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We Bought Bitcoin

We Bought Bitcoin


In the middle of 2017, a colleague of mine asked the entire IT team if they wanted to buy some Bitcoin. He was pretty into it and had been explaining to us how it all worked. The conversation went something like this:

“Hey guys, my friend is buying some Bitcoin and if you want him to purchase some for you then now is a good time. I can set you guys up with your wallets and everything and then we can transfer some Crypto to each other and I’ll show you the transaction on the blockchain. You guys in?”

Now you might think I’m a sporty outgoing personality type (which is true) but at my core, I’m a massive nerd 🤓. And although I had been reading about Bitcoin for a few years I was still very much intrigued by the blockchain technology that powered it and I wanted to see for myself what all the hype was about.

So nearly everyone in the IT team bought $100 worth of Bitcoin in September 2017 when the going price was $4,763 AUD. I was rather unimpressed that there was a $5.50 transaction fee (5.5% of the investment!) just to buy the bloody thing so I only ended up with ~$94 bucks worth which at the time was 2% of a Bitcoin.

This was just a bit of fun to see how it all worked. We bought enough to muck around, but not enough to move the needle… or so I thought.

The 2017 Boom and Bust

The next few months were crazy!

We would come into the office each week and the first point of call was talking about the price of Bitcoin. It was skyrocketing!

Our $94 turned into $150 in a mere matter of weeks. And then $250, and then $450. We all had a laugh that this was our ticket to early retirement (they didn’t know about my blog 🙈) and we were only a few weeks away from buying a Ferrari.

Bitcoin peaked on the 16th of December 2017 at $25,506 AUD and our initial investment of $94 dollars had turned into $510 in less than three months.

Now I understand that it wasn’t a lot of money because our initial investment was so low but the return on investment was out of this world. Everything is hard to quantify if you don’t have a point of reference. I understood that even though we only made ~$400 bucks, the rate of return over that short period of time with zero effort was likely never to be repeated again in my lifetime.

And then came the crash…

Source: Yahoo Finance

Our tiny slither of Bitcoin which was valued at $510 in December 2017 plummeted back down to earth and bottomed out at $96 dollars a year later in December 2018.

This was my first taste of the Bitcoin rollercoaster everyone talks about.

 

Post Crash and General Feelings

A few of the guys in the team had actually sold their Bitcoin at around $450-$500 which was pretty much the peak in 2017 so they were very happy.

But I never had any intention of selling mine.

First and foremost, I was curious about the tech. However, I had a lot of reservations about the practicality of Bitcoin as a currency and if I’m being honest, I didn’t really think it was going to take off. I kept racking my brains on what problem Bitcoin was actually solving for me as an Australian. I understood the utility of this Cryptocurrency for other countries where the government was freezing accounts. And there was definitely a utility for criminals to send and receive value anonymously. But I could do everything I wanted to do with Australian dollars almost just as quickly as Bitcoin and with fewer fees.

I just couldn’t see this thing taking off.

I didn’t really understand what Bitcoin was back then. What it could be and what it represented.

But I had this hunch that it might be worth holding onto moving forward and the worst-case scenario meant that I’d lose my initial $100 bucks… not a big deal.

If I’m being honest, I was actually hoping Bitcoin and the other cryptocurrencies would eventually disappear. I was receiving a fair few emails from readers asking me about it and I originally just thought it was a Ponzi scheme. No intrinsic value, hardly any utility for Australians, high transactional fees etc. It also seemed complex and I couldn’t be bothered learning about something that I thought was going to be a relic of the past within a few years. I never included my tiny amount of Bitcoin in my net worth updates because I didn’t want any more emails.

But crash after crash Bitcoin continued to rise from the ashes to reach new heights.

This new ‘thing’ just wouldn’t stay dead…

Down The Rabbit Hole

The biggest turning point for me to do a deeper dive into the world of Bitcoin was when it surged again in late 2020. I was personally getting a lot of requests to do a Crypto podcast as well as a bunch of threads popping up in the FIRE Facebook group.

