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Crypto Banking Wars: Can Non-Custodial Crypto Wallets Ever Replace Banks?

Crypto Banking Wars: Can Non-Custodial Crypto Wallets Ever Replace Banks?
Can they overcome the product limitations of blockchain and deliver the world-class experience that consumers expect?
This is the second part of Crypto Banking Wars — a new series that examines what crypto-native company is most likely to become the bank of the future. Who is best positioned to reach mainstream adoption in consumer finance?
While crypto allows the world to get rid of banks, a bank will still very much be necessary for this very powerful technology to reach the masses. As we laid out in our previous series, Crypto-Powered, we believe companies that build with blockchain at their core will have the best shot at winning the broader consumer finance market. We hope it will be us at Genesis Block, but we aren’t the only game in town.
So this series explores the entire crypto landscape and tries to answer the question, which crypto company is most likely to become the bank of the future?
In our last episode, we offered an in-depth analysis of big crypto exchanges like Coinbase & Binance. Today we’re analyzing non-custodial crypto wallets. These are products where only the user can touch or move funds. Not even the company or developer who built the application can access, control, or stop funds from being moved. These apps allow users to truly become their own bank.
We’ve talked a little about this before. This group of companies is nowhere near the same level of threat as the biggest crypto exchanges. However, this group really understands DeFi and the magic it can bring. This class of products is heavily engineer-driven and at the bleeding-edge of DeFi innovation. These products are certainly worth discussing. Okay, let’s dive in.

Users & Audience

These non-custodial crypto wallets are especially popular among the most hardcore blockchain nerds and crypto cypherpunks.
“Not your keys, not your coins.”
This meme is endlessly repeated among longtime crypto hodlers. If you’re not in complete control of your crypto (i.e. using non-custodial wallets), then it’s not really your crypto. There has always been a close connection between libertarianism & cryptocurrency. This type of user wants to be in absolute control of their money and become their own bank.
In addition to the experienced crypto geeks, for some people, these products will mean the difference between life and death. Imagine a refugee family that wants to safely protect their years of hard work — their life savings — as they travel across borders. Carrying cash could put their safety or money at risk. A few years ago I spent time in Greece at refugee camps — I know first-hand this is a real use-case.
Or imagine a family living under an authoritarian regime — afraid that their corrupt or oppressive government will seize their assets (or devalue their savings via hyperinflation). Citizens in these countries cannot risk putting their money in centralized banks or under their mattresses. They must become their own bank.
These are the common use-cases and users for non-custodial wallets.

Products in Market

Let’s do a quick round-up of some of the more popular products already in the market.
Web/Desktop The most popular web wallet is MetaMask. Though it doesn’t have any specific integration with DeFi protocols yet, it has more than a million users (which is a lot in crypto land!). Web wallets that are more deeply integrated with DeFi include InstaDapp, Zerion, DeFi Saver, Zapper, and MyCrypto (disclosure: I’m an investor and a big fan of Taylor). For the mass market, mobile will be a much more important form-factor. I don’t view these web products as much of a threat to Genesis Block.
Mobile The more serious threats to Genesis Block are the mobile products that (A) are leveraging some of the powerful DeFi protocols and (B) abstracting away a lot of the blockchain/DeFi UX complexity. While none get close to us on (B), the products attempting this are Argent and Dharma. To the extent they can, both are trying to make interacting with blockchain technology as simple as possible.
A few of the bigger exchanges have also entered this mobile non-custodial market. Coinbase has Wallet (via Cipher Browser acquisition). Binance has Trust Wallet (also via acquisition). And speaking of acquisitions, MyCrypto acquired Ambo, which is a solid product and has brought MyCrypto into the mobile space. Others worth mentioning include Rainbow — well-designed and built by a small indy-team with strong DeFi experience (former Balance team). And ZenGo which has a cool feature around keyless security (their CEO is a friend).
There are dozens of other mobile crypto wallets that do very little beyond showing your balances. They are not serious threats.
Hardware Wallets Holding crypto on your own hardware wallet is widely considered to be “best practice” from a security standpoint. The most popular hardware wallets are Ledger, Trezor, and KeepKey (by our friends at ShapeShift). Ledger Nano X is the only product that has Bluetooth — thus, the only one that can connect to a mobile app. While exciting and innovative, these hardware wallets are not yet integrated with any DeFi protocols.


