Cryptocurrency expert and crypto-celeb Amanda B. Johnson answers the most common altcoin questions: what is digital currency? What’s a blockchain? Is Bitcoin safe? Why is Bitcoin so volatile? Should I own any cryptocurrency? Can cryptocurrency actually prevent “secret inflation”? Plus, how trading Bitcoin could ruin your mental health and 9 strategies to retire this year so you’ll have time to ponder whether or not you’ve “made it” in America – and what the heck is BillyRock?
- (1:10) Are You “Making it” in America?
- (12:20) How Trading Bitcoin Could Actually Ruin Your Mental Health
- (20:19) Amanda B. Johnson: What Are Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Cryptocurrencies? Are They Safe?
- (34:17) Amanda B. Johnson: Why Are Cryptocurrencies so Volatile, and Which Cryptocurrencies Will Last
- (48:37) Big Al’s List: 9 Strategies for How to Retire in 2018
- (55:41) If You Feel like You’ve “Made It,” How Do You Spend Your Time?
No one knows how many dollars are in existence today. And so actually, the whole point of the blockchain technology is for there to be a way where scarce units, which are transferable, can be known, down to the last token, the very last unit, exactly how many there are. Because, if you can know that, what does that prevent? Secret inflation. Unknowable inflation. You know, like “quantitative easing to the thousand, we don’t know how many dollars there are.” It makes that not possible. – Amanda B. Johnson, cryptocurrency expert.
That’s digital currency expert and crypto-celeb Amanda B. Johnson. Today on Your Money, Your Wealth, she answers the questions so many of us are asking: what are cryptocurrencies? What’s a blockchain? Is Bitcoin safe? Why is Bitcoin so volatile? Should I own any cryptocurrency? Can cryptocurrency actually prevent “secret inflation?” Plus, how trading Bitcoin could ruin your mental health, and 9 strategies to retire this year so you’ll have time to ponder whether or not you’ve “made it” in America – and what the heck is BillyRock? Let’s find out, today on Your Money, Your Wealth – here are Joe Anderson, CFP® and Big Al Clopine, CPA.
AC: We have an interesting show – the big rave around town is cryptocurrencies.
AC: Well it is Joe, and it’s like it’s kinda – what would you say? The Wild West right now, it’s in the early days. You’ve heard of Bitcoin and turns out there are many currencies, not just Bitcoin.
JA: Well you know what I’m finding out, is that Bitcoin is like Kleenex. You know what I mean? Kleenex is the name brand. But you could get any type of tissue.
AC: It’s like a Xerox machine is made by HP. (laughs)
JA: Yes. Hey, Bitcoin! We’re going to talk to Amanda Johnson a little later in the show, and she works with Dash, which is digital cash.
AC: It’s like Bitcoin, just a different currency.
JA: Yeah. There are hundreds of these cryptocurrencies, so we’re going to try to break things down. To be honest with you, I’m really not an expert. Not at all, not really into it. Not into it at all. (laughs) I think it’s interesting. I think we’re seeing a ton of volatility. I like the technology. I think the blockchain is definitely the future, but I don’t know, am I going to bet my overall livelihood on a cryptocurrency? Some people are, man, it’s crazy!
AC: I know that is true.
JA: And I’m not going to say a word about it because whatever it’s trading today, in five minutes from now it’s going to be trading something else, and then I’m either going to look like an idiot or a genius. So it’s like do what you want to do with your money.
AC: You know what it reminds me of Joe, a little bit, is the dot com period. Which was, there would be 50 companies, all working on the same solution, and they all got funded from VCs, and they’re all trying to be the winner, and one made it and 49 failed, and hence the dot com bust. And I don’t know what’s going to happen with this. Nobody knows. But there does, in my opinion, seem to be some parallels here.
JA: So there are hundreds of cryptocurrencies. Which one do you buy? All right, so I’m going to go with Dash. I’ve never heard of Dash until I met Amanda B. Johnson. So now, all right, I put ten grand in Dash. Well, what? That doesn’t make any sense to me. I don’t think I would ever want to do that. It’s such a speculative play.
AC: It’s early. Yeah. I think it would be prudent for many, maybe even most people, to just kind of – let’s just see what happens for a while.
JA: I don’t know. There was something in, I don’t know if it was the Wall Street Journal or Washington Post, or something like that. One headline was “Everyone’s Getting Rich.” And so it’s that whole fear of missing out. And this guy bought $400,000 of Bitcoin at a very low price. Now he’s got hundreds of millions, and he’s in his 30s. He’s already messed up. To have that type of, I guess, luck, that early? The article – he’s just a little off the charts.
AC: If it’s the guy that I’m thinking of, and it may be, there was somebody that lost like 44 billion?
JA: 44 billion?!
AC: I know I had to look at it like six times. Billion.
JA: In Bitcoin?! (laughs)
AC: Yeah. (laughs)
JA: How could you lose?! There’s not that many coins, is there?
AC: I don’t know how all this works, I just know that Bitcoin was over 18,000 at one point, and now it’s worth ten or twelve? it depends on the hour. Depends on the day. Last we checked. By the time you listen to this that could be whatever. (laughs)
JA: Right. So anyway, we’ll try to break that down for you. We got Big Al’s List. We can talk – all sorts of good stuff. That’s how prepared I am. (laughs) Just FYI. Well, you got a bunch of stuff.
AC: I do. I think I want to start that a little bit lighter.
JA: Because we get really heavy. (laughs)
AC: I don’t know. I could jump right into taxes, but I don’t really feel like it. Not right off the bat. So anyway, there’s this new study. It’s called “Making It in America.” And it was a survey put out by Thermosoft, of all things, which is a company. I’m not sure why they did this study, but it’s an interesting study.
JA: Isn’t that a Thermos?
AC: I don’t know. Could be. (laughs) So anyway Joe, here’s the thing is they asked people –
JA: Where do you like to camp? (laughs)
AC: No. (laughs) Do you like your beverages hot or cold? We’ve got thermoses for both. (laughs) They asked people, “have you made it?” Which is kind of a broad term, and then they asked, have you made it, yes or no, and have you made it, what does that mean to you? In other words, what do you think people thought was the most important thing to look at, as to whether they’ve made it?
JA: All right. I would say that most people are still striving to make it, even though they might have already made it. I think the people that said, “yeah, I made it.” (laughs) I think they might have some problems.
