Checkbook control crypto retirement accounts

man opening his arms wide open on snow covered cliff with view of mountains during daytime

TL;DR: Fund an AltoIRA Checkbook+ LLC, and buy, trade, or sell bitcoin and other cryptoassets within a tax advantaged retirement account. Reduce your taxable income AND eliminate capital gains taxes!

I am so excited I’m almost giddy.

Background: I’ve been investing in equities since the early 2000’s and had employer 401Ks that I rolled over into a IRA brokerage account in 2017, a few years after I started getting involved in crypto. In 2019 I started buying Grayscale Bitcoin Trust ($GBTC) as a way to gain exposure to bitcoin. It currently makes up the majority of my total portfolio, about forty percent, and another forty percent are in crypto mining and exchange positions, and Grayscale’s Ethereum Trust. I’ve been looking for a way to reduce exposure to Grayscale’s products which trade at a premium, and put funds in BTC directly, while retaining my tax advantaged status. One of the benefits of trading within these accounts is that I can enter and exit a position without having to pay taxes on any gains.

Alto came to my attention while reading a post about the DeFi Pulse index. Alto was just kinda dropped in there as a side note, and after after a bit of back and forth with the CEO, and I went ahead and scheduled a call with one of his associates, James O’Brien.

I was a bit deflated going into the call, because the fees that I were told given were a bit off-putting, one percent a year as a maintenance fee, plus one point five percent per trade. That might be ok for someone starting out, but there’s no way I would go for that. James explained that the crypto product that Alto offers is basically a vehicle for Coinbase custody, which is geared at institutional investors. The fees are what Coinbase charges, and covers insurance on the funds. Of course, you’re limited to what tokens Coinbase offers, and you can’t move anything off to a private wallet. Fair enough, but it’s not for me.

So what really got me excited was when O’Brien told me about the checkbook LLC which is a self-directed IRA plan. You have checkbook control over your funds.

“Checkbook Control” is the term used when a self-directed IRA owner has complete signing authority over an account that gives access to his/her retirement funds. This strategy is achieved through the establishment of a Self-Directed IRA LLC. Since the LLC established is a business entity, it can establish a checking account. The LLC is funded by using retirement assets like an IRA which then funds the LLC’s checking account. This offers greater investment freedom, allowing you the IRA holder to meet your investing goals and manage your assets with ease.

What is Checkbook Control?

These type of entities can be used to purchase practically any asset, including real estate or cryptocurrencies. And the cost that Alto charges to do the necessary paperwork is only $750 dollars, that’s five hundred to setup the LLC and necessary documents, plus two fifty a year for what I assume are the required tax documents and so forth. That’s much better. I can use whatever exchange I want, park the tokens in a cold wallet, liquidity pool or lending provider, and sell them without a care in the world. My keys, my coins.

The only real downside is that crypto assets cannot be transferred directly into the IRA. Only cash goes in. So if one has existing crypto holding that one wants to make into a tax-deductible contribution, you’ll have to liquidate to fiat, transfer the funds into the IRA’s cash account, then to your crypto on-ramp to purchase the asset again. This could lead to some slippage if one doesn’t have cash on hand, but that can probably be optimized through some dollar cost averaging process.

There’s another downside to a crypto IRA, and that’s the fact that IRA contribution limits are currently capped at $6000 a year. There are similar vehicles in the 401K space that have much higher limits. I found one company, called Solo401K, that provides this service. I chatted with one of the associates over the web. These plans are available to self-employed individuals, contract employees, but not individuals who are employed by others. The limits are closer to thirty thousand a year, and there’s other advantages, like being able to take a personal loan out against the account. Since I’m not a contract employee or self-employed, the 401K plan isn’t an option for me. Solo401K is by Naber Group, which also has an IRA option, but their setup fee is twice as much as Alto, and they charge an extra hundred a year in fees.

I went ahead and setup my Alto account this morning, the process took about five minutes. The main thing you need to think about is what type of IRA you want to open, whether traditional, Roth, or, if you’re a business owner, a SEP IRA. Other than that, there’s several forms to fill out, and it appears that it will take up to two weeks for the paperwork to come back on the LLC, which is created in Arizona.

https://remnote-user-data.s3.amazonaws.com/cCmChWQ7Swh11-Jdo5ho8C7V8-oJYDz9KbPA3dhgB-HwpYTYdfaLnFdjsb1VMb2ivic31xlYf6k7fdnWIhl7dCvJvez7M-Sjo0E8wGDlWxepqvazPOlLD1uFLXJccRC-.png
Best part of the LLC contract.

