Tag Archives: investing

My Early Experiences With Bitcoin And Helpful Tips I’ve Uncovered

Recently, I finally took the plunge and bought some Bitcoin. I even wrote shared the experience. Overall, it wasn’t that groundbreaking. It didn’t involve a radical rethinking of how I used or thought about money. It was not that different from depositing money in a new account from an ATM. The account in this case just happened to be Bitcoin.

Since then, I’ve bought more Bitcoin. To date, I have a couple hundred bucks in my lone Bitcoin wallet. I’m still using BRD, which is one of the simplest wallets you can get. I have looked into getting others that have more features, but many of them seem to be more trouble than they’re worth.

That may change. I am quite interested in what BitPay has to offer with some of their services, but for now, I’m content to stick with BRD.

However, since I bought my Bitcoins, one issue has come up and I suspect it’s still the primary issue that most people face when they first get involved in this. It’s probably the same issue that prevents a lot of people from getting into it to begin with.

How do I spend my Bitcoins once I have them?

It’s the main issue that all these cryptocurrencies face. Getting them and securing them is challenging enough. Actually spending them like real money is still a challenge. While there are some noteworthy merchants that accept Bitcoin, most major retail outlets do not. You cannot use Bitcoin at Amazon or WalMart or even a standard grocery store just yet. Until that changes, its use will be limited.

This is what kept me from buying much of anything with my Bitcoins. Then, I discovered a useful tool that has helped make that easier and I think it’s worth sharing. While it’s true that companies like Amazon and Apple don’t accept Bitcoin directly, you can still use them. You just have to do it indirectly.

One way to do this is to use a site I found called Bitrefill. What it does is simple. You just use your Bitcoins to purchase digital gift cards for popular retail outlets. It works like this.

Step 1: Go to Bitrefill.com and browse the various gift card options, which includes the likes of Amazon and Walmart.

Step 2: Pick a gift card, choose an amount, and enter your Bitcoin account information for the desired amount, which is usually around $50 to $100.

Step 3: Complete the purchase and wait for the gift card code to come in via email. Then, just add the amount to your existing account.

For those who buy most of their stuff on Amazon, this is a quick way to turn your Bitcoins into something spendable. There are a few other workarounds, like Moon and Purse.io, but I’ve found this to be the easiest. There’s even a similar website called CoinsBee that allows you to do the same to your Apple iTunes account.

Basically, if you know how to send or spend gift cards, you can spend Bitcoin. Does it require a few extra steps from traditional cash? Yes, it does, but you can still spend it.

That may still raise the question as to why bother with Bitcoin in the first place. If it’s just adding an extra step between you and the retailers you prefer, then what’s the point? Well, this is where I’d like to share another part of my Bitcoin experience.

After buying my first batch, the price went up. I don’t know why, but it did. Suddenly, the first hundred bucks I put in was worth $125. That was great. It was downright thrilling. Granted, it did go down to around $103, but it was still impactful in a major way.

That’s because Bitcoin, unlike traditional money, fluctuates in value. Many see it as a reason why they don’t buy in. It’s just too volatile. I can understand that, but I also understand the impact of inflation.

If you go to your bank account right now and look at your money, you won’t see it change much in terms of value. However, inflation does ensure that its value goes down. It’s not a conspiracy. It’s just basic economics. Over time, most fiat currency loses value. That has been the trend for nearly a century.

With Bitcoin, it fluctuates. One day, it has more value. The other, it has less. You’ll win on some days, but lose with others. With regular cash, though, you always lose. You don’t lose nearly as much. Most of the time, it happens so slowly that you don’t even notice. Even so, losing is still losing.

The Bitcoins I have now may only be worth a few hundred bucks. By this time next year, they could be worth a lot more. That’s even more money I can convert to Amazon or WalMart gift cards. There’s also a chance the price could crash, as it has before, but given the finite nature of Bitcoin, there’s more incentive for its value to increase rather than decrease.

