Gemini API FAQs: Troubleshooting The Best Bitcoin DCA Strategy

Table of Contents*

*Nothing I post is financial advice

♊️ Sign Up for Gemini and get $10 of BTC when you Trade $100: https://gemini.com/share/ZVG91T

​🎥 Original Video Tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6r1h3am6kA


📉 Does it Work With ETH, LINK, LTC etc? 📉

Yes! Check out the symbols and minimums section of the Gemini API.

You’ll see below that not only do you need to update the symbol from btcusd to ethusd (for Ethereum) but you also need to update the tick size. The tick size for BTC is 8 the tick size for ETH is 6 etc. Updating this tick size allows us to get more accurate rounding in the price variable.

🇪🇺 Does it Work With Euros and Pounds? 🇪🇺

Yes! Similarly to the last answer, just check the symbols and minimums section of the Gemini API. You’ll see below that there are codes for USD 🇺🇸 EUR 🇪🇺 GBP 🇬🇧 and SGD 🇸🇬

Just replace btcusd in the code with your desired currency pair.

💰 How Do I Fix Insufficient Funds Error 💰

You’ll get this error if you don’t have enough currency in your account to make the trade. If the symbol you are trading is btcusd, you’ll need USD to execute the trade. Similarly, if you’re trading ethbtc you’ll be writing in the script how much BTC of ETH you want to buy (a little confusing). You can check to see how much of each currency you have in the Account balances and history tab of your Gemini account (Account in the top right -> Balances)

Account Balances and History

It should look something like that ^^ and should show you any holds that are being placed on your account by active trades or other situations that would lower your “Available to trade” balance.

🔑 How Do I Fix Invalid Signature Error 🔑

Invalid Signature Error

A few people have run into this error and it has been solved every time by generating new API Keys and readding them to your Lambda Function in AWS.

❓What is in Layer.zip?❓

Layer.zip contains the gemini-python and google sheets Python packages that I leveraged to write the scripts. We need this code to be hosted in AWS to run the code correctly.

I generated Layer.zip using my local python environment and Docker. If you’d like to generate your own layer.zip I was able to follow this great tutorial and (with 0 prior Docker experience) generate a working Layer.zip.

💻 Can You Implement This Locally Without AWS? 💻

Yes you can! Here’s a video of me implementing the script on iOS using Pyto and Siri Shortcuts:

The first recorded video of a human buying Bitcoin with a HomePod

Of course you can implement for free with your own Python environment on your Mac/PC. You’ll just need to pip install gemini-python and pip install gspread (if you want the spreadsheet functionality) to get the necessary code packages (you don’t need to do this in the AWS version because all those dependencies are packaged in Layer.zip)

🏷 Can I Set the Limit Price to $X 🏷

Yes! The script in the Siri Shortcuts video works by letting you set your own limit price. If you want to manipulate the code from Notion, you’ll just need to update the price variable from:

price = str(round(float(trader.get_ticker(“BTCUSD”)[‘ask’])*.999,2))

to

price = “30000”

In this example, we’re making a limit order where the limit price is $30,000. This has the benefit that your order will fill only when the price falls to $30,000 giving you a better execution price. But comes with the downside that if the price never falls to $30,000 your order will never fill.

The current line: price = str(round(float(trader.get_ticker(“BTCUSD”)[‘ask’])*.999,2))

Is taking the current spot price of Bitcoin (“BTCUSD”)[‘ask’] and setting the price of your order to .999 * current spot price (ie. if Bitcoin is trading at $35,000 your limit order will be made for $34,965). You can change that .999 factor to any other number you’d like if you want to try to get Bitcoin at a lower price.

Comment thread on what happens if you set the factor too low

Above is a comment thread answering the popular question: can I set the factor to be 0.9 / 0.85 / something lower than 0.999

In short, the answer is yes and usually you’ll be fine. When BTC (or whatever currency you’re trading) rips up and doesn’t come back down though you’ll end up with lots of orders on the book over a long period of time.

🤖 How Do I Automatically Deposit Funds to Gemini? 🤖

Unfortunately, I haven’t found a way to do this yet. Ally Bank, Schwab, and Capital One all refused to do recurring deposits to my Gemini account and there is no functionality in the current Gemini API to automate deposits.