Once this is all done, and I’ve opened new bank and exchange accounts, I will begin liquidating my IRA positions in GBTC, rolling over the cash, and buying spot BTC. I’ll probably do the same with my ETHE holdings as well. I’ll also need to liquidate enough of my existing crypto holdings to max my 2020 annual contribution before April 15th, unless I can come up with that kind of cash in the meantime. It might be a wash with capital gains on any crypto sales, but I’ll figure that out.

I’ll also be converting my employment to contractor status. I’ve already had a talk with the bossman, and I should be able to make that happen before the end of the year, and switch my IRA to a SEP or 401k to take advantage of the higher contribution limits. (Alto plans on releasing their 401k product sometime later this year.

Lastly, a warning. There are rules about how you handle funds in these checkbook accounts that you have to be aware of, like no commingling of funds, no double dealing, and nothing that enriches yourself or other family members, like buying real estate or businesses that you or they have a stake in. The IRS also prohibits purchases of collectibles, which may be a problem with NFTs, but other than that, you have complete freedom to buy any token, using lending platforms and leverage, or ape into whatever yield farm you want. As long as all the gains stay within the confines of the LLC, you are golden.


If you’re interested in opening a Checkbook+ IRA, use my referral link to get $75 off the first year’s fees.

The little degen that could

I’ve been thinking a lot about self-directed IRAs and solo 401Ks today, trying to scheme some way for me to take advantage of these instruments to preserve some of my crypto gains. I wrote a bit about IRAs yesterday, but the solo 401K seems like it might be a better option. Basically the advantage is that the solo 401K has a higher annual contribution limit, somewhere northward of $50 thou compared to $6500 for an IRA. Also, it seems that you can take out a loan against it, which you can’t do with an IRA. The interest, which has to be the prime rate plus one percent, gets paid to yourself, which isn’t really a downside to me.

So basically I could take crypto that I already have and deposit it into either of these account and consider it a deduction on my taxable income, then take a loan against that deposit, stake it in BlockFi or elsewhere and earn a higher interest rate than I’m paying on the loan. This strategy would net about four thousand dollars.

It’s not great, and assumes that BlockFi doesn’t go under, but coverage on the deposits could be purchased for about 2.5% of the capital amount. Not great from a risk/reward standpoint, that’s for sure.

Speaking of RR, I’ve already pulled the remainder of my wBTC holdings out of the Yearn vault in anticipation of putting it into the BadgerDAO LP pools, at 400%. It’s going to be a short-term play, very high risk, but 400% APY can’t be ignored. I’m spending a good deal of time in the Discord and looking over the docs to figure out exactly what’s going on. They’re aiming to be nothing less than the one-stop shop for everything related to Bitcoin on Ethereum, and what I’ve seen so far has been very promising. And it seems like the closest thing to going back in time to get involved with Yearn or Sushiswap in the first few weeks. The interest rate is already dropping, and there’s a threat that the token price might collapse when the airdrop for the DIGG product happens, so I’m keeping a close eye on it and will be prepared to exit early if need be. Right now I’m just waiting on gas to drop so I can enter into the pool.

I’ve also become aware of a token called ibETH, or interest bearing Ethereum, from a project called AlphaFinance. I’m not sure how it works yet, but there’s a large amount held by a DeFi whale, and it’s yielding 20% returns. That’s better than what I was getting in my Yearn bUSD vault, which I already exchanged for ETH, so it seems like it might be a good place to park it. As usual, I’ll probably buy some first then figure out how the hell it works after. Alpha has a mind-numbing 43 liquidity pools which seem to range between 40-150% interest.

So I’m going to wait for gas to drop, then stake an insane amount of capital into Badger and pray that I can make it through the next month without a contract failure or rug-pull, and then I have two calls scheduled with people from the IRA and 401K firms. If all goes well, I may have discovered a line of business to be explored by the newly formed Skunkwerks project that is forming. We may have a possible niche, helping people open these accounts so they can take care of these DeFi opportunities. As more people come onboard with Bitcoin — like my neighbor — we’ll stay on the bleeding edge of yield and help guide people through varying levels of risk and leverage in the space.

It might just be the perfect opportunity, if I can earn enough income for my wife to provide a steady income for myself, I may be able to help others along as well. Not that I’ll need it for myself, of course, but because I want to bring as many people along with me as possible.

Let’s build something

Exploring fintech business ideas

So today was a pretty good day. I got woke up very early and managed to get a workout in while I listened to Willy Woo make the case for $100k BTC. It was very convincing, despite the fact that they recorded it friday before the dump from $42K. There was a bit of recovery in the markets which made back about half of what I lost on the Monday dump, but beyond that, I did little work altogether and got to spend some extra time with the girls today. They’ve been really starving for my attention lately and I was glad to be able to fill that cup. I taught them how to play checkers, and I let them tag team wrestle me on the the trampoline. Beating me up seems to be their favorite activity.

