I began this blog by making a reference to a conversation I had with a friend in which the word “Bitcoin” was used. I went home from that conversation, looked up Bitcoin on Google, and the rest is history. And if you would like a more detailed version of said history, you can read this entire blog.
Like many Americans I had to pause from my busy life to attend to filing my tax return. It turns out that I had made a business transaction on the same day that I had the conversation about Bitcoin, so I had a date on it. It’s March 15.
Four days from today, I will have been involved with Bitcoin for one whole year. I remember being struck by how easy it was to earn Bitcoin, so I know it was within days, if not hours, that I set up my first wallet and began filling it with my first tiny amounts of Bitcoin. So I can say with reasonable certainty that by March 20 of last year I not only knew about Bitcoin, but I had some in my wallet.
What a year it has been. For the most part I kept pretty low key about my interest in Bitcoin. I earned them and I played with them, as in I tried spending them in different ways, including but not limited to bad investments and outright scams.
I got involved in the Bitcoin forum and from there I learned about the Devtome opportunity, so I started publishing my writing there, set up this blog to chronicle my adventures, and explored a lot of websites and possibilities. I reviewed a number of the sites which allowed me to earn small amounts of Bitcoin. I played the Bitcoin stock market and dealt with good websites closing or plain not serving people who live in the US.
I think I lost a lot of Bitcoin in those first few months. Fortunately I didn’t keep the best records (this was a hobby after all) so I honestly do not know how much I lost. I’d probably be tempted towards depression if I did know. But writing comes easy for me and I knew I could get more Bitcoin (by trading out Devcoins), especially once many of my Devtome writer colleagues stepped up to the plate to police the content that gets published, making it less likely that what I earned writing would get diluted by other people’s drivel.
I was fortunate in that I made a lot of my Bitcoin mistakes in those early days back when Bitcoin was worth around $100 to $200, and often less than $100. The price of Devcoin was about what it is now, only against a much cheaper Bitcoin. When I would do some quick mental math to calculate how much my hobby was worth, it added up to maybe a few hundred dollars a month. Not enough to make much difference, I dismissed, so I kept it as a hobby and did not trade out any of my earnings for cash. Instead I “invested” my Bitcoins and Devcoins into various things, hoping that eventually my holdings would grow to actually be worth something.
Then I lost a whole bunch of my holdings in the Inputs.io hack. This happened right as the price of Bitcoin enjoyed its major surge from under $200 to over $1100. Suddenly, the value of what I’d just lost totaled over $4000. Now that would have made a difference!
I quickly mourned that loss and tried to glean the lessons from it, many of which I’ve already written about. I earned more Devcoins, and before long I had replaced all those Bitcoins and then some.
Then the price of Devcoin started to skyrocket before Christmas. That’s when I knew it was time to change the way I viewed my fun little hobby. It took more experimenting, some trial and much error, but I came up with a system to follow which would assure profit taking (cashing out for fiat) frequently along the way while still allowing me to play around and “invest” the cryptos I wasn’t cashing out.
Between January and today my crypto earnings have taken my family from hopelessly behind on bills with no relief in sight to being all caught up and starting to make a dent in the consumer debt. We were actually in the very early stages of foreclosure and in the midst of applying for a home loan modification which I did not think we could afford (but at least it postponed the foreclosure process). Now I’m happy to say that we are current on the modified loan and can look forward to low interest monthly payments and the ability to afford them.
On the crypto investment side, when I want to try something I usually commit a Bitcoin to it. So when I bought a bunch of Next coin, I spent a bit over one Bitcoin to do it. The last two IPOs I purchased on Havelock, I put in a Bitcoin into each one. When I’ve purchased hashing power, I’ve tended to do it one Bitcoin at a time. That wasn’t such a big deal when Bitcoins were one a hundred dollars each. But now, doing the same thing involves committing over $600 at a time, but for some of these it was $800. It’s a little weird plunking down $800 worth on something I just want to try while at the same time dealing with the very basics of paying bills and getting out of debt. But I figure this crypto hobby would lose much of its fun for me if I constantly had to cash everything out and just pay bills with it. So I cash out half and keep half, and that has worked out very well.
