How to Get Into Bitcoin: A Comprehensive Guide
Bitcoin, the world's first and most popular cryptocurrency, has exploded in popularity over the past few years. From its humble beginnings, it has become a global phenomenon, with millions of people investing in this digital asset.
But for beginners, the world of Bitcoin can seem daunting and complex. How do you get started? What do you need to know? This beginner's guide will walk you through the basics of Bitcoin investments, helping you understand the technology, the risks, and the potential rewards.
First, let's start with the basics. Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency, meaning that it is not controlled by any central authority, such as a government or a bank. Instead, it operates on a technology called blockchain, which is a public ledger that records all Bitcoin transactions.
Investing in Bitcoin can be a lucrative venture, but it is important to understand that it is a highly volatile asset. The price of Bitcoin can fluctuate wildly in a short period of time, and it is not uncommon for it to experience significant crashes. Therefore, it is crucial to do thorough research and understand the risks before investing any money.
“Bitcoin is a fascinating technology with immense potential, but it is not without its risks. It's important to approach Bitcoin investments with caution and to only invest what you can afford to lose.” - John Smith, Bitcoin expert
Before you dive into Bitcoin investments, it is important to take some time to educate yourself about the technology. Read books, watch educational videos, and follow reputable news sources to stay updated on the latest developments in the world of Bitcoin. This will help you make informed investment decisions and reduce the chances of making impulsive decisions based on hype or misinformation.
What is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency that was created in 2009 by an unknown person or group of people using the name Satoshi Nakamoto. It is the first cryptocurrency, meaning it is a digital form of money that uses cryptography to secure transactions, control the creation of new units, and verify the transfer of assets.
Unlike traditional currencies such as the US dollar or the Euro, Bitcoin is not issued or controlled by any central bank or government. Instead, it operates on a peer-to-peer network, allowing users to send and receive payments directly without the need for intermediaries.
Bitcoin transactions are recorded on a public ledger called the blockchain, which is a decentralized and distributed database maintained by a network of computers called nodes. This ensures transparency and security, as every transaction is verified and recorded by multiple nodes in the network.
One of the key features of Bitcoin is its limited supply. There will only ever be 21 million Bitcoins in existence, and this scarcity has contributed to its value and the perception of it as a digital store of value.
Bitcoin can be used for various purposes, such as online purchases, investment, remittances, and even as a hedge against inflation. It has gained popularity over the years and has become a viable investment option for individuals and institutions alike.
How Does Bitcoin Work?
Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency that operates on a peer-to-peer network called the blockchain. Here's a step-by-step overview of how Bitcoin works:
- Creating Bitcoin: New bitcoins are created through a process called mining. Miners use powerful computers to solve complex mathematical problems, and when they successfully solve a problem, they are rewarded with new bitcoins.
- Transactions: When someone wants to send bitcoins to another person, they create a transaction. This transaction includes the receiver's Bitcoin address and the amount of bitcoins being sent.
- Verifying Transactions: Miners on the Bitcoin network verify and validate the transactions. They check that the sender has enough bitcoins and that the transaction is valid. Miners compile these transactions into blocks.
- Blockchain: Blocks of verified transactions are added to the blockchain, which is a public ledger that keeps track of all Bitcoin transactions. Each block is linked to the previous one, creating a continuous chain of blocks. This makes the Bitcoin network secure and trustworthy.
- Consensus: To prevent double-spending and maintain the integrity of the blockchain, consensus is achieved through a process called Proof of Work. Miners must compete to solve mathematical problems, and the first one to solve it gets to add their block to the blockchain.
- Wallets: Bitcoin users store their bitcoins in digital wallets. These wallets have a pair of cryptographic keys: a public key and a private key. The public key is used to receive bitcoins, while the private key is used to sign transactions and access the bitcoins.
- Security: Bitcoin uses cryptographic techniques to secure transactions and control the creation of new bitcoins. The private keys ensure that only the owner of the bitcoins can spend them, while the blockchain ensures the transparency and immutability of the transaction history.
In summary, Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency that operates on a peer-to-peer network. It uses a blockchain to record transactions and requires miners to validate and secure the network. By understanding how Bitcoin works, you can make informed decisions about investing in and using this revolutionary technology.