It was around this time that I read Why I’ve Changed My Mind on Bitcoin by Nick from the ‘Of Dollars and Data’ blog. I really value Nick’s commentary and that article really cemented the idea that there might be more to this Bitcoin thing than meets the eye. If Nick was writing about it, it was worth another look.

I decided to commit to educating myself on Bitcoin so when I eventually booked an expert on the podcast, I didn’t sound like too much of a n00b.

A quick side story….

I actually was in communication with Alex Saunders from Nugget news about coming on the podcast. He was one of the most recommended Australian authorities within the Crypto space and had built up a huge following online. Everything looked legit so I sent him a few emails. I nearly fell off my chair a few weeks later when my mate sent me an article that said Alex was being taken to court for potentially millions of dollars owing to his community 🤯.

Holy cow. This Crypto space was like the wild west.

Another name that kept coming up was an Australian who was living in the US, Vijay Boyapati. Vijay wrote the very popular book ‘The Bullish Case for Bitcoin’ and was very good at articulating his ideas during interviews. I reached out to him and he agreed to come on the podcast last year.

His book really changed what I thought I knew about money.

The mistake I made when I first came across Bitcoin was that I didn’t know the history of money. You need to really understand how money came about in the first place to give you the context of why the invention of Bitcoin was a game-changer. Explaining this could be an entire blog post on its own (or maybe a few posts honestly) but if you’re interested, Vijay’s book is a great starting point.

The history of money is more of a psychological deep dive into how humans interact and trade with each other. It’s super fascinating stuff and it challenged some core beliefs I had previously.

I started watching Michael Saylor’s videos on YouTube and I really enjoyed the ‘Decoding Bitcoin’ series from the Australian podcast The Passive Income Project.

The more I read, the more I realised how little I understood about money. I know a decent amount about how to become financially independent, but the mechanics of where money came from, how it’s created and why it works is an entire discipline.

Risk vs Reward

For me personally, the risk-reward proposition for a small amount of Bitcoin is quite attractive.

And it’s for this reason that we have now allocated 1% of the portfolio to this new asset class (we currently have around $12K of Bitcoin). And I’m seriously thinking about upping that to 2% in the future but let’s start with 1%.

This is the way I look at it – the worst-case scenario is that Bitcoin becomes worthless and we lose 100% of our investment. It’s only 1% of our portfolio so while I don’t like wasting money, it’s not going to ruin us financially. The upside for this investment however is unlimited.

I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future but I’m fairly confident that Cryptocurrencies are going to play some sort of role in our financial lives moving forward. I don’t know if Bitcoin will be the dominant player in 15 years but it’s the horse I’m backing for now.

I was very close to spreading that 1% across the other top 10 Crypto (by market cap) but I’m just not as educated on them and lacked conviction.

I think Bitcoin has a major ‘first mover’ advantage with its network but its crowning jewel is the decentralised nature of the protocol. I’ve read that other Cryptocurrencies are not decentralised and there are actually a few people at the top running the show. From my understanding, the whole point of using blockchain technology is to be decentralised. If you want to create an app, community, new system or whatever and it’s not going to be decentralised, you’re much better off using traditional technology with a normal database. That would be a lot more efficient as the processing power required to run the blockchain can be quite high.

I’m not an expert though so please if I’ve got this part wrong, let me know about it in the comments. Why would you use blockchain tech if whatever it was you were building didn’t need to be decentralised?

End Goal

I’ve used the word ‘investing’ a few times in this article but I’m hesitant to call anything to do with Bitcoin an ‘investment’.

I’m not even sure I know what to call it.

It’s not really investing but I think it has graduated past gambling at this point. There’s definitely a heavy amount of speculation but every investment in history has had some degree of speculation by definition.

It’s now possible to generate an income from your Cryptocurrencies but this isn’t something I have experience with so I can’t comment on the practicality and risks associated with staking.

The way I see it, we have two potential scenarios that can play out:

  1. Bitcoin succeeds and is adopted worldwide
  2. Bitcoin fails and becomes worthless

The goal is scenario 1.

