Is it the right time to buy Bitcoin? For simplicity, I have always advocated the Bogleheads portfolio as the primary retirement plan you need. For schemes which Singaporeans are ‘forced into’, like CPF LIFE, we should also make the best of it. Where cryptocurrencies are concerned, you would have realised that I did mention owning some Bitcoin. In addition, I hold some alt-coins like Ether, Cardano, Ripple etc.
My Personal Bitcoin Journey
For perspective, I will first share my own journey with cryptocurrencies. In mid-2017, around the time before I discovered Bogleheads portfolios, I ‘invested’ (or gambled, on hindsight) S$20,000 into a combination of Bitcoin and some alt-coins. This was a disproportionately significant sum to gamble on, considering my lack of understanding of finances at the time.
Retail Fear-of-Missing-out (FOMO) Driving Prices
Looking back, it was a highly risky move that I would not recommend anyone. However, perhaps via some baseline level of common sense, I proceeded to sell 10% of my holdings every time the value of the cryptocurrencies doubled. Yes, volatility was wild and the upside was insane during the retail FOMO in 2017. Over time, I managed to halve my invested value to S$10,000 (selling 10% of holdings each time value doubled) while taking profits off the table systematically. By Dec 2017, my holdings had rocketed to around S$60,000 on a capital of S$10,000.
The Crypto Winter (2018 – 2020)
The euphoria of a 5-times profit from an outlay of S$10,000 was indescribable. No sooner after reaching crazy highs, the price of Bitcoin plummeted rapidly in days, while I was on holiday with my wife and friends in Korea. Much of my profits were wiped out within a month (although my principal was intact after having taken profits systematically). Bitcoin reached it’s lowest point of around $3,000 USD in Jan 2018.
This famed ‘crypto winter’ coined by cryptocurrency investors lasted more than 2 years till Mar 2020, when Bitcoin again dug lower to hellholes of S$3,000 USD. Throughout this time, I did not buy, nor sell any further Bitcoin (or any alt-coins). I was religiously sticking to my earlier strategy of only selling 10% of holdings every time prices double. Perhaps it was this stoic and clinical approach that stopped me from further wiping out gains by over-trading. It is also this methodical trait that makes Bogleheads portfolios suitable for people like me.
Getting a Crypto.com Visa Card
In Aug 2020, I spent $13,000 on Crypto.com Visa card, bringing my total invested amount from $10,000 to S$23,000 (because my fingers were itchy). It was my first injection of funds into cryptocurrencies in nearly 3 years. The amount was to buy a required number of CRO tokens (the native token of the Crypto.com Chain) as requirements for an Icy White Visa card.
The card gives you:
- 100% cashback on Netflix, Spotify and Amazon Prime Video subscriptions.
- 5% rebates on all card spend in CRO tokens (which you can trade for other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin etc).
- 2% PA bonus CRO tokens (on top of regular interest earned) for deposited cryptocurrencies in the Earn programme.
- Free access to airport lounges worldwide for you and one guest.
Accumulating Free Bitcoin Without Buying More (via Crypto.com’s Earn Programme)
I deposited a portion of my Bitcoin holdings (it is unwise to keep everything in one location) in the Earn programme, which nets me 8.5% PA (6.5% in Bitcoin + 2% in bonus CRO). The interest is paid weekly in units of Bitcoin (not fiat money), so the actual dollar value earn depends on the ever-changing price of Bitcoin. As of this writing, I earn around S$350 a month worth of Bitcoin doing virtually nothing. I do not sell the earnings, which means I am technically still accumulating Bitcoin although I’m no longer buying any.
Note: There are many tiers for the Crypto.com Visa card, each requiring different amounts of CRO to be staked. The staked CRO can be un-staked after 6 months (and sold if you wish). The value of CRO is not fixed, so obviously it is better to sell at a profit if you do not wish to use the enhanced benefits of the Visa card anymore.
