The millennial generation has a reputation for iconoclasm and defiance of tradition. On personal finance, some millennials are placing their savings in alternative investments like cryptocurrencies. Some are even planning to invest in cryptocurrencies for the purpose of retirement.
The two most popular cryptocurrencies to millennials are Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH). Some motivations for millennials' turning to cryptos include their lack of pensions and 401(k)s, distrust of banks and mutual funds, and familiarity with digital asset ownership. Another reason might be that they think of cryptos as a good hedge against inflation and recession, especially as housing and education costs remain high. Others are pursuing crypto investments purely for diversification, to augment their traditional portfolios of stocks, bonds, and cash.
Most millennials who invest in cryptos use online exchanges instead of cold storage wallets. On the websites and apps of exchanges like Coinbase, Circle, Kraken, or Poloniex, one can buy and sell many cryptos with fiat currencies and credit cards. As for pure retirement accounts such as the Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and 401(k), one can technically and legally hold BTC using an IRA custodian. But buying cryptos in retirement accounts is practically difficult, for investment management companies like Vanguard, Fidelity
Millennial crypto investors tend to be young and tech-savvy. Some are celebrities, others are students and new graduates. Celebrities who have invested include Paris Hilton, Ashton Kutcher, and Floyd Mayweather. Roshaan Khan, a Virginia student who saw gains of 40% on crypto investments, states that all his net worth is in cryptos, which he sees as the best way to help repay student loan debt. Emil Thorsplass, a Norwegian musician, invests as part of a well-diversified portfolio and savings incentive. Cryptocurrency expert Andreas M. Antonopoulos believes that millennial investors still feel fear and distrust of banks and traditional finance due to the Global Financial Crisis. He states that they are simply exercising choice in the personal finance market.
So is investing in cryptos for retirement a good idea? It depends. Some disadvantages include the difficulty of buying in retirement accounts and the taxable nature of crypto purchases. But advantages include diversification, a possible hedge, full personal ownership of assets, and the recent skyrocketing of crypto prices. However, equities and fixed income have survived the test of time. Cryptos have existed for only almost a decade. In about 35 years, when the 20 to 30 year-old millennial investors start to retire, the full performance comparisons of cryptos versus traditional asset allocations will help answer the question.
The author holds a long position in BTC.