We don’t have any intention of converting our Bitcoin back to fiat currency. This technology either works or it doesn’t. And if it does work, we should be able to use our Bitcoin for future purchases.

It’s more of a store of wealth than anything. Of course, I want the value of Bitcoin to go to the moon now that we own some. But the main strategy behind this purchase is for us to be able to actually pay for future expenses using this Bitcoin.

Think of it like money that buys more the longer you hold it. An interesting concept given the current rate of inflation.

This is different from our shares portfolio which is being built to generate passive income for us.

But Why?

If I’m already living a great semi-retired life and am on track to reach full financial independence within the next few years – why bother with Bitcoin at all?

That’s a great question!

There are a few reasons

  1. I’m interested in the technology and personally get satisfaction from participating
  2. I’ve concluded that the upside of Bitcoin succeeding far outweighs the downside of it failing given a small allocation within our portfolio
  3. It’s a vote for a better system

Points 1 and 2 are pretty self-explanatory but I want to expand on point 3.

When I was trying to think of the utility of Bitcoin back in 2017 I didn’t really understand how inflation worked and how it is used by the government.

I’m not an expert so I’m not going to try and pretend to know all the complexities of our current financial system but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that inflation is rising in Australia. Your dollars are buying less each year even factoring in wage growth.

One of the main problems with the way our democracy works is that politicians are incentivised to be shortsighted. They are constantly slapping on band-aids rather than actually fixing the problem.

An obvious example of this is how much money has been created over the last few years. But this quick sugar hit doesn’t come for free. Someone always has to pay the bill. And all this printing has started to come back to bite us in the ass.

Source: https://tradingeconomics.com/

Inflation is a hidden tax.

People hardly even know it’s happening.

But make no mistake about it, high inflation without wage growth means you’re losing purchasing power. Your hard-earned dollars are becoming less useful and the rate at which they depreciate is out of your control.

I don’t like the fact that short-sighted politicians are happy to fire up the money printer at the expense of fiscally responsible savers that have built up a safety net. Is it too hard for them to maybe tighten their belts a bit in bad times? Why does it seem like every solution these days is to start making it rain at the first sign of the economy slowing?

I’m not saying I have all the answers, I’m just pointing out that the relentless drive for continuous growth is punishing responsible savers through the debasement of our currency and rewarding speculators loading up on cheap debt.

The more money that is created, the less purchasing power we all have.

Bitcoin flips this narrative.

The amount of Bitcoin that can be created is set in stone. It can’t be changed.

Part of me wants this experiment with Cryptocurrencies to succeed because I think it presents a superior financial system that can’t be screwed with by corruption and greed. Both of which are unfortunately innate traits of human beings.

Converting my fiat currency to Bitcoin is a vote for a better system.

Conclusion

We’re officially in the Crypto game (technically have been since 2017 😜).

I’ve really enjoyed learning about Bitcoin over the past few years but it was the history of money that really caught my attention. I find it absolutely fascinating how humans created and used money in past generations and I think the history of money is a prerequisite to fully understanding the utility of this new technology.

Over the last two years, the risk/reward proposition has shifted for me personally and I now consider a small amount of Bitcoin in a portfolio to be perfectly appropriate for any Australian looking to reach financial independence.

You’ll be fine without it of course but I think we’ve reached the point where most people can rationalise someone having a small amount. This is a lot different from years gone by when a lot of well-regarded reasonable voices would have publically shamed anyone who even thought about ‘investing’ in Cryptocurrencies. I must admit that I was secretly judging people who were buying it back in the day too 🙈.

We live and learn and I can admit when I was wrong.

I’d love to know what you guys think about Bitcoin in the comments.

Are you starting to believe? Or is it still a huge Ponzi scheme?

