Crypto Gold Rush: Should You HODL or Pass?

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The cryptocurrency market has experienced unprecedented growth since the inception of Bitcoin in 2009. Bitcoin’s remarkable journey from mere cents to thousands of dollars per coin has generated tales of financial triumph, enticing a wave of investors eager to replicate these legendary fortunes. However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.

Here’s a few things to consider before investing your hard-earned savings:


Investing In Cryptocurrency Is Complicated

Here are just some of the complexities and technical challenges you’ll face:

  • Security Concerns: Cryptocurrency investments require robust security measures to safeguard digital assets from theft or hacking. This includes using hardware wallets, multi-factor authentication, and ensuring that exchanges and wallets are secure. Not all platforms and exchanges use the same security standards. And holding your crypto in a so-called “cold storage” wallet puts all the security risk on you.
  • Private Key Management: Cryptocurrency holdings are secured by private keys. Managing these keys securely, ensuring backups, and preventing their loss or theft is crucial, but not necessarily easy or simple. Losing access to your private key can result in the permanent loss of your assets.
  • Volatility: Cryptocurrency markets are highly volatile, with prices that can fluctuate significantly in a short period. Investors must be prepared for rapid and unpredictable price movements. It’s not uncommon to experience wild price swings from day to day.
  • Lack of Regulation: The regulatory environment for cryptocurrencies varies widely from one country to another and is constantly evolving. Navigating this regulatory landscape can be challenging and may involve legal and tax complexities.
  • Technical Knowledge: Understanding the underlying blockchain technology and the technical aspects of cryptocurrencies is essential for informed investment decisions. Lack of technical knowledge can lead to mistakes or poor investment choices.
  • Market Fragmentation: There are thousands of different cryptocurrencies, each with its own features and use cases. Choosing which cryptocurrencies to invest in requires research and analysis.
  • Liquidity Issues: Liquidity can be a challenge, especially for smaller or less popular cryptocurrencies. Low liquidity can result in difficulty buying or selling your crypto at desired prices (or at all).
  • Taxation: The tax treatment of cryptocurrencies varies by jurisdiction and can be complex. Keeping accurate records of transactions and complying with tax regulations is crucial to avoid legal issues.
  • Regulatory Changes: Cryptocurrency regulations can change rapidly. New regulations may impact the legality or taxation of investments, requiring investors to stay informed and adapt to evolving rules.
  • Exchange Risk: Storing cryptocurrencies on exchanges exposes investors to counterparty risk. If an exchange is hacked or goes bankrupt, investors may lose their funds.
  • Smart Contracts and DeFi: Investing in decentralized finance (DeFi) projects and smart contracts introduces additional technical complexities. Understanding the code, security audits, and risks associated with these projects is essential.
  • Forks and Upgrades: Cryptocurrencies can undergo forks and network upgrades that may result in the creation of new coins or changes to the existing network. Investors need to stay informed about these developments and understand their implications. Some forks don’t work out too well for investors. A somewhat popular example of this is Bitcoin Cash.
  • Technical Analysis: Many cryptocurrency traders rely on technical analysis to make trading decisions. Learning to interpret and use technical analysis indicators effectively can be challenging.
  • Custodial vs. Non-Custodial: Choosing between custodial and non-custodial wallets and services can be a complex decision. Custodial wallets offer convenience but may sacrifice control and security.
  • Token Standards: Different blockchains may have various token standards (e.g., ERC-20, BEP-2, BEP-20) that dictate how tokens are created and managed. Understanding these standards is important when investing in tokens.
  • Scams and Fraud: The cryptocurrency space has been plagued by scams and fraudulent schemes. Investors must exercise caution and conduct due diligence to avoid falling victim to fraudulent projects or Ponzi schemes.

On that last one, one of the largest and most complex scams in the crypto space was FTX, founded by Sam Bankman-Fried. Investors in FTX awoke one day to the shocking realization that the company was essentially bankrupt, with $900 million in listed assets and $9 billion in reported liabilities. It was later discovered that Alameda Research——a company with close ties to FTX and also founded by Bankman-Fried—was allowed to borrow whatever capital it needed from FTX. And this capital was mostly comprised of customer deposits. 

