In recent years, Bitcoin has become a hot topic. It has moved from the obscure world of cryptographers to the mainstream consciousness. Most everyone knows that Bitcoin is a digital currency, or cryptocurrency, that can be used to purchase various items. But there are still many questions surrounding Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. How do they work? What can you use them for? Are they a safe and worthy investment?
Bitcoin functions using blockchain technology. It was invented with the express purpose of creating Bitcoin by a mysterious figure called Satoshi Nakamoto. The pseudonym only appeared on a research paper in an obscure cryptography listserv and is shrouded in mystery. No one really knows who created Bitcoin. But the blockchain technology that powers the cryptocurrency is completely knowable.
Blockchain is a rather simple concept on the surface. A block refers to a record of new transactions. Once a block is completed, it is added to the chain. Resulting in a chain of blocks, or blockchain. The entire blockchain is encrypted, which prevents anyone from going back and changing entries. This means every purchase you make with Bitcoin is completely secure. Because Bitcoin is encrypted processing any transaction means solving complex math problems. People who complete these equations using a computer are rewarded with Bitcoin, in a process called mining. This is the only way the blockchain can be updated.
Additionally, there are no legal identities tied to Bitcoin transactions, only key numbers. So all of your purchases will be completely private as well. If you own Bitcoin, you really own a private key (or an incredibly complicated password) to its address on the blockchain. Using your key, you can spend currency. Each account has a public key too, which gives everyone the ability to send currency to your account. Information on the blockchain is also publicly accessible. It's completely decentralized so it doesn't rely on any one single computer or server to function.
In this way, blockchain technology functions as a public transaction ledger. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been seen as an alternative to traditional banking. No need to rely on a government or banking institution to verify your transfer. Blockchain eliminates the middle man.
But there are drawbacks to cryptocurrency. Its complete security and anonymity prevents you from recovering your currency if you somehow lose your private key. With no central regulator, it can be a volatile environment. Scams and market manipulation are fairly common. One big example is OneCoin, which was revealed as a Ponzi scheme rather than a new up and coming cryptocurrency. Because a blockchain is complex, encrypted, and distributed across many servers and computers, it can take several hours to finalize a transaction — compared to seconds with debit or credit cards. Not too convenient. Another drawback is that the current financial institutions aren't likely to support these new currencies. Banks earn healthy profits by being the middle man and governments are unlikely to accept Bitcoin payments for taxes. This means that cryptocurrencies aren't likely to become mainstream currencies any time soon.
But is it a useful investment? Bitcoin's value seems to only be rising. One positive of buying this cryptocurrency is that it has a predetermined supply amount. It is expected that around 2140, Bitcoin will reach its maximum limit of 21 million Bitcoins. And the Bitcoin protocol prevents excessive mining to keep the growth of the supply steady and constant. It seems that Bitcoin itself would be more stable in terms of inflation than government-backed currencies, which can be printed in excess or distributed less readily based on the whims of the current administration. However, not all cryptocurrencies function this way. There are plenty of alternatives out there, but Bitcoin has a head start on most of them for having been around for 9 years without too many issues.
If you're going to purchase cryptocurrency, Bitcoin is probably the best investment. The current value is much higher than other cryptocurrencies, but it has the most marketplaces and vendors available. Then again, perhaps a more niche coin will work better for your uses. But Bitcoin is practically ubiquitous and will likely only continue to rise in value. If you're looking to purchase some and hold on to it, Bitcoin is likely your best bet.
The National Financial Educators Council (NFEC) surveyed young adults in 2017 and asked them what high school level course would benefit their lives the most.
The majority responded that money management was the course that would be most beneficial.
With personal debt is at its highest record and COVID-19 threatening to have the hardest economic effects on youth, understanding money and finances is an important life lesson that should be taught to children at a young age.
The following is a list of the best financial literacy lessons and tips to teach children throughout different life stages.
I thought I had a pretty good handle on my finances out of school. I worked several jobs while attending university and had little to no problem managing my income. However, once I graduated, I realized how much more complicated personal accounting could really be.
There were so many variables I needed to keep track of. Biweekly bills, monthly charges, and general necessities amounted to a heap of confusing numbers that were often impossible to decipher. The funniest part was that I was actually trying to do this by hand (I don't know what I was trying to prove to myself, either).
After messing up for the 17th time, I decided to give Microsoft Excel a shot. I used Excel a bit in school and I knew all the big-wig finance people used it, so what could I possibly have to lose? The answer is about six hours of my precious time. Excel isn't much of an improvement over handwriting and it's still dependent on the user to manually input all of the information. It's like doing everything by hand with the slightest help, meaning that it still required a tremendous amount of time and concentration. Well that was all for nothing, I guess.
It's sort of funny. I was certain that I could manage my personal finances with ease, when it's practically a full-time job. I was already stressed out enough with my first job and I knew I didn't have enough time to give my finances the attention it deserved.
