🔥Crypto Fireside #33 — Interviews with crypto people.
🔥Hello! Who are you, and what do you do?
ERB: I’m Mr. ERB and I stack sats! Simple as that.
I’m a Finnish guy in my mid-30s, wife, and kids, normal paying job, very much your average Joe. I’m also very much obsessed with Bitcoin and have been reading about it & thinking about it daily since October 2017.
I’ve been buying Bitcoin monthly since October 2017. I buy different amounts but usually, it's 500 Euro each and every month.
I have a strategy of buying as much BTC as I can and continuing to do so until I can retire.
I started a blog called Early Retirement by Bitcoin, to document my progress on this journey. I thought about starting the website at the very beginning but the whole ‘never tell anyone how much Bitcoin you have’ put me off for the first 2.5 years. However, I felt like good documentation of the bear market emotions, sticking to your strategy, and finally coming through victorious, would be wasted unless I just committed to doing it. So, eventually, I said ‘fuck it’ and told strangers on the internet how much Bitcoin I have and decided to start writing the blog in the summer of 2020.
🔥What’s your backstory, and how did ER By Bitcoin come about?
ERB: It basically started by me stumbling into an early retirement blog via a friend's Facebook post back in 2017.
I immediately became obsessed with the topic of financial independence and retiring early (FIRE).
You see, my family was kinda financially illiterate, middle-class-poor, and never knew anything about investing, never teaching me anything about money. Stocks were a non-existent idea in my life, any kinda money generation outside 9 to 5 work was unimaginable. So, after finding this topic and the blogs like MMM (Mr money mustache), etc. I spent hours, days, and weeks reading all about the stock market, saving money, being frugal, and finally getting to early retirement. My mind was blown simply by the idea of a dividend — I could own something that generated money for me! Why hasn’t anybody told me this during the first 30 years of my life? I felt like I had wasted 10 good years of potential investing (or stacking stocks).
Early retirement became a symbol of freedom in my mind, something to strive for. Anyway, I started to invest in stocks monthly, FIRE style. Then, after only a few months of doing this, I stumbled into Bitcoin during a team meeting at work. I began to research Bitcoin and listened to Trace Mayer talk about 1 million dollar Bitcoin. I realized that early retirement by stacking stocks would take me decades so I was very opportunistic in my initial interest in Bitcoin. Initially, I thought of it as only a vehicle for getting to 1 million Euros.
The original plan of course was to get to retirement old-school, via stocks.
Shortly after I realized I should hold on to my coins, ‘forever’ and hence start to stack sats. Anyway, that’s why I started buying Bitcoin monthly (FIRE style). I felt very confident from the beginning that this Bitcoin savings strategy would be successful. But nobody would believe such a story if it was told afterward. That’s why I decided to document the journey from the beginning. But for the reasons I said earlier, the blog didn’t start in October 2017, instead, the summer of 2020.
🔥Describe the process of starting to stack SATs and launching the ER By Bitcoin blog.
ERB: I was very nervous when buying the first time, somehow buying Bitcoin is scarier than buying stocks! But you get used to it quickly, and I was very motivated about buying as much as I could. Naturally, my understanding of Bitcoin grew exponentially at the beginning by listening to podcasts, viewing YouTube videos, and reading articles. So, holding through the crashes and pumps became easier and easier the more knowledge I acquired.
The process of stacking sats could nowadays be automated, but initially, I needed to do it manually — transfer funds to the exchange after payday — market buy at the exchange. The process grew on me as some kinda ritual so I continue to do this manually every month.
The ‘launch’ happened in the summer of 2020 and I simply wrote the first few posts. I had maybe 10 Twitter followers at that time and posts got zero attention.
Why I eventually started in the summer of 2020 was the product of Twitter and the covid lockdowns. Somebody posted on Twitter that ‘if you have some ideas and you are not making them happen right now when the world has stopped, you are never going to make them happen’. That was enough of a push for me to finally start writing the blog that I had been thinking about for 2.5+ years.
