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Is Day Trading Worth It? (Overview)

Last Updated on 10 February, 2024 by Trading System

Being a fast-paced and potentially highly rewarding trading form, day trading is one of the most alluring trading forms for beginners. But is daytrading really worth it?

Day trading is worth it for those who realize that it takes a lot of time and effort to learn day trading, and also put in the work that is needed. Daytrading indeed holds great profit potential, but it is not for everyone. In fact, with the markets becoming more and more efficient it is becoming increasingly harder, which means that only the most ambitious and persistent people should engage in daytrading. 

In this article, we will try to clarify what it means to be a day trader, as well as what alternatives there are for those who find that it is not for them.

Peoples Expectations of Being a Daytrader

Is Daytrading Worth It?
Is Daytrading Worth It?

When people hear about day traders, they often think about one of the following scenarios:

  1. A day trader who sits in front of his massive screen setup, placing buy and sell orders all the time, consumed by the market action. Every minute is filled with excitement and there are no dead moments.
  2. A day trader who performs all his trading effortlessly through his laptop at exotic and luxurious places.

The latter is one view that has been enforced especially by many of the youtube advertisers. There is often some sort of “trading guru” who speaks about day trading and how it enabled him or her to live an effortless life full of riches and exuberance. These types of “preachers” as we prefer to call them, get the attention of many people, since they promise easy money to the masses.

In addition to the above-mentioned points, the following are common expectations when it comes to day trading:

1. A Lot of Free Time

A common expectation is that being a day trader will leave you with a lot of free time, since you can choose when to trade or not trade. The idea is that day traders only trade during a small portion of the day, and are free to do other things for the rest of the day.

2. Easy Money

Many promoters of day trading make it look like making profits is very easy, and as such, one common view is that it is the case.

3.  Constant Excitement

It is common to believe that day traders are constantly placing buying and selling, and that the excitement is always at top.

4. No or almost no losing days

There is a widespread belief that day traders very rarely experience losing days.


The Reality of Being a Day Trader

Daytrading Reality
Daytrading Reality

Now that we have gone through some of the most common expectations when it comes to daytrading, it might be appropriate to see what is true and what is not.

The daily routine of a day trader depends on many factors like personality, skill, experience and trading style. Even if day trading refers to one specific trading form it encompasses a wide variety of styles and techniques that all vary in intensity and time requirement.

However, if you were to make a more general claim about what day trading is, neither of the two scenarios that we mentioned in the previous paragraph is completely true. Daytrading is not an easy occupation, and there is nothing like easy money. To succeed, you will have to be diligent, persistent and hard working. There is nothing like trading occasionally only when you want to, and be free all the remaining time.

In fact, there is much more to trading than the actual trading itself. You have to make sure that you have a functioning trading strategy, and be ready to swap it out once it stops working. You must keep track of your trades and emotions in a trading journal, to know what areas of your trading you need to work on and then analyze that information to continue to develop as a trader.

Even if trading is hard and time-consuming, it does not mean that there is a lot of activity all the time. In fact, many day traders would agree that most of their trading time is spent watching the market to find the most favorable entry conditions. Overtrading, that is trading when you should not, is actually an issue a lot of traders face during those very quiet times.

In the previous paragraph, we listed four common things that traders expect from daytrading. Here they are again, but with more realistic answers:

1. A Lot of Free Time

Daytrading is highly time-consuming and involves a lot more than just taking the trade. Therefore, the typical day trader does not have loads of free time!

2. Easy Money

The competition in the markets constantly tightens, and it is becoming increasingly harder to make money. In general, there is nothing such as easy money in day trading!

3.  Constant Excitement

Day trading involves spending a lot of dead hours in front of the screens and could be quite boring at times.

4. No or almost no losing days

Day traders indeed have losing days, and most likely quite a lot of them!

Manual or Algorithmic Daytrading?

Until now, we have only touched on manual day trading, but there is one alternative that is far more flexible, namely ‘”algorithmic trading”.

Algorithmic trading is when you design a trading strategy that you let a computer trade for you. With algorithmic trading, you have the benefit of not having to constantly monitor the market, and are free to do other things while the computer takes the trade for you. However, even if algorithmic trading is taken care of by a computer, you still have to monitor your systems a few times every day, to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

For those who do not have the time to sit b the computer during the day, algorithmic trading is an excellent choice. The core of your trading, which is the trading strategies, can be developed on evenings or whenever you find the time. During the day you only need to check in on your trading a few times, and may even keep your day job!

If you are interested in knowing more about algorithmic trading we recommend you to read our massive article on algorithmic trading

Is Day Trading Worth It for You?

Day trading
Day trading

Day trading indeed can bring some nice profits, but as we have tried to make clear, it is by no means as easy as many trading vendors and marketers tell you. You will not learn day trading right away, just as you cannot become a surgeon overnight!

If you know that you have the perseverance and time and have some previous knowledge in trading, we would say that it could be worth it.

However, if you believe that day trading will be easy and that you will master it right away, then it’s definitely not worth it for you. Those who do not put in the work and time that is needed will most likely lose money instead of making money.

For those who lack previous trading experience or realize that day trading will require too much time, there is another trading form that takes much less time, while still allowing for good profits.

Swingtrading as an Alternative

Swing trading is the perfect trading form for people who are short on time. Once you have established a routine and have a strategy, it could take you as little as 15 minutes a day!

Swing trading is a trading form where you hold your trades for 1 day to a few weeks at most. Being less fast-paced than day trading it requires far less time, since you only enter and exit positions by the end or the start of the trading session.

As such, the routine of a swing trader is quite simple. In essence, you fire up your computer after the trading session has ended and find what stocks to buy and sell. Then you just place orders for the opening of the next trading day.

If you want to learn more about swing trading, we recommend you to read our massive article on swing trading!


What is the reality of being a day trader?

Day trading is not easy; it requires diligence, persistence, and hard work. It’s time-consuming, involves more than just trading, and does not guarantee constant excitement or no losing days.

Is day trading manual or algorithmic better?

Both manual and algorithmic day trading have their pros and cons. Algorithmic trading, done by a computer, provides flexibility but still requires monitoring to ensure smooth operation.

Is day trading worth it for everyone?

Day trading can bring profits, but it’s not for everyone. It requires perseverance, time, and previous knowledge. Those expecting quick mastery without putting in the effort may not find it worth it.

How much time does day trading require daily?

Day trading is highly time-consuming, and traders spend significant time watching the market for favorable entry conditions. It’s not a form of trading with a lot of free time.

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