I’m keeping an close eye on my new investment in BadgerDAO. It’s netting about fifty dollars a day, and I’ve probably got a few weeks while the insane APY continues, so I’ll continue to monitor and scale in further as I assess the risk/reward. I pulled all my USDC out of the Yearn vault last night and bought ETH, as I figure we’re at the bottom and likely to hit all time highs and price discovery very soon. I had a minor mistake calculating gas costs which almost cost me; by the time all was said and done I paid a hundred dollars for the withdrawal. I only made a hundred dollars interest in the vault over the last two or three months, and by the time you calculate the entry fees, I ended up net negative.

At the risk of repeating myself, with DeFi it seems like it’s better to ape in first and figure it out later. A few months ago, I told my friends that Yield Farming wasn’t worth the trouble unless you were operating with more than a thousand dollars. That’s when ETH was trading at three hundred dollars. Now that we’re at a grand, that number has increased as well. I think my original estimation was off by a lot, and I’m wondering if the current figure isn’t closer to ten thou. It seems apparent that if ETH continues to climb to all time highs, that small players (minnows) are going to be priced out of participating. Transferring Eth or ERC tokens will be expensive in real dollar terms.

This may be mitigated somewhat by scaling advancements as ETH2 gets rolled out, but it seems we’re going to be dealing with some very high network congestion on ETH during the next few months, and it remains to be seen whether Cosmos, Polkadot, or Avalanche will be able to fill the need in time.

Some of you may know that the majority of my active investments and assets are in my IRA. I have a significant portion in Grayscale products and crypto-adjacent equities as opposed to BTC directly. It would be nice to have access to actual cryptoassets in my IRA, but I’ve yet to find a decent offering that didn’t have what seems to be outrageous fees.

One percent on trades on top of a one percent annual management fee seems outrageous on it’s face. To his credit, the CEO, Eric Satz, did respond to address the concerns, and I have a meeting scheduled with one of the associates later this week to discuss some of the options. Apparently the end goal is to have unrestricted access to DeFi through IRA dollars, but they currently have insurance and custody expenses that they have to deal with. More to come.

Something else I ran across to day was this post from a Bombay entrepreneur about a new crypto-bank that they’re spinning up. I had a chat and signed up to take a look. I really like the way they present it when you go to the app.

Letting people choose their risk level in this way is really striking. And as if the universe wasn’t trying to send me a signal already…

So to synthesize the problem a bit more explicitly: the DeFi industry is just at the early stages of really taking off. This success is going to price most smaller participants out of the markets, leaving most of the gains to those who are already starting with large capital investments. I’m thinking there needs to be a way to pool assets and distribute the costs in such a way that it’s more efficient for small lenders. Personally, I’ve been having problems keeping track of my own DeFi holdings, an issue which is complicated by the fact that I’m using funds earmarked for several family members. There has to be a better way, in fact, Andre Cronje, the lead developer of Yearn Finance, created the vault system for this very reason.

So can we build a ‘self-driving bank’ or DAO that makes easy to pool resources from lots of small players, and takes steps to minimize gas costs even further? Or one that can bring in large IRA funds from the less crypto-savvy investors and use those to bring in these 20%+ yields. I think it is possible, but recognize there are going to be numerous regulatory hurdles. That’s not my forte, but when one considers the opportunity in non-profit and municipal treasuries, it’s clear that there is a very large opportunity in this space.

It’s clear to me that I’ve found an issue that is near and dear to me, and I’m going to be spending some time brainstorming with others and figuring out how I can make this transition into a role in fintech this year. Whether that means becoming involved with an existing project or bringing one together from the ground up remains to be seen.

Ape, meet BadgerDAO

So I knew today was going to be a bloodbath, as Bitcoin and Ethereum continued a twenty percent pullback that started two days ago. Everything was a sea of red across the board, and I’m actually pretty pleased with myself for not panicking. I threw all my cash at it, and ran out of dry powder yesterday, so I wound up making a trade on Missus’s BlockFi account, out of her DCA funds. Gotta BTFD, man. The price has already started recovering.

Friday night I was made aware of a newer DeFi project called BadgerDAO. It’s similar to other yield farm pools, such as SushiSwap or Harvest, but its focus is on wBTC. I spent about two hundred dollars in ETH gas fees, wrapping BTC, pulling funds out of Yearn’s wBTC vault and aping them into Badger.