Costs were minimal and the layout was free. I basically have a white background with black text and a menu bar. At first, I was basically writing for myself with no readers, but eventually, the readers came and multiplied. The progress was fun to observe.
🔥How do you maintain your focus on stacking monthly?
ERB: I find it easy to stack monthly. All you need is motivation. I buy straight away when I get my salary. It’s like I’ve never even seen the money from my pay, therefore I’m not missing anything. Many friends are saving similar sums for an apartment, having expensive hobbies, buying new clothes, using expensive cars, etc. I prioritize Bitcoin holdings at this point in life and I feel like I’m not making any compromises. I’d rather buy Bitcoin than use the money elsewhere. Of course, I need to feed my family and not live a sad existence but the current amounts give me a nice balance to family life and progressing with my savings plan.
I don’t use any tools to automate or time my buys. I transfer money manually, and always market buy! It’s a ritual, and yes I might be in a cult. But it’s the best cult ever!
I never get tempted to sell, just to buy some random thing. Basically, because I have a clear target in my mind — enough Bitcoin to retire. And this target is more important to me than any item I might want to have right now. Also, If I would sell some of my Bitcoin and buy something, I would be a little bit further from reaching my goal, and still, I would continue to buy Bitcoin again the next month. So, what’s the point?
If/when I have reached my goal, it will be different. If I can consider myself retired with enough Bitcoin, I can sell some if I need money to live my life. I also have calculated the average gains for all my buys. Currently, it's about 400% for every purchase, so when I click the buy button on exchange I can imagine I’m just getting easy 400% gains for the money. It makes you wanna buy as much as you can.
🔥Take us through your daily process of what it is that you do.
ERB: Daily operations are very basic. I have an office job which allows work from home also. It’s an average income, a low-stress job that suits me well in my current situation. Meaning, I think I’ll ‘retire’ on Bitcoin in a few years so I’m not really interested in progressing in the company or kissing any asses, working long hours, office politics, etc. I like the freedom. Homelife with kids will never get boring and I don’t really write anything while they’re awake.
My blog life starts when the kids are asleep. On average, I make one post per month, the usual monthly update with the latest purchase added to my stack, some statistics, and things I’ve thought about during the month. I have a kinda large Google sheet with all the data but it really took time only at the beginning and now I’m just adding one more line at a time and updating the charts monthly. So, the blog doesn’t take too much of my time.
Bitcoin however is on my mind daily so in a way the thinking process is ongoing. But I really only write a few hours at most which are spread over a few days (and nights) every month.
🔥What has worked to attract and retain readers to the ER By Bitcoin blog?
ERB: In my opinion, nothing has changed regarding the content or the way I write. At first, I got 0-10 readers per post. I didn’t really expect anything else. But I just continued doing the same thing month after month even if it felt like I’m only writing for myself. Every time I posted the link on Reddit and Twitter there was almost no attention.
Then one time I got a hundred upvotes and a noticeable spike in visits. I remember the feeling, it was the first time I understood that people are actually reading my stuff and liking it too! It was an awesome feeling and gave me the motivation to continue.
After that first ‘breakthrough’ more or less every post got some attention. I think it was a combination of enough history of posts to get the proof of stacking and bitcoin price pumping to make the charts look more interesting.
In the early posts, my gains were meager and my blog reader count was low. Now I have more stacking under my belt, more success with gains, and more readers. I would guess I will get even more readers when the total fiat amount goes past 500k Euros, and the climax of the reader count will be when I finally reach the target of 1 million Euros with my stack. After that, I’m not sure what I will be writing about, or if it’s going to interest anyone anymore.
🔥Why did you choose to stack Bitcoin why not another cryptocurrency?
ERB: Hodling and stacking only really work in the long term with Bitcoin. If you wanna trade altcoins, that’s your choice. But be sure to know that they are not a viable long-term place to hold your money.
