Known as the only Four-Time World Trading Champion (2008, 2009, 2010, and 2012), Andrea Unger has been a full-time professional trader since 2001 and honorary member of SIAT (Italian Society of Technical Analysis, a branch of IFTA). Andrea is often invited as a speaker throughout Europe, America, and Asia.
"We are not selling dreams. I'm selling a method to study the markets and to build something that can work. But this method requires effort, and you have to sit down, study hard, learn and work to build your own knowledge. So I don't want people who are looking for the dreams of richness; people who want the secret to make money in the markets, because there is no secret, the only secret is hard work."
I'm not generally an advocate of active trading. Most beginners are better off starting with ETFs and Index Funds to ease into investing. However, some people look for a greater understanding of market movements for profit. Here's a link if you're interested in exploring Andrea's methodology more closely.
EPISODE TRANSCRIPT FOLLOWS BELOW
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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT (UNEDITED)
Andrea Unger (7s):
How often do you get drunk? If you go to the pub around the corner with your friends or compared to when you go there with your wife? There is a difference. You know, there is a rule if friends then drunk, if wife no beer. So these are all the rules and you put them together. This is technical analysis, you are technically analyzing yourself, your behaviour and your outcome.
Phil Muscatello (33s):
Hi, and welcome back to Stocks for Beginners. I'm Phil Muscatello. Andrea Unger is the only person to have won the World Trading Cup Championship four times. And he's the CEO and founder of the Unger Academy, where he works to help traders automate their trading and take back their free time. He's been a full-time professional trader since 2001 and an honorary member of the Italian society of technical analysis. I'm pleased to welcome him as a guest today. Hello, Andrea.
Andrea Unger (1m 1s):
Ciao Phil, ciao everybody.
Phil Muscatello (1m 2s):
Thank you for coming on. Now this podcast is aimed at beginners and we usually advise that people should avoid trading too often. In fact, most people would be best to start with simple ETFs and index funds. So let's start by looking at trading for all the wrong reasons.
Andrea Unger (1m 19s):
Well Phil, I believe wrongest reason to trade, which sounds weird, is to trade for money. Because many people approach trading dreaming of their next Lamborghini. They want to find either an extra salary, or they want to become wealthy. They want a lot of money. And so we approach trading because the industry of trading is sort of claiming it's an easy way to make money. This is wrong because they don't have any passion for this. It's like buying a lottery ticket for them, that has more choices by the way, if you approach it this way. So they are just greedy. They want money, money, money.
Andrea Unger (1m 59s):
That's all they think about. And they have no idea what we are doing actually, because they don't even take their time to verify what's needed what necessity. You mentioned ETFs, index funds, but this is not just about these are simple instruments. This is the point. They are simple, simple to understand, you know what happens when they move from A to B. Most people jump into complicated things like futures, options, cryptocurrencies, and we don't even know what happens depending on how they move. This is the problem, because if you know what you are using, you can use everything.
Andrea Unger (2m 41s):
If you are an experienced driver, you can easily drive a Ferrari. But if you have never driven a car in your life, I mean, it's better if you go in a small car to start with and with somebody who's teaching you how to drive. This is the point. People don't care about getting the necessary in knowledge when they approach the markets.
Phil Muscatello (2m 59s):
This is something that really do need to understand that they have to learn about markets. Whether they're going to be technical analysis or fundamental analysis, it takes a lot of time to learn these sorts of things. And a lot of people want to try it for the wrong reasons. So why do 80% of traders quit within the first two years?
Andrea Unger (3m 18s):
We normally mention about 80% of straight as quitting. There might be more, there might be fewer. I can't tell you the exact numbers because I never know if they really quit or just taking a pause. But the point is these people quit for two reasons. The first reason that people, of course, ignorance. Ignorance intended as lack of knowledge of what they're doing. So they lose money. Some people after a while make the money back. But the stress related to the whole process was so high so they are happy to get their money back and they want to forget about this forever and they quit. This is a positive way to quit.
