“The four most dangerous words in investing are: this time it’s different.”

Sir John Templeton

Investors have been telling themselves “this time it’s different” for decades, and many have lost a lot of money because of it.

It may have bitten me in the butt for the first time.

Today I’m going to share the untold story of how Bitcoin and cryptocurrency served as a personal finance gateway drug for me. Then I’ll cover why I got back into it. Plus, my goals for crypto, what I’m buying, my strategy going forward, and if cryptocurrency is a good investment for you.

HUGE disclaimer here: I am not a financial professional. Just a self-proclaimed money nerd. Cryptocurrency is an extremely volatile investment. Please do your research, I suggest lots of it, and consider consulting with an expert before making any investment decisions.

Storytime

In early 2018, I set a money resolution — to turn my financial life around from scratch with a DIY approach. In January, Bitcoin caught my attention because of shiny object syndrome. Why learn about expense ratios and life insurance when you could learn about something sexy like cryptocurrency?

Bitcoin was in all the headlines and I thought,

This is my ticket. This is how I’ll turn my financial life around. I’ll just dip my toes in and test the waters.

After watching a Netflix documentary about it (while literally taking notes like a college freshman during the test prep lesson after skipping every class), I downloaded Coinbase, connected my bank account, cued up $150 to transfer and… I waited.

You had to wait for the money to hit your account. That gave me 48 hours or so to rethink it all.

Maybe this is a sign. Maybe I’m rushing. Maybe I should do the tried and true — these index fund things I keep reading about. Or buy some Netflix. Or Tesla. Or insert dividend stock here. Maybe this delay is the universe telling me to hold off. To take a pause. To learn more. Maybe…

HELL NO. I want that sweet digi-cryptical-future-blockchain-secure-data-money-mining-thing, baby!

It was REALLY exciting after buying mostly Bitcoin with that $150. For about 3 days…

I unknowingly bought in at the top of that first huge run-up in 2018. Then it plummeted. The rocket was a dud. It backfired in weeks.

Here I am, finally taking action, learning, and getting excited to master money and improve my financial life and I get this? I considered buying the dip. I didn’t and eventually, I realized I didn’t have the stomach for this volatile Bitcoin tech decentralized money thing.

I sold a few months later and was the “proud” owner of $39 in boring cash. I tossed it into an online-only high-interest savings account and that was that.

I vowed to avoid the headlines. Stop following the herd. Spend zero more minutes on crypto because I wasted hours, maybe days of my life, checking performance.

I did turn my financial life around. I did it the boring way. And you know what, it worked. I got back to net worth zero from around -$80,000 in about 15 months. It wasn’t as fun and sexy but watching my net worth go up week to week was really exciting. I even wrote this book about it.

I can proudly say that was my biggest investing mistake. I say proudly because it was only a $111 mistake. I’m glad I exited my position. That year, Bitcoin was a distraction.

But it was also my gateway drug to financial literacy, to financial success — and for that I’m grateful. It was the out-of-the-gate excitement I needed in my life since I was just getting started and my motivation was low because I had NO idea where to start.

I learned a lot from that experience, which is key for any investor. In fact, I made rules:

4 Rules of Crypto Investing

1. Only invest in what you’re willing to lose.

2. Don’t become obsessed with performance.

3. Only bet on winning horses.

4. Never speculate. You can’t time the market.

More than three years of investing the boring way you’d think the story ends there. It doesn’t.

A few weeks ago I started to peek at my old mistress Bitcoin. Then I caught a glimpse of a prettier newer model called Dogecoin that everyone was flirting with.

I took another look under the crypto hood myself and decided, “This time it’s different.”

This time, Elon Musk is sniffing around it. More than that. He’s lighting a fuse under it. He’s literally taking Doge-1 to the moon.

When it was announced he was hosting Saturday Night Life, I decided DOGE is about to take off.

What am I doing wrong in this moment? That’s right. I’m speculating…

Rule #4: Never speculate.

I grabbed my phone on Thursday night, downloaded Robinhood, logged into my old bare account, transferred $150 (an Ironic amount I realize now) so it would be ready in time to make a trade on Saturday before the show aired.