Benefits of Bitcoin Investments
Investing in Bitcoin can offer several benefits for individuals looking to diversify their investment portfolio or explore alternative investment options.
1. High Potential Returns
One of the main attractions of Bitcoin investments is the potential for high returns. Bitcoin has experienced significant price appreciation over the years, and many investors have seen substantial profits. However, it's important to note that the value of Bitcoin can be volatile, and there are also risks involved.
Bitcoin investments can provide diversification in an investment portfolio. Bitcoin operates separately from traditional investment assets like stocks and bonds, so it can help spread the risk and reduce the correlation with other investments. This diversification can be especially beneficial during periods of economic uncertainty or market volatility.
Investing in Bitcoin is relatively accessible, especially compared to traditional investment options. Anyone with an internet connection and a digital wallet can buy, sell, and hold Bitcoin. This accessibility makes it easier for individuals to enter the cryptocurrency market and start investing.
4. Potential Hedge Against Inflation
Bitcoin is often considered a potential hedge against inflation. Unlike traditional fiat currencies that can lose value over time due to inflation, Bitcoin has a limited supply. This means that the value of Bitcoin may potentially increase as traditional currencies lose purchasing power.
5. Global Market
Bitcoin operates on a global market, which opens up investment opportunities beyond traditional local markets. Investors can participate in Bitcoin exchanges and trading platforms from anywhere in the world, allowing for broader investment options and exposure to international markets.
6. Potential for Innovation
As a relatively new technology, Bitcoin and the underlying blockchain technology have the potential for innovation and disruptive advancements. By investing in Bitcoin, individuals can support and potentially benefit from the development of new applications and improvements within the cryptocurrency ecosystem.
It's important to note that investing in Bitcoin also carries risks. The cryptocurrency market can be highly volatile, and the value of Bitcoin can fluctuate significantly. It's crucial for individuals to conduct thorough research, understand the risks involved, and only invest what they can afford to lose.
Different Ways to Get Bitcoin
If you're interested in getting Bitcoin, there are several different ways you can acquire it. Here are some common methods:
- Buy Bitcoin on an exchange: One of the easiest ways to get Bitcoin is to buy it on a cryptocurrency exchange. There are many exchanges available where you can trade your local currency for Bitcoin.
- Earn Bitcoin through mining: Mining involves using powerful computers to solve complex mathematical problems to validate and record Bitcoin transactions. In return for this work, miners are rewarded with new Bitcoins.
- Receive Bitcoin as payment: If you provide goods or services, you can start accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment. This allows you to accumulate Bitcoin over time.
- Join a Bitcoin faucet: Bitcoin faucets are websites that give out small amounts of Bitcoin for free. All you need to do is complete simple tasks or surveys to earn these rewards.
- Get Bitcoin as a gift: You can also receive Bitcoin as a gift from friends or family members. They can transfer the Bitcoin directly to your digital wallet.
It's important to note that Bitcoin is a volatile asset, so it's essential to do your research and understand the risks involved before investing or acquiring Bitcoin.
Setting up a Bitcoin Wallet
A Bitcoin wallet is a software program that allows you to securely store, send, and receive Bitcoin. Before you can start investing in Bitcoin, you will need to set up a Bitcoin wallet. Here's how you can do it:
1. Choose a Wallet Type
There are several types of Bitcoin wallets available, each with its own advantages and security features. Some popular wallet types include:
- Online Wallets: These are web-based wallets that can be accessed from any device with an internet connection. They are convenient but may have higher security risks.
- Hardware Wallets: These are physical devices that store your private keys offline. They offer the highest level of security but can be more expensive.
- Desktop Wallets: These are software programs that you can install on your computer. They provide good security and control over your funds.
- Mobile Wallets: These are apps that you can download on your smartphone. They are convenient for everyday use but may have lower security.
Consider your needs, preferences, and security concerns before choosing a wallet type.
2. Download and Install the Wallet
Once you have chosen a wallet type, visit the official website of the chosen wallet and download the software or app. Follow the instructions provided to install the wallet on your device.
3. Create a New Wallet
After installing the wallet, open it and select the option to create a new wallet. You will typically be asked to provide a unique username and password to secure your wallet.
