If you’re anything like me, this time last year cryptocurrency wasn’t even a blip on your radar. I’d heard of Bitcoin, but mostly on the news or as casual references on TV. It was this weird thing, some kind of fake money that either video gamers or criminals or criminal video gamers used to do shady stuff. But it wasn’t really worth anything in the real world. You couldn’t even spend it. It seemed dumb and I was sure wasn’t going to buy any.
Fast forward to today and I’ve not only bought Bitcoin, I’ve also started buying altcoins. I am on a few different exchanges and I have money in two wallets. So what changed?
Honestly, it was my environment, my circumstances. A couple people at work started investing and would tell stories about how much money they’d made within two days or a week. And they never seemed to lose money. (I know now that they definitely did lose money, they just made enough from their other coins that it more than made up for what they’d lost.) It seemed too good to be true, but, with an ROI of over 200% in less than a week, how could I not give it a shot?
Before I spent actual money on something infinitely less tangible, I decided to do some research into Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general. And wow, was it a mess. While it was fairly easy to learn how Bitcoin worked on the blockchain, trying to figure out how this currency – that you can’t really spend anywhere – was ever increasing was a little baffling. I finally found out that the best way to make it make sense – at leat to me – was to stop thinking of Bitcoin as money and instead think of it as a stock in a company. You’re buying into Bitcoin (or any other altcoin) because you’re hoping to make money as the that company (or coin) becomes more successful.
So with great trepidation and no small amount of skepticism, I started to . It certainly wasn’t easy. Just figuring out how to buy in was a chore, but I finally found Coinbase and got all of my accounts verified. I set up an account on Binance and attempted to get verified (four months in and I’m still waiting, tbh.) Then I looked at the charts.
At first glance, Binance is terrifying for a new investor. I’m sure that veteran stockbrokers and financial wizards can look at the interface and see something that makes sense, but as a total newbie, it was more than intimidating, it was indecipherable. Coinbase, on the other hand, had a much more manageable dashboard. So with cash in hand, I took the leap and bought a little Ethereum and a little Bitcoin.
At that point, all I could do was wait. And wait. And wait. And hope desperately that I didn’t just throw my money away. But as the hours passed, I slowly saw my total increase. It was riveting. But I soon discovered that simply watching and waiting would drive me crazy. So I closed out of Coinbase and resolved to only check it once a day, if only to keep myself from going crazy.
So every day at work, I would hear my co-workers talking about all these weirdly named coins — Ripple, Iota, Litecoin — and hear about the ups and downs of their investments. And every night I’d come home to see that my little pool of Bitcoin and Ethereum had grown. Until finally, after a few weeks of waiting and learning, I’d more than doubled my original investment.
And I was hooked.
It’s hard not to be, honestly. When I want to think I’m a financially conscious and responsible adult, I think of my crypto coins as stocks, as smart investments in a new economy that is going to be the next big things. But when I really sit down and think about what I’m doing, I have to admit, even if just to myself that what I’m doing is gambling. Now, to be fair, I’m gambling in a place where the odds are definitely in my favor and where, so far, I just keep winning.
However, as I watch the markets, see the news articles, hear financial experts weigh in, I have to wonder. How long before I go bust? How long can my good luck really last? There have definitely been some highs and lows, times where I’ve considered just getting out of the whole thing, especially as I’ve bought more and more altcoins. I’ve lost money, sure. But I’ve made a lot more than I’ve lost, so it’s absolutely been worth it so far.