Today, Brittany and Connor sit down and talk with Austin Craig from the documentary, “Life on Bitcoin.” Austin will explain how he was able to live off this crypto currency for several months and the obstacles he faced along the way.
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Connor: Hey, Brittany.
Brittany: Hi, Connor.
Connor: So those who know me know that I am a big fan of cryptocurrency, although I feel like that’s not the right word because not all crypto assets or things in crypto are currency, but like everyone’s heard of Bitcoin and there’s a whole lot of other cryptocurrencies out there. And if you remember reading in the Tuttle twins and the Creature from Jekyll island, at the very end we talk about how can we gain control of our money. How can we have, you know, not have our wealth stolen from us? And one of the things we talk about at the very end, I believe we said Bitcoin, maybe we said cryptocurrencies or something. Britney, what is your quick little, background in crypto, are you kind of well versed, or are you not that, familiar, or how much do you know?
Brittany: I used to be a lot more, well-versed in the world. I used to do YouTube videos a long time ago, on the history of it cuz it started as a gaming coin. So a little bit, I’ve kind of fallen outta touch over the years. I still have some investments, but.
Connor: Very nice. We check like every 10 minutes to kind see how they’re done. Cause it’s very volatile. So you’ve been out of it for a little while. A lot of our listeners maybe don’t know a lot and so this is just gonna be a little bit of insight into it. Obviously, we’ll link to resources on the show notes page to learn more. But we wanted to have our friend Austin Craig on the podcast who as we’ll talk about, has some very interesting life experiences using Bitcoin that can maybe teach us a thing or two. Austin, welcome to the show.
Austin Craig: Hi, Connor. Thanks for having me on.
Connor: So Brittany and I were talking before this about your experiences dealing with Bitcoin. And as a disclaimer, I was kind of involved in this project. you did something really unique with Bitcoin and we’ll talk about what this Bitcoin thing is in just a moment. But this is some newfangled internet money. And you and your wife when you were newly married did this fun project called Life on Bitcoin. Tell us what that was about.
Austin Craig: Sure. Well, life on Bitcoin was a project where for three months, in fact, the first three months of our marriage from right after we got back on our honeymoon from the moment the plane landed for the next what ended up being a hundred days, we lived using only Bitcoin, for all expenses. So for everything that we had to buy from gas, to rent to groceries, insurance, travel, entertainment, anything, we used only Bitcoin and we could only buy it from people who would accept Bitcoin as payment. And we got to meet all kinds of interesting people. We ended up, talking with a lot of people to explain what Bitcoin was to them. And we also got to meet a lot of the people involved in Bitcoin from the people who are building it to the people who are using it and teaching others about it. It was a way for us to get into that community and meet all the folks involved.
Brittany: That’s awesome.
Austin Craig: And we made a documentary film about it. I forgot to mention that.
Brittany: Which is an awesome film. We’ll put that in the show notes. So I wanna back up a little bit. So what exactly is this Bitcoin thing and how would you explain it to kids? I know that’s kind of a hard question, but I threw you a hard one there.
Austin Craig: No, it’s okay. Brittany. I had to explain it to a lot of people when we were doing life on Bitcoin. When we were living on Bitcoin because when we did this, it was 2013, most people at that point still had not heard about Bitcoin. we joke about it being magical internet money, but at that point, it really was this weird thing that most folks hadn’t heard of. So, I got pretty good at the time explaining what it was. I’ll try to brush up, my old skills on that topic. Bitcoin is internet money, just like email takes regular mail and moves it online. Bitcoin takes the idea of money and currency and moves it into the internet age. So instead of me having a bank account that represent paper dollars, and requires say a bank or Venmo or American Express or the government or somebody else involved to send that money, I can instead use Bitcoin, which doesn’t use any third-party or company or anything like that. It uses this network of all kinds of different people involved so that I can send money directly from me to another person without anybody else, giving me permission or processing it for me. It’s a network of all these different people involved and it just works without you having to get anybody else to do it for you without having to get anybody else to, give you permission basically.
Connor: Austin, I know, even though the documentary is over and probably your wife thinks, you know, thankfully cuz that was quite the ordeal for you guys to have to figure out how to, how to get people who’ve never heard of Bitcoin to accept it from you to pay for, you know, your gas or, you know, your, your rent or your insurance and all these things. And so that was quite the ordeal, which made for a very interesting documentary. You guys should go watch it and we’ll link to it on today’s show notes page. So Tuttletwins.com/podcast and go find the links that we’ll be talking about today. So you talk about this a lot since the documentary. I know, you and I have spoken about it many times and I know how excited you are. So pass on that enthusiasm to our listeners. You just kind of explained at a simple level what this type of cryptocurrency is, a little bit how it works, but why are you excited about it? Why do you think Bitcoin and others, you know, other cryptocurrency in general, cuz there’s many different types that all do all kinds of different things? But why does this excite you? What for the future or passion do you have that comes from, you know, Bitcoin and these other cryptocurrencies?