AC: Well let me ask it a different way: if they haven’t made it, what’s their definition of having made it?
JA: I would say happiness.
AC: Oh, that’s not on the list. (laughs)
JA: Because it’s by a Thermos company!
AC: I’ll give you the answer – 67% said they want more income. 22% said they want a dream job, which I guess could equate to happiness. I suppose having more income, you’d be happy about that. 7% said they wanted better relationships, or improve their family relationships, whatever that may be.
AC: (laughs) Right? And 7% want respect. They want recognition. They’re not getting the recognition. And so then, they asked people, “well, how much do you need to make to actually make it?” And so, the average – and this is just kind of an average of everybody – but what they came up with was that the average that people are making now is $57,000. And the amount that they need to make to have made it is $147,000.
JA: Where do they come up with that number?
AC: That’s just the 2000 people – the 67% of those that said higher income was the most important characteristic? It’s like, “what are you making now, how much do you want to make?” So those are the numbers. $147,000 was the average. Although it’s probably skewed because I think 2% of people wanted over $10 million. (laughs) But anyway, I digress. I want to go over some of these other things. So they talked about a lot of things to make it, and so they have kinda where people are at now, on average, and where they want to be. So on average, they were single. And on average they want to be married.
JA: Okay. And married people wanted to be single. (laughs)
AC: They only asked single people, probably. On average, and this is probably young people, they had no kids – but they wanted two. You’ve made it when you’ve had two kids. So I’m married with two kids.
JA: Okay. Big Al, you’ve made it! You make $10 million! (laughs)
AC: Best friends. They have three. They want four. They need one more.
JA: Oh, of course. Yeah.
AC: Joe, will you be my fourth best friend?
JA: Yeah, you don’t want to have a third wheel, you need a foursome in golf. (laughs) You need a buddy in your back seat when you drive.
AC: Education. They tended to have bachelors degrees and they thought that was perfect. So they’re already there. They made it on education. Income is the $57,000 to $147,000. Hours worked, on average, 34 hours per week. They want to work 31. Working too much.
JA: I put that in in two days! (laughs)
AC: When’s the last time we did a 31 hour week? (laughs)
JA: 34? What are they, a barista at Starbucks?
AC: Commute time is 17 minutes, and they want only 10.
JA: Oh, of course, I wanna work 31 hours, I only want to drive 10 minutes, I want four friends, not three.
AC: They work at an office, they want to work at home.
JA: Of course they do.
AC: Yeah. Time off, they get 2.8 weeks, they want 5.3. (laughs)
JA: (laughs) This is really upsetting me right now.
AC: Travel, they want three trips a year and they’re already doing it. There’s no difference there. House value, their houses are worth $248,000, but they want the one that’s worth $461,000. (laughs) And the car they’re driving, $15,000 cars on average, and they want a $41,000 car. (laughs) So there you go. Those are some of your definitions of “making it.”
JA: That was like really super annoying.
AC: (laughs) Now here’s another way to consider if you’ve made it. It’s where you live. So what do you think the five top states, in other words, if you’ve made it, you would probably move to one of these states.
JA: States or cities?
JA: States. I don’t know, California.
AC: California’s number five. Very good.
JA: New York.
AC: New York is number one. Very good.
JA: Number two. Massachusetts. (laughs)
AC: (laughs) No.
AC: Yes Florida is number two.
AC: Nope, good guess.
AC: No but that’s a good guess too if you like winter. (laughs)
JA: Cold as all get out.
AC: Anyway. Think mountains.
JA: Montana? Colorado?
AC: Colorado. OK. And the third one. The fourth one I don’t quite understand, and I apologize if you’re from Texas, but… (laughs)
JA: Oh, I love Texas. Can’t beat Texas.
AC: But if you want to go to a foreign country, maybe making it is getting out of the U.S. What do you think the top foreign countries are that people want to move to?
JA: Let’s see. Australia.
AC: Good guess. Nope. They’re mostly in Europe. I’ll give you that clue.
JA: European countries.
AC: Four out of five. (laughs)
JA: All right, I got it. London?
AC: That’s a city.
JA: What did you say, country?
AC: (laughs) Yes.
AC: Yes, England is one of them.
JA: OK. Germany?
JA: Russia. (laughs) This is awful.
AC: Let me give you some clues.
JA: I don’t know, I don’t travel abroad, Al.
AC: Think Italian food. (laughs)
JA: OK, Italy. Chile. Let’s go to South America.
AC: Think about the south of France beaches. France, number two. England, you’ve got that, number three, Spain, number four and more close to home, Canada, number five.
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JA: So here was a tweet. Do you tweet, Al?
JA: You gotta get a Twitter handle. BigAl.
AC: I don’t tweet.
JA: That’s your handle.
AC: BigAl. I should.
JA: You gotta get the mustache back too, brother. (laughs) Gotta get it back.
AC: All right, I’ll grow it back. Maybe sometime this year.
JA: Well it’s winter! This is a perfect time for the Big Al ‘Stache.
AC: Well I’m going to vacation in February to Chile. So maybe I should.
JA: Oh, if you don’t have a nice Big Al Chile mustache?
AC: I should start it before I go. (laughs)
JA: Well it’ll probably take it three days to get a big caterpillar on your lip. BitcoinLoki maybe depressed today. Twitter used on Wednesday. So this is this came out from Market Watch, January 18th. So just a couple of days ago. Seen some fluctuations at Bitcoin. (laughs) So Robert Shiller, Nobel Prize-winning economist, a professor at Yale University, has called the cryptocurrency craze “a marvelous study of human behavior. It’s providing valuable information about how millions of human brains process. In the case of public acceptance, imagination, and innovation surrounding cryptocurrencies.” So everyone’s just kind of glued into this cryptocurrency craze. And not necessarily buying into it, but I think, just looking at the human behavior. And you and I have been talking about cryptocurrencies more in the last couple of months. Still, I’m confused on how it all works.
AC: Well that’s why we’re going to have Amanda Johnson on here shortly.
JA: But there are studies now, and there’s some concern of course, in the world, about “sudden large losses of wealth effect mental health. So when studying the effects of the 2008 market crash, researchers at College of William and Mary and John Hopkins found that those who lost wealth had increased feelings of depression and used antidepressant drugs.” Imagine that. You just lost $400,000, wooo!! I’m not going to be depressed, I’m gonna be fired up!