Let’s take a look at some of the strengths with non-custodial products.
  1. Regulatory arbitrage Because these products are “non-custodial”, they are able to avoid the regulatory burdens that centralized, custodial products must deal with (KYC/AML/MTL/etc). This is a strong practical benefit for a bootstrapped startup/buildedeveloper. Though it’s unclear how long this advantage lasts as products reach wider audiences and increased scrutiny.
  2. User Privacy Because of the regulatory arbitrage mentioned above, users do not need to complete onerous KYC requirements. For example, there’s no friction around selfies, government-issued IDs, SSNs, etc. Users can preserve much of their privacy and they don’t need to worry about their sensitive information being hacked, compromised, or leaked.
  3. Absolute control & custody This is really one of the great promises of crypto — users can become their own bank. Users can be in full control of their money. And they don’t need to bury it underground or hide it under a mattress. No dependence, reliance or trust in any third parties. Only the user herself can access and unlock the money.


Now let’s examine some of the weaknesses.
  1. Knowledge & Education Most non-custodial products do not abstract away any of the blockchain complexity. In fact, they often expose more of it because the most loyal users are crypto geeks. Imagine how an average, non-crypto user feels when she starts seeing words like seed phrases, public & private keys, gas limits, transaction fees, blockchain explorers, hex addresses, and confirmation times. There is a lot for a user to learn and become educated on. That’s friction. The learning curve is very high and will always be a major blocker for adoption. We’ve talked about this in our Spreading Crypto series — to reach the masses, the crypto stuff needs to be in the background.
  2. User Experience It is currently impossible to create a smooth and performant user experience in non-custodial wallets or decentralized applications. Any interaction that requires a blockchain transaction will feel sluggish and slow. We built a messaging app on Ethereum and presented it at DevCon3 in Cancun. The technical constraints of blockchain technology were crushing to the user experience. We simply couldn’t create the real-time, modern messaging experience that users have come to expect from similar apps like Slack or WhatsApp. Until blockchains are closer in speed to web servers (which will be difficult given their decentralized nature), dApps will never be able to create the smooth user experience that the masses expect.
  3. Product Limitations Most non-custodial wallets today are based on Ethereum smart contracts. That means they are severely limited with the assets that they can support (only erc-20 tokens). Unless through synthetic assets (similar to Abra), these wallets cannot support massively popular assets like Bitcoin, XRP, Cardano, Litecoin, EOS, Tezos, Stellar, Cosmos, or countless others. There are exciting projects like tBTC trying to bring Bitcoin to Ethereum — but these experiments are still very, very early. Ethereum-based smart contract wallets are missing a huge part of the crypto-asset universe.
  4. Technical Complexity While developers are able to avoid a lot of regulatory complexity (see Strengths above), they are replacing it with increased technical complexity. Most non-custodial wallets are entirely dependent on smart contract technology which is still very experimental and early in development (see Insurance section of this DeFi use-cases post). Major bugs and major hacks do happen. Even recently, it was discovered that Argent had a “high severity vulnerability.” Fortunately, Argent fixed it and their users didn’t lose funds. The tools, frameworks, and best practices around smart contract technology are all still being established. Things can still easily go wrong, and they do.
  5. Loss of Funds Risk Beyond the technical risks mentioned above, with non-custodial wallets, it’s very easy for users to make mistakes. There is no “Forgot Password.” There is no customer support agent you can ping. There is no company behind it that can make you whole if you make a mistake and lose your money. You are on your own, just as CZ suggests. One wrong move and your money is all gone. If you lose your private key, there is no way to recover your funds. There are some new developments around social recovery, but that’s all still very experimental. This just isn’t the type of customer support experience people are used to. And it’s not a risk that most are willing to take.
  6. Integration with Fiat & Traditional Finance In today’s world, it’s still very hard to use crypto for daily spending (see Payments in our DeFi use-cases post). Hopefully, that will all change someday. In the meantime, if any of these non-custodial products hope to win in the broader consumer finance market, they will undoubtedly need to integrate with the legacy financial world — they need onramps (fiat-to-crypto deposit methods) and offramps (crypto-to-fiat withdraw/spend methods). As much as crypto-fanatics hate hearing it, you can’t expect people to jump headfirst into the new world unless there is a smooth transition, unless there are bridge technologies that help them arrive. This is why these fiat integrations are so important. Examples might be allowing ACH/Wire deposits (eg. via Plaid) or launching a debit card program for spend/withdraw. These fiat integrations are essential if the aim is to become the bank of the future. Doing any of this compliantly will require strong KYC/AML. So to achieve this use-case — integrating with traditional finance —all of the Strengths we mentioned above are nullified. There are no longer regulatory benefits. There are no longer privacy benefits (users need to upload KYC documents, etc). And users are no longer in complete control of their money.

