I first invested $5,000 in bitcoin back in 2013 at $72 per coin and now own approximately 69.2 bitcoins.
While I had first heard about bitcoin in 2011, it wasn’t until I watched a documentary and started reading forums about the cryptocurrency that I decided to buy it. It was easy to see how bitcoin could disrupt the entire financial system.
I decided to buy as a long-term experiment and used less than 1 percent of my net worth at the time to buy into bitcoin. Sure, I wanted to make money on it, but if I lost everything, it wasn’t going to change the course of my life.
As of this writing, bitcoin is trading at $16,600, which makes my bitcoins now worth $1,148,720. It took me five years working 80-hour weeks to make over $1 million saving and investing in the stock market, but with bitcoin, my coins have increased to over $1 million in 2017 alone. It’s by far, without a doubt, the easiest money I have ever made.
But I don’t recommend you invest in Bitcoin today.
On my blog Millennial Money, I’ve received over 100 emails from readers asking about investing in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. I was even talking to a reader last week who told me he put his entire life savings into bitcoin, buying in at around $11,000. That’s a terrible idea.
I got another email from a 22-year-old who is looking to invest his first $5,000 and wanted to know if bitcoin should be his first investment. That’s also a terrible idea.
Here’s why, even though I’m a bitcoin millionaire, I don’t recommend that you invest in it today.
Bitcoin is a global craze. Even my barber, who has no idea what a blockchain is, is buying it. Because so many new people are buying it (and so quickly!), it’s impossible to accurately value.
When the price of anything fluctuates 20-30 percent in one day, it’s obviously unstable, so you could lose all of your money very quickly. Especially if you need your money in the next year, don’t buy bitcoin. With the insane short-term fluctuations, bitcoin is short-term gambling, not investing.
The value behind bitcoin is the blockchain technology, which has been easily replicated by other digital currencies. Many of those have actually built better and easier-to-use versions.
Litecoin is a good example. Sure, bitcoin has an early mover advantage, but it was created to buy and sell things online securely, which no one is doing right now because the price is so insane and transaction costs are skyrocketing.
All of the trading volume is also causing significant delays, with some exchanges reporting up to 10 days to get your money in or out and more than a week for your bitcoin to be sent.
The cost of sending bitcoin is also skyrocketing since the price is fluctuating so wildly, the value of it could be significantly higher or lower than when you sent the money.
Most people aren’t buying into the value of the technology, they’re buying into the hype. This is gambling, not investing.
You might think that digital wallets are secure, but cryptocurrency exchanges and wallets continue to get hacked regularly. More than $70 million in bitcoin was hacked from NiceHash, a bitcoin mining marketplace, last week.
Just because exchanges like Coinbase have $200 million in venture funding and a nice shiny marketplace doesn’t mean that they can’t get hacked either. Because there is no central governing body guaranteeing your bitcoin, if you lose it, it can be difficult to get back. If it gets stolen, then you are out of luck. Hacks will continue to happen.
If you do decide to buy bitcoin, I encourage you to buy responsibly. Don’t buy using more than 1 percent of your net-worth, and be honest with yourself: Bitcoin is a gamble, not an investment. It’s super risky and there are far better places to invest your money securely for both the long- and short-term.
Grant Sabatier is the founder of Millennial Money, where he writes about personal finance, side hustling and investing. He reached financial independence at the age of 30 and is currently working on his first book for Penguin/Random House, set to be released in 2018.