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Can You Actually Live Off Crypto? The Pros and Cons of Going ‘Full Crypto’

It was around July 2020 and the federal reserve money printer was in full brrrrrrr mode. In other words, the United States was in the middle of printing trillions of dollars to bail out the recently shut down economy.

Having been exposed to the concept of bitcoin and its absolutely static supply for five years at this point, it was obvious to my wife, Mrugakshee, and I that this sort of expansion of the money supply was going to have an inflationary effect on the economy.

The USD along with the majority of global fiat currencies were being debased, and we wanted to opt out of it. So we decided to try living entirely off of cryptocurrency. We decided to Go Full Crypto. This meant two things for us.

  1. Use as few banking services, and as many crypto services as possible
  2. Convert all of our personal and business’ fiat money into bitcoin

Here’s how it went.

Can you actually use Bitcoin in the real-world?

The Full Crypto Lifestyle

Opting out of inflation was one thing, but figuring out how we could run our finances with as little interaction with banks was also important to us. Fortunately for us, some of the best built tools and services were coming online in 2020/2021. We figured that in order to make this lifestyle work for us,  we needed a way to spend cryptocurrency and a way to borrow against our existing holdings.

Spending Cryptocurrency with ShakePay and

The first service that allowed us to spend cryptocurrency somewhat directly was The second was ShakePay, a popular Canadian Bitcoin exchange for beginners. The nuance here is that neither exchange lets you actually spend Bitcoin. Users are still spending the Canadian dollar. However, the integrated application, exchange, and Visa debit cards allowed us to easily transfer crypto to their platform, sell it for CAD, load it onto our card, and spend it anywhere in the world that accepted Visa. You could use a similar method with the Gemini Mastercard or BlockFi Visa.

Aside from online purchases, and despite us asking merchants if they accept cryptocurrency, no brick and mortar stores accepted cryptocurrency directly. The only exception is when we went to El Salvador and spent BTC over the lightning network to purchase food and wine.

Spending Bitcoin in El Salvador

It seems like we were not the only ones with the idea to Go Full Crypto, or go full “Bitcoin” rather. In 2021, El Salvador became the first country in the world to make Bitcoin legal tender within their borders. This was something that we had to see and experience for ourselves. After all, Bitcoin is the OG cryptocurrency, hailed with the use case of being peer to peer electronic cash.

If there is a model for spending bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, it was happening in El Salvador. Sure enough, we were able to buy food and wine over the lightning network. The local McDonalds even accepted Bitcoin. Even though most of the people and stores in the country still don’t accept Bitcoin at the point of sale (in our experience), I think that it’s a bold and courageous step in the right direction.

Saving in Cryptocurrency

Spending aside, the main way that Mrugakshee and I use cryptocurrency is as a savings tool. With bitcoin as the primary asset of our savings, we feel well-prepared to take on the future.

We like to save in bitcoin because there is a fixed number of them (21 million). This means calculating our net worth is as simple as counting the amount of bitcoin we have and dividing it by 21,000,000. We like using bitcoin as our unit of account because we know that no matter what, no one can dilute or inflate away our savings.

Now I should caveat this by saying the cryptocurrency is obviously quite volatile in the short term. For example Bitcoin is down roughly 65% on the year (at the time this article was published). Keep in mind, however, that it’s still up tremendously based on where it was trading five years ago.

Living on a Bitcoin Standard

Now, in late 2022, I would say that Mrugakshee and I have come full circle with respect to our decision to Go Full Crypto. We bought low, sold high, but mostly HODLed our stacks. We dabbled in other cryptocurrencies, but down deep, we’re diehard Bitcoiners.

Through the turbulence of bull and bear markets, it has been the currency that has given us the most freedom, optionality, stability, and robustness.

Addressing Volatility

Despite the volatility of Bitcoin, it is still the least volatile cryptocurrency on the market, even outcompeting a good handful of fiat currencies. It is for this reason that we decided to convert our personal and business’ cash reserves into Bitcoin.

I realize that Bitcoin as an inflation hedge depends on when you got in. Over time, I’ve come to encourage newcoiners to take as much of a long term perspective as possible. If you’re focusing on the day-to-day, week-to-week, or month-to-month then it’s likely difficult to see Bitcoin’s inflation hedging powers in action. When in doubt, zoom out!

It’s helpful to remind oneself that Bitcoin is just over a decade old, with around 5% of the total population of the planet using it. Bitcoin will take time to grow, stabilize and become the preferred world currency we all want it to be.

The Benefits of Crypto Payments

Having our business on a Bitcoin Standard allowed us to more easily pay our international contractors. Having them be able to accept payment in Bitcoin meant that both us and them saved time and money.

We used an invoicing software called Zaprite that converted our fiat into a BTC amount at the time that the invoice would be paid. Then we both received a notification as soon as the bitcoin transaction was included in a block. From a business and accounting perspective, transferring money internationally became very simple and efficient in terms of time and cost. Remember, in business, time is money.

Closing Thoughts on Living Off Crypto

The faster that our respective countries devalue, debase, and inflate the supply of our currencies, the greater the value proposition for cryptocurrencies. Already we’re seeing incredible adoption rates around the world (such as 24% adoption rate in Nigeria, 20% in Turkey 12.7% in Venezuela). It would seem that the more corrupt the central bank, and the poorer the fiat currency, the higher the adoption rate is within the country.

Mrugakshee and I took on this experiment to try and pave the way for those who will come after us. Our conclusion; the world is not quite ready for full-blown adoption, but we’re close. Hopefully we’ve figured out some nuances to living off crypto so the rest of you don’t have to.

We have talked about our journey on our podcast Go Full Crypto. Give it a listen to tune into our adventures learning to live on crypto, as well as stories from other notable figures like Mike Peterson from Bitcoin Beach, Isaiah Jackson – author of Bitcoin and Black America, and learning financial literacy from long time bitcoiner Brad Mills.

Helpful Tips for Going Full Crypto

So with the two primary use cases discussed (spending and saving), let’s go over some tips and tricks we learned along the way.

  • Don’t keep all of your eggs in one basket. Use a mix of trusted exchanges and hardware wallets. Keep more than 50% of your funds offline and in a cold storage wallet. Doing this will help you get familiar with transferring funds, using wallets, and getting acquainted with multiple kinds of exchanges. In essence, you’ll gain a lot of “crypto literacy” and security by using more wallets and services.
  • Yield is usually not worth the risk. In order to earn 5-10% per year on your crypto assets, it usually means parting with your private keys in one way or another. Take a long term perspective and consider whether the yield you’re making is worth the risk of a total loss.
  • Don’t forget about Bitcoin. Since getting involved in cryptocurrencies in 2015, I’ve come to realize that there is Bitcoin, then there is everything else. I have nothing against other cryptocurrencies, but I’ve come to the conclusion that to disregard bitcoin would be a very big mistake.
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About the Author

Keegan Francis

Keegan Francis is a cryptocurrency knowledge expert and consultant. He recognized the opportunity in cryptocurrency early in his career and has been invested in it since 2014. His passion led him to start the Go Full Crypto, a project that documents his journey of totally opting out of traditional financial services. Keegan has been living entirely off of cryptocurrencies since 2019.

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