That doesn’t mean its value will always go up. There’s still a non-zero chance that Bitcoin’s value could stall or outright collapse, as other currencies have in the past. That’s why I’m not converting all my money into Bitcoin anytime soon.

For the time being, though, I’m satisfied and encouraged by my Bitcoin experience. I also encourage others to get into it as well, if only to get a feel for it. Hopefully, the sites I’ve listed here will help you get some use out of your Bitcoins. Money is a powerful force in this world. So long as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies keep operating as such, they’ll have a part in our future. Now is as good a time as any to carve your place in that future.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bitcoin, Jack Fisher's Insights, technology

What Keeps Bitcoin From Being A (Bigger) Part Of Our Future

I consider myself an enthusiast of technology. On many occasions, I’ve wildly speculated about emerging technology and expressed unapologetic excitement about certain trends. In general, I have the utmost respect and support for those who share this passion. I don’t always agree with their outlook or speculation, but I get where they’re coming from.

Then, there are Bitcoin enthusiasts. I’ll just come out and say I have mixed feelings about them.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to diminish what a remarkable technology Bitcoin is. It is a complicated and, at times, confusing technology. Even the Wikipedia page only does so much to explain what it is, where it came from, and why it matters. That’s not surprising. There was plenty of confusion about the internet too when it first emerged.

While I don’t consider myself an enthusiast, Bitcoin has sparked my curiosity. I do sometimes look into major news stories and developments surrounding the technology. The fact that it has lasted over a decade and made some people legitimate millionaires is proof enough that Bitcoin has real, tangible value. Those who keep saying that Bitcoin is just a fad or will crash are becoming increasingly scarce.

I’m convinced that Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies like it, are here to stay. They’ve proven that they have value in an increasingly digital landscape. As the internet becomes more prevalent and accessible, their role will only grow. That being said, I’m not yet convinced Bitcoin’s role will go beyond a certain point.

Those who say Bitcoin is the future of money are likely talking in hyperbole.

Those who say Bitcoin and the blockchain are the most revolutionary technologies since email are also likely exaggerating.

I don’t doubt for a second that these people believe in what they’re saying. I just haven’t seen enough to warrant that kind of enthusiasm. The issue isn’t as much about the merits of the technology as it is about how it’s being used. I’m not just referring to its role in the illegal drug trade, either.

At the moment, Bitcoin is fairly accessible. If you have a smartphone and an internet connection, you can download a simple wallet for free. If you do a quick search for a Bitcoin ATM, you can purchase Bitcoins with the same ease you would when purchasing a gift card. It’s what you do after that where the issues arise.

What exactly can you buy with Bitcoin that you can’t buy more easily through other means? That’s not me being facetious. This is where I tend to diverge with Bitcoin enthusiasts. I understand that some major ecommerce sites accept Bitcoin, namely Overstock. I’m also aware that more and more retailers are accepting Bitcoin.

However, the only ones taking advantage of that option are those who go out of their way to use Bitcoin. For most people, especially those who aren’t as tech savvy, there just aren’t enough benefits to warrant the extra effort. On top of that, Bitcoin does have some lingering flaws that are hard to work around. Then again, you can say the same thing about traditional money.

None of that even begins to highlight the growing issues associated with mining Bitcoins.

Now, that could change. It’s not a certainty, but it is a possibility. Like any new tech, the issue isn’t always about whether or not it works. Bitcoin clearly works and it’s been working for nearly a decade. It’s whether or not there’s a “killer app” to entice ordinary people to go through the effort of learning about, acquiring, and using Bitcoin.

The problem is that, thanks to incidents like the Silk Road, the primary use of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies like it have been for the purchase of drugs or other illicit services. Regardless of how you feel about the politics surrounding illegal drugs and services, that’s the reputation Bitcoin has. It’s just a way for criminals and their cohorts to operate.

That’s not a killer app. It’s also not sustainable.