My most recent accomplishment has been finalizing my system for holding onto Devcoins I earn (especially when the price is very low) while at the same time taking profits from my hard work by selling my Devcoins for Bitcoin, then trading the Bitcoin for fiat. The system has actually been in place for some time, and it may get tweaked some more, so “finalized” is too strong a word. The main thing has been the resolve to stick with the system and the plan. This means that when it’s time to take profits, I take profits even if the price isn’t the best, and I use those profits to better my life. Right now, this bettering my life involves paying bills on time (no more overdue ones, yay!), and chipping away at our debt.
So just shy of one year after acquiring my very first fraction of a Bitcoin, I am using my earnings to actually get ahead financially. To say this is a dream come true would be an understatement. I am a person of faith and believe that God’s hand is behind all of this, and this is one of His ways of providing for my family, an answer to prayer. A year ago I would have never called this.
To summarize, most of my first year into Bitcoin was spent having fun with it, thinking of it as a hobby which essentially replaced time I used to spend on Facebook. Then in the past three months, the focus shifted to cashing out my earnings and using those earnings to dig us out of a financial hole.
Now that the financial hole is behind me and it looks like the ability to earn this way can continue long into the future, I’m having to think of this in a more long term way. I essentially have another job, bringing my total of paying jobs up to three, plus my spouse’s part time job. Yes, welcome to the late 2000s where lots of people work several part time jobs and still struggle to pay the bills.
Yesterday it occurred to me that while it certainly made sense to work intense long hours on writing to avert a financial crisis, this approach will not work as a long term strategy. If I try to sustain my current level of intensity I will burn out, and the rest of my life will suffer. My next area of learning and growth is getting a handle on how much is enough. When it comes to writing for the Devtome, there is always a chance to earn just a bit more. I could write just one more article. Yesterday, I wrote a couple more because I was pleasantly surprised to find the submission round still had 8 blocks to go, and my round 33 earnings will be better for it. I also categorized a bunch of previously written articles but still have to plug away on that. I have various admin duties as well along with an open invitation to take on additional ones for more pay. In other words, there is always something more I could do. And I need to know when to quit for the day, or when to take a vacation. I am looking forward to figuring this out.
Another area in which I want to grow is in charitable giving. I believe in the principle of giving back ten percent to God, be it in the form of a contribution to my church or a ministry I believe in. At the beginning of our marriage, my spouse and I were giving regularly, but after many months of coming up short, we eventually gave that up, feeling a little guilty about it, and hoping to one day start up again. We did start giving again a year and a half ago when I got a part time job, but our efforts to increase that giving to match ten percent of our income have been choppy at best. No matter how far ahead we get financially, there are still about ten things tugging on our next dollar. Giving isn’t always something I’m going to feel like doing, and it may never be convenient or easy, but it will have to be a choice I make and stick to. I’m hoping to be a consistent and generous giver by this time next year if not sooner.
My spouse and I have other goals, either for ourselves as individuals, for our marriage, our family, our home, or our community. Many of those goals have been on hold because most of them cost money, and when you’re broke just the thought of spending money can be stressful and take all the joy out of making even a smart and necessary purchase. We’re slowly starting to dust off some of these dreams and goals and tentatively make some plans to make them happen. And we’re just beginning to recover from the trauma of having been under crushing debt with no hope of getting ahead for many years. This next year is going to be one of many new beginnings, and a whole new way of approaching life.
I’m excited about the future and even more excited about the journey. This past year has been nothing short of incredible and awesome in so many ways. Discovering cryptocurrencies has played a prominent role in what what made the last year great, and it certainly has been the focus of this blog. But honestly, that has been one of many amazing and wonderful things going on in our life. Part of my quest for balance is to make sure cryptocurrencies don’t take over my life in a way they shouldn’t. May they continue to be a great tool and servant, but never a master.