Bitcoin Smashes All-Time Highs, and What this Means for my Bitcoin Plan
As things would have it, Bitcoin has since punched through all-time highs in late 2020. As of Feb 2021, my holdings are worth S$160,000 (7 times the invested value). Of course, we can never know when we would experience another crypto winter. One must always be mindful that for all investments (be it in stocks or crypto), all profits are just paper gains until you realise these profits.
Paper Gains Are Just Paper Gains if You Do Not Cash Out
Feeling euphoric at just numbers (paper gains) on your broker account or crypto exchange is pointless. Why do you invest in things in the first place? To grow your money. And why do you grow your money? So you can use your money to buy nice things, like eating nice food and experiencing nice things (hedonism at work). Until cryptocurrencies completely replace fiat money (e.g. Singapore dollars) for use in everyday life, your ‘dollar gains’ are just virtual numbers. Always know that things can go sideways very quickly.
Hence, it is always important to have a concrete plan for your Bitcoin. If you cannot answer when someone asks ‘when will you sell your holdings’, it means you don’t have a plan, and are just waiting for the next crypto winter.
Having a Properly-Integrated Plan for Cryptocurrencies
I now treat Bitcoin as a separate but integrated part of my overall investment portfolio (i.e. kept separate from my Bogleheads portfolio). My current target is 80% in my Bogleheads fund, and 20% in cryptocurrencies. As Bitcoin prices have been increasing rapidly, I am forcibly overweight in crypto, despite having stopped buying Bitcoin since 2017. I currently inject money only into my Bogleheads portfolio to bring this up to allocation.
As I have a long-term view of Bitcoin, my plan is not to sell until my Bogleheads fund reaches its target. Say my target for the Bogleheads fund is S$1,500,000; my Bitcoin target holdings will then be S$375,000 (20% of S$1,875,000). If you’ve read my posts on Bogleheads funds, you’d realise that this Bogleheads-Bitcoin ratio method is like a Bogleheads-within-Bogleheads system in itself (and you are right)! Assuming a Bogleheads target of S$1,500,000, my plan for Bitcoin would be to:
- Work towards an asset allocation of 80% Bogleheads to 20% Bitcoin.
- Do not buy anymore Bitcoin, unless value of holdings exceeds S$375,000. If that happens, sell some Bitcoin (down to S$375,000) and use profits to pump back into Bogleheads. Note that I am still accumulating Bitcoin without buying any (from Crypto.com Earn programme).
- If Bogleheads reaches S$1,500,000, and value of Bitcoin holdings is less than S$375,000, draw down from Bogleheads to top up Bitcoin holdings.
- Once Bogleheads and Bitcoin reaches targets, FIRE phase begins. Start drawing down for retirement while maintaining 80/20 allocations.
Should You Buy Bitcoin in 2021 and Beyond?
It is a mistake to look at current prices of assets (be it stocks or cryptocurrencies) to decide if you would like invest in something. Instead, you should buy if you think there are potential upsides. Likewise, a pennystock that costs $10 may seem cheap, but what’s the point of investing in it for the sole reason that it is cheap, if you do not think there are upsides?
Current Price Does Not Matter
People often ponder if Bitcoin prices are too high to get a slice of the pie (even at prices that are a mere fraction of all time highs). Prices of assets are irrelevant if you focus on whether you think the asset will appreciate. 18.5 million out of a maximum 21 Bitcoins have been mined as of 2021, and the last Bitcoin is expected to be mined sometime around 2140. It is a deflationary asset, and such assets usually become valuable as they become scarce. Hence, the question you need to ask yourself is whether you think Bitcoin will become more valuable in future. The answer for me is an overwhelming ‘yes’.
Above is a recent chat with a friend where he mentioned ‘price looks too high’ when it was $14,500 USD. The fact is, when you look at a chart of Bitcoin and zoom into more granular periods, price always ‘looks too high’ until you zoom out.