My Ether Wallets, about half the size of my total BTC holdings.

As usual, I purchased first and tried to learn after. I put a small percentage into the pool before I pulled funds out of Yearn. Besides having to get my hands on wBTC, I had to add liquidity to the wBTC/BADGER Uniswap pool (via Zapper,) then stake the LP tokens in the Badger pool. Then I had to stake the Badger LP tokens to start earning BADGER itself. The APY is close to 500%. Once I saw that everything was working as planned, I went ahead and pulled a quarter of my Yearn position out and went in on the wBTC/BADGER Sushiswap pool. The APY is a bit less, but there seem to be some advantages to the Sushi pool that will come in handy later.

There’s a couple more things to mention about the Badger project. The LP mining pools, called Setts, are only about five weeks old. There’s a new product, called DIGG, that is some sort of rebasing token tied to the value of BTC. There’s only going to be a few hundred of them apparently, and they’re going to be issued based on a number of factors around BADGER staking.

I almosted aped my entire Yearn balance into Badger Saturday. The interest would be enough to replace my work salary, and I was very tempted to hop in. I managed to temper myself a bit before I did so, and this quarter position is a bit of a conservative position, if one can call degen yield farming “conservative”. If all goes well, I’ll probably liquidate my Yearn wBTC position completely and go all in.

The Badger contracts have been audited, they also have a $500,000 dev bounty as well. They’ve already got $600m AUM, and the devs aren’t anon, which is good. What I’ve seen so far is very positive. Still, there are black swans, and one thing that the Badger team has done is established an insurance fund with Nexus Mutual. Now one of the big concerns I’ve had with any third party service in crypto, such as BlockFi, is the risk of black swan events. What Nexus Mutual does is provides insurance policies. One takes out a policy, specifying the amount of ETH one needs coverage for, as well as the amount of time one needs the policy for. The policies are funded using Nexus’s token, with holders staking the other side of the cover. It’s pretty ingenious. One can buy policies for various defi projects including Badger, BlockFi, Celcius, and others.

Gas costs have been completely insane lately, especially last night when prices were plummeting. It’s put the brakes on some of what I wanted to do. Sixty dollars on a vault withdrawal is enough to make me pause, one-twenty is a hard no. Still, it probably would have been worth it to cash out from the bUSD vault into ETH when it was $900, but I just couldn’t bear to do it. I may reconsider if gas drops down to forty again. There’s going to be slippage issues if I don’t do it right.

Forty-one thousand

Well the big news yesterday was that Trump got deplatformed, and was suspended or banned from several Twitter accounts, Facebook, TikTok, and about everything else including Pinterest. People went nuts. There were the usual concerns about the First Amendment — Twitter is a corporation, dimwits — but my main concern is that the historical record of Trump’s tweets have been erased. It’s similar to the concerns some have about most digital media, like the loss of most early internet media. The death of Flash, for example, has erased a huge swath of media from the late ’90s and on.

I’ve been staring at charts, but haven’t really been doing anything other than buying some BTC and ETH while I try to fix some problems with my bank and exchanges. Binance flagged my account as US based, so I had to move everything off of there. Two more wallets on my phone now, one for ROSE and RUNE each. Then two more for DOT and ATOM. I’m spreading myself thin here. I’ve got too many bags to manage. Altseason seems to be running through the 2017 bags that I dumped. DNT pumped 2x after I sold them late last month, today ZRX is pumping. PRIA is back up at $40, even though it’s flat on the ETH chart. It’s currently my number three holding, with UNI and IDEX behind it. Not sure what to do about that one, to be honest.

I’ve been buying up every DeFi blue chip I can get my hands on, YFI is my favorite, but I’ve got, SNX, AAVE, BAL and MKR scattered around three different exchanges. I’ve got some DeFi Pulse Index (DPI) as well. It’s a bit of a mess. My Ethereum wallet is even worse, scattered with a dozen or two different projects, half of which aren’t even listed on Zapper. I’ve definitely gone a bit mad.

I’ve gotten fed up with my bank. They don’t integrate with Plaid for some stupid reason and so I’ve been searching for a new, primarily-online bank that I can do business with. I decided to open a new SoFi account after reading that they’re going public through a SPAC. Not sure if I’ll invest quite yet, but it seems like they have their stuff together. I opened an account in a few minutes, and they’ve got crypto trading available right there as well. We’ll see how that works after I get my direct deposit transferred over and close out my other account. I’m also taking a look at refinancing the house. It really depends on closing costs. I don’t want to wait seven years to ROI on a twenty year mortgage if we are going to sell in one or two. We’ll see.