Andrea Unger (3m 60s):
But other people, and this is the bad news, quit because they lose all their money. We call them quitters. Some of them even try to stick to this. I mean, they try to find solutions to go on, to recover the money they lost. This is even worse. Sometimes to quit is a winning choice. Just quit. It's sort of a stop-loss. A stop loss is you stop your losses and you forget about that thing. Stop loss is what we talk about when we talk about the trade. You are in a trade, you discover that the trade is wrong and you exit. At a certain level you lose some money but you stop your losses. Some people apply this even to the process of trading. And this is good because they recognize that it's not for them.
Andrea Unger (4m 42s):
It's something which is wrong. It's just something they don't have to do because they are not born traders. Okay? But not even grown traders, they are not trades at all. They will never be traders. So they quit. But some others try keeping and they go on and they put more money. They try to find my money. They borrow money from friends or family and this is terrible, believe me. Because this is a process that really drives them to ruin. I'm not here trying to put the black future for everybody but you have to be very careful and to be realistic about things. If things go wrong, just let them go wrong and stop.
Andrea Unger (5m 23s):
Change things, okay? It's like when you are in a wrong relationship with somebody, the best thing sometimes is to cut this relationship. To quit, to separate because it's good for you, for your partner and for all the people surrounding you. Same thing here. If you have a wrong relationship with trading better quit. You will not be a loser with it, you will be a winner because you recognize you made the wrong choice.
Phil Muscatello (5m 42s):
Because a lot of people it's to do with their own egos, isn't it? Because they, they think that they're going to make a lot of money. They're thinking about the money that they going to make and they need their ego to be confirmed by how they trade. But that's not really about ego, isn't it?
Andrea Unger (5m 59s):
It's yeah. It's a double thing. On one side, we start already thinking about when they are rich, okay? So they already try to figure out where new life: yacht, Lamborghini, if they are men, young girls, or if they are a women, young toy boys and so on. Okay. And this is what they have in their mind when they discover it's not going like that. So the problem is that these guys have a double failure. They see their dream vanishing and they start realizing that they are the cause of this, or they feel to be the cause. Because all of a sudden they feel that they are not able to do what they wanted. And here the ego comes in place because they don't admit if they are not good enough.
Andrea Unger (6m 44s):
Let's say for something, so many peoples succeeded, because they were told about this, but it's not true. They believe so many people succeeded. How can I fail? I don't want to quit because I can make it.
Phil Muscatello (6m 55s):
I enjoyed reading the about page on your Academy's website, where you talk about you really want to make sure that you have the right people who are looking into your methodology. So what are you actually looking for? Or what are the people that you're not looking for at the academy?
Andrea Unger (7m 11s):
I don't want gold diggers because we are not selling dreams. I'm selling a method to study the markets and to build something that can work. But this method requires effort. And you have to sit down, study hard, learn and work to build your own knowledge. It's like when you go to the university. You know, already it takes time. If you're a lazy guy you will never sign up for some college. Okay? So I don't want people who are looking for the dreams of richness; people who want the secret to make money in the markets, because there is no secret, only secret is hard work. So that's all. You have to learn how to deal with the markets.
Andrea Unger (7m 52s):
That's it. I want motivated people. I want people who do this, not only for money. Okay? I told you, money's the wrong reason. But of course there is money behind this because we are doing this to find a job. This is will be our job. Maybe we'll do this for a living. So obviously we have to make money back. It must not be the driving reason for this. So when you don't do this for money, but you do this for passion, because you want to discover what's behind the moves of a market. How the market moves, why and how you can take advantage of this, how you can build it, your infrastructure to let this work for you. Then these people, these are people who are looking for, because there are people who will be passionate and they will be never stopping their learning curve because they always will be curious about new solutions.
Andrea Unger (8m 40s):
These guys are those who also will be even more successful in doing so, because they are really willing to put their efforts into this thing.
Phil Muscatello (8m 47s):
Let's talk about the two types of students that you've had. First of all, the ones that something about them has raised alarm bells in your mind and you realize they're not kind of students you're after. But then there's other students who you might've been wrong about as well but they've turned out to be fantastic students.
Andrea Unger (9m 4s):
Oh yes, we have so many students so there are many funny stories but of course, I'm not a good salesman. I mean, I'm a terrible salesman because normally I try to keep people away from, from venturing the markets, because I, I know that most of the people will never be good traders because they don't want to study for this. So normally I try to stop people who I feel will not be succeeded at all. I don't want them to waste their money. They say, "I want to invest my money here". No, you're wasting your money because we will never be a good student, but I'm wrong sometimes. We got, for example, a guy Giuseppe, and when I asked, he first came up with a very bad email against me, "why are you teaching if you are a successful trader?"