4. Backup Your Wallet
It is crucial to back up your wallet to ensure that you can recover your funds in case your device is lost, stolen, or damaged. Most wallets will provide you with a recovery phrase, which is a sequence of words that can be used to restore your wallet on a new device.
5. Receive and Send Bitcoin
With your wallet set up, you can now start receiving and sending Bitcoin. To receive Bitcoin, you will need to share your wallet address with the sender. To send Bitcoin, you will need to enter the recipient's wallet address and the amount you want to send.
Remember to double-check the wallet address when sending Bitcoin to avoid any mistakes, as transactions are irreversible.
Setting up a Bitcoin wallet is an essential step in getting started with Bitcoin investments. It allows you to securely store and manage your Bitcoin, ensuring that you have full control over your funds.
Understanding Bitcoin Mining
Bitcoin mining is the process by which new bitcoins are created and transactions are verified and added to the blockchain. It is an essential component of the Bitcoin network and plays a crucial role in maintaining the security and integrity of the system.
What is Bitcoin Mining?
Bitcoin mining is the process of solving complex mathematical problems using powerful computers. These problems are designed to be difficult and require a significant amount of computational power to solve. Miners compete to solve these problems, and the first one to find a solution is rewarded with newly created bitcoins.
How Does Bitcoin Mining Work?
Bitcoin mining involves two main processes: verifying transactions and creating new blocks. When a bitcoin transaction is made, it is broadcasted to the network and included in a list called the "mempool." Miners then select a group of transactions from the mempool and include them in a block.
The mining process itself involves using powerful hardware known as ASICs (Application-Specific Integrated Circuits) to solve complex mathematical problems. These problems require miners to find a specific number, called a nonce, that, when combined with the data in the block and hashed, produces a hash with a certain number of leading zeros.
Once a miner finds a solution, they broadcast it to the network for validation. Other miners then verify the solution by running the same calculations. If a majority of the network agrees that the solution is correct, the block is added to the blockchain, and the miner is rewarded with bitcoins.
Why is Bitcoin Mining Important?
Bitcoin mining serves several important purposes within the Bitcoin network:
- Transaction Verification: Miners validate and verify transactions, ensuring that only valid transactions are added to the blockchain.
- Security: The mining process adds security to the Bitcoin network by making it difficult for anyone to take control of the blockchain. The decentralized nature of mining ensures that no single entity can control the network.
- Inflation Control: The issuance of new bitcoins through mining helps control inflation. There is a limited supply of bitcoins, and mining ensures that new coins are introduced into the system at a controlled pace.
The Challenges of Bitcoin Mining
Mining bitcoins can be a challenging and resource-intensive process. The increasing difficulty of the mathematical problems and the high cost of specialized hardware can make it difficult for individual miners to compete. Many miners join mining pools, where they combine their resources and share the rewards.
Additionally, the electricity consumption associated with mining is significant. Miners need to consider the cost of electricity and the environmental impact of their operations. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in using renewable energy sources to power mining operations.
Bitcoin mining is an essential process that helps maintain the Bitcoin network and ensures the security and integrity of the system. It involves solving complex mathematical problems using powerful hardware and is rewarded with newly created bitcoins. While it can be challenging and resource-intensive, mining plays a crucial role in the world of Bitcoin investments.
Bitcoin Security Tips
When it comes to investing in Bitcoin, security is of utmost importance. Here are some essential tips to keep your Bitcoin investments safe:
- Use a hardware wallet: Consider storing your Bitcoin in a hardware wallet instead of an online wallet. Hardware wallets are physical devices that offer an extra layer of security by keeping your private keys offline and protected from potential hackers.
- Enable two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security by requiring you to provide an additional verification method, such as a unique code sent to your mobile device, when logging into your Bitcoin wallet or exchange account.
- Use a strong password: Create a unique and strong password for your Bitcoin wallets and exchanges. A strong password should be a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters, and it should not be easy to guess or reuse across different platforms.
- Keep software up to date: Regularly update your Bitcoin wallet software and any other software or applications that you use for your Bitcoin investments. Software updates often include important security patches that can help protect your funds.
- Beware of phishing attempts: Be cautious of suspicious emails, websites, and social media messages that may try to trick you into revealing your private keys or login credentials. Always double-check the legitimacy of the source before providing any sensitive information.