Wrap Up

One of the great powers of crypto is that we no longer depend on banks. Anyone can store their wealth and have absolute control of their money. That’s made possible with these non-custodial wallets. It’s a wonderful thing.
I believe that the most knowledgeable and experienced crypto people (including myself) will always be active users of these applications. And as mentioned in this post, there will certainly be circumstances where these apps will be essential & even life-saving.
However, I do not believe this category of product is a major threat to Genesis Block to becoming the bank of the future.
They won’t win in the broader consumer finance market — mostly because I don’t believe that’s their target audience. These applications simply cannot produce the type of product experience that the masses require, want, or expect. The Weaknesses I’ve outlined above are just too overwhelming. The friction for mass-market consumers is just too much.
The winning bank will be focused on solving real user problems and meeting user needs. Not slowed down by rigid idealism like censorship-resistance and absolute decentralization, as it is with most non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be a world-class product that’s smooth, performant, and accessible. Not sluggish and slow, as it is with most non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be one where blockchain & crypto is mostly invisible to end-users. Not front-and-center as it is with non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be one managed and run by professionals who know exactly what they’re doing. Not DIY (Do It Yourself), as it is with non-custodial wallets.
So are these non-custodial wallets a threat to Genesis Block in winning the broader consumer finance market, and becoming the bank of the future?
No. They are designed for a very different audience.
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60 DoD Week 6: Finances

