Next week I’ll be accepting my first freelancer payment in Bitcoin.
I’ve been in Bitcoin for a minute, but only the buying/selling side. I haven’t sent it to anyone other than brokers.
I’m more bullish on it now more than ever because Canada has done an excellent job showing the world how useful and unstoppable it is.
Now, I’m trying to get all my friends set up with their own wallets.
Control Your Money, Control Your Choices
There is no freedom of choice without the freedom to transact.
Imagine buying a car that someone else can unlock whenever they want. Or they don’t let you drive it outside of certain hours. Or they only let you take it to pre-approved destinations.
That wouldn’t be freedom, even if you had the “freedom” of having a car.
(Speaking of which, you don’t want a Tesla.)
Money is the same, but multiplied. If your money is controlled, your choices have already been made.
This is why it’s critical for you to maintain the freedom to move your money wherever you want.
Get Off Coinbase
If you’re using Coinbase to buy Bitcoin, nice job. Getting skin in the game is the most important step.
The next step is to get your coins off their platform and into a wallet only you control.
A Bitcoin wallet is basically the address where your coins live. If other people have your address, they can see how much Bitcoin you have and what wallet it came from before that.
A Bitcoin wallet is not anonymous, but it is pseudonymous. If you don’t tell anyone your address, they won’t know it’s yours. They’ll just see that someone has Bitcoin (and they can still see the amounts and where it came from).
Not Your Keys, Not Your Coins
The phrase above is a mantra in bitcoin circles. It means if you don’t control your keys (like you don’t on your Coinbase wallet) then someone else can send your bitcoin away and you can’t do anything about it.
It also means you need to protect your keys and not share them.
When you create a wallet, you get two keys. The shorter one is your public key. The longer one your private key. If you generate your own wallet (e.g. on bitaddress.org) it will clearly label your two keys as SHARE and SECRET.
Never, on pain of death, share your SECRET or private key.
Your public key is totally fine. It’s a one-way street. The worst that can happen is someone accidentally sends you money.
Go and Explore
There’s a whole world of info out there around Bitcoin, and I myself know very little. But this should give you just enough info to be dangerous and get started.
Next time you get paid, ask whoever is paying if they can pay you in bitcoin. Even if they can’t just yet, the next few times they get asked they’ll start to look into it themselves.
You can protect your own money. And even better, when more of us control our own money, the better protected we’ll all be.