- Research before investing: Before investing in any Bitcoin-related products, thoroughly research the platform or exchange to ensure its legitimacy and security measures. Look for reviews, security certifications, and user feedback to make an informed decision.
- Use a secure internet connection: Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks or unsecured internet connections when accessing your Bitcoin wallets or conducting transactions. Use a secure and private internet connection to prevent potential hackers from intercepting your data.
- Keep it private: Avoid discussing your Bitcoin investments and holdings in public or online forums. Revealing too much information about your Bitcoin holdings can make you a target for potential theft or hacking attempts.
- Backup your wallet: Regularly backup your Bitcoin wallet and store the backup in a secure location, such as an offline or encrypted storage device. This way, even if your computer or device is compromised, you can still recover your funds.
By following these Bitcoin security tips, you can enhance the safety of your Bitcoin investments and reduce the risk of theft or loss.
Key Factors to Consider Before Investing in Bitcoin
Before diving into Bitcoin investments, it is important to carefully consider several key factors. Bitcoin can be a highly volatile and speculative investment, so it's crucial to make informed decisions. Here are some important factors to keep in mind:
- Market Volatility: Bitcoin has a reputation for its high price volatility. The value of Bitcoin can fluctuate dramatically, which can lead to significant gains or losses. It is important to understand and be comfortable with this level of volatility before investing.
- Regulation and Legalities: The regulatory environment for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can vary significantly from country to country. Before getting involved in Bitcoin investments, it is important to understand the legal and regulatory framework in your jurisdiction. This will help you avoid any potential legal issues or compliance concerns.
- Risk Tolerance: Consider your own risk tolerance before investing in Bitcoin. It is a high-risk investment that may not be suitable for everyone. Make sure to evaluate your financial situation, investment goals, and risk tolerance before deciding to invest.
- Security: Bitcoin is a digital asset, and like any other form of digital property, it can be susceptible to hacking and theft. It is essential to take proper security measures to safeguard your Bitcoin holdings. This includes using secure wallets, implementing strong passwords, and enabling two-factor authentication.
- Educate Yourself: Bitcoin is a complex technology and investment asset. Before investing, it is crucial to educate yourself about Bitcoin, how it works, and the potential risks and benefits. There are numerous online resources, books, and courses available to help you gain a deeper understanding.
- Diversification: It is generally recommended to not allocate all of your investment capital into Bitcoin or any single asset. Diversification can help mitigate risk and protect your portfolio from the potential volatility of Bitcoin. Consider spreading your investments across multiple asset classes.
- Market Research: Conduct thorough market research before investing in Bitcoin. Stay informed about the latest news, developments, and trends in the cryptocurrency market. This will help you make more informed investment decisions and avoid any potential scams or fraudulent schemes.
- Long-Term Perspective: Bitcoin investments should generally be approached with a long-term perspective. While short-term price movements can be exciting, it is important to focus on the fundamentals of Bitcoin and its potential long-term value. Remember, past performance is not indicative of future results.
By considering these key factors, you can make more informed decisions when it comes to investing in Bitcoin. It is essential to stay updated, be cautious, and never invest more than you can afford to lose.
Common Bitcoin Investment Mistakes
Investing in Bitcoin can be an exciting and potentially profitable venture. However, there are several common mistakes that beginners often make. By understanding these mistakes and how to avoid them, you can increase your chances of success in the Bitcoin market.
1. Lack of Research
One of the biggest mistakes beginners make is jumping into Bitcoin investments without conducting thorough research. It is essential to learn about the technology behind Bitcoin, understand how it works, and stay updated on the latest market trends. Without proper research, you may make uninformed decisions that lead to financial losses.
2. Emotional Investing
Emotional investing is another common mistake among Bitcoin beginners. Bitcoin's volatile nature can lead to extreme price fluctuations, causing panic or excitement among investors. It is crucial to make investment decisions based on rational analysis rather than emotions. Setting a clear investment plan and sticking to it can help you avoid impulsive decisions.
3. Putting All Eggs in One Basket
Investing all your money in Bitcoin is a risky strategy. Diversifying your portfolio by investing in different assets can help minimize the impact of price fluctuations. It's important to consider other cryptocurrencies, stocks, or traditional investments to spread your risk effectively.