You need to time the buy and time the sell. Altcoins come and go, the hot altcoins in 2013 were not really around anymore in 2017. And the hot altcoins in 2017 are not around anymore. And the hot altcoins right now (or apes) will not interest anyone 4 years from now.
Bitcoin, on the other hand, will be around for the rest of my life, my kids' lives, and their kids' lives. That’s why it's safe to hodl and stack Bitcoin. I can also keep my Bitcoin in cold storage and not touch them for 10 years and be sure that I can move them when I finally need to. The same can not be said about any other cryptocurrency. I do have my brief history with altcoins as many Bitcoin Maxi’s do. I have a post about this titled ‘altcoinfessions’, on the blog.
🔥How are you doing today, and what does the future look like? Let’s talk numbers!
ERB: I have managed to stack slightly over 4 Bitcoin that are worth around 150k Euro at the time of writing. If the stagnant market continues for a while I think I’m able to add a few more 0.1s to the stack. 5 bitcoin feels like it’s hopelessly far away. Fiatwise, I think bitcoin can very easily in a relatively short time break 100k and go from there towards 300k and beyond. So my target of 1 million and retirement is kinda around the corner all the time, although it could also take years still.
I initially set a target of 5 years which will be in October this year. At the latest, I think a year after next halving I should be successful for sure. So that would be 2025 and 8 years (two cycles) in total.
For anybody who feels I was lucky and they are now late: Let's say the price of Bitcoin is 1 million 4.5 years from now. So in the autumn of 2026 Bitcoin will be 1 million. Doesn’t sound too far-fetched, does it? Kinda a bearish prediction actually IMO.
Anyway, do you think you could stack 0.15 bitcoin in 4.5 years if you started now with 500€ per month? Probably you could, and if so then you would be in a similar situation as I am today. Four and a half years of stacking and 150k worth of Bitcoin. You can do it. You are not too late. But it will take time. And dedication.
🔥Through regularly stacking, but also running the ER By Bitcoin blog what is something you have learned that surprised you?
ERB: You appreciate the prices you get when it's too late ;)
The price of Bitcoin always feels ‘too high’ because we have 10+ years of history with lower prices to look at. When I started stacking, the sub-10k prices actually felt very high. In hindsight, I could’ve stacked more if I had seized the day. But actually, I am just satisfied that I decided to stack regularly and not wait for the lower prices (many people fall into this trap).
Your emotions are the main obstacle. Find a way to stack in a numb mode and then it’s only a game of endurance. You stack for long enough, and you will be successful. But at any point, if you become impatient and want too much too soon, you will simply lose. When we 10x from here, the current prices will feel identical to how a 4k price feels right now. And you will look back and say ‘if only I got the 40k prices now I would focus and stack like hell to secure 0.X Bitcoin but now it's too late’.
I have good news, it’s not too late!
Don’t be the one looking back, be the one who lives (stacks) in the moment. I can also say that you will not get results in a linear fashion. Stacking for one year, it can feel like you have accomplished nothing. 2 years, nothing. Then, all of a sudden, 2.5 years into stacking and Bitcoin makes a big move, your stack will suddenly feel like a big deal. There are no shortcuts in Bitcoin.
🔥Mistakes were made. What were they and what did you do?
ERB: I have a god-awful domain name.
This is an epic failure because I really did try to come up with the best one. There’s the letters ‘er’ which come from ‘early retirement’, then there’s the hyphen (for which I have no good reason), and then the completely unnecessary ‘by’.
Well, it can be changed so it's not a big deal. But for anyone starting a website, tip for you; think about it and investigate good domain names at the very least for a day or two instead of just going with a weird one that you immediately think of.
Another mistake I would say is trying to ‘orange pill’ people when you are early in your own journey.