If you find a bank that allows creating recurring deposits to Gemini please send me an email at rhett@rhett.blog and I’ll give you credit (and love you forever).

I’ll update this thread (and probably make a video) if/when I figure that out.

As of now, this is the missing piece that would make the strategy fully automated.

My current strategy is to make one large deposit each month to cover all my monthly DCA.

🙈 How Do I See My Order? 🙈

Go to Account -> Settings -> Account and select ActiveTrader as your Trading Interface.

Account -> Settings -> Account

Your open orders should show at the bottom left of your trading interface

Total shown is exclusive of fees

💸 How Do I Confirm The Fees I Paid? 💸

You should be getting an email to the email associated with your Gemini account every time an order fills that looks like this:

Email showing fees

If not, go into Gemini -> Account -> Settings -> Notifications and make sure “Your limit order is complete” is selected.

Notifications

If you still aren’t getting the emails, check your spam filter.

🏦 Why Aren’t My Withdrawals Processing? 🏦

If your withdrawals aren’t processing, first confirm that you’ve whitelisted the address that you’re trying to send to.

You can check this by going to Gemini -> Account -> Settings -> Approved Addresses

You’ll see your withdrawal addresses where that giant black box is

Additionally, when you try to make a withdrawal you’ll want to confirm that the funds you’re expecting to withdraw have settled.

Available for withdrawal under the bell icon in the top right of the trading UI

By default the script will try to withdrawal the full amount of BTC/ETH that is “available for withdrawal”

If you deposited via ACH your funds will take ~7 days to settle within Gemini. Only after the funds have settled will they be considered to be available for withdrawal.

📧 Why Won’t Gemini Support Won’t Email Me Back? 📧

Contrary to what some people might think, I actually don’t work in Gemini support. I have heard though from quite a few people that Gemini’s email support is horrible. This mostly seems to be around account verification.

To avoid this problem I would suggest fully verifying your account before trading on the platform (I agree that this is not a great solution).

If you are already stuck in Gemini email support hell, I received feedback from one commenter who successfully escaped Gemini email support hell that sending a kind email explaining your situation and what you need to get unstuck helped a lot. Sometimes we have to check our egos to get what we want 😃

If this doesn’t work, I don’t really know what to tell you sorry! 😔

🧠 Final Thoughts 🧠

Feel free to DM me on Twitter if you have any questions not covered here. This has been a really fun project and a ton of people have sent me screenshots of them getting this to work and saving a ton of $$$ on fees, so if you get stuck don’t despair! This is definitely doable, even with limited / no technical expertise.

If you can manage to avoid the dreaded Gemini email support system, this is still the lowest fee way to buy Bitcoin.

Onward and upward!

Rhett

Book Review | The Bitcoin Standard by Saifedean Ammous

Get The Bitcoin Standard Free with Audible Premium Plus

The Bitcoin Standard is Saifedean Ammous’s Bitcoin thesis. What makes the book great is that it doesn’t start from Bitcoin and draw conclusions about sound money but, rather, Saifedean reasons from first principles and comes to Bitcoin as the conclusion.

There are a few great takeaways from this book:

1) Low Time Preference

Keeping low time preference is what allows society to exist. Understanding that I (an individual) don’t have to constantly be farming and hunting my food allows me to specialize on other tasks. Which allows the individual to provide disproportionate value to society.

If Steve Jobs spent his whole life hunting food we’d all be a lot worse off.

2) Austrian vs Keynesian Economics

Saifedean dedicates part of this book to his hatred for Keynesian economics. I don’t feel as strongly and don’t know enough but he makes interesting points about how inflationary currency drives high time preference behavior which cheapens culture, art, and society.

This positions Bitcoin as the exit ramp from Keynesian economics. If you have ever wanted to play pure Austrian economics – Bitcoin forces its adopters to play by these rules. It is interesting to view Bitcoin this way – an environment to see how a programatic version of Austrian economics would play out where no central government or authority can change the rules.

I think reading this in tandem with The Deficit Myth by Stephanie Kelton will give you a cursory understanding of the differences between Austrian and Keynesian economics.

