock market is free money and a good thing to invest in, but know exactly what you’re investing for or what your goals are. If you want to dump part of your paycheck into a wide-market ETF like SPY go right ahead: it’s a fucking smart choice long term and you’ll eventually turn your money into a big pile of cash. It’ll just take forever and it’ll be boring. You won’t get the excitement of seeing your account double or triple in a day or two (or the stress and anxiety of seeing it get cut in half either) but this is what investing is. If you’re trading — looking to make a quick buck or generate income equal to a second job — you’re in for a world of shit. You’ll be consistently checking your accounts, trying to find new plays, struggling with bagholding and deciding when to sell for profits. You’re sleep will be trash and lows are immense. One day you’ll feel like King Midas and the next you’ll feel like a fucking idiot not selling when you felt like King Midas. It’s not fun, it’s all consuming, and it takes some pretty hefty mental fortitude to pull it off properly. And as stated before it also takes a good amount of luck and the appreciation that luck can actually play in day to day life. This is what I don’t think the novices at work are prepared for.

Note: By the time I posted this Andy finally sold his SNDL shares for a $90 loss. Remember, he was up 175% last week. Think about how you’d feel not selling at the correct time and eventually taking a loss.

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COVID-19 Anxiety Sucks

During the past few years of utter bullshit I’ve periodically heard a supposed Chinese curse that goes something like this: “May you live in interesting times.” It’s great because it sounds like a good thing at first — no one likes being bored and living in some bland period of history (like the early 1900s or something) — but upon further inspection it really is a curse. For the past five years at least I think the entire world has been living in “interesting times” and they are fucking terrible.

I grew up in the 1990s and those were really boring times. Looking back I should’ve enjoyed them more. Sure I was a kid so have some naivete going on but even looking back as an adult the 90s were boring. There was the Persian Gulf War (which wasn’t even a war like the shit we had in Afghanistan/Iraq) but there were no collapses of society, mass unrest, no stock market crashes, or major recessions. Oh, and remember Clinton’s impeachment over a blowjob? What quait times we were living in….

Then the September 11th attacks happened and that caused a decade of “interesting times” but even that seemed to wane into boringness around 2010. Looking back the 2000s weren’t even that interesting in comparison to today. Then there was more boringness for at most five years (the magical year of ~2015) and then the world spiraled out of control again. And in my life this year has been the most “interesting time” I remember living in: 2020 is total shit. Fear and dread and anxiety and uncertainty. Especially with COVID-19 going around causing society to grind to a halt, I’m reminded of a quote from J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

“‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo.

‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.'”

-J.R.R Tolkien, Lord of the Rings

Another Reddit “theory” that seems rather silly but also interesting is that maybe the Mayans and the “world ending” in 2012, well, maybe they were onto something?! Not that 2012 is when the world spiraled into chaos, but what if we shifted into some alternate reality where things don’t quite work the same as they used to? And we’re all left with a pre-2012 mindset stuck in this strange, new, and terrifying world that is the post-2012 disinformation age. I don’t take this idea seriously but man it seems that in 2012 the world got shifted into a parallel dimension where terrifying stuff happens.

I’m having more anxiety than I’m willing to admit, but I still am rather calm and collected about the virus. It’s not a big deal, personally, but I acknowledge that it is a dangerous situation. Every day I wake up to see another few hundred dollars wiped off my stock trading accounts, and the prospect that I could be out of a job soon is terrifying. The stock market is especially frustrating as I was shorting in the past two month and rolled into long positions way to early. Had I held onto the shorts with diamond hands I could have earned a few thousand dollars as society collapsed around me. Not that I’m hoping millions of people die so I can make money, but it’s happening and I might as well try to benefit from it somehow. God that sounds terrible; feel free to shit on me in the comments if you want.

I’m reminded of this post from the New Year (I can’t find it and I’m out of time). My ability to live perfectly in the moment one minute and hour at a time. Most of my current anxiety is looking ahead to the next few months just wondering how this entire crisis will play out. How will it end? Will society be back to normal in a few weeks/months or are we going to collapse even further into stasis while every waits? I hate waiting. I’m impatient. I’m insecure. As much as I bitch about the grind of everyday life, when it has been altered I feel myself on the very of some great unknown and it terrifies me.

Looking closer to the present, ala Alan Watts/buddhist style, things are okay. I have plenty of food, no one I know is sick, and I still have a job. I get to leave in a half-hour and load some airplanes. Luckily UPS and package shipping in general hasn’t been totally shit on yet especially as people might turn to online shopping for their fucking economy packs of toilet paper rolls. UPS keeps shipping packages no matter what. With all the excess around the holiday season I’m surprised to find myself in a “safe” sector of the economy, as if the excess in December also has a counterpart to it being essential. Not as essential as truck drivers, but still needed. “You are safe.” In this moment of my life — the one that is actually happening right now — I’m perfectly fine. I have food, I have water, and I have a year supply of nicotine because now is not the time for nicotine withdrawal. Nicotine also kills your appetite making the food situation even better going forward!