In order for Bitcoin to play a bigger part in our future, it needs to have a good, meaningful use. It took cell phones decades to find that. Just being able to make phone calls, remember phone numbers, and occasionally host a game of solitaire wasn’t enough. Other apps like music, video chatting, and cameras had to get into the mix before the public and the market embraced them.

That’s what Bitcoin needs. I don’t claim to know what that entails. I think Bitcoin has to get to a point where using it is as simple as using a credit card or debit card. It also needs a particular use or product that will justify the physical and financial investment. That use also can’t be illegal. It’s no secret that the internet owes much of its early growth to the porn industry, but porn isn’t illegal.

Bitcoin, in my opinion, will need something bigger than porn. It might also need to wait until more parts of the world are connected to broadband internet. Maybe it involves voting, enforcing contracts, or the development of new peer-to-peer networks, such as Open Bazaar. I don’t know. I’m not smart enough to figure it out at the moment.

In the meantime, I’ll certainly keep an eye on Bitcoin. I don’t deny it has its uses in the current world. It’s just too limited right now. Whether it has a large or small role in the future that awaits us remains to be seen.

1 Comment

Filed under Bitcoin, futurism, technology

A Note To Investors/Enthusiasts Of Dogecoin

We live in a strange time. I know you could say that about almost any point in history, but let’s face it. The past year has been more eventful than most. The past few months have been even more eventful if you’re an investor or follow economic news. We recently learned that a multi-billion dollar hedge fund is no match for a bunch of shit-posters on Reddit.

I’m not gonna lie. That story still puts a smile on my face. Last year sucked, but when a bunch of shit-posters on Reddit tank a predatory hedge fund, the world is an objectively better place.

As much fun as that is, there are some other stories related to investing that are worth noting. On top of the craziness caused by r/WallStreetBets, it has been just as chaotic for investors of cryptocurrencies. When the financial world is in chaos, cryptocurrencies that thumb their nose at old economic institutions tend to thrive.

Now, full disclosure, I do own Bitcoins. That’s the only cryptocurrency I own and I don’t own much. I’m not a bold investor. I buy index funds and ETFs. I would not fit in on r/WallStreetBets, nor would I be a good evangelist for Bitcoin.

For that same reason, I’d like to send a special note to those currently caught up in the Dogecoin craze. If you don’t know what Dogecoin is, then that’s understandable. It is a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, but it’s unique in a few very particular ways.

Most notably, Dogecoin is often treated as a joke. That’s because it started off as one.

That’s not my opinion. That’s literally part of its origin. Its creators, Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer, were legitimately surprised when people started using it. I guess they didn’t get the joke.

That doesn’t mean Dogecoin has absolutely nothing going for it. It is a functioning cryptocurrency that uses some of the same technology as Bitcoin. Its most notable difference is that, unlike Bitcoin, there’s no limit to how many Dogecoins can be mined. Whereas Bitcoin can only ever have 21 million, Dogecoins can be mined indefinitely.

It may seem like a small difference, but that difference matters if you understand the basics of scarcity in economics. Most people understand it on some levels. If you can make an infinite amount of something, then it’s not going to have much value. If something is incredibly finite and difficult to obtain, like gold or Bitcoins, it’s going to have more value.

It’s that concept that I’d like to convey to those cheering on Dogecoin. Thanks to the recent upheavals from r/WallStreetBets, Dogecoin has been surging more than most currencies and even people like Elon Musk are cheering it on.

That’s not unusual. Sometimes, certain assets get propped up for a brief period. That has happened a lot with cryptocurrencies over the past decade. However, with Dogecoin, it’s a lot more style than substance.

Whereas Bitcoin gains value as it becomes more accepted in various sectors of the economy, Dogecoin gains value because people are just cheering it on. One has long-term sustainability. The other ends as soon as people get bored or find something else to cheer on.

Today, it’s Dogecoin.