AC: Yeah, I can make it back.
JA: “The effects were more significant among those who had high levels of stockholdings before the crash.” So what they’re saying now, because of how volatile these cryptocurrencies are, and there’s this big craze. Dude, Bitcoin was up, what, 20,000 at it’s high? It’s almost lost half its value in a month.
AC: Yeah, it was least 18, and I know at one point this week, it was down to 10,000.
JA: “One famous study from 1978 compared 22 major lottery winners with 29 paralyzed accident victims, as well as a control group. The researchers from the University of Massachusetts at Northwestern found that the lottery winners were no happier than the control group.” So these 29 paralyzed accident victims, versus 22 lottery winners.
AC: And they were they were no happier.
JA: Nope. And no happier than they were with themselves in the past. “They also took less pleasure in mundane events. The accident victims were only slightly unhappier than the control group when asked about everyday tasks.”
AC: OK, interesting. So money does not buy you love, right? And happiness. I think we heard that long time ago.
JA: Those who have lost nearly everything can find happiness.
AC: So what you’re telling me is happiness is kind of an internal job.
JA: Yeah. “Author Janine Roth lost her life savings in the Bernie Madoff scandal. She said she was able to recover, though she sometimes feels angry about the past. ‘That was one of the best things that ever happened to me in my life,’ she told Oprah in a recent interview. ‘I had to focus on what I had, not what I didn’t have. I to bring my mind back from the terror and starting to focus on what was good.'” So I guess some bad things, I guess you can make lemonade out of lemons.
AC: I think you can. I recall my reaction to the Great Recession. And I actually had some money in the stock market, but most of my investments at that time were real estate, and I watched those go way down, and it was tough. It was really tough, I was, as I told you, Joe, I was thinking, well I couldn’t fully retire, but I thought maybe I could semi-retire and work part-time. And that went out the window with the real estate. (laughs) But I’ll tell you something that, in my opinion, a great thing that happened with the Great Recession, is that it refocused values – our sense of values. I think we were pretty focused anyway on family and things like that. But it even made it stronger. It’s like, “do we really need to buy these things?” That’s not really what makes you happy. We were kind of forced to spend less for a while. And I think that was a really good exercise.
JA: But the market is going to turn. The cryptocurrencies are either going to take off or blow up. But I think you have to be prepared for that and have a strategy to know what to do when it happens. Instead of being in shock, and going into a depression. You have to have a defensive strategy to say, if the market blows up, if it’s down 20, 30, 40%, your million dollars is now worth $600,000. What are you going to do? Are you going to freak out? Are you going to say this is just common market behavior, and making sure that you continue to save into your 401(k) plans, do not sell out of the overall markets, because there’s going to be a time where you’re going to say, and you’re going to think, and you’re going to hear this: this time it’s different, this time it’s different. It’s not going to be different. The situation or the event might be a little bit different, but not the investments. So you just want to make sure that you have a strategy in place, and you want to make sure that you’re taking a look at your overall portfolio, right now, to say if I lose 40%, 30%, 20%, what is the strategy, what am I going to do. How disciplined am I going to be? Because the most successful investors are extremely disciplined. They’re intelligent in regards to their overall money. Now Bitcoin and Dash in all these cryptocurrencies, it’s a lot of fun to watch. It’s a lot of fun to understand and get educated, in some instances. I’m not really that interested, but I’m saying this because we have a guest next segment that I want to promote, and her name is Susan B Johnson.
JA: Amanda! Susan B. Anthony is a coin! (laughs)
AC: (laughs) I know exactly what you’re thinking, that’s pretty good. You combined the coin and the guest. (laughs)
JA: (laughs) Stick around for that. Al and I are going to have some fun. I’m probably going to sound like a complete moron, but there’s nothing new there. So stick around for that. And she’s coming up next. The show’s called Your Money, Your Wealth.
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20:19 – Amanda B. Johnson: What Are Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Cryptocurrencies? Are They Safe?
JA: Alan, it’s that time of the show.
AC: Yes. And it’s always the best part of our show because we have people way more intelligent than us. And today is absolutely no exception. We’ve got an expert in cryptocurrencies.
JA: Yeah, you and I have been trying to talk about this for the last couple of months and we just kinda butcher it (laughs)
AC: (laughs) Yes, cryp? Krypton?
JA: Yeah, what the hell is this thing?
AC: Bitcoin? Blockchain? Chainblock?
JA: I was like, enough is enough. We are going to get an expert on this program to explain it, so we have Amanda on the line. She is the expert. And Al is now a big follower.
AC: I’m one of her key students because I watched her first four videos earlier today.
JA: So Amanda, hey, welcome to the show.
ABJ: Thank you, Joe, thank you, Al.
JA: Just give our listeners a little bit of a backdrop of your experience, how you became one of the top cryptocurrency females in America – from a small town outside of Salt Lake City.
ABJ: Sure. So I come from an abiding interest in money and monetary policy, basically. And so back in 2013, I first heard of cryptocurrency, and I decided to look into it. When I heard someone make the compelling case to me that “it could become like money one day, like money, like dollars money. And I thought that was interesting, so I looked into it, and I’ve been writing and speaking about it ever since.
JA: So let’s kind of break things down: what the heck is Bitcoin? (laughs) In real simple terms!
ABJ: Sure. So, Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency, and a lot of people assumed that it would be the only one. But what has actually happened in the nine years since it was created, is that many others have been invented. And so what’s happening now is there’s a sort of competition going on, which is to see which one of these cryptocurrencies actually earns the title of, dare we say, money someday. And that term that you used earlier, blockchain, that is actually the name of the technology that – do you know what a ledger is, Joe or Al?
AC: Yes. I’m an accountant. I got that down cold. I can even do a handwritten one if you want. (laughs)
ABJ: What am I saying?! So you guys live and breathe ledgers, so you know exactly what I’m talking about then, when I say that a blockchain is just a digital way to do a ledger over the Internet, where everyone can see the contents of the ledger, and it’s the people who run the software of the ledger who make updates to it. So, if you have a cryptocurrency wallet, let’s say you have a Dash wallet. Dash is my personal favorite. I’m the spokesperson for Dash, actually. So if you have a Dash wallet, and you want to send me, Amanda, some Dash, you tell your wallet to send me, let’s say $10 worth of Dash. Your phone then sends a ping to someone out in the world who’s running the Dash software, meaning they have a copy of the ledger, and their computer will stamp your transaction to me into that digital ledger, and then ping! It appears on my phone, in my wallet.