As always,

Spark that 🔥

Podcast – Vijay Boyapati – The Bullish Case for Bitcoin

Podcast – Vijay Boyapati – The Bullish Case for Bitcoin


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Summary

My guest today is fellow Aussie, Vijay Boyapati who is an Ex-Google engineer and the author of The Bullish Case for Bitcoin. Vijay’s book has been translated into over twenty different languages and is said to be one of the most read pieces of literature on Bitcoin. This is a monster episode and we go deep into so much more than just Bitcoin and the Blockchain.

Some of the topics we get into include:

  • Who is Vijay and what led him to start working for Google? (04:28)
  • Vijay shares why he identifies as a Libertarian and what he learned from working in Silicon Valley. (08:13)
  • Why Vijay left his job at Google in 2007 to work on the Ron Paul US presidential campaign. (11:46)
  • What exactly is Bitcoin and the Blockchain? (15:06)
  • Why is Bitcoin important and what problem does it solve for the average person? (31:51)
  • Gold v Bitcoin (45:27)
  • Will Bitcoin be used as money anytime soon? (01:02:22)
  • FIRE community Q&A (01:17:57)

 

Links

JUL22 Net Worth $1,061,414 (+58,310)

JUL22 Net Worth $1,061,414 (+58,310)

I publish these net worth updates to keep us accountable, have others critique our strategy, and show that reaching financial independence in Australia is very doable without winning the lotto, having a high-paying job, or inheriting a wad of cash. The formula to be able to retire early is simple, the hard part is being consistent and sticking to a plan for many years. The table at the bottom details our entire journey from being $36K in debt all the way until we reach 🔥


It wasn’t too long ago that I was complaining about my lack of social interaction because I worked from home.

Well, let’s just say I’ve had a change of heart ever since the cold snap set in during July.

There’s nothing better than wearing trackies and a hoodie when it’s freezing outside and enjoying a cuppa/hot Milo during work. Our solar panels provide free electricity during the day so I’m able to run a little heater in my office guilt-free and I try to get all the washing/drying done when the sun is shining.

Mrs. FB, I, and some friends wanted to escape the cold during the holidays so we ended up booking a trip to Bali in July.

Quick PSA too. Mrs. FB needed to renew her passport and the whole process was a nightmare that took over 5 weeks. We had to go down to the Melbourne passport office TWICE! If you’re thinking about traveling soon and need to renew your passport, I’d suggest you start the process ASAP.

We ended up booking a 7-night stay in Legian, Bali.

Below are some of the pics from the trip.

Bali Mandira Beach Resort

Potato Head Beach Club

Jimbaran Bay Sunset

ATV Fun

I lot has changed since my first visit there as a 12-year-old with the fam.

My memory of Bali was a dirty, busy, and loud holiday destination that heaps of Aussies went to so they could drink cheap beer.

The island of Bali has had a really interesting transformation in the last 24 months. I couldn’t believe how clean everything was compared to my last visit nearly 20 years ago (damn I’m getting old). I spoke to a few locals about COVID and what happened to the place when all the tourists left.

They told me that a lot of people went back to farming. Either starting their own farms or helping other farmers out during the last 24 months. There was also a big push from the government to clean up the streets and beaches.

I was blown away by how nice the beaches were. I swear they didn’t look like that 20 years ago. I’m not just talking about lack of rubbish either. The quality of the sand and lack of rocks were what stuck out in my mind. Maybe I just went to a few crappy beaches as a kid but Jimbaran Bay, for example, had a world-class beach that would rival most Australian ones. And when you’re eating a seafood banquet on the beach for ~$40pp including cocktails in 27° weather, it’s hard to complain.

I also noticed that the island is becoming a lot more ‘westernised’. There were a lot more cafes and eating spots that cater to Australian tastes more so than Indonesian. This is either a positive or a negative depending on the type of person you are but we thought it was nice to have that option.

My mate and I did a bit of surfing which was awesome. I’d love to dedicate a few weeks to get a decent base because riding across the wave looks like so much fun (I can only do the white water for now).

The wife and I were so impressed by Bali that we’re thinking of heading back during winter again next year. Hopefully for a bit longer that time around. I would love to incorporate some sort of east Asian trip once a year where we live somewhere hot for a few weeks. I’m lucky enough to be able to work out of a laptop so I don’t see why not.