I’ve got enough bitcoin at this point that I should be able to pay our mortgage principal and interest using a lending platform. The problem is I just don’t trust any of them enough to deposit my entire stack with them. BlockFi could go kaput, and then what? I’ve got to explore alternatives. I feel like I’m missing out with it just sitting in my hardwallet, and I’m getting nervous about the whole self-custody aspect of it.

I think what I’m going to do is pull the BTC I have off of the exchanges and wrap it on Ethereum, then ape it into BadgerDAO. I want to wait till later tonight when gas fees should be lower, then make a couple moves. This is going to be very aggressive.

Famous last words.

Forty thousand

Joining the two comma club

Today marked a milestone for Missus and I, as today’s rally put our net worth over one million dollars. On paper, anyways. Most of our assets are in our retirement funds, and the house, but even counting our mortgage debt and my student loans we’re over the line. It’s nice to be able to realize this goal, even though it seems a bit late considering my younger ambitions. Still, it’s a good milestone, and we’ve got a ways to go. I won’t be quitting my job yet, of course, but I can already see the end of the tunnel.

Market wise, BTC pierced forty by a couple hundred dollars and dumped down to the low thirty sixes in a matter of minutes. I managed to buy the dip on Voyager, while Coinbase, Kraken and others were down, apparently.

Binance finally did a “sweep” and nabbed my American IP, so now I have to get funds off of it. That’s what I get for not using an VPN. Got most of my funds off there but need to setup some wallets for a couple of them that I can’t trade. That’s life.

Of course everyone was up in arms about the insurrection yesterday. The house down the street, the one with the TRUMP 2020 sign in front of it for like three years now, had it’s flag at half-mast. And then once Trump was let out of Twitter jail an hour ago, he put up a concession speech. I guess someone threatened him with the 25th Amendment, or jail. He’s still got two weeks, I wonder if there’s time for him to be the only president impeached twice. Here’s hoping. Hopefully this will be the last time I ever need to give a shit what he says. Done, next.

Lastly, I just want to leave this Stone Ridge 2020 Shareholders’ Letter. I’m forwarding it to some people cause I think it does a great job explaining bitcoin and our current macroeconomic situation. The last third is about Stone Ridge, but everything else is pure gold.

Thirty seven thousand

Insurrection in the Capital

Well, I’m not even sure what to say, other than this day will live in infamy for some time. Trump supporters storming the Capitol building today, trying to stop the Electoral College vote for Biden. Shameless. I went to bed last night feeling slightly neutral about the Senate elections in Georgia, and woke up to see a big ATH spike in the bitcoin price around the time that the results came in for Warnock. Ossoff was favored as well. It was another busy day at work, markets were up, everything was pretty good around the house, and then MAGAts started swarming the Capitol. The afternoon and this evening were taken up. Even now, Missus is on the couch watching Senate remarks on PBS.

My Twitter feed has been a complete clusterfuck. Kinda hard to shitpost about crypto when the President is inciting violence in the street. We are in full-on Fourth Turning crisis mode now. There’s a part of me that thinks that this is too far, that Trump isn’t going to get away with it. Most of the establishment Republicans are condemning the violence, with the notable exception of Ted Cruz, so maybe all this talk about the 25th Amendment and impeachment might have some teeth. Early indications is that Pence has broken from the President, finally, so it doesn’t seem like Trump will be getting any pardons. We’ll see.

I’ve stayed off my normie feed today. I don’t feel the slightest urge to engage anyone right now. I’ve been holding back to urge to message my quaranteam dad down the street and ask him if he’s still a “Trump fan”, or to berate my dad and brother that “this is what we get cause you couldn’t have a woman president.” It’s too much. Missus said it feels like 911, so she’s going to be up all night watching the news and staying on social media.

Every day we ask why we’re working. Like seriously, what the fuck is going on? I haven’t spoken to my boss about bitcoin since before my vacation. I’m sure he’s seen the news. He must be thinking about my comments about retiring this year. I wonder if he’s realized that I’m not joking. We’ll see how tonight goes. I may not even bother working tomorrow. Maybe I’ll put in a half day and take Friday off. I just feel like striking. I feel pretty angry right now.