3) Bitcoin as Digital Gold

Bitcoin is shown to have all the same properties (durability, portability, divisibility, recognizability, scarcity) that make gold sound money – but with Bitcoin those properties are on steroids. Bitcoin can’t be destroyed, it is much more portable than gold, it is infinitely divisible, it costs much less to verify that what you have is in fact Bitcoin, and as of 2024 Bitcoin will have a higher stock to flow ratio than Gold.

These properties of hard money are important because it stops foreigners (with harder money) from cheaply producing our money and then coming in and buying our country (as happened in Africa when they were using beads as money, and in India and China who were on the silver standard in a world with other nations on the gold standard).

The countries with easy to produce money were easily taken advantage of economically by countries with hard to produce money (this advantage didn’t stop governments with hard to produce money from getting addicted to stimulus – which will forever be politically convenient). In Rome they would lower the % of gold in a coin and today, JPow adds some extra 0’s at the end of a government database.

All of this ties together to present Bitcoin as the digital version of gold that promises to either:

reform the financial system that has been interfered with by governments and Keynesians (however you feel about them aside)

OR

create an entirely separate monetary system where we can see, in real time, whether the tenants of Austrian economics or Keynesian economics are more valuable (based on real market cap figures).

Looking at the USD/BTC chart, it doesn’t look great for the dollar.

How I Automate My Bitcoin Purchases and Track Profits

Table of Contents

Background

I (like many others) started buying Bitcoin in 2017.

I was buying monthly – in 2017 almost every month included a huge price movement culminating in a $19,000 high in December.

The media noise Bitcoin made every month made it really easy to remember to make my monthly purchase.

As 2018 came around, the speculative bubble popped and the price crashed down to $3,000.

From then on it became incredibly difficult for me to remember to buy monthly because no one was talking about Bitcoin.

That led to me making few investments into Bitcoin in 2018 and missing out on a major opportunity for profit.

Around August 2019 (fueled by the hype of reading Ben Mezrich’s book Bitcoin Billionaires) I finally got serious and automated my Bitcoin purchases with a Python script and Coinbase Pro’s API.

I connected this to my Google Sheet (The Definitive Bitcoin Spreadsheet) that tracks the value of my Bitcoin purchases over time.

I’ve found this spreadsheet to be addictive to look at, but keeping the data in a spreadsheet gives me greater control than any of these silly stock ticker / wallet apps and gives me an ad-free experience.

I hope this article will be user friendly enough that you’ll be able set up the same system quickly and easily.

How to Install Python

Below is a guide to installing Python on Windows/Mac/Linux:

https://docs.python-guide.org/starting/installation/

Alternatively: If you have a Mac you can install Python3 using Homebrew detailed instructions here

Now that we’ve installed Python it’s time to get a Coinbase account.

Coinbase Pro API

To sign up for Coinbase Pro you’ll need proof of ID, name, email address, phone number and some other info depending on your region.

Full instructions to sign up for Coinbase Pro are here

Once you’ve signed up for Coinbase Pro, you can activate your API.

Click API under your User Name in the top right
Click +New API Key and record your Passphrase

Under Permissions I’ve Selected View Transfer and Trade because:

If you want your Python script to automatically dump the trade details into your Google Sheet you’ll need to check the View box

If you want your Python script to automate withdraws + deposits you’ll need to check the Transfer box

If you want your Python script to automate purchases you’ll need to check the Trade box

Record your API Passphrase (ray0ddnl6j in the screenshot) in a text file, we’ll need that for our Python Script to access your Coinbase information.

*** It is important not to share your API passphrase / secret / key with anyone you don’t trust and consider setting up 2 Factor Authentication to further protect your Coinbase Pro account.***

***The API credentials in these screenshots are just demonstrations of what yours might look like.***

Record your API Secret
HIghlighted Under Default Portfolio above nickname will be your API Key

That’s all we need from Coinbase so let’s move on to creating the Python script!

