By now, even your grandmother probably knows what a bitcoin is. If that's not a sign of something going mainstream, I don't know what is.
As a financial advisor, I've found it interesting these past months to talk about bitcoin in a professional setting. When I do, I always explain that, no matter how exciting the "crypto-hysteria" may seem, it is speculative. Ultimately, one must remember the intimate relationship between risk and reward. Ignore it, and you could find yourself disappointed or, even worse, broke.
Most of my clients don't know this, but I've personally owned bitcoin since 2014. My stash sits securely in my digital wallet, untouched since the day it was deposited there. Back then, I split the cost of a glorified computer — called a "miner" — with a childhood friend, and this machine generated us a finite amount of digital money. So long before your grandma knew what a bitcoin was, I've been riding this roller coaster.
However, I've been keeping mum about my position in bitcoin for two reasons. First and foremost, from both an advisory and compliance standpoint, this subject is under strict regulatory scrutiny; it's a bad look in either department to rant and rave about speculative trends. Second, I had not quite figured out how to use my bitcoin experience in a way that would be constructive for my clients. The last thing I'd want is for my story to unduly color their biases. But now, more than a few years in, I think I've extracted the lesson to share with them and everyone else.
From the beginning, I thought about our miner as form of entertainment — never as an investment. The cost of the machine was something I could afford, and I was excited to embark on another adventure with an old friend (who happens to be a neuroscientist with a knack for these things). I cut the check like I had just left an ATM in Vegas, prepared to hand over my money to either hit it big or crap out. I'd be lucky to come out on top, but most importantly, I never play with more money than I am willing to lose.