AC: So then do you know how much I have in my wallet, or you just know something appeared in your wallet?
ABJ: Wow, that is a very good question. So, it depends on the cryptocurrency you’re talking about. If you’re talking about a cryptocurrency which, say, does not offer privacy, like Bitcoin, for example, I would, in fact, be able to look at a copy of the Bitcoin ledger, and look up the transaction you sent me, and yes, I would be able to see the balance of the account. Mind you, you can have numerous accounts within the same wallet, but I would be able to see the balance of the account that you used to send that to me. Now, this is one of the ways Dash differentiates itself from the pack, in that Dash has a mechanism within its wallet, that says “you know what, I don’t want the person I send Dash to, to be able to see my account balance. So go ahead and obscure that on the blockchain.” And so if you had sent me Dash in a private manner, then no, I would not be able to see how much your account held.
JA: So let’s back up here because I’m already confused. (laughs) So the whole basis of cryptocurrency is to decentralize a higher being to be in control. So basically, we can trade currency, or buy goods and services, without a central bank that might have overseeing powers and control over the overall currency. So give me an idea of why the blockchain in Bitcoin, and all the other coins, and Dash, and I believe Dash is what, another form of coin? (laughs) Right? Why did it become? What’s the whole basis of it?
ABJ: The basis, and actually you can see this in the white paper that was written by the mysterious person who invented this blockchain technology. His pseudo name is Hitoshi Nakamoto. But actually, the basis – it doesn’t really have to do with centralization or decentralization, or any of the sort of buzzwords that you hear thrown around. What it actually has to do with, is having a way that a monetary supply can be known. Because Joe, Al, how many dollars are there in existence today? You can tell me, right? How many dollars there are now?
AC: I know what’s in my wallet – about $4. (laughs)
ABJ: Yeah. So no one knows how many dollars are in existence today. Not even Janet Yellen knows. And so actually, the whole point of the blockchain technology is for there to be a way where scarce units, which are transferable, can be known, down to the last token, the very last unit, exactly how many there are. Because, if you can know that, what does that prevent? Secret inflation. Unknowable inflation. You know, like “quantitative easing to the thousand we don’t know how many dollars there are.” It actually makes that not possible.
AC: And so that’s all about making money transparent, it sounds like.
AC: So, I went on Wikipedia, which we all know is THE source for everything you’d want to know.
JA: Yeah it’s like WebMD.
AC: Yeah. (laughs) And they said, they came up with 44 active cryptocurrencies, as of today, and there’s probably lots more than that, but there’s 44 that they’ve listed. So how in the heck would a person know which one to pick, or what’s going to be the winner? To me, it seems pretty confusing.
ABJ: Well, that was the exact question that I was asking myself, starting probably two years ago. So two years ago, I was the host of a daily cryptocurrency news show on YouTube, called the Daily Decrypt, and as I’m reporting on these different competitors in this space, day after day, I thought exactly what you just asked me, which is, “well, which one should I buy? Certainly, they have to differ from each other in some way. How can I tell for myself which is better than which one?” And so that is basically what I’ve spent the last, actually, two to three years doing, which is coming up with some metrics that I could use for myself, for my own personal investment, to try to make predictions of, “OK, because of mechanism A, this cryptocurrency will likely fare better than this other cryptocurrency.” And so, my job title makes it obvious which cryptocurrency I think will become money in the long run. And so, that’s a question that each investor has to ask himself, just like with anything.
JA: So, now let me ask you another question, how do people know, like, I guess whatever currency they pick, but how did they know this is safe and secure, there’s going to be mistakes, there’s not going to be issues? If the software is going to blow up?
JA: Right like someone is going to hack into my wallet. (laughs)
AC: Yeah. How is all this being safeguarded?
ABJ: Right. So, when I first started looking into that, I thought to myself, “so, the first thing we can know about the computer code that any given cryptocurrency network is reliant upon, is that all of them, or rather the good ones, are open source. So that means that any code that is in there, is at least knowable. So if it’s knowable, the next question in determining security is, okay, as you said, can it be hacked, or to use your more flavorful term, can the software blow up? So in that case, a prime example of what we’re doing in Dash, is we have offered a sizable bug bounty through a company called Bugcrowd, and we’re basically offering substantial sums, actually in dollars. They don’t even have to take Dash. In dollars. We’re basically hiring white hat hackers, which means people who, they don’t want to mess you up, they just want to find your bugs if you have them, and we’ve had that bounty program going for six months with no vulnerabilities found yet, no major vulnerabilities. But beyond that, fellas, we also have to realize that any hacker in this world, who could claim, “Hey, I was the one who took down whatever XYZ Coin” that would make him like the coolest hacker ever. And so you’ve got to know this stuff is being tested all day and night. There are already people trying to break these systems all day and night. So for every day that goes by and a cryptocurrency is not broken, that’s really the best way to gauge its security.
JA: But there is really no intrinsic value to a cryptocurrency, or any gold, for that matter. It doesn’t produce anything. It’s a speculative type of investment play at this point.
AC: Well, if you if you buy it as an investment.
JA: So, Bitcoin, for instance, they’re only going to have what 25 million coins, and then it stops at that? How many coins is Dash gonna have? Or whatever – Potcoin. (laughs)
AC: Oh, you read the list! (laughs)
JA: So it stops at some point, doesn’t it?
ABJ: It does. Well, the way the code is currently written it stops. Now here’s where things get interesting fellas, because that code is open source, as I had said before, which means that it can be changed by humans. So here is where, in the next handful of years, people are going to start realizing that these cryptocurrency networks – it’s about trust. Meaning, a customer needs to be able to trust that the people running software for a given network will not change the promises that they’ve made. Because yes, Bitcoin’s current code, for example, it says 21 million coins, and no more will be created. But guess what? The network science says that if 51% of the people running Bitcoin’s network update their software to lift that coin cap? It can be done. And so, we’re going to go from this realm where we are now, which is, it seems all kind of like magic and mathematical, and based on code in the cloud, people are going to begin to realize that, “oh, it’s actually still just human beings behind these networks. And so we’re going to only want to use a currency that’s run by people who we believe are trustworthy.”