Austin Craig: Good question. Thank you, Connor. I‘m excited about it because I think that Bitcoin promises to be a much more open and fair system than the one you and I are all used to. Now, we may look at conventional money, US dollars, and think that those work just fine. And in a lot of ways they do, but in a lot of other ways that we’ve really gotten used to, and we don’t think about very much, they’re not really that fair. They’re not really that, gosh, you know, you own the things that you have in your home. They’re yours and unless somebody breaks in and takes them away from your house, uh, nobody can hurt the things that you have. Nobody can take them away from you. But the dollars in your pocket, even though you may hold those green dollars a piece of paper that’s really just a symbol. And what it means is your ability to buy something, even though you hold a physical dollar, it can still kind of be taken away from you through inflation. And that happens every year. That dollar can buy just a little bit less every year and then you stretch that out over many years and it’s quite a lot. I’m not a senior citizen retiring anytime soon, but even in my lifetime, the purchasing power of the dollars in my pocket has gone down a lot significantly. And even in the last year, things have gone up in price a lot, right? The dollars that I have do not buy as much as they used to. That’s one aspect of it. Another aspect is if I put my money into a bank or I put it into say a Venmo account or PayPal or something like that, I’m basically asking the bank or Venmo or PayPal or whoever to hold my money for me. And when I ask them to send it to somebody else, I’m saying, pretty, please send it to this person. I promise it’ll be good. And, and we’re not doing anything wrong now e even though I may be a good person doing good things and there’s nothing wrong with what I’m doing, I still have to rely on them to do it for me. I have to get their permission and that’s how money has been for as long as I’ve been alive. Until bitcoin, Bitcoin was the first system besides cash in your pocket that you could basically just hand to somebody and you didn’t have to get anybody else’s permission or involvement. So what this system does is it’s like digital cash in a way where you can give somebody some money, you don’t have to get anybody else’s involvement or permission. And once they have it, it’s theirs. You can’t even take it back. Nobody else can take it from them. It’s real ownership of your money, which is shockingly rare in the world.
Brittany: Yeah, I think that’s absolutely right. There’s something else though that I would really like to know, and that’s back in the beginning when I was getting into this, we were talking about what you could do with Bitcoin. You know, your whole documentary is what can I buy with Bitcoin? Can I pay rent, can I get gas? Can I do all these things? Now people seem to be less into buying stuff with it and more into, you know, we talk about HODL is what they say HODL Yep. Holding onto it and keeping it as an investment. So I’m curious to know from your perspective, do you think Bitcoin is better to use as like a currency as like a new dollar replacement for the dollar or as like an investment?
Austin Craig: Good question. You know, when we started doing life on Bitcoin, it really was all about how can we use this as currency. Can we use it to trade for goods and services? Well, the story around Bitcoin has changed since then. And like you said, people are holding on, they’re huddling their bitcoins and I don’t think that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that. I’m huddling my Bitcoins and the reason is it’s become more valuable to hold those, to retain your buying power with Bitcoin than it is to trade it away. It’s a perfectly legitimate thing to do to hold Bitcoin as say an investment, right? And here we’re gonna get into some terms. It’s, there’s the difference between, currency, which is the means of exchange. It’s something you trade to get goods through services money, which is what you hold onto to retain purchasing power and an investment which increases in value and increases your purchasing power. Bitcoin has kind of been across that spectrum from currency to money to really an investment. And I think that’s totally fine. People can use it however they want. They’re finding real utility, real use out of it no matter which of those they’re using it for right now. Or at least in the past year, Bitcoin has been rising in value quite a bit. And so people don’t wanna spend it as easily, they don’t wanna spend it as much because they’re, trading their purchasing power and giving that up. but I think it’s totally fine. In fact, it’s worked out really well for me to hold onto my Bitcoin so that I have more purchasing power tomorrow and I can buy more and better things.
Connor: Austin, something that I did, for my kids is, you know, a lot of parents will create like a college savings fund or, you know, start a business fund or a home deposit, you know, down payment fund for the future of their kids to kind of help them in the future. And something that I did about three or four years ago is I bought them each a little bit of Ethereum, which is kind of, you know, it’s another cryptocurrency. We won’t get into the details today, but I bought them a little bit of cryptocurrency as a kind of savings for them in the future. Why should the kids listening be thinking maybe about, you know, investing in cryptocurrency or you know, talking to their parents about maybe, you know, saving a little bit this way? Is this something you’ve ever thought about for your kids? Like, there’s a lot of kids listening right now. Is Bitcoin just for grownups or should they be maybe thinking about this even and talk about it with their parents for their own financial future? Decades from now?