Nowadays, I hardly discuss bitcoin with anybody unless they bring up the subject. But early on, I felt like I needed to spread the message and was very eager in trying to get people to understand Bitcoin the way I did. I was often socializing, and drunk and even though I knew more about Bitcoin than my friends did, I knew nothing compared to what I know today. I would take back every drunken discussion or argument about Bitcoin that I had early on and replace them with a calm discussion today.
Feels like I did more damage than good actually.
Maybe some of them could have found Bitcoin by themselves if they weren’t put off by my early arguments. The facts and understanding I had were actually kinda OK, but the representation was way too emotional. Maybe I was trying to defend my own (risky) position. Nowadays, I’m very calm when discussing Bitcoin. I feel no need to defend anything. And this is for sure a better way to help people understand Bitcoin. But in the end, they must have the curiosity themselves, you cannot force-feed it.
🔥What have been the most influential things in your life that affected your project? This can include books, podcasts, or people.
ERB: Initially, it was Andreas Antonopoulos's videos that got me going. I can recommend those to anyone new. Trace Mayer was awesome when he was still around (and not shilling scamcoins). Trace has a lot of good video content on YouTube and a Bitcoin podcast called Bitcoin Knowledge. While Andreas was more of a general ‘why Bitcoin is important’ kinda guy, Trace had a more financial angle to the topic. Trace was the first guy who I heard talking about a 1 million dollar Bitcoin price.
Pretty soon after that, I found Noded with Pierre Rochard and Bitstein, highly recommended. Via those guys, I got into Twitter, Bitcoin-Twitter more specifically. Moving from Bitcoin-Reddit to Bitcoin-Twitter was a major upgrade.
Tales from the Crypt with Marty Bent, I’ve listened to from the very 1st episode. Super good podcast with a wide coverage of many topics and interesting quests. Saifedeans book the Bitcoin Standard was in a way icing on the cake that is my Bitcoin understanding (or monetary history / monetary system understanding).
The Bitcoin rabbit hole is deep and has many branches. Worth mentioning is the Bitcoin carnivores whose diet sounded totally crazy for a first-timer. They were a gateway to Shawn Baker and the carnivore diet, which was a gateway to seed oils and many other nutritional aspects that I had never thought of.
This Bitcoin carnivore rabbit hole has led me to Ray Peat which you may or may not have heard of. All in all, I’m not a carnivore (anymore) but my health has never been better and I’m forever grateful for the crazy Bitcoin carnivores.
🔥Do you have any advice for other stackers, creators, entrepreneurs, or developers who want to get started or are just beginning?
ERB: Just start and find out where the road takes you! Nobody has it all figured out, but some people try and some people don’t. The ones who never fail are the ones who never try ;)
🔥Where do you see the blockchain, cryptocurrency, and decentralization space going in the next 5 to 10 years?
ERB: I see Bitcoin becoming a force that cannot be ignored/resisted. If you understand Bitcoin, you will be well-positioned and powerful in the future (goes for individuals, companies but also countries). If you don’t understand Bitcoin, see it as a threat, and try to fight it, you can cause people short-term harm but mainly you will end up causing yourself long-term harm.
The way of the world right now is such that a central authority/insider can enrich themselves causing harm to everybody else. They will continue doing this as long as they can. Bitcoin will change the power balance so that there will come a day, ‘the elites’ are planning to use the same old trick and give themselves more at the expense of everybody else. But what will happen is: everybody else will get a little bit more powerful and they themselves will stay right where they were, or even go a little backward. This balance in the power structure will free mankind like nothing ever has. I don’t have the details on how exactly it's gonna go down but this is how a see it on a low-resolution level.
🔥Where can we go to learn more?
ERB: The website for my blog is: er-bybitcoin.com. I post at least once per month an update on the progress. You can find me on Twitter with the handle @RetireEarlyBTC. I post the links to new posts on Reddit with u/JamesPunk but I rarely do anything else on Reddit.
🔥Thank you, ERB!
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