Tomorrow, it could be JackCoin, a cryptocurrency made exclusively for people named Jack.

Is that the dumbest idea in the history of finance? I don’t know, but entire economies have gone bust for dumb things before.

Again, I’m not an investment expert. I’m not giving investment advice to anyone. However, to those thinking about getting in on the Dogecoin craze, I offer one important message.

You can win with style over substance in a lot of things, but not when it comes to money. At some point, a product has to demonstrate its value. You can only prop it up for so long before basic economic forces take over. It’s not fair and it’s not rational, but that’s how economics work.

Dogecoin will find that out at some point. Investors may have to find out the hard way.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bitcoin, Current Events, rants

How I Would Spend A Million Dollars (And NOT Go Broke)

We’ve all dreamed about it. We’ve all fantasized about it. In fact, other than having an army of naked bikini models or an army of Ryan Gosling clones, it’s probably one of our most frequent fantasies. What would we do if we suddenly became rich?

I know I’ve fantasized about it. Then again, I fantasize about a lot of things. It’s kind of necessary when you’re trying to be an erotica/romance writer. You need to be able to conjure the kinds of potent fantasies that make women need to change their panties and men wish they hadn’t worn such tight jeans. It’s a skill I’m developing and one from which I hope to gain greater success in the future.

Now I know the odds aren’t exactly in my favor right now. The odds of any writer of any genre, regardless of sex appeal, becoming as wealthy as Stephen King or Stephanie Meyer is right up there with scoring a date with Taylor Swift. However, with the recent interest I’ve attracted from publishers, those odds are improving. It’s not much, but any improvement is better than no improvement at this stage of my publishing career.

Even with the odds still not in my favor, I often find myself entertaining various scenarios on what I would do if one of my books became a best seller. Specifically, I often wonder what I would do with the money I make.

First off, I would not immediately get on the first flight to Las Vegas and spend three nights in a hot tub with five strippers, a keg of beer, a buffet of deep-fried Twinkies. Unless you’re a billionaire, that sort of thing is best left to pornos and low-budget skin flicks on Cinemax.

Second, it’s worth pointing out that a whopping 70 percent of lottery winners end up going bankrupt. On top of that, according to Sports Illustrated, over 60 percent of professional athletes go bankrupt after their careers are over. Even if you suck at math, you should know that those are not trivial figures.

Here’s a good way to illustrate that point: imagine you ordered your favorite pizza, but over two-thirds of it was eaten before it got delivered. That’s a lot of pizza you’re missing out on. Now imagine you were supposed to live off of that pizza. Losing over half of it now feels a lot more serious, doesn’t it?

So why does this happen? Who do people who strike it rich go broke? Well, it isn’t just a matter of owning pet Tigers, owing child support to multiple women for multiple children, investing in failed business ventures, or buying one too many cars, although that’s part of it. There’s a psychological component to it.

Unless you’re born rich or become rich through skilled business savvy, which only applies to a fraction of the population, you don’t know how to be rich. Yes, there is a certain amount of skill to being rich. Like any great talent, not everyone has it. As such, not everyone knows how to deal with it.

There’s even a psychological term for it. It’s called Sudden Wealth Syndrome and it’s pretty prevalent among lotto winners and professional athletes. When someone gets a sudden influx of wealth, it causes a great deal of stress because their brains aren’t wired to handle it. They’re so used to being not rich that it just feels off.

This is why it’s so easy for lotto winners and professional athletes to go broke. Their brains aren’t wired to see all this money the same way Bill Gates of Warren Buffet sees it. In some respects, they look at money the same way they look at milk. They need to spend it or it’ll expire.

That’s what leads them to just throw it away, giving it to friends or investing it in businesses that have the organization of a 6th grade science fair project. They don’t realize until it’s too late that money doesn’t go bad. It’s okay to actually save it and it’s possible to invest it in a way that’ll ensure you don’t need to dine on Ramen noodles and hot pockets.