I’m not saying that things won’t get worse in the upcoming months, but as my therapist said regarding my anxiety, “Think if a thought is useful to have.” All this worrying and anxiety about the future isn’t useful at all and only degrades the part of my life that actually exists: the ever-present Now. And if/when something bad does happen? If I lose my job? If myself or someone close to me gets sick? Well, I can worry about it when it happens. I’ll scrounge up money where I can, maybe sell my stocks, max out the credit cards if I need to do so, and maybe negotiate some deferred payments with them. If society utterly collapses around me? I’m sure my instinct to survive and my creative DIY mindset will naturally kick in to where I start problem solving whatever comes up. Squirrels are edible I guess, and I know where to find fucking mulberries, but once again I’m reminded to think, “Is this thought useful to have?” Absolutely not. Stop rambling here and get on with your life. I need to leave for work now. Do I need to dress warm or wear a raincoat? Do I have my badge and my timecard? What is happening Now?

I hope everyone remains safe and healthy, and maybe most importantly of all, in a positive mental state during these strange and frightful times.

Streak Day Six Sucks (and some stuff about being sick/the stock market)

I might as well make this a seven day streak, right? Maybe longer, but a week is an obvious goal to set. I was dreading the last post but was pleasantly surprised when it worked out okay.

As an update to that: I did call today and ask for an antidepressant. Reading the information about the drug escitalopram made me anxious: I’d have to wait about a week to feel any positive effects from the drug? Well shit. Why did I wait so long to give it a shot? Once again when your mood is shit and all you’re picking up from the world are bad vibes, you want relatively instant relief. It’s the impatience in me again; upon deciding on a course of action I hit it hard. Deciding to try an antidepressant and having to wait to even see how it’ll play out is terrible. Patience though. Everything worthwhile takes patients. But I do hate waiting.

And if anyone has any experience with escitalopram feel free to let me know what I’m getting myself into. I’m terrified I’ll lose my mind or something.

Yesterday my throat felt irritated. Swollen in a way. This is unusual when I get sick. My usual mode of sickness is this: sore throat leading to aches and a possible fever that develops into snot, phlegm, and coughing. This feels different. I awoke today feeling especially shitty: kinda achy and with my throat even more swollen than yesterday, but still not the painful scratchiness that is typical. I’m trying to play the mental game here — maybe I ache because of rock climbing a few days ago — and fight the idea of being sick in the first place. I’m not giving into it. As for my throat, I did quite a bit of drinking, vaping, and cigarette smoking this weekend. On Sunday in an attempt to escape the house, I ended up at a local park listening to music, writing, and occasionally screaming along to the music. Maybe that’s why my throat feels like shit, because I’ve been abusing it so much.

I’ve been on edge the past few months anyways. People at work are being decimated by sicknesses and there seemed to be two general types making the rounds. One seems to be a flu bug; this took a few coworkers out of service for over a week. The second was a stomach/digestive bug cursing them with diarrhea, vomiting, and a general feeling of impending death. To be honest I’d much prefer the later; I hate week-long diseases and had plenty of it with my two bronchitis cases last year. No, give me the terrible vomiting and shiting and I’ll power through it.

An obvious mention to COVID-19, the dreaded coronavirus, is required here. I’m not really worried about catching it — it still seems rare enough to not worry about — but sometimes I do think about it. I think there was a case in Chicago a few weeks ago, 60 miles away, and this made me feel slightly on edge. As time has passed cases have creeped closer to where I live in Rockford, Illinois, but I’m still not worried about it.

I think the disease has like a 1 or 2% mortality rate, which isn’t trivial, but if I did catch it I’d be happy with my odds. 1 or 2% is a high risk of death in the grand scheme of everyday life. Imagine if you had a 1% chance of dying everyday: that would be terrifying! I’ve also heard that the death rate is higher in kids and the elderly, and I’m comfortably in between those two age groups. While I’m not the healthiest person I do have a beast of an immune system. Somehow I haven’t gotten sick while working around diseased people at UPS for the past two months.

It’s interesting to think that I’m not worried about a 2% chance of death if I did catch coronavirus. It makes sense though. Back in my options trading days I would routinely put thousands of dollars on hail-mary plays that had like a 60% chance of failure. This didn’t both me (until I lost all the money) so a 2% chance of death kinda makes sense to not worry about, at least for me. I don’t think I’m very good with the whole ‘risk management’ thing.

Speaking of stocks and disease, coronavirus fears have totally ruined the market in the past week and half. I think the S&P 500 is down like 15 or 20%: one of the worst weeks since the 2008/2009 meltdown. In fact I think I read somewhere it has been the worst week since that time. And somehow I called the top of the market and didn’t get destroyed by the meltdown. It had been going up for the past three months for no fucking reason at all, so feeling kinda iffy about it all I sold a large chunk of my $SPY ETF holdings and invested in a bunch of inverse funds — if the market goes down these inverse funds go up. It’s a win-win! And nearly as soon as I did this the market tanked. I kept the hedges low so didn’t really come out ahead or anything, but the fact that my account has stayed nearly level during a week-long meltdown is something to note. I did good for once.