4. Ignoring Security Measures
Bitcoin investments require strong security measures to protect your digital assets. Beginners often overlook the importance of using secure wallets, enabling two-factor authentication, and regularly updating their software. Neglecting these security measures can make you vulnerable to cyberattacks and potential loss of your Bitcoin investments.
5. Falling for Scams
The cryptocurrency industry has seen its fair share of scams and fraudulent schemes. Beginners are often targeted by scammers promising high returns or exclusive investment opportunities. It is crucial to be cautious and thoroughly research any investment opportunity before committing your funds. Avoid falling for unrealistic promises or pressure tactics that could result in financial loss.
6. Timing the Market
Trying to time the market and predict Bitcoin's price movements is an almost impossible task. Many beginners make the mistake of buying or selling based on short-term market fluctuations, hoping to maximize their profits. Instead, focus on long-term investment strategies and avoid making impulsive decisions based on short-term market movements.
7. Not Having a Backup Plan
Bitcoin investments come with inherent risks. It's essential to have a backup plan in case the market doesn't perform as expected. Consider setting stop-loss orders to automatically sell your Bitcoin if the price drops below a certain threshold. Having a contingency plan can help limit your losses and protect your investment capital.
8. Lack of Patience
Bitcoin investing requires patience and a long-term perspective. Many beginners expect quick profits and get discouraged if the market doesn't immediately go their way. It's important to understand that Bitcoin's value can fluctuate significantly in the short term but has shown a positive trajectory over the long term. Be prepared for ups and downs and avoid making hasty decisions based on short-term market movements.
Remember, investing in Bitcoin involves risks, and it's important to educate yourself and seek professional advice before making any investment decisions.
Alternative Cryptocurrencies to Consider
If you are interested in investing in cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin is just one option to consider. There are many alternative cryptocurrencies, often referred to as altcoins, that have gained popularity in recent years. These altcoins offer different features and use cases, and may present additional investment opportunities.
Ethereum is the second largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, after Bitcoin. Unlike Bitcoin, Ethereum is a decentralized platform that enables the creation and execution of smart contracts. It has its native cryptocurrency called Ether (ETH) which is used to pay for the computational resources needed to perform transactions and execute smart contracts on the network.
Ripple is both a digital payment protocol and a cryptocurrency. It aims to enable fast, low-cost international money transfers by using a decentralized network of validators. Ripple's native cryptocurrency, XRP, is used as a bridge currency for transferring value between different fiat currencies. Ripple also aims to work with financial institutions to facilitate seamless cross-border transactions.
Litecoin is a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency that was created as a "lite" version of Bitcoin. It was designed to have faster block generation times and a different hashing algorithm. While Bitcoin uses SHA-256, Litecoin uses Scrypt, which allows for faster and more efficient mining. Litecoin has gained popularity for its faster transaction confirmation times and lower fees compared to Bitcoin.
Cardano is a blockchain platform that aims to provide a secure and sustainable infrastructure for the development of decentralized applications and smart contracts. It uses a unique proof-of-stake algorithm called Ouroboros that aims to be more energy-efficient than traditional proof-of-work algorithms. Cardano's native cryptocurrency, ADA, is used for transactions and as a means of participating in the platform's governance.
Stellar is a platform that aims to facilitate fast, low-cost cross-border payments. It connects financial institutions, payment systems, and individuals, enabling them to send and receive money in various currencies. Stellar's native cryptocurrency, XLM, acts as a bridge currency and helps facilitate the seamless transfer of value. Stellar also supports the creation and issuance of asset-backed tokens.
These are just a few examples of the many alternative cryptocurrencies that are available in the market. Each of these cryptocurrencies has its unique features and potential use cases. Before investing in any cryptocurrency, it is important to do thorough research and consider the risks involved. Cryptocurrency investments can be volatile and speculative, so it is advisable to only invest what you can afford to lose.
Finding Reliable Bitcoin Exchanges
When getting into Bitcoin investments, one of the key steps is to find a reliable Bitcoin exchange. Bitcoin exchanges are online platforms where you can buy, sell, and trade Bitcoin.