Andrea Unger (9m 49s):
And so, so we started exchanging emails and we became friends to some extent, even for only through internet. And I told him, look Giuseppe, I don't think you will ever be a good trader. You better look for something else where you have managers. So don't do this because you would just waste your money, but he wanted to do so. He wanted to stay in this. And he did come into the academy. Now that's what he's building his portfolio strategies. He's succeeding. I'm so happy about him. I'm so happy. I was wrong. I'm so happy. When he was able to demonstrate that he was stronger. When my faults against him so busy, it was a real good and pleasant surprise to me. This is a case of a student who I thought was the wrong guy. And I was student.
Andrea Unger (10m 29s):
I have, it is Andrea. And he was also very polemical. The whole thing, not because he wasn't believing in what we were doing. He was bleeding and he invested his money. But because he had so many claims about everything, most of the guys in the academy are annoyed by him. Actually, I always say that we have to listen to the people who complain because we can learn how to improve our products, how to prove our services. And I started talking to hemophilia telegram, and we are in contact now. And I very happy because he was one who was, of course complaining us on, but he was also hardworking and he's not one of our best students.
Andrea Unger (11m 11s):
He started with a relevant amount of money. He's trading Advancial and the one year he dabbled his capital, which I'm not telling you that you can double your capital. If you come to academy in one year, it just one case I'm telling you about just as a story, but he's really successful. And he did this in a very clean and interesting way because he did everything in the right way. He just followed all of the suggestions in spite of his complaining of everything. He followed the path and he built his portfolio and his portfolio produced the right Freud because now he he's writing to me. He's very happy. And now I have to, to break him because I wait, Andrea, don't be too happy a down.
Andrea Unger (11m 55s):
We can be careful. They always come. So don't be too enthusiastic. Never increase your crazy and things like that. But of course, this is another demonstration, but when you do things properly, you will sooner or later find the results which you, you aim for.
Phil Muscatello (12m 14s):
So let's talk about the academy methodology. I believe it's around rules. And I'm using these rules on which you base your trading.
Andrea Unger (12m 26s):
Yes. When I started trading, I also tried some discretionary trading and they felt lost more or less because the stress involved in making the decisions during trading was absolutely too high. I always felt I was doing the wrong thing. And even when I was succeeding, I felt too much stress. So I tried with the rule-based the thing with automated training, which is completely automated. You build your rules, you put them into the software and the software is trading on your behalf. So you don't have to do anything. Once you build all the systems that you have and systems are based on rules. Some people think that having an automated thing from a software is a, is the right thing for the answer or thing like that.
Andrea Unger (13m 9s):
No, because I'm not a programmer. You just learned when accessory scripts capability to put together where necessary rules and Ms helps enormously. It doesn't completely cancel all stress related to trading because we are still experiencing stress because your money is in there. But of course you don't have to make decisions during your trading when stress is the highest level and roles who frightened people sometimes. Yes. How can you find the rules are just common sense rules put together on what if process? Let's say you ask some questions. What if I do this? And you test it. If it works, you can use it.
Andrea Unger (13m 50s):
If it doesn't work, you just quit it. For example, what if I buy at the breakout of yesterday's high every Tuesday, just stupid example. And when I closed this position at the end of a Tuesday session, as simple as that, I put it in my machine. I tested maybe 20 years of backtesting. If it shows promising results, I know it's likely to work also for the future. If it shows like a disaster, I will never use this role. Maybe I look for WebAssign. So I just take some basic working rules. What if I do I test? And I look at the results, obviously you will never find the perfect equity line doing. So you find what looks promising and then you can work on it.
Andrea Unger (14m 33s):
You can refine it and you can put it in a clean way. What's more important that these kinds of systems built this way are open. You know exactly what's going on. It's not a black box where you just hope it's working. You know exactly what is in there because you put it in there. And of course the visa rules, all these. What if rules don't come up in a stormy night when I wake up is waiting, go. So now they are all common sense rules that I already put into a file in the function. So we can loop through the different scenarios and you can choose them. What I, I never do. I never take the results as granted. I always look at what rules was picked because I want to understand what's behind the wall thing.