Last night, after I finished writing, I went back and looked at my posts from a year ago. One of them was about my 2020 goals. Looks like I’m three for eleven right now:

  1. Finished my degree. +1
  2. Did not get a raise. I suppose that staying home with the kids out of daycare was sort of like a raise. I cut expenses quite a bit with that, saying home and getting rid of the car, so it was almost like a raise. More money in my pocket anyways. Still, I think the goal was to assert myself, so -1 there.
  3. Find a new job. Failed the Sixty Days to Six Figures goal that I set for myself. Gave up looking after I convinced myself that I’m happy working for lower pay with more freedom.
  4. Freelance work. I’m neutral on this one. I did do some work here, but it all trailed off near the end of the year. WordPress management isn’t what I want to be doing anyways, so I don’t feel like this one is too bad. +0
  5. Younger still sleeps in the bed with us, she creeps in during the middle of the night. This year is the year. -1
  6. Elder the defiant: man she is willful. Being home during COVID has been good, overall. I feel like we have a better relationship. We’re not dealing with the stress of morning chores, and getting out of the house so I can get to work at the proscribed time. She, and her sister, still have their days, but we’re coping much better, and I’m not abusing them the way I was abused as a child, so that’s a plus. Actually going to give a +1 on this one.
  7. Meditate: +1. I’ll have to look up whether I did the 60 for 60 this year or not, but despite a lapse, I’ve been doing twenty minutes quite regularly this year. I’ve even been doing an extra evening session the last two days, since I’ve been writing at night.
  8. Exercise: -1. Not enough, not regularly. Need to do something about this since I’m no spring chicken.
  9. The drink: Let’s be honest, -1. I’m still drinking myself to an early grave. It’s a problem.
  10. Piano: +1. I managed to work through four or five Bach pieces, plus re-learned Fur Elise again. And I’m about three quarters through memorizing Claire De Lune. It’s been slow going getting through it, and I’ll probably need another year to play it comfortably, but this year I want to learn how to play Let It Go, just so the girls can play along. Elder has been doing really well learning as well; I’m not pushing her as hard, but she’s starting to push herself. I’m trying how to figure out how to get Younger going as well. That will be fun.
  11. Writing/blogging. +1. I didn’t write every day, but I just passed four hundred posts. My original goal was two hundred words, and I’m easily writing four times that, so I’m going to give myself that one. I wish I had a word count. I started and abandoned a substack, more from fear than procrastination — I’m trying to hype myself up to write. If I keep this up I’ll convince myself I have a book in me. One day.

So it looks like it’s a wash, as far as my planned goals were. Overall, I have to hand it to myself. We were extremely fortunate, and lucky. We not only survived 2020, but we flourished. Our family has grown tighter, and I cannot overstate the level of financial security that we’ve achieved. It’s really hard to overstate. I mean, we’re not multi-millionaires, (yet) but the amount of money that we were able to save coupled with the gains that I’ve been able to accumulate in the equity and crypto markets is life-changing.

It’s really hard to complain about anything. Even on a day like today.

Thirty four thousand

Well, today was interesting. Markets blew up again, I was up six months salary in my IRA thanks to MARA, RIOT, and my various Grayscale holdings. Three more days like this and I’ll have hit a goal that I set for myself that I made when I was in my twenties, to be a millionaire. On paper, anyways. Half of that will be tied up in retirement accounts, a quarter in real estate. Only the last quarter would be liquid, and I dare not sell any of the rest of it, both for fear of capital gains and being left behind. Thankfully lending platforms give us some options.

The main goal remains to work and wait, to accumulate enough assets that can generate enough income-generating yield to cover the bills, mainly the mortgage and day-to day expenses. And there’s the student loan debt, should it ever come due. It looks like the Dems are favored to win in Georgia tonight, so who knows what Biden will do with a Congressional and Senate majority. Print more money, that’s for sure. I’m not so sure about student loan forgiveness, maybe. Permanent stimulus? I’d rather see universal healthcare. That’s the only question for our family. Healthcare remains the biggest question mark in our early retirement plans. What to do? What country with socialized medicine should we move to? It’s hard to say at this point. I still have hope that the US will do the right thing, but probably too late. Alas.

I made a bit of a post-New Years Resolution earlier, that every time I bought alcohol I would buy the same amount in bitcoin. It’s probably my one vice right now, and my worst from a health standpoint, and I figured this would be a good way to stack and cut down at the same time. So when I opened a bottle of Merlot for dinner tonight, I made sure to pull out my Voyager app and sell ten dollars of USDC to buy BTC. We’ll see how this works.

I was inspired by talking to my friend, E., yesterday. He had told me that he wanted to quit his smoking habit so he could buy bitcoin a few weeks ago, and I followed up with him to see how that was going. He was scheduling a doctor’s appointment to get a prescription to help him. I told Missus, and she said that if he follows up with it and does it then he’ll literally owe me his life. We drink a lot, and she remarked how much we would save if we stopped drinking. I said I’d start buying bitcoin every time I bought beer. Either we’d wind up too cash poor to get drunk, or maybe too rich to care.