Python Scripting

Before we get started you’ll need to install the gspread and cbpro Python libraries. You can do this from the terminal on Mac with ‘pip install gspread’ and ‘pip install cbpro’

Below is the code you’ll use to automate your bank transfers, purchase Bitcoin, and dump the information into your Google Sheet.

import gspread
from oauth2client.service_account import ServiceAccountCredentials
from datetime import date
import calendar
import cbpro

my_key = 'YOUR API KEY'
my_secret = 'YOUR API SECRET'
my_password = 'YOUR API PASSWORD'
bank_id = 'YOUR BANK ID'

#Populate Transaction Data to Add as New Row in GSheet
def _addTransaction(transaction):
transaction_date = str(transaction['created_at'][0:10])
transaction_id = transaction['trade_id']
provider = "Coinbase Pro"
quantity = float(transaction['size'])
btc_price = float(transaction['price'])
fee = float(transaction['fee'])
usd_amount = float(transaction['usd_volume']) + float(fee)
return [transaction_date, transaction_id, provider, quantity, btc_price, usd_amount, fee]

#Access your GSheet
def _authenticateSpreadsheet():
#Set up access to the spreadsheet
scope = ["https://spreadsheets.google.com/feeds",
'https://www.googleapis.com/auth/spreadsheets',
"https://www.googleapis.com/auth/drive.file",
"https://www.googleapis.com/auth/drive"]
creds = ServiceAccountCredentials.from_json_keyfile_name("Sheets_creds.json", scope)
client = gspread.authorize(creds)
return client.open("The Definitive Bitcoin Sheet").worksheet("BTC Buy Audit File")

def buyAndPopulateBTC(cb_key, cb_secret, cb_password, bank_id):
buy_size = 0
days_in_month = calendar.monthrange(date.today().year,date.today().month)[1]
auth_client = cbpro.AuthenticatedClient(cb_key, cb_secret, cb_password)

#Buy
auth_client.place_market_order('BTC-USD','buy',funds=buy_size)

#Deposit if Necessary
if date.today().day == 15: deposit = auth_client.deposit(buy_size*days_in_month, 'USD', bank_id)

#Open the correct spreadsheet + worksheet
audit_file = _authenticateSpreadsheet() btc_fills = list(auth_client.get_fills(product_id="BTC-USD"))

#Get last transaction ID added to worksheet and get a range of days to pull in
last_transaction = audit_file.get_all_records()[-1]['Transaction ID']

#Reverse btc_fills to get dates into Sheets in descending order
for transaction in btc_fills[::-1]:
if transaction['trade_id'] > last_transaction:
cbpro_row = _addTransaction(transaction)
audit_file.append_row(cbpro_row, value_input_option="USER_ENTERED")

buyAndPopulateBTC(my_key, my_secret, my_password, bank_id)

As it is written, the code above will buy 0 dollars of bitcoin, deposit 0*number of days in the month (October has 31) dollars into your Coinbase account on the 15th of every month, and record the transaction to your Google Sheet Named “The Definitive Bitcoin Sheet” in worksheet “BTC Buy Audit File”.

However, it won’t work as written. You’ll need to fill out your relevant information (API keys + amounts you want to buy + bank info).

You’ll also need to authorize gspread with Google and get a json keyfile (mine is called Sheets_creds.json in the code above)

It will look something like this:

{
"type":"dafdsfa",
"project_id":"dfjaklsdjf;s",
"private_key_id":"12836580173894dfkalsjdflkdjaslkf",
"client_email":"dflkjkl.jdasklfj.djaslkfjkl.com",
"client_id":"3217493278195",
"auth_uri":"www.ldsajfkldsjflkasjdlf",
"token_uri":"ww.wjlfkdjaflsjdlf",
"auth_provider_x_cert_url":"fjdalkjfklsdalfj"
"client_x_cert_url":"3fsdafdsaf324sa"
}

*** Don’t share your credentials with anyone ***

Keep that credentials file in the same directory as your Python script and reference it correctly in the _authenticateSpreadsheet() method.

If you’re stuck, here’s the tutorial I used to get the Google Sheets part working:

Here is a link to the public version of the spreadsheet I built to track transaction data. If you come up with a different format you’ll want to update the _addTransaction method in the Python script so the data comes over cleanly.