Andrea Unger (15m 17s):
So I want to know, okay, I made this choice because of this reason. And this reason is something that makes sense to me. So I will put it together. And this
Phil Muscatello (15m 25s):
Is something that we should warn people about is that there's many people who are selling what are known as black box trading systems, where basically you pay the money. You get the black box, which is, you know, figuratively speaking. We're only talking about software here and you start putting your money into this black box and supposedly profits will come out. The other end, this is not what you're
Andrea Unger (15m 47s):
Offering did not. It's a miracle box bought by black box. These black boxes normally look wonderful in the past. And normally they are built to look waterfall. I mean, you can build something, but shows great. In the past, we just put too many rules in there just to fit what happened in the past. But we don't want this because we want something. But it's likely to happen also in the future. If you decide to put rules, to go walking in the park with your dog and you say, okay, I already go out. If it's sunny, nice day, sunny, not too hot because my dog loves it. Like the heat. I need the place where is enough shadow. And I, we go there at around 11 o'clock because that helps when for preparing for the appetite for the lunch and so on.
Andrea Unger (16m 31s):
And you put all these rules together and you know, your dog was happy. So you'll think that all these rules made your dog happy. Okay? But you forget that your reason why the dog was happy was that he met another dog and he played with a dog. But very day you forgot this role. This was a real reason of dogs, happiness. And if you want to reproduce all these rules, which is very complicated, you go, you wait for a sunny day. You wait for the right temperature. You go over to the park and your dog is sad. Why is the dog said? Just simply because they did the immediate friends and you, you missed the real reason, just putting too many reasons together. But these results together don't reproduce the same effect. And you disappointed your dog, which is not what you want.
Andrea Unger (17m 13s):
Phil Muscatello (17m 13s):
In each episode, I like to talk about something in a concept that is brought up in the interview that will explain something to a beginner. And you talked about backtesting. What is, backtesting a lot of these kinds of methodologies rely on looking backwards to see if they work. Can you just dig a little bit deeper into that forest, please?
Andrea Unger (17m 33s):
Mic testing is verifying what happened under certain conditions and analyzing the results. It's something we always do. If you tell me for example, that you don't drink coffee at night because you won't sleep. If you drink coffee, you made backtesting because you drank coffee in your life. And you noticed that you didn't sleep after drinking coffee once, twice, three, four times. But this is our, all the cases of your back test. So you back test your capability of sleeping after having coffee in the evening. And you noticed that it's better not to take off. That was a testing, same thing we do on, on stocks for a Campbell. We tested the result of doing a certain action over and over again.
Andrea Unger (18m 18s):
What if we buy always on the 17th working day of the month, and we closed the position at the first day of next month. What happened to my portfolio if I did? So this is back testing. Of course we can do it manually, or which is easier today. With some software, there are many softwares out there and we just put the rules into the software. We have a data inside the software as well. And the software analyzes all the situation. It is telling us what happened, doing a certain thing I always use backtesting because I want to understand if at least something worth when I can use something that worked in the past.
Andrea Unger (18m 59s):
Nobody wants something with never worked. Of course. I mean, it's not granted. It will keep on working, but at least we have some higher probability that where something good in our hands,
Phil Muscatello (19m 10s):
The kind of rules that you look at based on technical analysis, which is a bit different to fundamental analysis. Can you explain just briefly the difference between the two,
Andrea Unger (19m 21s):
The fundamental analysis is looking into the nature of business and how it's going as a company. And it will probably show what it can produce, but we don't know how long, maybe one day or in 10 years needs some knowledge about economy and financials, staff, technical analysis, studies, the moves and tries to adjust them. If there is a logic behind the moves, I don't believe in the classical particular gun analysis charting because I did demonstrate, but this actually is more an illusion than anything.
Andrea Unger (20m 1s):
I don't want to go into depth now in this, but this is something that I did. And I showed that you can apply technical energies to anything, which is even not related to stocks. And you have the illusion of it. It works, but there is a portion of technical analysis, which is a Quantic analysis, quantitative analysis, where actually we look measuring things. It's still technical because we measure and we measure sort of statistics. How often does this happen when this happens? Okay. How often do you get drunk? If you go to the pub around the corner with your friends compared to when you go there with your wife, but it's a difference.