Now to be fair, most people don’t know squat about finance or investing. It’s not a class public school teaches to kids at a young age. I get the sense that administrators understand that most kids in public schools aren’t going to strike it rich so it’s not worth the effort. It’s cynical, but understandable.

Given these odds and the tendency for non-rich people to piss their money away like an incontinent monkey, I’ve already crafted a plan on how I would invest a million dollars if I ever achieved that kind of success. This isn’t a fantasy. This is a plan. I may never get a chance to implement this plan, but like a condom, it’s better to have one and not need one rather than need one and not have one.

For this plan, I start with about a million ($1,000,000) dollars. I know Bill Gates can probably find that much money in his couch cushion, but it’s a nice even amount to work with. Since the human brain is terrible at dealing with large numbers, it helps to keep things even.

With this million, here are the simple steps of my plan. Any future lotto winners or professional athletes who want to follow this plan are welcome to do so. It’s free, it’s easy, and anyone who knows how to work a cell phone can do it.

Step 1: Pay off ALL the taxes first, if possible

This is, by far, the most important step anyone with money can take. The IRS is, in many respects, the ultimate dominatrix in that she’ll hurt you in ways you didn’t know were possible. You do not want to defy her.

Step 2: Set up an investing account with a reputable bank and pick one with the lowest fees

This is fairly easy for someone with money. If you have a million dollars, most banks will roll out the red carpet for you. Some will even waive certain fees if you have a lot of money in the account. Depositing a million dollars will usually get you a lot of leeway in that respect.

Step 3: Buy either an index fund (VFINX) or buy a blue-chip stock with a healthy dividend like Verizon, Exxon, or GE

The key here is not to buy a stock you’re going to sell for a quick turn around. The key here is to buy the stock and just basically forget about it. From here, you focus entirely on the dividends. They’re basically Wall Street’s version of masturbation. They’re the gift that keeps on giving.

Step 4: Build a budget around the dividends

From here on out, I focus on the monthly or quarterly dividends that the stock or index fund pays. With a million dollars, it’s usually not enough to just live in a mansion and never have to work again. You usually need several million for that. However, it’s still pretty considerable.

For example, let’s look at how $1,000,000 pays with buying Verizon. As of this posting, the dividend yield is %4.49. Do a little basic math and that comes out to $44,900 a year, which is paid out quarterly with four payments of $11,225 over the course of a year.

Take a breath now. That’s the most math you’ll need to do with this strategy. With this means is that you’ll have a yearly income of over $40,000 for doing absolutely nothing. It’s basically a slacker’s wet dream.

Now unless you want to dine on caviar and snort cocaine off a supermodel’s ass every week, you can budget $44,900 a year to live fairly comfortably. For me, this means taking that $11,225 quarterly dividend and budgeting it for three months at a time.

In most areas that aren’t New York City or San Francisco, you can find a decent home with decent amenities for that sum, plus utilities. That’s the ultimate endgame for this plan of mine. I invest the money in a way that gives me a passive income I can use to pay for the essentials, ensuring that any money I make beyond that is just icing on the cake.

There is one more step though and it’s also quite essential. If you followed the first step, then it should be easy to figure out.

Step 5: Pay all the necessary taxes associated with your investment and dividends

Again, it’s worth re-emphasizing how much you do not want to mess with the IRS. They don’t care if you take your money and throw it at a flock of pigeons. If you don’t give them their cut, they’re going to come after you and you will be in a world of legal trouble that no amount of money can make easier.

There you have it. That’s my plan if and when I ever become rich from either my publishing efforts, by winning the lottery, or by marrying Jennifer Lawrence, whichever comes first. I hope I get a chance to implement it one day. Until then, I hope others take the wise advice of Warren Buffet.

When it comes to money and investing, nobody can beat the market. The best you can do is not lose to it, but unlike gambling or sports, not losing can still be pretty damn profitable.

2 Comments

Filed under Jack Fisher's Insights