Automation: AWS

At this point in the process I was a little out of my depth.

For a while I just woke up everyday and ran the script from my computer.

That got old fast.

I wanted something that would run the script even if I didn’t have access to my computer (if I’m on vacation I still want to be buying Bitcoin)

Luckily I found this great article by Eric Landstein detailing how to automate Python scripts from a Lightsail Ubuntu instance on AWS.

Link to that article here

You can get your code from your machine to the AWS Ubuntu machine using GitHub or any other version control software.

Alternatively, there are probably other ways to automate this Python script. If you Bing “Automate Python Script” you’ll find plenty of resources.

Resources and Considerations

Be careful running the script – once you set it up correctly if you have a few too many 0’s in the buy size you’ll run out of money.

The buy_size in the script above is set to $0 so you can test. If you’re extra paranoid you can comment that line out or test with an API (key/secret/password) that doesn’t allow trading.

Below are some developer resources that were helpful to me when getting this up and running.

If there are any questions feel free to leave them below, email me at rhett@rhett.blog, or tweet at me @rhettre

See you on the moon,

Rhett

Python CBPro Documentation (Helpful for finding out your Bank ID and other misc data if you want to do something different with your script)

Python GSpread Documentation (Helpful if you have a different spreadsheet layout you want to use)

Cron Timing Calculator (Helpful for getting the Ubuntu cron timing right on AWS)

Book Review | Superforecasting by Philip Tetlock

This book is about prediction and “Superforecasters” – people who are better at forecasting than better than above average forecasters.

Turns out the biggest thing preventing you from becoming a Superforecaster is not your inability to do high school math, but rather your inability to let go of closely held beliefs.

People who are emotionally attached to their beliefs see things through a skewed lens (as we all do) but are then unable to course correct their predictions in light of new evidence.

And it turns out this frequent incremental updating is one of the key skills Superforecasters look to cultivate.

Superforecasting by Philip E. Tetlock

A Case Study – Me (not a Superforecaster):

This book confirmed three of my deeply held beliefs.

The first is that the national media is corrupt and evil. I’ve cultivated this belief by reading countless books on the subject, good luck changing my mind now.

Especially after this book revealed new information to me: the media actively avoids putting % chance predictions on vague assertions they make.

They use language like “a fair chance of…” or “more than likely” or “almost certainly” to justify whatever they’ve said afterwards no matter what happens – this allows them to get away with repeatedly overstating/understating the importance of issues to the public.

Showing a correct prediction % next to national news pundits while they’re speaking would be great (but they’ll never agree that because they’re pure evil).

The second is that decentralized command is an important leadership principle (Thanks Jocko)

The third is that all scientific knowledge is tentative.

Please recognize the massive risk I am taking for saying this in public.

There is a very long line of angry people (who didn’t do very well in high school science, consume a lot of IYI media in adulthood, and all of a sudden became scientists in the last 7 months) queuing up to give my advertisers a piece of their mind.

The worst part of this book is that Tetlock questions the infinite wisdom of Nassim Taleb.

It is difficult for me to contend with the idea that the Black Swan theory is overly complex (aren’t all events somewhat predictable beforehand?) while also deeply wanting to pay $3000 to attend his RWRI conference (with hopes that attending a week long lecture taught by people so smart I can’t understand them will undo the years of binge drinking and return me to the intellectual apex of society making me as smart and self righteous as I was in high school where I intellectually badgered the C student coronavirus experts who seek to cancel me).

If anyone wants to start a low stakes gambling ring on Predictit hmu

Book was good. Little too long (aren’t they all)

Quora Question | If Jeff Bezos is so rich, why does Amazon have such a low pay and poor conditions?

Because Jeff Bezos is uniquely evil and this is how capitalism inevitably ends up!

Or at least that’s what some of these other answers would have you believe.

The bottom line is, Amazon’s “low pay” and “poor conditions” are exaggerated.

Some jobs have lower salaries than other jobs because more people are capable of doing them.

Some Amazon jobs pay only $15 an hour, but the benefits packages are generous relative to other $15 an hour jobs.