Andrea Unger (20m 41s):
You know, there is a rule if friends, van drank, if wife, no rear Euro. So these are our rules and you put them together. This is technical analysis. You are technically analyzing yourself, your behavior and your outcome. What happens to you to your behavior? This is even market because the market is people trading. The market is traders. All these traders have a behavior. We started with this behavior. What happens after a huge fall in the markets? What happens after frames of coaching was a uptrend and always feels like, wait. Now what happens if yesterday the market didn't go anywhere? What happens if yesterday it took a strong direction of 5%.
Andrea Unger (21m 25s):
Plus all these questions have answers and these answers give us a technical because technical analyze and behavior. We have numbers to measure behaviors and prove these numbers. We can build our decisions. So you prefer to go to pub with friends rather than with your wife.
Phil Muscatello (21m 43s):
Is this a collaborative process? Do you find sometimes that students will come up with rules or we'll change the rules and you think, Hey, that's a great idea. And I'm going to incorporate that myself.
Andrea Unger (21m 55s):
Actually, yes, I'm on one side. It's not necessarily because I've built all the basic scripts to work on. Basically it means if the scripts with a basic rules to enter the markets and when you haven't functions in where to play around, to pick all the different conditions that we have in this big file that we use to build the strategies. But I have students who modified the big file. On one side, they created more defined conditions to go back to my wherever, say sunny or cloudy, or somebody says likely cloudy or some gray clouds, some black clouds. So they put all these roles inside and some people even added the rules, completely new rules, new patterns, new chart patterns, new combinations that because they were curious and they put with at work, noticing that it worked.
Andrea Unger (22m 42s):
What I always focus my attention on and tell these guys whatever rule you put into your system and new rules, make sure you understand the role, because if you don't understand it, it's dangerous.
Phil Muscatello (22m 53s):
Is there something on your website or something that we can link to that will illustrate what we've just spoken about?
Andrea Unger (22m 60s):
Actually better. We have a website again, it's the blog. I got many contributions, which are very useful in my opinion for beginners, because I'm telling them, I believe I hope a truth about trading. So the blog blog.org at academy.com is a very useful resource that we have got tons of videos, but it talks about trading, even some technical stuff they could use, but the most things related to trading and what not to do in trading or things like that. So I think that's a very interesting resource to have a look at and it's completely free. Yeah, that's
Phil Muscatello (23m 33s):
Great. Okay. We'll put a link in the show notes to that, and I think it's really important. And this is one of the most important things I've learned by doing this podcast is what not to do so many people don't understand. There are so many things you're white, the odds into your favor by doings. There's so many things that you don't do
Andrea Unger (23m 49s):
Not doing wrong. Things is most important because you will keep on learning. But if you avoid the mistakes, you will be able to make mistakes tomorrow, but tomorrow is so important for traders and just
Phil Muscatello (23m 59s):
Make sure that those mistakes aren't too costly as well.
Andrea Unger (24m 2s):
Oh yes. In the very start of my career, I believe at the vet pay, the education was a waste of money because I thought, wait, I should pay some for them for something which seems to be so simple. Yes. But then I understood that if you rely on a real trader, this is important. I mentioned that many of the gurus are not, they are traders. In my opinion, these guys don't tell you about their mistakes, but you need somebody to let you know about all the mistakes they made so that you can avoid them. I also recorded a webinar, which is a good resource for a new buy, because if these webinars are also telling you the path I went through from the very start to becoming a trader, it might be interesting if you put a link somewhere so that people can join.
Andrea Unger (24m 44s):
Phil Muscatello (24m 45s):
Put that up on the blog post. So tell us about the world trading championships. How are they conducted? And do they have penalty shootouts?
Andrea Unger (24m 55s):
Well, it was a challenge for me because training might also be boring. I was convinced I could win better. I did. I wanted to win with trading championship to become an educator in the states. Cause it was sort of a dream. I always enjoy the teaching people. I own to become a professor of university. So you can imagine, but the championships, it's a tough thing because there was one year, one year long competition. I mean, if you go for one month, you might be lucky and you might take it and bring it home. But if one year you need a lot of luck. So it's much harder and much less likely to get the coincidence in winning that thing.