Cryptocurrencies are taking a volatile spin and markets are at all-time highs – at least, at the time of this recording! But what will happen next? Whatever you hear in the media, you have to understand your overall current situation and make sure that you have a game plan moving forward so that you can do all the things that you want to do in retirement. If you want a successful retirement, what can you learn from people who have retired successfully? As it turns out, it’s probably a lot. One thing’s for sure, retiring successfully today is never an accident. A single common denominator is that they all have a plan: a sound, thoughtful retirement game plan that addresses everything: income, risk, assets, inflation, taxes, Social Security, health care, Medicare, long-term care and so much more. Let us prove to you how easy it is to get started with our financial assessment. We’ve helped hundreds of people right here in Southern California, and we can help you too. It doesn’t cost you a dime for your initial analysis, so you’ve got nothing to lose – there’s no analysis paralysis. Take advantage of this free customized analysis by calling (888) 994-6257. That’s (888) 994-6257. We would love to do this for everyone, but with the extensive amount of work that goes into each customized analysis, we simply can’t do it – this is first come, first served, so here’s your chance. Call right now: (888) 994-6257 (888) 994-6257.
34:17 – Amanda B. Johnson: Why Are Cryptocurrencies so Volatile and Which Cryptocurrencies Will Last?
JA: Welcome back to the show, Show’s called Your Money, Your Wealth. Joe Anderson here, Certified Financial Planner, Big Al Clopine, we’re talking to Amanda Johnson about cryptocurrencies. So it’s a belief system. So there’s gotta be the belief that there’s going to be value for the particular coin, and that’s why it’s significantly volatile. And so we’re seeing these coins, the volatility on them is something else.
ABJ: Sure. And volatility is also, I think in part, caused by just how small the cryptocurrency market is right now, compared to other markets. We see headlines of these big, astronomical gains or big, astronomical losses. So it sounds like oh, that’s a huge market. But compared to the market capitalization of a major national currency like Dollar or Ruble or Euro, it’s still relatively small, and so it doesn’t take very big buys, or very big sells, to make those kinds of big moves.
JA: Can you just explain in a couple of minutes – because I’m still… I’m just making myself look like a complete moron. (laughs)
AC: You need to watch her videos. (laughs)
JA: Well we got some minutes here, maybe she could give us a five-minute lesson on just the simplest form, ABC, of what a cryptocurrency is, the blockchain, the pros and cons to them, and what the future might hold.
ABJ: Sure. So a blockchain is a digital ledger that never gets updated, but only added to, meaning, if we’re looking at the Dash blockchain, and I send you some Dash, it’s not so much that my account balance gets erased and then updated, for imagining it being written in pencil on paper. My account balance doesn’t get erased, but rather just a new page, a brand new page, is added to the ledger that reflects, “minus one Amanda, plus one Joe.” And so, the blockchain is, if we were to consider every new page in the ledger, if instead of calling it a page, we called it a block, and after we added enough pages, instead of calling it a stack of pages, we called it a chain of blocks, that what a blockchain is. It’s just a continually growing, continually updated, digital ledger. And now, how? How does it get updates made to it? Who has the right to make those updates? When do they get to make the updates? I don’t know if we can fit that into this segment, but if I may, I made a short video series that talks about precisely this. It can be watched in under an hour. Kind of snappy. It’s called Dash School, and it’s on YouTube, and it describes exactly what you’re asking about, which is, what the what the heck is this weird sounding technology, and why should I trust that it isn’t just a big tulippy Ponzi scam.
JA: So the blockchain technology is the key, and then all of the other cryptocurrencies, such as – there are hundreds of them, are utilizing the blockchain technology. The ledger system that can never be erased, it’s just getting added to. So it’s there forever, for everyone to see, to create some transparency. So we know what’s out there. And then the cryptocurrencies are using that blockchain technology to create their currencies, to get it to the public?
ABJ: Right. So each cryptocurrency runs on its own blockchain. So there’s a Dash blockchain, which is different from the Bitcoin blockchain, which is different from the Dogecoin blockchain. They each have their own.
AC: So what do you think is going to happen in the future? It doesn’t seem to me like there could be hundreds of these currencies forever. Don’t you think there will just be a few winners, or maybe one winner? What’s your thought of the future?
ABJ: I do think precisely that. I think that we are currently in this sort of blooming stage, whereas I heard someone put it years ago when more and more coins started coming out. I heard someone say, “let a thousand flowers bloom.” Because at first, I was thinking to myself, “This is so silly, why are these new coins being created? We should just stick with the one Bitcoin, and anything that has been created after Bitcoin is just detracting from Bitcoin’s network effect.” And someone said to me, “let a thousand flowers bloom,” and I realized, that’s the stage we’re in now, where – by the way, anyone can start a cryptocurrency. They just need to convince other people to run the software with them, because it’s a network thing. If only one person is running the cryptocurrency software, well that’s not much of a network is it? So the Dash network, for example, has 4,800 computers around the world run by people who decided to run them. And anyone can start one of these. And so yes, while many of the coins out there, maybe even most of the coins, are just kind of crappy. We’re in the stage whereas many flowers as can bloom will, and then, we will enter just like you said, a stage where things start getting weeded out, and that weeding out process will weed out, I think probably, most of them. And yes, we will likely end up with a few coins, or maybe even one coin that functions as a, if I may, sort of like gold 2.0, dare I say, and then perhaps other currencies begin being issued around that, with that coin being the backing. Being the Reserve.
JA: I think it all has to do with the merchant though too, doesn’t it? If I have something, they gotta accept it, so if I have a wallet full of Dash, “do you take Dash?” “No, we just take Visa.” (laughs) Dammit!
AC: (laughs) But I’m just thinking out loud. So there’s Visa, there’s MasterCard, American Express.
JA: There’s ApplePay.
AC: So I think you can have more than one, but they have to be universally accepted.
ABJ: And that is exactly what needs to happen right now, within the crypto sphere, and to some extent is happening. Because if not, then they really are completely worthless, are they not? If I can’t buy something with my Dash, it truly is worthless. And so, that is what we are working on the full force right now. If you were to go to a website like DiscoverDash.com you would find that we are closing in on about 650 merchants, around the world, accepting Dash. And our primary goal is just to increase that number because that is the only way that Dash will be useful, is if you can buy something with it.