That's why I decided to try out a budgeting app. My best friend told me that he uses an app called Truebill to manage his finances. "What does it even mean to manage your finances?" I asked him. He told me that Truebill was the personal financial assistant I wished I could have. It could aggregate all of my account information into one place and give me specific insights and actions.
I loved the idea of having full control over my finances, especially during a time of financial uncertainty, and I realized that Truebill would be the easiest way to accomplish this. The user interface is incredibly simple and intuitive, so it doesn't even feel like a finance app! Truebill offers a multitude of features, with their most popular being the ability to cancel subscriptions with the press of a button.
Okay, I had no idea how many subscriptions I was still subscribed to. In fact, I wasn't even using a quarter of the subscription services I was signed up for. Subscription boxes, streaming services, my old gym, and even an old subscription to my favorite magazine--it was all there and I was livid. How could I let myself waste all of this money and how did I never catch this? Thank goodness for Truebill.
Truebill also offers bill negotiations. There is a 40% fee based on how much you save and Truebill even claims that there is an 85% chance that they'll be able to lower your bill once a negotiation is requested. Why wouldn't I take them up on this? There was zero risk and I would only have to pay once my bill was lowered (which means that I would be saving money regardless).
More standard features of Truebill include the ability to generate a credit report on-demand and even request a pay advance. I only used the pay advance feature once when I wanted to buy a gift for my mom, but didn't have enough cash in hand and Truebill automatically reimbursed itself when I got my next paycheck.
The credit report is another fantastic feature and practically taught me what good credit meant. Truebill's credit report basically shows you which financial decisions have the most significant impact on your credit score and ways that you can improve your credit month-over-month. I've never had such control over my credit and it feels good.
I'll be the first to admit that I was extremely naive coming out of school. I figured that as long as I was attentive, I could manage my finances with ease. We manage money to some extent throughout our entire lives, but once you're thrown out on your own, it's a completely different story. With Truebill, I've finally been able to take control over my finances and stay on top of all of my responsibilities.
My buddies and I always try to make it out to a game, but we never really care which one we end up at. Obviously we have our favorite sports and teams, but it was rarely about what game we went to or who we saw playing. It was about watching the game live.
In the early months of lockdown, all we had was Korean baseball, and trust me, we loved it. The only issue was, none of us had any idea what the commentators were saying. Even then, a few of my friends weren't huge fans of baseball. They were into sports like football and basketball, ones that moved at a quicker pace with less down-time in between plays.
We decided to see if there were any other events going down and came across horse racing. Yes, horse racing. It was perfect--short, fast-paced, and most importantly, an opportunity for betting.
I had never really considered watching a horse race any time other than the Belmont Stakes, but the prospects of the sport seemed exhilarating. Even better, with horse racing we knew we could still recreate the atmosphere of a race track. Salty snacks? Check. Stale beer? Check. A simple and easy way to bet? Check.
One quick Google search later, we came across TVG, powered by FanDuel. It's an online betting platform that takes you right to the heart of the action. We were a little apprehensive about using a mobile app to place our bets, but TVG's ability to bet on live horse races from all over the world was too good to pass up.
Here are 5 reasons why we are obsessed with horse racing thanks to TVG:
1. Betting has never been easier
Use your phone or computer to watch and bet on live horse races in real-time. TVG offers a bunch of features to make betting even simpler--live odds and handicapping tips leverage recent learnings to help you make your best bet. Not to mention, TVG's exclusive race content and wagering guide offers an under-the-hood look into the strategy behind horse race betting.
2. The biggest selection of horse races out there
If you're looking to drop a little dough on a horse race, chances are your best option is your local race track. But watching the same few horses races over and over again isn't the most exciting thing. With TVG you have access to over 150 tracks worldwide with races happening consistently throughout the day.
3. Get a generous sign-up offer when you place your first bet
Once you register your account, you will be eligible for a $200 risk-free bet. All you have to do is place your first bet and you're covered. If you happen to lose, TVG will insure you for up to $200 as a sort of wagering credit. I may have been a little trigger happy when placing my first bet, so having this insurance was a great perk. There are also a bunch of promotional offers available year-round.
4. Making deposits and cashing out at the touch of button
With a ton of payment options such as PayPal, BetCash, debit/credit, wire transfers, and other third-party services, making a deposit is a breeze. But what about the payout? Depending on your deposit method, your withdrawal will be available in a few days. No more waiting in-line to collect your winnings!
5. Watching live races with your friends while betting is exhilarating
Even when we were watching Korean baseball, Zoom calls with my friends were a little dull.
With TVG, we haven't had this sort of fun in months! Every weekend we'll turn on a race and throw our bets in. After a few races, and quite a few drinks, we'll tally up our winnings to see who won the most! Sometimes it's not even about making money, but just having a good time.
TVG is the perfect way to add a little excitement to an otherwise mundane afternoon. It introduced me to the world of horse racing, a sport I never would have considered otherwise.
The races just keep ramping up and thanks to TVG, I can always get in on the fun.