Bankman-Fried was found to have been using customer funds to buy personal luxury items, finance elaborate advertising campaigns, and make political donations. On the surface, however, FTX looked like a legitimate exchange (up until it unraveled). No one really knew what was going on inside the company before the fraud was discovered.


A Few Benefits Of Investing In Crypto

  • Diversification: A compelling aspect of cryptocurrency investing is the opportunity for diversification. With a myriad of cryptocurrencies available, investors can spread their capital across various assets, potentially mitigating risks associated with individual tokens.
  • Profit Potential: The cryptocurrency market has earned a reputation for substantial profit potential. Numerous investors have witnessed their initial capital multiply several times over, elevating some early adopters to the coveted status of crypto millionaires. While past performance does not guarantee future profit, cryptocurrencies move fast enough that any individual could potentially become a millionaire or even multimillionaire overnight.
  • Active Trading Potential: Investors who embrace the world of cryptocurrency trading can leverage price fluctuations to their advantage. This approach requires a significant commitment of time, meticulous research, and a profound understanding of market trends.

HODLing Your Cryptocurrency

HODLing, a term derived from a typo in a Bitcoin forum that has come to symbolize holding onto digital assets for the long term, is another strategy within the cryptocurrency realm. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Long-Term Gains: HODLing involves acquiring cryptocurrencies and retaining them over an extended period, often with the belief in the long-term potential of assets like Bitcoin and Ethereum. This strategy has yielded significant returns for those who possess unwavering faith in the future of digital currencies.
  • Reduced Stress: In contrast to the frenetic pace of active trading, HODLing offers a haven of tranquility. Investors who adopt this approach are spared the emotional turmoil of daily price fluctuations and the pressures of making constant trading decisions.
  • Tax Benefits: Some jurisdictions offer tax advantages to individuals who hold onto their cryptocurrency investments for a specified period. These benefits can include lower capital gains taxes, providing an additional incentive for long-term HODLers.

Before You Decide…

Here are a few things to think about before you decide to risk your savings on cryptocurrencies:

  • Risk Tolerance: Assessing your risk tolerance is the first and foremost step in determining your cryptocurrency investment strategy. Cryptocurrencies are volatile, high-risk, investments. They are not suitable for conservative investors. The crypto markets are renowned for their extreme volatility, where prices can skyrocket to astronomical heights and plummet with astonishing speed.
  • Thorough Research: Regardless of whether you opt for active trading or HODLing, conducting comprehensive research is indispensable. Understanding the technology underpinning the cryptocurrencies you intend to invest in and staying well-informed about market developments is essential to making informed decisions.
  • Diversification: To shield yourself from the potential perils of market downturns, consider the prudent practice of diversification. Avoid placing all your faith in a single cryptocurrency; instead, distribute your investments across a spectrum of assets to cultivate a robust and resilient portfolio.
  • Seeking Professional Advice: If you find yourself at a crossroads, uncertain about which investment strategy to embrace, it may be wise to seek counsel from a financial advisor with expertise in cryptocurrencies. These professionals can offer tailored guidance, aligning your investment approach with your unique financial objectives and risk tolerance.


The cryptocurrency market is a realm fraught with uncertainties, regulatory challenges, and speculative fervor. While diversification, the potential for high returns, and technological innovation may be tantalizing, they are but glimmers of hope amidst the overarching risks. Even aggressive investors approach the crypto space with extreme caution, a clear understanding of the significant perils involved, and an unwavering commitment to conducting thorough research. Even then, investors can easily lose everything. The allure of financial independence may be intoxicating, and this is what keeps investors coming back for more… even when it may not be in their long-term best interest.


David has been a licensed life insurance agent since 2004. In addition to life insurance design and sales, he has also helped develop educational and marketing content for large financial firms like Allstate, New York Life, State Farm, AmTrust, and J.G. Wentworth. His articles and essays on life insurance and Human Life Value are currently taught at California State University (CSU) as part of its Expository Writing and Reading Course, and his articles on budgeting, life insurance, investing, and financial planning have been featured in online publications like ThinkAdvisorThe Huffington PostNuWire Investor, and RealClearMarkets. David is also the author of several short eBooks on budgeting and saving money, and the designer of the xFlow™ budgeting app and the xCalc™ suite of financial calculators.

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