I also talked to my friend T. for the first time in several months to catch up. I told him I was almost ready to retire. He laughed, I said, no, I’m serious. He got quiet for minute. I told him how things were going and he disclosed that he’d been into crypto as well. “I had the chance to buy a couple coins back when it was two thou and I didn’t. Really regret it now.” He told me he had a Kraken account now and I was impressed, so I asked him what bags he was holding. Bitcoin, Ethereum, some Chainlink, and Polkadot, he told me. Now I was really impressed. Proud, really. He told me he was sober for four years, it was probably about how long since we had really hung out.

I finished another Expanse book last night, and since Missus was reading Ready Player Two on my iPad, I picked up the copy of the Almanack of Naval Ravikant. It put a lot of things in perspective, and said some things that I’d been trying to get out of my head, much more eloquently than I’d been able to. It was the part about work, of course. Optimize your work for freedom, not money. It’s one that I’ve been living by for some time. Every year that goes by without a raise, and I take my raise by decreasing the amount of time I spend working. Basically, I’m increasing the internal wage that I feel I’m worth, and decreasing the amount of time I spend working. That’s not to say that I’m not getting things done. I’m just separating the inputs from the outputs, which is another big concept that he talks about. It’s about finding leverage, always learning, and building a unique skill set that places you apart from others. It also explains why I hate support calls so much. The inputs are bound tightly to the inputs. The problems they fix aren’t easily replicated; it’s hard to build any sort of leverage that can scale. It’s got me thinking though.

I think that’s part of the reason I’m so frustrated recently. I’ve been unable to make that trade. I took my current job out of necessity – I was unemployed and my first daughter was three months old. It’s been eight years, and I haven’t been able to bring myself to leave. I told Missus I had been looking at various opportunities out there and that I might be close to finding something that would give me a raise at a part time schedule, and she basically told me I was full of shit. I keep trying to tell her that there are opportunities out there for her as well, but she remains convinced that she’s not going to find a job that beats her cushy gov’t post. She feels that she’s already at the top of the pay scale in her field, she doesn’t want to take on the responsibility in a management role, and no private firm is going to match her benefits package. She might be right, but then again, I might be also.

I keep thinking about this chart from @vgr, and thinking that I see way too much of myself in the ‘dark’ column. “Fail to launch,” is me. Not in my personal or professional life, quite the opposite, really, but more from the position that I’ve never launched anything, despite all my idea. Lack of execution. I’ve got that @jason quote in my Twitter bio: starting is easy, finishing is hard,” and yet it’s hard for me to think of anything that I’ve actually shipped. Sure, I’ve finished lots of implementation projects for clients over the years, but when it comes to building something that people want to use and actually shipping it, I’ve failed miserably. Maybe that’s why I get such a fulfillment from getting Github commits on projects that I use, it’s my way of adding a little stamp to a project. I haven’t stuck around for anything though, I always move on to the next thing.

Maybe this writing will help change that. Maybe I can continue to hone my ideas and use this as a way to drive that habit home, focus my ideas and figure out what to leave behind so that I can finish something. I honestly don’t see how that happens unless I’m willing to make a drastic change. Between the job and the kids, something has to give. I’m doing too much. Maybe Twitter is the problem. I spend a lot of time there, but I justify it by saying that I’m getting a lot out of it. I think I know I’m lying to myself. Maybe it’s time for a reread of Atomic Habits and Digital Minimalism. Maybe it’s time for me to shut all that shit off until I work on my own project for x hours a day. I’ve been working on this recovery project for work for two days now, so it’s not like I don’t have the drive or ability. I think it’s just that the reward is so immediate. Ten hours at double the hourly rate, payable to Bossmang, to pay my salary for two and a half weeks. Meanwhile my personal net worth goes to the moon with every tick of a green candle.

This shit cannot continue.

New Year

I can’t believe that we’re already four days into 2020, and I haven’t written a thing since Dec 30th. That’s not a very good way to start the New Year, that’s for sure. My vacation is officially over, as hard as it was to go back to work today. I don’t have fuck you money yet, so I still have to call it in every day. We’re close though. Last time I wrote, BTC was at twenty-nine thou, and in the days since it almost topped thirty five, bounced back to twenty-seven, and is now already back almost to thirty three. Oh, and ETH is at eleven hundred dollars. So we’re looking really good. Just a simple 2x from here outta do it, promise.