JA: Sure, and that needs to be probably 100 million merchants.
AC: But how do you get Dash coins? Where do you buy them?
JA: How are they mined? (laughs)
ABJ The easiest way is it through online exchanges. So I believe that the exchange, they’re based in Florida I think, they are uphold.com. Uphold.com recently started selling Dash for credit card. I think that’s probably one of the easier ways. Yeah.
JA: So if I were just to buy any type of cryptocurrency, what exchange would I go to?
ABJ: So it depends on what you want to buy it with. Because each exchange accepts different forms of payment, some accept a credit card, like I had just said about uphold. Others only accept a bank wire. And still, others only accept cryptocurrencies themselves. And so, for example, like what kind of payment method are you talking about?
JA: Well I don’t know, I have cash.
AC: I want to put it into a machine and get some Dash.
JA: Or I don’t know, a brokerage account. So I want to have a diversified portfolio, and maybe I want 1% of my portfolio on cryptocurrencies, because I have 2% of gold, and I have some natural resources, and I have stocks and bonds and real estate. Well, maybe I want to diversify into cryptocurrencies. How would I go about doing that?
ABJ: Yeah, that would be your uphold.com. In terms of a brokerage who handles the buy, and maybe keeps the cryptocurrency for you, I’m not quite sure. But the thing about cryptocurrency is that you can just possess it yourself. So that’s one of the more novel things about it. Whereas, if you’re going to have a lot in dollars, a lot of people would say, “hey, I want that sitting in a bank account. I don’t necessarily want that in cash in my house.” It’s a different case with cryptocurrency, in that there is no cost to store it yourself. You don’t have to leave it with a broker or a website if you don’t want to, and in fact, it’s recommended that you don’t because it’s kind of the Wild West right now. And so if I’m a hacker, and I’m out there looking to steal as much cryptocurrency as I can, where do I look first? I look to these exchanges, because they’re these huge honeypots, right? And so it’s actually better to keep your coins yourself, and you can keep them on your phone. You can keep them on your desktop computer. And you just buy them on a site like uphold.com or WallOfCoins.com or even like Coinbase.com – they don’t sell Dash yet, but they do sell some cryptocurrencies there as well.
JA: So if I lose my phone… (laughs)
ABJ: Joe and Al, you two just keep asking all the good questions. So what if you lose your phone. That is the perfect question to ask, and that is why when you create a wallet, you press the little button that says “back up this wallet.” It shows you 12 words, you write them down on a piece of paper.
JA: And then I’m gonna lose the paper, Amanda. I swear to god. All these passwords. What’s my mom’s maiden name? What’s my first dog treat that I gave it when I was 12. (laughs)
AC: You don’t know your mom’s maiden name?
JA: Yeah. It’s Anderson. My mother’s maiden name was Anderson, my father’s name was Anderson, so every single time you write, “what’s your mother’s maiden name.” “Anderson.” “No, her maiden name.” “I know what her maiden name is, it’s Anderson. No, they weren’t related!” (laughs)
ABJ: Oh no, I know your mother’s maiden name now! I’m gonna hack you now!
JA: Perfect. My first dog was named Mugsy, and my first car was a Pontiac 6000 station wagon LE, 1987, baby blue.
AC: And once you get to 60 you won’t remember any more, so then it gets tougher.
JA: Amanda, I could talk to you for hours. We’ve already blown up the clock. So where did they go to get more information? You got a great YouTube channel, Big Al is your biggest fan. It’s like Netflix. It’s like seven minutes long and then you just get suckered in. He was in his office for like four hours all day.
AC: I watched the first four, I got hooked. And the next one starts when the first one stops, it’s fantastic.
ABJ: Yes, on youtube just type in Amanda B. Johnson, basically. But I want to tell you that cryptocurrency is super easy to use right now, and I want to give you a website where you can just go download with the click of a button, clickety-click. But guess what. It’s not that easy yet. That’s why there’s still so much potential profit to be made, because it’s still hard, and it’s still risky to get engaged in right now. So more than anything, I’d actually just encourage you to find a young nerd like me, and ask them to show you how to do this stuff in person – because guess what? That’s the best way to learn. And that’s how I learned.
AC: Alright, next time you’re in San Diego you can show us.
JA: Amanda B. Johnson. Hey, what does the “B” stand for in Amanda B.?
ABJ: Like like an old sort of internet handle, BillyRock, actually.
JA: (laughs) Amanda BillyRock Johnson.
ABJ: You got it, fellas.
AC: (laughs) That’s fantastic!
JA: (laughs) Well there she is, Amanda BillyRock Johnson folks, cryptocurrency expert. I’m still confused, but this was – I’m getting there.
AC: You know a thousand percent more than you did before this interview.
JA: Oh, way more. Yes.
I know a bunch more now too, but I wonder about cryptocurrencies and taxes – how does that work if you have some digital currency in your portfolio? Another important topic for another podcast, because taxes don’t stop when your paycheck does. In fact, tapping your retirement nest egg comes with all sorts of new rules and opportunities. Instead of contributing to tax-deferred plans that reduce your taxes, you’ll start tapping those savings for income, and paying taxes at your regular rate, unless you’re tapping into a Roth IRA. So as you near retirement, tax planning becomes more important than ever. But you must use a forward-thinking tax strategy. because you have more control over paying taxes in retirement – more than you think. Actually, more so than any other time in your life. Find out how you can legally pay fewer taxes than ever before with our new personalized tax reduction analysis. In this analysis, you will discover techniques specifically designed just for you on forward-looking tax strategies to keep more of your hard earned money in your pocket. There’s no cost and no obligation, so you really have nothing to lose. Get your complimentary tax reduction analysis at (888) 994-6257. That’s(888) 994-6257.
Time now for Big Al’s List: Every week, Big Al Clopine scours the media to find the best tips, do’s and don’ts, mistakes, myths and advice to improve your overall financial picture – in handy bullet-point format. This week, 9 Strategies for How to Retire in 2018.