Why it's important to find a reliable Bitcoin exchange
Reliability is crucial when it comes to choosing a Bitcoin exchange. A reliable exchange ensures the security of your funds, provides a transparent and fair trading environment, and offers reliable customer support. Here are some reasons why it's important:
- Security: A reliable exchange will have strong security measures in place to protect your funds from unauthorized access and theft.
- Transparency: Look for an exchange that provides clear information about its fees, trading volume, and other relevant details.
- Liquidity: A reliable exchange will have high liquidity, meaning there are enough buyers and sellers to ensure smooth trading.
- Regulation: Check if the exchange is regulated by a reputable financial authority. This can provide additional protection for your investments.
Key factors to consider when choosing a Bitcoin exchange
- Reputation: Research the exchange's reputation by reading reviews and checking forums. Look for exchanges that have been operating for a immediate edge while and are trusted by the community.
- Security measures: Check if the exchange offers two-factor authentication (2FA), cold storage for funds, and other security features.
- Supported countries: Make sure the exchange supports your country of residence, as some exchanges have geographic restrictions.
- Trading fees: Compare the fees charged by different exchanges. Look for exchanges that offer competitive rates and transparent fee structures.
- User interface: Consider the exchange's user interface and trading tools. A user-friendly interface can make the trading experience more enjoyable and convenient.
- Customer support: Look for exchanges that offer responsive and helpful customer support. This can be crucial if you encounter any issues or have questions.
Popular Bitcoin exchanges
Here are some popular Bitcoin exchanges that are known for their reliability:
|Coinbase||Highly reputable, user-friendly interface, supports multiple cryptocurrencies.|
|Binance||Large trading volume, wide range of cryptocurrencies, advanced trading features.|
|Kraken||Good reputation, strong security measures, extensive range of trading pairs.|
|Gemini||Regulated exchange, robust security, offers both basic and advanced trading options.|
Remember, always do your own research and consider your specific needs and preferences when choosing a Bitcoin exchange. Finding a reliable exchange is an important step towards successful Bitcoin investments.
Tips for Successful Bitcoin Investments
Investing in Bitcoin can be both exciting and daunting. Here are some tips to help you navigate the world of Bitcoin investments:
- Do thorough research: Before investing in Bitcoin, make sure you understand how it works. Read books, articles, and watch videos to educate yourself about the technology behind Bitcoin and the risks involved in investing.
- Start with a small investment: It's always wise to start with a small investment until you feel comfortable and confident in your understanding of Bitcoin. This allows you to learn from any mistakes or losses without risking too much capital.
- Diversify your portfolio: Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Consider diversifying your portfolio by investing in other cryptocurrencies or traditional investments like stocks and bonds to spread out your risk.
- Choose a reliable exchange: When buying and selling Bitcoin, choose a reputable and secure exchange. Research the exchange's history, security measures, customer reviews, and fees to ensure you are using a trustworthy platform.
- Use a cold wallet for storage: Consider using a cold wallet, such as a hardware wallet, to store your Bitcoin. Cold wallets provide an extra layer of security by keeping your private keys offline and away from potential hackers.
- Stay updated: The cryptocurrency market is constantly evolving. Stay up to date with the latest news, trends, and regulations related to Bitcoin. This will help you make informed investment decisions and adjust your strategies accordingly.
- Keep emotions in check: Bitcoin's price can be highly volatile, which can lead to emotional decision-making. Avoid making impulsive decisions based on fear or greed. Instead, stick to your investment plan and make rational choices.
- Consider dollar-cost averaging: Rather than investing a lump sum all at once, consider using a strategy called dollar-cost averaging. This involves regularly investing a fixed amount of money into Bitcoin over time. This approach can help smooth out the impact of short-term price fluctuations.
- Be prepared for volatility: Bitcoin is known for its price volatility. Be prepared for sudden price swings and don't let them discourage you. Remember, investing in Bitcoin is a long-term game, and patience can be key to success.
- Seek professional advice: If you're unsure about investing in Bitcoin or need expert guidance, consider seeking advice from a financial advisor or cryptocurrency specialist. They can provide personalized recommendations based on your financial goals and risk tolerance.
Remember, investing in Bitcoin has its risks, and there are no guarantees of returns. It's essential to do your due diligence and invest only what you can afford to lose.