One Whole Bitcoin is Too Expensive to Buy Now
Most people also have a mental block when they look at price of ONE Bitcoin. ‘How can I afford a Bitcoin when it is so expensive now?’ is a common objection. The good thing about Bitcoin is that you can buy fractional units of it, even down to 0.00000001 Bitcoin. If you want to buy S$1,000 of Bitcoin, just head to Binance.com and indicate that you wish to buy that amount of Bitcoin. The exchange will sell you a fractional amount of Bitcoin.
Institutional Interest in Bitcoin Would Likely Drive Prices Further
Prices in 2017 were driven largely by retail FOMO. Since 2021 and beyond, we are starting to see increasing institutional interest, starting first with payment company Square buying USD $50 million of Bitcoin, and then MicroStrategy and Tesla each following suit to own billions in Bitcoin. In Singapore, DBS is also set to launch a full-service digital currency exchange, which is almost certain to increase local interest in Bitcoin and collectively drive worldwide prices.
In late 2020, ARK Invest, a private asset management company that founded the highly popular ARK Disruptive Innovation ETF did a price simulation on Bitcoin. The study suggested that Bitcoin could rise by USD $40,000 if all S&P500 companies allocate just 1% of their cash (not total assets) to Bitcoin.
Furthermore, prices could be impacted by between USD $200,000 to USD $500,000 at institutional allocations of between 2.55% – 6.55%. After Square, MicroStrategy and Tesla, we can expect more companies to follow suit.
How Much Bitcoin Should You Buy?
You can probably see the potential upside for Bitcoin in the mid to long term by now. As a comparatively ‘early adopter’ with a relatively low capital outlay (compared to current value), I have decided to allocate 20% of my total portfolio to cryptocurrencies (most of which is Bitcoin), with the remaining 80% in my traditional Bogleheads fund. As I have no plans to inject further fiat money into my cryptocurrency portfolio (which is currently overweight), I can now work toward lowering allocation to 20% first, before further deliberation.
For fresh Bitcoin investors looking to pad your portfolio with Bitcoin, I would suggest the following:
- Risk-taker = 15% – 20%
- Very optimistic about Bitcoin = 10% – 15%
- Conservative = 5% – 10%
- Dipping your toes a little = 1% – 5%
On my suggestion, my wife personally invested around S$2,000 into Bitcoin via Binance.com with plans to hold for the long term. She also transferred some Bitcoin to the Celsius Network to earn interest on her Bitcoin. Importantly, invest in Bitcoin for the long term (15 – 30 years), not for short-term punts.
At firesingapore.com, we are investors, not gamblers. While we do not want to be reckless, it is foolish to forgo an asset that has a high potential upside (as compared to potential downsides of losing your capital).
With a high risk-to-reward ratio, I would highly recommend holding at least 1% – 5% in Bitcoin as part of your retirement portfolio for the long term (can’t stress long term enough). If you can’t do this, and are planning to dump 90% of your money into Bitcoin for a short-term gamble, you are treading in dangerous waters (I suggest you read my post on Bogleheads funds)! All the best!
Look at Upsides, not Current Price When Deciding Whether to Buy Bitcoin
I leave you with a post I made on Facebook back in Sep 2017, where I suggested each person should own at least 1 Bitcoin (price was USD $4,400).
How to Buy Bitcoin
- Buy Bitcoin from Binance.com.
- Earn interest in Bitcoin via Celsius Network.
- Get Crypto.com Visa card from Crypto.com.
What is Bitcoin / Technical Information
- https://bitcoin.org/en (watch the video)
Acquisition of Bitcoin by Institutions
- MicroStrategy Announces Over $1B in Total Bitcoin Purchases in 2020
- Tesla Buys $1.5 Billion in Bitcoin
- Square buys $50 million in bitcoin, says cryptocurrency ‘aligns with company’s purpose’
- Ark Investment Study Suggests BTC Value Will Rise by $40,000 if All S&P 500 Companies ‘Allocate 1% of Their Cash to Bitcoin’
Note: Prices of cryptocurrencies are highly volatile. Depending on when you are reading this, the prices quoted above would have likely changed. For latest Bitcoin prices, visit the CoinMarketCap Bitcoin price chart.