- Jack Kellogg started trading stocks when he was 17 years old.
- He looks for patterns and watches the top movers for days before deciding to take a position.
- He broke down some of his biggest losses and explained the risks attached with day trading.
Jack Kellogg started day trading in 2017 when he was only 19 years old. It was the year he was finishing high school and watching his friends go off to college. With no scholarship, no solid plans, and the prospect of paying out-of-pocket, he began to feel anxious about what was next.
He thought about becoming a firefighter because it wasn’t a 9-to-5 job and it would allow him to figure out what he wanted to do during his off hours. He also had $10,000 saved up from working a valet job he had for about two years.
Ultimately, Kellogg’s goal was to find a way to be financially comfortable outside of a paycheck so that he wouldn’t struggle with money.
“We lived in somewhat of a nicer town,” he said. “So everybody around me always had these nicer things or they were able to do more fun stuff. And I wasn’t able to really participate in a lot of that stuff.”
His mom was a school bus driver and his dad was an electrician for the town. Growing up, he remembered his parents not being able to ever get ahead financially. His desire to alleviate his family’s financial stress was a motivator to invest and build wealth from a young age.
In 2017, he had also heard about trading stocks from a trader friend. So he created a Thinkorswim account, deposited $7,500 from his savings, and began testing the waters with small trades.
After losing a few hundred dollars, he realized he didn’t know what he was doing. So he switched off real trading and began paper trading on Thinkorswim and TD Ameritrade.
While he continued to valet cars, Kellogg would put his earphones on and listen to podcasts and YouTube videos from other successful traders to learn their processes, in particular, “Chat With Traders”, a podcast about successful strategies.
During this time, he invested $7,500 towards an online educational program from Timothy Sykes, a trading teacher and former penny-stock trader known for claiming to flip his bar mitzvah cash gift into over $1 million in gains.
He used the remainder of his valet money and his parents chipped in so that he could take the course, he said. He got access to a chat room where he could communicate with other traders, watch daily video lessons, and get market updates and webinars.
Today, Kellogg is 24 years old, and his tax returns, viewed by Insider, showed that he reported over $8 million in gains from day trading in 2020 and 2021. His returns gained momentum in 2020, when he had a total income of $1.6 million. In 2021, that amount grew to a total income of $6.5 million.
The raging bull market that took over most of the last two years made riding the market up and locking in profits easier. This year has definitely been more of a challenge for traders because of both the bearish stock market and the uncertainty surrounding economic conditions. Kellogg learned that the hard way after starting January off with a $100,000 loss in the first two weeks.
Therefore, he set off with a conservative goal. Rather than trying to make another $6 million in profits, he was aiming for $1 million to $2 million for the year. Year-to-date, he has gained about $1.1 million, according to his monthly brokerage statements.
After the $100,000 loss, he realized he had to size down his positions to limit his risk until he was more confident about the market environment he was trading in. His cautionary approach worked and by February, he was able to recover his loss by heavily trading Tesla (TSLA) in both long and short positions.
By March, he started gaining more momentum thanks to the oil sector which became red-hot in February after Russia invaded Ukraine, sending oil prices skyrocketing. Some oil stocks had reached year-to-date highs by the first week of March, signaling to him that they were overextended.
According to transactions from Kellogg’s brokerage statements, he began shorting stocks like Imperial Petroleum Inc. (IMPP), Camber Energy Inc. (CEI), and Houston American Energy Corporation (HUSA). He finished the month off with gains of $398,955, according to his March statement.
Setting up a winning trade
He looks for patterns. Kellogg mainly trades small- and large-cap stocks. However, finding a stock that fits a recognizable pattern is more important than the type of company or sector he’s trading.
“When it goes up too much, I want to short. And when it goes down too much, I want to go long,” Kellogg said.
He first identifies key tickers by looking for the top percent gainers of the day. He uses a paid tool called Stocks To Trade to determine which stocks have had the largest upward moves on a given trading day. For free tools, he recommends Finviz which also lists the top daily movers. He then filters the stocks that have a high trading volume, which is a key factor.
“I don’t want to just see something that’s up 300% on like $500,000 traded,” Kellogg said. “I want to see something trading like tens of millions of dollars, even billions of dollars, and seeing it up like 50% to 100%. And those are the kind of stocks that I trade.”
He learned the hard way that high volume is very important when trading large amounts of shares after he found himself stuck in a position he couldn’t exit, which resulted in one of his biggest losses.
In February 2021, shares of the cannabis retailer Medmen Enterprises (MMNFF) shot up from around $0.17 to $1.50 — up nearly 800% — in about six days. He bought the stock and then began to short it as it rolled over.
When he felt the stock’s price had dropped enough, he then took a long position, purchasing shares as the stock continued to tumble, assuming there would soon be a small bounce during which he could sell his shares. He was right about the pattern, but it only bounced back to his average buy price and when he tried to sell, he was left holding the bag.
“I got into a situation where I had like a $0.75 average with 2.4 million shares, which just was a ridiculous size position. And it bounced back to my average, but the problem was that there was no liquidity for me to sell because I had way too much size,” Kellogg said.