48:37 – Big Al’s List: 9 Strategies for How to Retire in 2018
AC: This comes to us from Emily Brandon, staff writer for U.S. News, and I thought some of our listeners may be retiring this year or thinking about retiring this year, or next year. This will still work for next year. But here are some of the things that you have to consider, according to the article – I think she did a pretty good job – number one is set up health insurance. And that’s one that, sometimes you don’t really think about that much, because you’re employed, and your employer pays for health insurance. Realize this, that Medicare that starts on your 65th birthday, not before. You can sign up for it three months before your 65th birthday, and your 65th birthday month, and three months after you turn 65. But if you retire younger than 65, you’re going to have to get your own health insurance. And right now you can usually get it through your state’s health insurance exchange, or perhaps purchase it from another source, but you’re not going to want to go without health insurance, mainly just because if there’s some kind of catastrophic illness, it could wipe out your savings.
JA: Well I think with retiring early, people have to understand the cost.
AC: Yeah. And your costs, or your spend, is probably going to go up because you’ve got to add health insurance to that.
JA: That’s what I mean, your health insurance could cost a couple thousand bucks a month, easily. So add another 20 some odd thousand dollars to your living expenses.
AC: Right, you thought you were spending $75,000, you’re really spending $100,000. Because most people, they want to travel more and do things like that when they retire.
JA: And here’s the problem with the math. You and I have done a few financial plans. We’ve seen the numbers. If you’re planning on 75, but all of a sudden that number goes to 95 in this instance, in early retirement, you have to be extremely careful of how that money is managed. Because if we see a dip in the overall market, and now you’re taking out $20,000, $25,000 additional monies to cover that health insurance before you bridge the gap to Medicare at 65, and you have a downturn, and you’re taking more money from the portfolio. It gets very very difficult to get caught up. You have to really start shopping this, taking a look at it, practicing, can you live within that parameter of dollar. So if you’re spending 75, but you can’t, because there’s another $25,000 of expense. Well, now you’ve got to tone down your living expense to maybe $50,000. You have to look at all aspects of this, because if you’re going to retire early, your money needs allowance that much longer, and if you have a dip in the market earlier, depending on how you’re invested, it could hurt you.
AC: Yeah and Joe if you’re relatively healthy, you might want to look at a high deductible plan like an HSA to lower the premiums, but make sure you’ve got something, just for a catastrophic illness. The next couple of things, Joe, I think are related, so I kind of want to do them together. Tally your income and create a spending plan. And so here’s what this means. It means you’ve got to take a look at what your fixed income sources are. Could be Social Security, maybe you’re Social Security age, or maybe you’re younger. But look at what it’s going to be. Look at what pension plans you might have, maybe you have a rental property, maybe you don’t, what are your fixed income sources before you look at your portfolio? Let’s start with that. Now let’s just say it’s $50,000. Then look at what you’re spending, and I want to spend $100,000, so my fixed income is 50, I want to spend 100, so I need to get $50,000 from my portfolio. So then you sort of go to your portfolio, and you kind of want to do that math, you kind of want to do that ratio. So if you’ve got a million dollars, if you’re pulling $50,000 out, that’s a 5% distribution rate. That might be a little bit steep. We might recommend, depending on your age, more like 3 or 3.5 or 4% distribution rate. The younger you are, probably the lower percentage that you want. The later you retire, like let’s say you retire at age 70, you probably could get away with a 5% spending rate, unless your longevity, you think is going to be really long.
JA: It could very well be, too.
AC: And so it’s that mathematical computation, and you can do that right now. Like, let’s say you want to retire in three years from now. Just do some simple math to see are you on track, and try to make sure that your distribution rate, just how much you need to spend, or that you want to spend, over and above your fixed income, you divide that into your portfolio, and you come up with a percentage. And you kind of want that percentage to be below 4%. Now that’s a rule of thumb. There’s a lot of exceptions to that, but at least she can find out if you’re in the right ballpark.
JA: Sure yeah. I think that rule is only good to see if I’m close.
AC: Yeah. You’re not going to use that for your retirement income strategy.
JA: Hopefully you’re not.
AC: You shouldn’t because there’s a lot more to it than that, but at least you can determine, like for example, if I need $50,000 a year from my portfolio, and I’ve got a $100,000 portfolio, it’s not going to work. That’s a 50% distribution. Another way to think about that is, I’m going have income for two years, and now I gotta reduce my spending to $50,000 and be living in a whole different kind of lifestyle. The next thing, Joe, would be to look at your 401(k). Do you want to keep it in the 401(k)? Do you want to roll it over to an IRA? A lot of people roll it over to an IRA. But Joe, there’s pros and cons to that.
JA: Yeah, if you’re retiring early, let’s say if I’m separating from service at 55. There’s no 10% penalty if I take distributions from my 401(k) at 55 or older. So, you probably don’t want to roll it into an IRA, because then you jam yourself up. You can’t take the money out until 59 and a half without a 10% penalty, unless you use a 72(t) tax election, which is a little bit cumbersome, it’s irrevocable…
AC: It is, and you may not get as much income as you want.
JA: Or, on the other side, if I’m still working, if I’m in my 70s, and I’m continuing to work, well then I definitely don’t want to roll it out. I want to get all that money into that 401(k) if I’m an active participant in a large plan because then there is no required minimum distribution on that 401(k) as long as I’m an active participant in the plan. Then my required distributions start after I separate from service. It starts April 1st the following year. So there are pros, absolutely huge pros, to keep it in your 401(k) plan, so you don’t necessarily want to move it out.
AC: But who should?
JA: I think at some point, and to be blunt, everyone should have it in an IRA at one point in their life. I think consolidation is key. I think the rules when it comes to IRAs at death, when it comes to stretch IRAs, inherited IRAs, are more favorable than retirement plans, such as 401(k)s or 403(b)s. You got better investment choices, blah blah blah.
AC: Right, because you get the whole smorgasbord. 401(k), you may have 20 investments, 20 mutual funds that the fund manager picks for you.
JA: Right. But in 401(k) plans you have ERISA protection.
AC: That’s right. So you got to consider that.
JA: So it depends on what you’re trying to protect because IRAs still have that same protection if it came from a 401(k), depending on if I’m getting sued, or if it’s bankruptcy. So there are different liability coverages. So you just want to understand. Do you think I’m going to get sued, or do you think I’m going to file bankruptcy? So you just want to take all those things into consideration.