Austin Craig: I have definitely talked to my kids about this and my kids are quite young, my oldest is five years old, his brother is four years old and we have a one-year-old. So we got little kids in my house, but they already know about Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. The other day we were gonna go somewhere in our minivan and my boys were in the backseat and I heard them negotiating for who got to sit in which seat and they were negotiating with Satoshis, which are the smallest denomination of Bitcoin that you can trade. So they know about this stuff, they know that it’s, money, that it’s valuable, and that you can use it to buy things. In fact, they kind of figured that out on their own after I told them what Bitcoin was, that it was like money and then they started negotiating all on their own. I think kids should be thinking about this because it’s kind of hard to think really big picture. In fact, I still struggle with this to think on the span of many years. But kids who are growing up, if you wanna, if you wanna be in a good position when you’re a grown-up, you have to think big picture and big picture. I think Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are our future. They can do things that were previously thought to be impossible and they can do them faster and cheaper and more scalable than anything that came before. So yeah, absolutely. Just like the internet is not going away, just like email is not going away, I don’t think cryptocurrencies are going away and they’re only gonna become more important. So yeah, absolutely. Kids should be thinking about this and if they wanna save, which I highly encourage Bitcoin is a fantastic way to do that because over the past 10 years it has proven way more powerful at saving, at retaining your purchasing power than anything else on earth.
Brittany: So I wanna go back to your documentary where you, know, you lived off Bitcoin for three months cuz what I’m curious to know is what the hardest thing to buy was. I remember watching the documentary and honestly being very stressed out watching the documentary. But what for you was the hardest part of that whole thing?
Austin Craig: That’s a good question. you know, we went into it thinking that maybe food was gonna be the hardest thing because everybody was like, you’re gonna, I hope you don’t starve to death. Well, we didn’t starve to death. if anything we gained weight. It was pretty easy to get people who owned a restaurant or owned, like a local farm. We bought, can’t even remember what it’s called, shares in a local farm where we got produce every week from them and we paid them in Bitcoin. The hardest thing to buy was not obvious to us at the time, but it immediately showed itself it was hard to buy gas. It’s hard to buy fuel for the car because there are not small mom and pop oil companies. Every gas station you go to, virtually all of them are these huge multinational conglomerates. And I can’t just call up the president of Shell Oil Yeah. Or Exxon and say, Hey, do you mind if we use weird internet money to pay for this? And the person working behind the counter, they don’t have the power to make that decision, they just do what they’re told. So gas ended up being very difficult to pay for. We ended up, having to persuade the owner of the local 7-Eleven to open the gas pump for us and then we paid him and he paid in dollars. So he ended up getting quite a bit of Bitcoin while we were living on it.
Connor: It’s quite an interesting social experiment to watch your guys’ experience and wonder what it would be like. Cuz as you say, you know, 2013 this was, you know, right in the early stages of so much of this and a lot has changed, but a lot hasn’t changed. In fact, the case for things like Bitcoin I think has become even stronger when you look at COVID-19 and how Congress has just been printing money like crazy. And we’re already, as you pointed out, Austin having more inflation. And so it’s all the more reason I think for families to be thinking about things like this, to be thinking of the future decades from now, what is the dollar gonna look like? Are we gonna have even more inflation that steals, you know, the value of our hard-earned savings? And so it’s a great conversation for parents and even kids to be having about what is money and how do we store our wealth in a way that will be protected from politicians trying to devalue it. And so we will, as I said on the show notes, page point, to the documentary, put the trailer other resources where people can learn more about this. So you guys can head to Tuttletwins.com/podcast. Go check it out. Life on Bitcoin was a very fun project from a distance to be a part of Austin, you got to actually live it. I got to just, you know, help create the website and do some of these other things from behind the scenes. So thank you for kind of evangelizing this. It’s an important thing. And thanks for joining us today, Austin.
Austin Craig: Happy to do it. Thanks for having me on.
Brittany: So fun to have Austin with us, especially since he’s a Utah like you and I Connor, so it’s always nice to have a personal friend on the show.
Austin Craig: Yeah.
Connor: Always nice Austin as I said, kind of a good evangelist for them. this type of issue. He talks a lot about it posts a lot of videos and honestly guys, there is so much learning that can be done with an issue like this. Yeah. And so we’ll put some resources on the show notes page, but even just spending some time watching some YouTube videos for the adults. There’s a great book called the Bitcoin Standard. It’s, pretty advanced, but it lays everything out in a lot of details, a really interesting book. but it’s worth doing a little bit of homework on, especially when we think about our own financial future. So Tuttletwins.com/podcast. Guys, thanks as always for listening. We really appreciate it. And we’ll see you in the next episode, Brittany. Until next time, we’ll talk to you later.
Brittany: Talk to you later.