New Years was fun. We bought thirty dollars worth of junk food and party favors from the Dollar Store, then tuned in a YouTube feed of a countdown clock to ring in the new year along with Germany, so that the kids could celebrate it here 6AM local time. Friday we drove up to Missus’s dad’s (FIL) house up at the ski resort. The weather was bad, so we didn’t plan on skiing, although we did gear up the kids and let them putter around by the ski lifts just to get acclimated and comfortable for about half a hour. We’ll come back up in a few weeks when they’ve got some fresh powder, the man went crazy and stocked up on skis and equipment, with close to two dozen pairs of skis and half as many boots. What can I say, the man does nothing half-assed.

FIL asked me “how was work”, and I unloaded on that one, I tell you. A load of shit that I deal with when I’m not doing the stuff that I really want to do. The same story I tell myself, that I’m just there to save up as much money as possible so I can quit in the next couple months and do something where I don’t have to deal with the same trivial-ass problems that are other people’s emergencies.

Missus warned me not to “talk about how rich we are” with him, which is ironic considering how the man throws his wealth around. I couldn’t hide it, I had thousand-dollar alerts setup on TradingView, I woke up Saturday morning to thirty thousand, thirty-one hit like an hour later and just kept going. I was in a bit of shock.

Then I found out my dad’s sister died unexpectedly. I’m not sure I even know how to start unpacking all that right now. We weren’t close; I had estranged from her some years ago due to some bad decision making on her part, and I don’t talk to the clan back home very often. I think it messed me up a bit, considering that my dad just got out of the hospital and I talked to my grandmother for the first time in a year the day before. I think I was mostly feeling selfish for the news interrupting what was otherwise supposed to be a relaxing getaway. I called my dad, sent text messages to my cousins and brother, but didn’t call anybody. Couldn’t be bothered to since I was away, and have kept finding excuses since I’ve been back. Last time someone in the family died was my grandfather, over twenty years ago, and it’s not like I can just pack up and drive eleven hours for a funeral in the midst of a pandemic. Everyone back home was trying to be so careful, avoiding Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings, and then she just drops dead on New Years Eve.

It seems almost absurd to go back to talking about my day and what the markets did and blah, blah, blah, following that, but life goes on. I meditated, shed a tear, then tried to get on with things as best I could for the rest of the trip. Leaving felt like a dream, I was having a bout of hyper-realism when we took off for the three hour drive. And back at the house today, trying to go back to my regular routine, like this is life, this is all there is.

I’d like to do an annual retrospective or review. What did I do well this year? What did I do badly? What do I hope to improve next year? That sort of thing. I’m not sure I have it in me to do that today. I know I increased my wealth by an staggering amount, even if most of it is in an account that I won’t touch for another twenty years, and the rest is something that I dare not sell until I’ve got the balls to do something radical like quit my job.

As if to drive the point home, last night I get a text message from someone. Ex-client, quit us two years ago cause our services were too steep. Is this el? Server down. Need help. I almost said nope, sorry, but didn’t. Bossmang still needs the business, and I still need the job, even if I would rather sit on unemployment for a few weeks, stacking sats and spending more time with the kids. So I took the call, and spent most of the day dealing with his emergency on top of everything else that happened while I was on vacation, trying to maintain my calm while all of that was going on and the kids were doing their best to destroy the house and make skunk-faces at me every time I asked them to do something.

Just another day in the life, I suppose.

Feats of Fools, Day 3

Twenty-nine thousand

So today was an interesting day. I had to pick up my dad from the hospital today, so he hung around the house with the kids until after lunch and I brought him back to his car so he could drive home. Technically, he wasn’t supposed to be operating a vehicle at all, but he’s stubborn.

Markets were on fire today, and I took the girls to the park for a couple hours while BTC was making new ATHs up at $29,300. I continued de-risking my ETHE position, and am just stockpiling the cash until I see what happens on Jan 4th. I may start scaling back in right away, it depends on what the volume looks like, I suppose.

I spoke to my friend, E., today. I oranged-pilled him earlier this month and he texted me late this afternoon about an account verification problem that he’s having with Gemini. After we discussed that I just started talking strategy with him. It’s amazing how quick he’s picking stuff up. Apparently he’s been watching all kind of YT videos, and he already has a sense of the difference between BTC and ETH. I tried to warn him about touching anything else in the meantime, until he knows what he’s doing, but he’s obviously been doing his homework. On top of that, he’s already onboarded several of his friends. I’m really impressed!

He’s literally spamming all his friends and family to open BlockFi accounts right now, and go all in 50/50 on ETH. I just need to get him on cryptotwitter and his conversion to the dark side will be complete.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete”

— Buckminster Fuller