Crypto taught me more about money than traditional finance ever did
Into the Cryptoverse is a weekly Breach series that documents the stories of everyday people as they navigate the cryptoverse.
Could you tell me how you started participating in crypto?
I got into university in 2019, and in my first week on campus, I attended a couple of orientation sessions for fresh students. In one of these sessions, I met a guy who convinced me to sign up for a class he held for students who were interested in scholarship opportunities. I went to the class, and it was great. But that wasn’t all he talked about.
What else did he talk about?
Cryptocurrencies. It was a bonus topic to thank us for signing up for the class. This was my favourite part, and I was hooked before the class was over.
Why do you think that happened?
I was a fresh student living on ₦10k ($17) from my parents every month. Now, someone was telling me how I could make money from buying coins at a low price and selling them at a higher price. It sounded like a good deal.
Beyond this, I was also intrigued by the opportunity to learn something new. The way I saw it, if I gave this new, shiny thing a chance, I could learn a lot more about how money worked. My mind was made up.
As soon as I could, I started learning more about cryptocurrencies. Although I didn’t understand most of what I read, I convinced myself that I had done my due diligence and was in a prime position to take a leap of faith.
I started with a ₦4k ($7) investment in XRP because it was the most interesting coin I could afford. Three months later, I sold it off.
I thought it wasn’t growing as fast as I wanted. Thinking about it now, I was just broke and thought it didn’t make sense to suffer when I had money somewhere. The value of my asset had grown to ₦7k ($12), so I took my eyes off the long term goal to solve an immediately pressing problem.
YOLO. Did you have to build your portfolio all over again?
Not immediately. I fell off the crypto train and didn’t make another investment until 2020.
The pandemic hit and schools were closed down so I was at home with all the time in the world. This was really the point where I studied and understood the fundamentals of cryptocurrencies and their scalability. It was a fun learning curve.
Now I saw the potential within and beyond price speculation, but I still couldn’t participate.
Because I was at home and my parents put a pause on my allowance. Sadly, I didn’t have another means of getting funds. As a workaround, I tried to convince my family to give crypto investments a try, but everyone was wary of putting money into something they weren’t sure of. I respected the decision, but it was hard to miss out on a couple of opportunities. Solana was one of those — I was sold on it before the token blew up in 2021. It could have made a world of difference if I had the money to put into it then.
It must have sucked being on the sidelines. Did this make you sceptical about how accessible crypto is?
No, it didn’t change my disposition towards crypto. The way it works is that in the beginning, you have to make money outside crypto to invest in crypto. The general principle of money is that you need money to make money.
Anyway, I finally came into some money in March last year. I entered a challenge in a Twitter community, and I won $50. I decided that all of it was going into crypto.
One thing I should add: I was now as fascinated with the tech powering the crypto ecosystem as I was as fascinated with the chances of making money. More importantly, I was curious about how the blockchain and web3 would disrupt finance and the way we live.
But since being an investor is the easiest way to participate in crypto, I figured I would start there and work my way up. In June 2021, I made my first set of crypto investments.
Tell me more about this.
I divided my capital between Shiba Inu, Matic, and ADA assets. Let me tell you why I went for these: I’ve always loved the community behind Shiba, and I believe they are the best thing about the token. If the community is pushing a project as hard as they can, chances are that the project will thrive. I went for Matic and ADA because they have their own native networks, Polygon and Cardano respectively. So I was convinced about their chances of scaling.
I see. Do you remember how they performed?
I got my biggest profit from Shiba. Between June and October 2021, Shiba had a good run that made me ₦300k ($526). I got to this number by increasing my capital and reinvesting my initial profits. between June and October. Matic did well too, but I don’t remember how much I made from it.
This wasn’t even my favourite thing that happened in those months.
While holding these coins, I was also talking about the opportunities in the crypto ecosystem with other people. My biggest flex was getting a few of my friends to invest in crypto. I told a friend about SAND and Manna and she instinctively bought into it, went in big and made a profit in thousands of dollars. This was probably my biggest win in 2021.
I can see why.
Yeah, it turns out that plugging people into opportunities makes you feel good. Also, it’s like these people get you in ways other people don’t, and everyone likes to feel seen.
What were the initial lessons you learnt from participating in crypto?
Since my focus was on cryptocurrencies, I learnt that I had a limited understanding of how money works. One major lesson was realising the role traditional finance plays in inflation, and how cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are more resistant to it. For example, Bitcoin will only have 21 million coins in circulation while central banks around the world have been printing money for decades.
I chose a side and continued investing in crypto.
What does your crypto portfolio look like right now?
At the moment, I’m holding up to 10 coins, and they are collectively worth over $1000. That said, I don’t buy into Bitcoin or Ethereum because they are expensive and harder for them to grow past a particular threshold in little time. Instead, I go for the coins I can afford.
Is there a pattern to selecting the coins you decide to invest in?
I tend to do some research first — if the roadmaps and use cases look good to me, I’ll probably go for it. Another rule of thumb I use is looking at top centralised exchanges like Binance and finding out if the coin I’m looking at is listed on it. I’m more confident about coins listed on popular exchanges than those that aren’t.
Has this always worked for you though?
Pretty much. However, it doesn’t mean I’ve not made some mistakes along the way.
Which one hit the hardest?
The Wakanda Inu token. I caught the hype when it blew up in November last year, and I invested about ₦80k ($140) in it. After the hype died down, I had about ₦200k ($350) in my wallet. But for some reason, I held on and didn’t take my profit, even when it started to dip. Between December and March, the value of my investment dipped to ₦5k, and all the time I was thinking it would go back up. It was too late before I realised that it wouldn’t. That was a lesson in knowing when to give up on a project.
It’s the game. It helps to build character.
Haha. That’s one way to look at it. What’s your favourite crypto practice these days?
Dollar-cost-averaging — a strategy where people invest a fixed amount of money in an asset repeatedly. Right now, I put ₦5k in a coin of choice every week. That’s ₦20k a month. I intend to increase the amount as I have access to more money.
Gotcha. As a student, how is crypto most useful to you?
In less than a year that I’ve been actively participating in crypto, I’ve been more financially independent than ever. Beyond that, it’s also helped me learn more about money and set me on a path to making better financial decisions. All of this is an extended lesson in financial education for me. I’ve learned more from crypto in less than a year than I have from interacting with fiat currencies all my life.
What’s there not to love about this?
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