AC: Right. Another thing you may want to do is take a look at your portfolio, and we see lots of mistakes there. We kind of tend to see a couple of extremes. We see people that say, Joe, Al, I’m comfortable with the market, it always seems to trend up. I’m all in. And then when in retirement, and you’re pulling money out, the rules work a little bit differently, because if you’re taking money out of your IRA, your trust account, your 401(k), at the same time when the market is correcting, which it hasn’t done for a while, by the way, and it will at some point.
JA: But here’s what people are doing, man. Our firm manages quite a bit of money. And we see a lot of new individuals, and there’s so much overconfidence.
AC: There is, especially right now.
JA: Because the markets are up almost 300% since 2009, and it’s like whoa, look at my rate of return, I’m up 17%. What’s your benchmark? What are you doing? Yeah, I love 17, 20% rates of return as well. But you’ve got to be careful. It’s like hey, well let me load up a little bit more on equities. What? You have to look at the long-term here, what are you trying to accomplish, take the least amount of risk possible to accomplish your goals. Now if you’re in your 20s, 30s, and 40s, yeah, have a 100% equity portfolio.
AC: Yeah, 80, 90% – something high. Because you can weather the storms.
JA: Right. But if I’m 60s, 70s I’m looking to retire over the next 5-10 years, then that’s where you have to be a little bit more defensive in my opinion.
AC: On the other hand Joe, we see people that don’t want any market risk, because, “Well wait. I’m retiring, I can’t afford to have the money go down.” And then they’re forgetting, they’re 65 years old and a married couple. There’s a 50% chance that one of you is going to live to age 92.
JA: Inflation will eat you alive.
AC: That’s 27 years, and that’s the average. Half of couples are less, some are living into their late 90s. And you think about, you’re 65 now, in 25 years, do you think there’s going to be more medical advances to where we’re living even longer? You have to account for that, so you still need some growth, because of inflation.
JA: Right. You have to look at all risks associated with what you’re trying to accomplish. If I have all my money in cash, I’m still taking on risk, it’s inflation risk. If it’s sitting in a retirement account, all in cash, now I’m getting eaten up by taxes and inflation. “But I’m really scared of the overall markets.” Well, you have to understand how markets work. “Well, what about bonds? Interest rates are low.” Well no, I think there is a lack of information, education. They just hear what they want to hear, and then they only do what’s comfortable right now, today. But they’re going to regret it 10 years from now.
AC: Right. And Joe, we’re almost out of time. I’ll just highlight some of the rest – decide when to claim Social Security, we talked about that a couple of segments ago. Look for lower fees, if you have the kind of mutual funds that have very high internal fees, there are probably better alternatives. Strategize to minimize taxes. Look at maybe things like Roth conversions, and how you’re going to create your income distribution over your retirement to reduce taxes. And then finally, make sure you plan your new lifestyle, because it’s not just all about money, it’s how you fill your time.
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59:41 – If You Feel like You’ve “Made It” How Do You Spend Your Time?
JA: You got any final parting thoughts there, Al?
AC: I do. We started this show with a study that was about Americans, and their perception of making it. This survey, 2000 people were surveyed, and some of those that did make it, they were asked the question, “then how are you spending your time?” So think about it, Joe. What if you made it. What if I made it. What if you made it, what would you do? How would you spend your time?
JA: I don’t know man. That scares me. That’s the problem.
AC: (laughs) It is because we’re used to working.
JA: I took two days off over the holidays, and I’m like, “oh my god. Jeez, anxiety.” I got problems. I gotta see a therapist. I got to see Dr. Finkelstein. I gotta sit down on that black couch. (laughs)
AC: Well, I’m going to help you out, because this is what, those that made it, this is what they say. So 28% said they enjoyed spending time with family and friends.
JA: Okay. What did the other 70% want to do? (laughs)
AC: (laughs) And I assume there’s some overlap, so maybe this was like, what do you enjoy most. I think that was the question. Only 72% did not enjoy family. (laughs)
JA: (laughs) “I hate my family! I hate ’em!” (laughs)
AC: (laughs) The second highest response was exploring, which I guess means travel. (laughs) 23%. 21%, this is you! 21% is “I still want to work.”
JA: Yeah. I don’t know what else to do. I’m going to start another business. I don’t know what it’s going to be. Cryptocurrency. (laughs)
AC: What are you gonna call it?
JA: Golfcoin! You play golf and use these coins at any golf course in the world. Whaddya think? Think it’s got legs? (laughs)
AC: No, I don’t. (laughs) I’ll jump on with Amanda Johnson on Dash.
JA: Susan B. Anthony. (laughs)
AC: (laughs) Yes. 17% want to relax, and 11% want to help people in need.
JA: So 90% of people do not want to help anyone. (laughs) 70% do not want to be with friends and family. (laughs)
AC: Anyway there you go. That’s the study.
JA: Well that was a great study.
AC: I think so. It’s got colorful pictures, it’s really cool.
JA: Have a wonderful weekend everyone, for Big Al Clopine I’m Joe Anderson. The show’s called Your Money, Your Wealth. We’ll see you next week.
So, to recap today’s show: To retire this year, all you need to do is set up a health plan, decide when to take Social Security, create a spending plan, adjust your portfolio, have a retirement tax strategy, then decide how to spend all your free time. You’ll know you’ve made it if you have $10 million, 2 kids, a villa in Italy and only had to work 31 hours a week at Starbucks to get there.
Special thanks to our guest, Amanda B. Johnson. To get more into the weeds with her about cryptocurrency, blockchain and the rest, just search YouTube for Amanda B. Johnson – or if you have more time, search Amanda BillyRock.
Subscribe to the podcast at YourMoneyYourWealth.com, through your favorite podcatcher or on iTunes, where you can also check out our ratings and reviews. And remember, if you have a burning money question for Joe and Big Al to answer on Your Money, Your Wealth, just email email@example.com, or call (888) 994-6257! Listen next week for more Your Money, Your Wealth, presented by Pure Financial Advisors. For your free financial assessment, visit PureFinancial.com
Pure Financial Advisors is a registered investment advisor. This show does not intend to provide personalized investment advice through this broadcast and does not represent that the securities or services discussed are suitable for any investor. Investors are advised not to rely on any information contained in the broadcast in the process of making a full and informed investment decision.
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