Andrea Unger (25m 35s):
And no, there's no penalty. I mean, I know about people who have been disqualified because there are strict controls to be species is real money contest. So one side, obviously you have to preserve your money, but they also care very much about their image and reputation. So they closely watch what participants are doing. And if they notice that somebody is playing tricks with somebody is immediately disqualified, it is not only think about basis. I heard about a guy disqualified, qualified, not because he was working with two accounts and he was taking opposite positions on virtual cards. This is the most classical trait, but it's also a stupid trick because in one year you need always to get very wrong praise.
Andrea Unger (26m 16s):
One of accounts, which is not very English, but okay. But this guy was building positions. If these two accounts, which were not with the same instruments, but with some correlated instruments. So that most likely if one was going up, everyone, one was going on. But also in this case, which looked like a clean case, he was disqualified because they noticed that the operation were done to take the maximum advantage of the competition. So they are very, very strict, but the competition is very interesting because when you go through this, you are put at a maximum level of stress because you have to do the right thing the right moment. And in time, because you have only one year is long when I mentioned black, but it's very short when you need performance.
Andrea Unger (27m 2s):
So we have to do things at the right time and to react on time to things that go wrong in 2009, my second championship, after six months, I was breakeven because all my strategies were not producing any money so far. And I had to make the right decision. I only six months left. So I had to react fast and visa making decisions on time, helped me enormously in my personal trading, of course, in my personal trading, I don't trade with the same level of risk I take in the competition. Clearly I'm not the cabbie chasm, but the way to react, to make decisions, to rebuild your finger, your, your model that helped me enormously.
Andrea Unger (27m 42s):
And all the experience I gathered in both championships was gold for my trading because it built me as a real trader.
Phil Muscatello (27m 49s):
So tell us a bit more about the Unger academy and where people can find out more information.
Andrea Unger (27m 55s):
You ain't got academy on one side, follows my, as I mentioned, my desire of teaching on the other side is something that comes from, from a market itself because I was asked from many guys to put the disposal, my, my knowledge and so on. So I'm going to cut. The baby was born and it was born in a form you can see today, which was in 2015. I had the lectures before, but, but now me and some former students of mine decided to structure this in a more professional way, which is now the outcome of younger academy. And it's a place where you find many traders willing to build something that keeps on working on the markets.
Andrea Unger (28m 35s):
I don't teach any secret formula air. I just showing what I do the way I do. And what I do is using simple rules to study the markets and then put these and other rules together to build systems to the work. It said, the thing is automated. So we also have some parts where we teach about the software and a visa necessity just to know what you are using. But of course, it's not something that requires incredible knowledge about programming, because I said, I'm not a programmer myself. It's not a place where you get easy money. It's important to know that you find genuine information, the real things I do.
Andrea Unger (29m 19s):
And many of the students that we have do, but it's not something that you subscribe any one week. You are the next, what a Buffett. Absolutely not. It's for people willing to become automated traders. People who have software trading on their behalf, which doesn't mean they can lie on the beach under the sun. It's always good to keep an eye or to have some monitoring on what you do, but it's a way to decrease, not to get rate, but to decrease the level of stress. And it's a way to have a numerical control of what you do to build a plan, because the plan is so important in trading.
Andrea Unger (29m 60s):
When you run a business, you make a business plan. So why not in trading, trading ease a business. And this approach helps you to build a real business plan for your activity as a trader and the website, the website guard academy.com of course. But if you go through the, the blog that I mentioned before, all the webinar, of course you'll find all the links, but you guys go on hunger academy.com. You can visit the about page as it seems that you got intrigued by vapor your selfish. Oh, I enjoyed reading it very much. Yeah. I mean, my story is a trader is I guess, sort of an adventure. And it's really interesting. If I look back, I can't believe what I went through, but now it's so many years past.
Andrea Unger (30m 41s):
And, and now I'm sitting here as, as a trader, no longer as an, I want to be a trader. And I, I would be glad to listen to stories of students went through similar paths, maybe with your mistakes than I did, maybe thanks to me. And I would be interested to listen to this because these are always experiences of life
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