What’s this? I can trade NOW? I can buy crypto bits and dog coins even though my real money is still being transferred presumably via carrier pigeon. Man, this IS the future.

Okay, I’ll wait for one little drop and I’ll pounce on DOGE.

My heart was pumping. My palms were sweaty. The interface pumps you full of adrenaline. They might as well add an EDM soundtrack and thunder sound effects as the ticker pulsates by the second.

Damn, it’s up. It’s going up. It’s up 1 cent. 2 cents. 5 cents. This is it. I HAVE to pull the trigger!

I closed my eyes and swiped up.

Order complete. That was that. I was back in on crypto in a second.

I’m not going to look until Saturday. Okay, I’ll peak once. Look at that, it’s up a few bucks. I’ll just check again because it’s new and exciting.

Déjà vu much?

I was on vacation, so I had extra time to keep checking it. Elon and his dog were basically on vacation with me.

During SNL, he made several Dogecoin jokes. His mom said she didn’t want it for Mother’s Day and later Elon literally called it a “hustle”.

Dogecoin plunged in seconds. What did I do? I bought $50 more. This time I DID buy the dip because I was comfortable losing it all.

Two weeks later, Bitcoin dipped as well. Naturally, I bought $50 in Bitcoin. That’s $250 in crypto in 2 weeks for those of you keeping score at home: $200 in DOGE. $50 in BTC.

And that brings me to today.

I’m now the “proud” owner of $178 in crypto at the time of writing. I’m down -$72 in less than 2 weeks.

This time, so far, it isn’t different.

But this time I will have a different approach.

First off, I WILL hold long-term.

I plan to keep 1% of my net worth in crypto going forward.

Eventually, I’ll aim for an allocation of 75% Bitcoin, 20% Etherium (Rule #3: Bet on winning horses), and 5% in altcoins such as Dogecoin. I’ll adjust as the research guides me.

I want to learn about digital wallets and how I can better protect my crypto so I can get off of Robinhood, which I’ve read is crypto with training wheels.

I’ll learn from the past but never again make predictions about the future. I’ll set up a dollar-cost average strategy and buy-in consistently, no matter the price, once I fully flesh out the logistics and strategy.

Is Cryptocurrency or Bitcoin a good investment for you?

That is absolutely up for you to decide. My suggestions:

Only invest what you’d be willing to lose. Never do it because of herd mentality. Remember, it’s not quite gambling, but it’s closer to gambling than traditional investing in the market is.

If you’re trying to pick one of the thousands of altcoins to be the next Bitcoin, Etherium, or Dogecoin, you basically are gambling. Your odds are probably way worse than gambling.

If you aren’t in the stock market or you don’t have a long-term approach to buying stocks, I would do that first. Embrace a financial vehicle that has proven to be successful for decades. Master your money mindset and your investment mindset, before you dabble too much with crypto.

Cash, stocks, index funds, bonds, real estate — those are all part of a balanced approach to wealth accumulation.

Cryptocurrency? I see it as a cherry on top for now. But you can absolutely have your investment cake and eat it too with or without the cherry as long as you’re utilizing the secret ingredients of compound interest and calculated risk.

Final Thoughts

Despite being down $182 all-time, cryptocurrency was my gateway drug to the world of money and financial literacy. I don’t regret it.

However, I can’t fully recommend it if you’re just getting started with investing. That said, sometimes we learn best by doing. If cryptocurrency is what gets you excited to dive into the world of investing, as it did for me, dip your toes with realistic expectations.

If you decide to invest in crypto, fasten your seatbelt. It goes up and down and round and round. It’s a wild west and extremely emotional.

Tread carefully. Tread lightly. Invest wisely. Learn aggressively. Think with a long-term view. Do not check your account obsessively and remember these 4 words instead:

Each time is different.

There is no way to predict the future as I learned. Twice.

I hope that when it comes to your investing strategy (and perhaps currency in general) this Sir John Templeton quote also applies:

“Time changes things and makes them better”.

This article, authored by Frankie Calkins, was originally posted at: https://medium.com/the-investors-handbook/bitcoin-was-my-personal-finance-gateway-drug-i-quit-now-im-back-9cae8a7cef64