In other news, I sold my first data product in July which is a big reason for the big bump in this month’s net worth.

I can’t go into contractual specifics, but this is a bit of a milestone for my business. It signals a move away from consulting and more into product delivery. I think I’ll always consult to a certain degree, but I’ve had dreams about building this product for years and it was awesome to see there was a demand for it in the market.

I signed a three-year deal with my first customer 🥳

And lastly, I’ve been talking about it for years, but I’m finally coming up to Sydney and I’m going to organise a FIRE meet-up.

I’m heading up to FinFest on the 15th of October so I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and organise a meetup for that night.

The event is on Facebook here. 

All details and updates will be posted there. I’m really looking forward to meeting some of you guys in person 🙂

Net Worth Update

The share market and Bitcoin all had healthy gains in July but it was our cash balance that received an out-of-the-ordinary bump.

The cash injection came from the sale of my first data product being sold on a three-year deal (the first year being paid for in full).

Without going into specifics, I’m basically selling ready to consume data models to the customer. It’s a DaaS (data as a service) business model where I’m taking care of all the data engineering, architecture design, ingestion, modeling, and serving for a fixed cost. The customer receives the models via an endpoint and away they go.

I’ve had this idea for some time now but it wasn’t until I worked in London and dealt with companies there were running this exact business model did I know it was really viable. I’ve been tweaking the product for over a year and it’s really exciting to land this first deal.

The plan is to sell the product to a few more customers so I can have enough recurring revenue to justify hiring someone. I have a dream of running a small Analytics company of 5-8 amazingly talented and fun individuals where we can solve fun problems. I want to foster a similar working environment that I was lucky enough to have experienced overseas. That’s my dream for this decade, work-wise.

 

Cash is really high atm. It’s a combination of saving for a car and having money on hand for my tax bill. We also purchased around $3K worth of Bitcoin in July.

*Expenses include everything we spend money on to maintain our lifestyle. We do not include paying down our PPoR loan as an expense, only the interest
*Investment income is simply 4% of our FIRE portfolio divided by 12


 

Shares

The above graph is created by Sharesight

Ohhhh Eeeeee!

$15.5K of dividends baby, plus some strong growth from our international shares. If only every quarter was as good as this.

Our overall portfolio is still down from the all-time highs at the start of the year so it’s all relative but you’ve gotta celebrate the wins when you get them.

We purchased $5K worth of VEU in July because that was the most underweighted split.

 

Networth

JUL22 Net Worth $1,061,414 (+58,310)

JUN22 Net Worth $1,003,103 (-$32,783)

I publish these net worth updates to keep us accountable, have others critique our strategy and show that reaching financial independence in Australia is very doable without winning the lotto, having a high-paying job or inheriting a wad of cash. The formula to be able to retire early is simple, the hard part is being consistent and sticking to a plan for many years. The table at the bottom details our entire journey from being $36K in debt all the way until we reach 🔥


An old neighbour from my childhood neighbourhood (where my parents still live) passed away last month.

I don’t know the exact details but my understanding was that it was very quick (less than 6 months from diagnosis), unexpected and has left a big hole in their family.

The man that passed away was around 10 years younger than my dad.

People always tell you to spend time with your aging parents, but sometimes you need a wake-up call.

A major reason my wife and I came back to country Victoria was to spend more time with our parents and extended family and I’m so happy we did.

My wife and I are so lucky. All four of our parents are still with us and even better still, are fit and healthy to enjoy experiences.

Being able-bodied is so important. What’s the good of living till you’re 100 if you’re hospital-bound from 60? You can still enjoy some experiences but the bulk of them are gone at that stage. It’s one of the biggest lessons I took from reading ‘Die with Zero‘ the other month. Allocate your bucket list items to certain decades throughout your journey because life doesn’t always pan out like a movie. The vast majority of people are not going to retire at 60 and then pursue all their grand plans. You run out of energy. A snow trip to Japan is going to look and feel a hell of a lot different when you’re 50 as opposed to 25.