Additionally, something like 90% of Jeff Bezos’s net worth is tied up in Amazon stock (that he likely doesn’t want to sell as it would tank the stock price and could put his position as majority shareholder in jeopardy).

That’s not to say that he’s broke, but when we see all these headlines that he has 200 billion dollars – it doesn’t mean he has 200 billion dollars of cash.

Reading Shoe Dog by Phil Knight (founder of Nike) gave me an interesting perspective. Phil Knight wanted to pay shoe manufacturers in other countries (let’s use Thailand as the example) an American living wage.

If Phil Knight paid the factory workers in Thailand $20 an hour, it would be more money than doctors received in Thailand. Phil Knight deciding to raise wages would have turned the whole economy of Thailand upside down.

Why go to medical school if you could make twice as much assembling shoes?

These are the kind of unexamined consequences that can come from arbitrarily raising wages.

If Jeff Bezos raises Amazon’s minimum wage to $50 an hour, those jobs are going to get competitive pretty fast because most people would forego further education to make $100,000 a year doing a low skill factory job.

Ultimately, supply and demand of labor drives a lot of these wage decisions.

Original Post: https://www.quora.com/If-Jeff-Bezos-is-so-rich-why-does-Amazon-have-such-a-low-pay-and-poor-conditions/answer/Rhett-Reisman

Book Review | The Art of the Deal by Donald J. Trump

Here is an actual, complete, real life, top 5 (as of this writing) Goodreads review of this book that I tried to have removed (to no avail):

I have not read the book.

But then hey, Trump did not write it.

DONALD TRUMP’S GHOSTWRITER TELLS ALL

27/03/2017

Well, I guess he’s not such a great deal-maker after all. The first chance he had to make one in the White House, he failed miserably.

Or maybe he’s just a dealer?

04/08/2017

I am interested in what kind of “deal” he’s going to make with North Korea.

25/01/2019

Opposing bills to end US shutdown fail in Senate, with no clear path forward

I would like to call your attention to line 1 of this review: “I have not read the book.”

When I was growing up, George W Bush was president

I saw religious dogma take Howard Stern off the radio.

I saw my favorite cartoons and Detroit rappers fighting legal battles with the freakin’ FCC about what they were and weren’t allowed to say.

And I watched Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert say out loud what everyone was thinking and challenge Fox News and the government to tell the truth.

All of this led me to believe that liberals were interested in freedom of speech, freedom to have different ideas, and critical thinking whereas conservatives (Fox News + the Government at the time) wanted nothing to do with it – instead holding on to ideas of the past.

My belief held through 2016. Much to my embarrassment now, I remember weeks before the 2016 election telling my dad over the phone that “Republicans will never win re-election”. And I remember being afraid the night that Trump won the election, because I thought pro-censorship, anti-critical thinking, racists had taken over America.

Coming back to the Goodreads review, someone (likely) of the critical thinking pro-science school of thought reviewing a book on a book reviewing site without having read the book and adding it to the “never-ever” shelf – AND THE REVIEW HAS A TON OF LIKES!!!

I don’t think many in the mainstream media have read the book either because I haven’t heard anyone refer to the president as “Donny” a name he says he hates in one of the first few chapters.

I don’t know how we got here, but it’s made me realize that critical thinking, irrationality, and dogmatism is not unique to one political ideology.

As for the book….it’s really not great. You’ll learn a little about some high profile deals Trump made, but I think where it shines is hearing some of the things he said in the 1980’s that don’t fit the media narrative we’re led to believe about him now.

If you go in with an open mind you might learn something and get to wrestle with some cognitive dissonance about very concrete opinions you hold about a man you’ve probably never met.

If you don’t go in at all, you might be able to get some Goodreads clout if you’re biting, self righteous, and sarcastic enough.

Book Review | Promise Me, Dad by Joe Biden

2015 was a tragic year for Joe Biden, who is an incredibly empathic family man. The story about his son Beau and the rest of his family in 2015 was heartbreaking. If you’re close with your family and siblings it will move you (if you’re not completely turned off by the book because of some political cognitive dissonance).

