During my many hours of reading and watching videos, I started learning about the mechanics of bitcoin, how it was created during the mining process, and how the miners create a record of all transactions and store them in a unique database called a distributed ledger or blockchain (to learn more, check out our Free course: Intro to Bitcoin). I eventually started teaching accountants about bitcoin and taxes with all my growing knowledge. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
If you read parts 1,2, and 3, you would know that I purchased a used laptop for one whole bitcoin in 2015. After the laptop purchase experiment, I had about three bitcoins, and I held those three bitcoins all through 2016 and kept studying and researching.
It was becoming obvious that the software technology was the blockchain, with its protocol rules that allow it to function, and bitcoin was a by-product, an incentive to keep the whole thing running. It kind of reminds me of the game Monopoly. If players follow the rules of the game and are successful, they will earn monopoly money, which they can use to buy stuff. Similarly, if Bitcoin miners are successful at processing transactions according to the protocol rules, they will earn bitcoin which they can spend on stuff or trade it for other coins or dollars (or other fiat currencies) via exchanges. With my new found understanding of Bitcoin, I found myself exploring other blockchain projects.
Later in 2016 I kept hearing about a project called Ethereum. It seemed to be getting lots of attention. I remember thinking, what a strange name. I soon learned the blockchain (the software/protocol) was called Ethereum and the cryptocoin was called Ether. (With Bitcoin, the blockchain and the coin both have the same name.) My spiritual nature found the name of the Ether coin intriguing. Plus, the logo for Ethereum is very similar to an octahedron which I also found intriguing, due to my spiritual studies. My gut and intuition were saying pay attention to this one, but my head kept asking why?
Ethereum vs Bitcoin
What is Ethereum and how is it different from Bitcoin? At the time, the price of Ether was starting to move higher very quickly. I was still in research mode about the project and was beginning to feel rushed about deciding whether to buy some Ether or not. Fortunately, I decided to listen to my intuition and take the plunge, even though I didn’t really understand the potential of the Ethereum protocol. So, in December 2016 the crypto experiment expanded to include Ether coins and I started buying them when they were about $8 each.
I was feeling very proud of myself for following my instincts in 2016 and buying some Ether. I would have been happy to just hold on to the few I bought in December — if only the price had stayed put! Instead in 2017 the price kept gradually, steadily moving higher. It went from $8 in January to $11 in February to $20 in March. I didn’t know what to do! Should I buy more or not? Then I remembered the inner conversation I had with myself back in 2013. I was disappointed in myself for not choosing to get involved with bitcoin sooner. So, without really knowing if Ether was a good choice of cryptocurrency to own, I kept buying it.
By December 2017 my crypto holdings had ballooned in value roughly 10,000%!! My eyes were bulging, and my mind was having visions of grandeur! But soon after the grandiose rise, those same holdings fell at least 85% when the bubble burst in 2018. The exhilaration and discouragement of my bitcoin and ether experiments led me to pause and pursue additional avenues of learning and to connect with others. Obviously, there was much more for me to learn and there had to be some people I could meet that knew more about this stuff than I did. Speculating in cryptocurrencies was fun and exciting, but its not for the faint of heart. When prices are rising, it seems easy, but when they’re falling, it’s very scary.
Teaching Accountants about Bitcoin and Taxes
As I began sharing with my friends and colleagues about my knowledge and interest in crypto, I was invited by the Oregon Association of Tax Consultants to give a training on Bitcoin and Taxes. Later that year I also taught trainings on bitcoin and taxes at the Oregon Society of Tax Consultants. I was still on my own with my learning because I hadn’t yet met other crazy crypto folks.
I decided to take on this project and create a Bitcoin Basics training just for tax accountants. In the fall of 2017 I gave my 3-hour presentation to a very curious crowd of tax professionals. By the end of the presentation the group was lively, fully engaged with the topic and had great questions. I received lots of positive feedback and very high reviews. It was such a fulfilling experience I wondered how I might do more of the same. But first, I thought I needed to understand the tech better.
Life with Crypto Meetup
So, I looked for a local Meetup group to join so I could meet other people that knew more than I did about crypto. The nearest one I could find was a 2 hour drive away and they only met weeknights. So, I decided to start my own local Meetup in November 2017. Within a few months the membership grew to over 100 people. (Update: Since Covid I’ve discontinued the Meetup group). I met many interesting and smart people and even made some friends. One of those friends, Lada, and I started playing with the idea of teaching the masses about this revolutionary technology. We called ourselves the CRYPTOSISTERS. We originally met because she need help with bitcoin and taxes and her previous accountant wouldn’t work with her.
So, I proceeded to develop my growing desire to help others learn about crypto. After 8 months of visioning, discussing, and planning, I founded a social learning website called www.LIFEWITHCRYPTO.com— A place where everyday people learn, share, and grow with crypto.
All the Best!
Kelly Sunshawl Barrett, EA