He was only able to sell a third of his position. By the time he could sell the remainder of the shares, the stock was trading at around $0.50. He told Insider he sold at a loss of about $367,000.
Secondly, he stalks the stock for a few days before deciding whether it could make a good trade.
Once he has identified the contenders, he won’t take up positions on the first day. Instead, he will add them to his watch list and observe them over a few days to identify if there are any familiar patterns in their price action. He’s specifically looking for a breakout pattern, which is when a stock moves outside of its support or resistance levels. Specifically, he’s eyeing for a stock to break its resistance levels after trading near its highs for at least a day or two, he said.
Kellogg is mainly taking into consideration what’s known as the emotional stages of market cycles, which follows the theory that a stock’s price action is based on or influenced by the behavioral patterns of traders. The idea is that when a stock’s price begins to move upwards, there’s a sense of optimism. As the positive trend continues, that increases the excitement, and eventually euphoria, which usually signals the top.
“And by the time that happens, the stock is up like 500% to 1,000% and everybody is talking about it and it’s on the news and et cetera. And that’s when you know that the top is very soon,” Kellogg said.
He told Insider he generally doesn’t catch the stock when it first begins to trek upwards the first time around. Instead, he waits for the stock to consolidate sideways close to its high or within 25% to 35% of its peak before he begins to buy in.
“The best trades that I have are ones that I’m stalking for days,” Kellogg said.
He will gradually scale into a position. He tests his bet by slowly buying into the position as the stock continues to move upwards, instead of slamming on a full position immediately. This way if he’s wrong about his pick, he won’t take a full-size loss, allowing him to limit his risk.
On the upside, it allows him to continue moving his stop loss up so that he can lock in his gains.
Aside from watching the charts, he will also skim through headlines to get clues about why a ticker may be moving upwards. For example, on July 27, Blue Water Vaccines’s (BWV) stock made a daily high. The catalyst for the sudden move was headlines surrounding monkeypox. That day, the stock hit a weekly high at $4.04. Kellogg told Insider he was watching the price to see if it would hold its level for a few days before he’d decide to buy in.
He focuses on three main price points to determine a good buy-in. They include the stock’s previous day’s low, its closing price, and its opening price. He uses these prices as a guide for risk. If the stock’s price drops under any of those prices, he assumes the trade will probably not work out.
He doesn’t use many indicators except the volume weighted average price (VWAP), which is a measurement of the average price of a security, adjusted for its volume. This helps him see where the average buyer or seller is in and out of the stock. If the price of the stock is over VWAP, he sees it as a bullish indicator and if it’s under, it’s bearish.
It’s not all candy canes and wins
While Kellogg attributes his success to his ability to remain disciplined, he believes most traders fail because they don’t control their emotions.
“It’s very easy to make an emotional mistake. So on one hand you have trading patterns that are repetitive, but they’re not always black and white, like every trade is a little bit unique,” Kellogg said. “And if somebody makes a mistake on a pattern or a trade, it kind of is just a downward spiral.”
The outcome can often lead traders to revenge trade, entering the next trade without a clear headspace, he noted. He avoids these traps by detaching himself from his emotions. One way he does it is by only trading with cash he’s open to losing. This allows him to look at the dollars on the screen as numbers rather than cash. If the trade turns against him, he accepts his losses
And cuts out sooner rather than later. He then moves to the next trade with a clear head space.
Sometimes the market will toss you around and you can’t really avoid being in that situation, he said. The real question is how you manage your trade when you find yourself in a position that’s out of control. He has observed many traders having a hard time exiting the position because they don’t want to realize their loss and so they stick it out, hoping it’ll change.
Kellogg has found himself in trades that have ripped his face off, including as recently as this month. He noticed the Chinese stock AMTD Digital Inc. (HKD) after it swung from $16.21 on July 15, to $1,679 by August 2.
As he watched the price rise, he began to enter short positions at $200, thinking it would soon begin to plunge. But the stock kept rising and he kept entering more short positions on the way up including at $400, all the way up to $2,100. As of Wednesday it was last trading at around $1,100. He told Insider he took a $400,000 loss overall.
“Now this is a stock you could literally lose everything on and quite literally the most insane move I have ever seen,” Kellogg said of his experience.
While financial experts tend to recommend patient, long-term investing for most young people to build wealth. Kellogg believes if you have a passion for day trading, then try it out. But definitely start small and understand the risks.
In general, you’re almost going to lose half the trades that you take, he said. Even when Kellogg sticks to his plan and follows his rules, his win percentage is at about 62%, he said. So traders should expect to lose on a lot of trades and if they haven’t learned to control their emotions and limit their losses, the outcome could be bad.
Furthermore, there’s a lot of time and effort that goes into setting up a winning trade. For example, even though the market opens at 9:30 a.m. ET, Kellogg will sometimes be up at 4 a.m. to monitor premarket trading. While trading volume is often too low to make any trades, it helps him get a feel for patterns around the stocks he’s watching.