It will be even an even more tragic third act if it comes out that Joe Biden is actually suffering from some cognitive decline that mirrors what happened to his son. If he is elected I hope he can put some of the plans he talks about in this book in place – namely the aggressive emphasis on cancer research (that we haven’t heard much about since this book’s publication), and then retire to enjoy the rest of his life with his family.

I was listening to this audiobook alongside The Art of the Deal – written by your favorite current president. And the tone of the Audible exclusive portions was a stark contrast (audio seemed to be from 2016 for Trump and early 2017 from Biden). It sounded like Trump re-recorded a message for the opening portion of his book asking people to vote for him as he really wanted to be president – as you would expect. Promise Me, Dad starts off with Joe longing for a return to private life (his first in nearly 50 years) and ends with Joe promising “as a Biden” that he has no current plans to run for president and doesn’t want to live in the White House, but that if no one competent shows up in two years he’ll think about it.

Big persuasion L for Biden here.

Something else I picked out was his questionable financial history. At the time of his VP confirmation in 2008 Joe Biden claims to have owned no assets – stocks, bonds, etc. I find this shocking from someone who has been making six figures as a Senator since 1991 (and a good wage as a Senator since 1973). Hopefully the rest of his administration can sort out the economy and he can focus on foreign policy – that seems to revolve around the idea that Vladimir Putin is uniquely evil and “soulless”.

If you don’t want me to label you a low information voter during yuppie cocktail hour you should read this book and The Art of the Deal.

How to Buy Bitcoin for Beginners (2020)

I’ve broken this blog post down into three sections for people with:

  1. No Technical Experience – I am afraid that if I held my own Bitcoin, that I would lose it and don’t bank on my phone
  2. Limited Technical Experience – I am comfortable using mobile devices and I bank on my phone
  3. Technically Proficient – I understand what a private key is

If you have No Technical Experience:

You can get exposure to Bitcoin through your brokerage account through the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust ($GBTC)

The upside of this is that you don’t have to worry about taking custody of your Bitcoin. You don’t need to know what a private key is. You don’t have to worry about misplacing or losing and of your Bitcoin.

The downside of this is that GBTC won’t get you the best price on Bitcoin exposure. You’re paying a premium (in peak times – a large premium) to get exposure to Bitcoin.

However, if you’re very comfortable operating in the traditional “stock” world, you have a brokerage account and you have no interest in doing something different and don’t mind that an outside institution is holding your Bitcoin – GBTC is a good bet.

If you have Limited Technical Experience:

You have a lot of options here.

Really any of the well known exchanges will do the trick in terms of allowing you to purchase Bitcoin. Some popular ones include:

These apps work just like your traditional bank account. You sign in, create an account, link a funding source (checking / savings account / credit card*)

*Buying Bitcoin with a credit card or on margin is baby brain, don’t do it you’re better than that

Most of these exchanges will allow you to keep your coins on the exchange, and if you don’t want to deal with private keys or taking custody of your own Bitcoin you can stop here.

The pros of this is that you won’t have to learn any more and if you are unsure about your ability to keep track of a private key you don’t have to worry about that.

Additionally with some of these services above (like BlockFi) you can earn interest on the Bitcoin that you allow them to custody (like you would with a bank). As of this writing BlockFi is giving 6% interest on Bitcoin and 8.6% interest on stablecoins like USDC and GUSD (crypto tokens that track the price of the US dollar).

I have used BlockFi for almost 6 months now and it has consistently returned 5x the interest of my traditional “high interest” savings account with half the amount of money invested in the BlockFi account (that’s a 10x difference in interest)

If you are interested in BlockFi we both earn crypto when you use this link to sign up: https://blockfi.com/?ref=e20a2aef

The cons are that some of these exchanges have higher fees to pay than others, and you are still not taking custody of your own Bitcoin.

There is a common phrase in the Bitcoin community: “Not your keys not your coins”. And there are historical examples of exchanges, like Mt.Gox, going kaput leaving people with all their Bitcoin on the exchange with their hands in their pockets.

The Crypto world was a lot less advanced back then but some are still wary of this risk, so they choose to custody their own Bitcoin (think hiding your gold in a safe at your house rather than having it with a bank somewhere you’ve never seen it).

Like it or not there will always be counterparty risk until you fully custody your own Bitcoin.