The entire goal of becoming financially independent is to free up our time to live a happier and more fulfilling life. And one of the greatest joys of claiming our time back is to spend it with loved ones.

My dad asked if I wanted to go with him to the Footy in June. It was an afternoon game on a Sunday at the G and he was heading up to meet some mates and cousins.

I’m pretty sure he asked me to come to a game last year but I just had too much on and was trying to get my freelance business off the ground so I declined.

If I was still working full time, my first instinct would be to think about the 2+ hour train ride and how buggered I’d be for work on Monday morning after getting home late on Sunday.

But I don’t work Mondays anymore 🤘

We headed up together on the train and watched with glee as our beloved Magpies dismantled the ladder leaders, the Melbourne Demons.

You can say what you want about Melbourne, but it has to be one of the best sporting cities on the entire planet! And there’s nothing better than watching a big game at the G!

Collingwood vs Melbourne at the MCG

We made our way down to Swan Street in Richmond for a feed after the game and the atmosphere was electric.

The magpie army had taken over Bruton Avenue as the poor Melbourne supporters were subjected to our famous war cry…

“COOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLLIIIIIIIINNNNNNNGGGGGGGGWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD”

One of dad’s best mates is a Dee’s supporter which made the victory all that much sweeter.

We ended up at the Corner Hotel in Richmond for a pint and to talk about Collingwood’s path to an inevitable 16th premiership.

And as I was downing my Guinness beer, talking to dad about the game, arguing that De Goey doesn’t do enough or that Cox needs to be more consistent, I couldn’t help but think… this is what it’s all about.

Net Worth Update

Mamma Mia!

All of our assets got crushed in June to give us our second-worst monthly drop of all time. I keep sounding like a broken record but luckily we’re still in the accumulation phase so depressed asset prices are a good thing.

But if the market continues this decline, I’ll have to retract our millionaire status 🙈

We also bought around $2K of Bitcoin in June even though I personally think it’s going to drop further. There are talks about the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) in America finally regulating cryptocurrencies. I think this could be a huge step in its adoption. If the SEC (and consequently other commissions around the world including ASIC) come out and say that Crypto is an official financial asset, it will give this new technology legitimacy in the eyes of a lot of people. It could also start the process of consumer protection and eliminate thousands of scams that have infiltrated this technological breakthrough.

I’m a free-market libertarian at heart but I don’t think even the most staunch Bitcoin maxi would advocate for zero regulation.

 

 

Our cash holdings are way too high for my liking but I still have a few big tax bills plus we’re saving for a car. Not much I can do about it for now.

*Expenses include everything we spend money on to maintain our lifestyle. We do not include paying down our PPoR loan as an expense, only the interest
*Investment income is simply 4% of our FIRE portfolio divided by 12


 

Shares

The above graph is created by Sharesight

Big drops all around.

We didn’t purchase any shares in June but I’ll be topping up in July for sure.

 

Networth

Podcast – Mark Monfort – Crypto, Web3 and DeFi

Podcast – Mark Monfort – Crypto, Web3 and DeFi


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Summary

This episode is a follow-up to my previous conversation with Vijay Boyapati about Bitcoin.

Today Mark Monfort joins me to talk about other Cryptocurrencies, Web3 and DeFi. Mark has worn many hats in his career working as an equities and macroeconomic analyst in Melbourne and London and has also spent time in sales at the ASX. Mark is a TradFi native turned DeFi convert and is passionate about building communities in Web3.

Some of the topics we cover are:

  • How did Mark get involved with Crypto? (07:45)
  • What is Web3? (10:00)
  • Why use blockchain technology and what problem is it solving? (13:40)
  • What is DeFi? (22:01)
  • Bitcoin vs all the others. What is there to consider? (31:43)
  • What Cryptocurrencies does Mark “invest” in? (41:54)
  • Energy concerns about Cryptocurrencies (44:18)
  • Proof-of-Work vs Proof-of-Stake? (53:50)

Links

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