If you want to learn about private keys, this is the video that got me into Bitcoin:

Private Keys – the video that got me into Bitcoin

Basically a private key is just a really big number that acts as an address for your Bitcoin. Some wallet apps (like Bread Wallet (BRD) on iOS) generate a private key and allow you to take custody of your Bitcoin on your iPhone.

***IF YOU LOSE YOUR PRIVATE KEY IT IS UNRECOVERABLE UNLESS YOU WRITE IT DOWN***

Basically the private key number is so big that even with every computer working together for the next 1000 years no one will ever recreate that number.

This is the double edged sword that comes with taking custody of your own Bitcoin. Literally no one can ever take it from you – unless you lose the key.

If you are Technically Proficient:

You should be looking to minimize your fees and storing your coins in a hardware wallet or cold storage depending on your risk preference.

I use Coinbase Pro (.5% fees) and their available API to automate trading and dollar cost average everyday. Then once a week I send the Bitcoin out of the exchange into a Ledger Hardware Wallet.

Hardware wallets are basically just small computers that securely generate a private key.

In this case, I am still trusting that Ledger doesn’t somehow know / keep a list of every private key they generate. The counterparty risk still exists it is just lower.

The full Winklevoss Security System™ – rolling dice in a blacked out house with no cameras/ technology inside and then scattering copies of private key fragments into safety deposit boxes across the world with your identical twin has just about 0 counterparty risk but there’s a lot of room for failure in the setup, so if you don’t know what you’re doing it’s better to just keep it simple.

It seems like there are some ways to get Bitcoin for 0 fees but I’m not totally up on that, if anyone wants to walk me through it I’d love to chat.


So hopefully now you know how to buy Bitcoin and have figured out what level of security you want for yourself.

If you have any questions feel free to email me rhett@rhett.blog or find me on twitter @Rhettre

Below are my results for buying Bitcoin everyday for a year (August 2019 – 2020)

In the video I discuss dollar cost averaging, why bitcoin, BlockFi, how I automated my purchases, and how much money I made.

Book Review | Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

This translation is excellent. Marcus Aurelius’s insights are capital-T-True, evidenced by the fact that people are still reading and finding value thousands of years later. You could come back to this book for advice for the rest of your life. Definitely going to read it again.

I had a discussion with a great master in Japan.

We were talking about the various people who are working to translate the Zen books into English.

He said, “That’s a waste of time. If you really understand zen,” he said “You can use any book, you could use the Bible, you could use Alice in Wonderland, you could use the dictionary.”

Because he said,

“The sound of the rain needs no translation.”

– Alan Watts

Book Review | The Price of Tomorrow by Jeff Booth

I’ve been trying to explain this idea to people forever. The idea that this 2% inflation target is not being met because technology was driving the costs of some goods down. Why do phones cost the same every year even though they keep getting better? Why are some goods cheaper than ever on Amazon and Alibaba? Where was the inflation occurring?

This book has the answer I was unable to articulate. Technology is deflationary.

Unfortunately that nugget of good information is contained mostly in the first chapter of the book (with some what should we do about it in the final chapter of the book – hint: bitcoin [duh])

The middle chapters read like Andrew Yang’s The War on Normal People – a scary and exciting picture of things to come from technology painted by a tech entrepreneur who has made his fortune and is now out to make the world a better place.

To be honest, I barely remember any of those middle chapters. I’ve already heard all the theories about AI and job loss and robot workers and how polarized the world is and the rise of populism – it’s exhausting even recounting these ideas.

I was primed to love this book as the author shares my views on inflation and bitcoin (my two favorite things to talk about), but I would have liked more of the author’s opinion and analysis of what to do about it rather than explaining to me how the world is doomed (which seems to be a pretty fashionable thing to talk about).

That being said the timing of this book (published January of 2020) is remarkable. It was pre-trillion(s) dollar stimulus, pre-bitcoin halving, pre-coronavirus (the acceleration of all these futuristic trends). And I’m sure Jeff Booth has many lucrative speaking opportunities and doesn’t care about my 3 star review of his book (that I mostly agree with and really enjoyed some parts of).

C’est la vie.