60 DoD Week 6: Finances
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. – Ben Franklin
Having a financial plan is vitally important for a number of reasons. What do you think the greatest stressor in relationships is? The lack of sex your wife is giving you? Close one. It’s money, although your shaved balls might think otherwise.
So don’t you think having a plan is critical to fixing your well-being? You have a MAP to get in shape. Why don’t you have a plan for your finances.
This post might better well be served in personal finance, but screw it. I’m going to town. For the folks overseas, some of this content might be US-specific.
On Net Worth
In order to calculate your net worth, you need to take your assets, such as your checking account, savings, house, etc, and subtract your liabilities, your mortgage, credit card debts, and loans, and you’ll get your net worth.
This is a good time to be spreadsheet guy. But instead of counting how many ladies you are seeing or counting how many times you had sex, use Excel for its intended purpose.
Start calculating it annually, quarterly, monthly. Whatever frequency you feel like you need to get a handle on where your net worth is going. For myself, I do this quarterly, though I have my finger on the pulse pretty frequently.
On Budget
You want to get ahead? You have to operate on a budget. Know what you are spending, what you are saving, and where your money is going.
For me, I’ve got it set where it takes me about 7 minutes to log into the various accounts, take certain numbers like food spend and so forth, and plug those numbers into the Excel boxes. Plugging them in allows me to quickly project the next three months spend and where I’ll be. Some numbers are easy to find, like the fixed costs of mortgage and student loans. Some numbers you have to estimate or look up, like variable food costs and gas/electric. I do this about once a month. It doesn’t take long at all – just making sure I have good cash flow and sticking to my budget.
Take the time to do a detailed line item comparison. You should know exactly how much is going where. The real key though is STICKING TO YOUR BUDGET. You have to keep to it in order to meet your goals.
On Financial Literacy
It’s key to have a good understanding on financial literacy. You have to understand things such as what is the market, what is a stock, what is a bond, what is a dividend, what is a mutual fund, and so forth. You have to know what you are investing in. Take your financial knowledge and move it up. There are literally tons of free information out there. Start going to town. And for the advanced players, go learn the ins and outs of your brokerage firm’s website and trading platform – I mean really learn it, not just “Oh, here’s how I do a buy order on a stock.” Learn how to screen for stocks, mutual funds, and bonds effectively.
Side note – If you are in the US, I recommend joining AAII. I have gotten a great deal of value out of my membership to them. A number of HNW individuals I know recommended it to me, though I had joined and got the lifetime membership before I met them.
On Bogleheads
Personally, I’m a Boglehead. Jack Bogle, man, he was the Chad of passive investing. I believe that passive investing (indexing) long term beats active investing long term. So does Warren Buffet. All my research agrees with this from a long term standpoint.
I’m also a fan of creating an Investment Policy Statement
Boglehead Resources /
I would highly encourage you to review these links and check out their philosophy on investing.
On Being a Contrarian
I’m also a fan of being a contrarian. Be greedy when others are fearful, and fearful when others are greedy. You see it with the Bitcoin bubble. You see it when the stock market goes up and down. Oh no, the market is going down… whatever shall we do?!? You stick to your guns. I’m not saying go catch a falling knife. I’m saying that you stick to your plan. There is opportunity when people are fearful, and caution is warranted when people are being greedy. You have to evaluate where we are in the economic cycle as well.
On a Cup of Starbucks and Retirement
You might have seen the example where someone buys a cup of Starbucks every day and then finds out that if they took that money and invested it toward their retirement, over the span of say 30 years they’ll have like an extra 200k. I have two comments on this. First, be frugal, but don’t deny yourself. Don’t let frugality control you. Second, don’t just focus on controlling the little changes like saving a cup of Starbucks every week, focus on the BIG areas. Focus on getting a new job that pays you an extra 40k per year. Focus on saving 100 bucks off your cable (1200 bucks saved per year). Focus on lowering your taxes. What I’m saying is focus on not just the small areas, but also make the bigger impact areas a higher priority. And stop drinking so much Starbucks – make it yourself. Grind the beans, for crying out loud.
On Automating
Automate your finances. Make it EASY for yourself to save money. Set up your automatic bill payments for your credit card, loans, mortgage, and bills. Take advantage of the modern tools nowadays for app/camera based check deposits. Have money taken out of your paycheck before you get it, whether it is for retirement or into a separate savings account, so you can accumulate a rainy day fund. I’ve automated as much as I can, with direct withdrawals taken out for mortgage, credit card payments, gas and electric, and for the other areas like telephone those are automatically paid from the credit card, which then is automatically paid from the checking account. Automating saves time, which is a critical resource.
On Buying a Car
Here’s your resources: - I used these for private market research, and was worth every penny.
There’s a lot more here, but this should get you through the basics. Simply, knowledge is power. The more you know, the more power you have. If you don’t know every single line item that is going into your purchase, whether it is an accessory, taxes, that stupid coating that they try to sell you for $1000 but it’s really just worth $100, etc., then you’re not ready, and you’re more likely to be fleeced.
Just even walking into the dealership and observing other customers and their interactions with the car salesman, it’s like watching sheep. Don’t be a sheep. Be prepared. And be prepared to walk too. Cars are a commodity. You can buy the same car someplace else cheaper. Remember this – cars are a commodity, and there’s lots of dealers out there.
Side note – “But Steel, what about TrueCar? That seems awesome. I’ll just go in, get my TrueCaCostco/KBB/XXX price and I won’t even have to do anything to get a great price.” Let me tell you this. Dealers would be HAPPY to sell you at the TrueCar price all day long. With proper preparation, you can negotiate a far better deal. Last time when preparing, I had a binder. That binder saved me over 9k. Cost me 5 bucks at the local pharmacy. Printed out all my info, was prepared as all get out, and had a prepared offer ready to go (I used my own sheet, not theirs). Be prepared, that’s what I’m saying. And don’t fall for the four square technique. I just chuckled at the different dealerships at how they try to pull that one. Hell, I went through YouTube and viewed a couple of videos on how car salesmen sell, so I had an understanding of their mentality and what they do. Be prepared.
Generally, there are five major parts for buying a car: Trading in your current car, buying your new car, buying options on a car (like that fancy heated steering-wheel), extended warranty, and financing. You should own every single area of this. As an example, when you are talking about trading in your current car, you should ALREADY have your price quote from CarMax in hand, as well as other offers from other dealers. You should know what your car is worth if it were to be sold (remember supply and demand – what is it really worth: what someone will buy it for). You should already have the KBB and Edmunds value of your used car. For your new car, you should have a breakdown of every single thing on it, including options, doc fees and ERT. For your fancy accessories, you should have the MSRP of these accessories, the actual cost of them buying (wholesale parts warehouse), and an estimate in your head on labor costs (cause parts don’t get installed by themselves). For your extended warranty, I would just say that there is a reason why this is one of the most profitable areas of a car dealership. If you simply must have an extended warranty for peace of mind, go find a wholesale warranty. Do your research. Don’t buy from the dealership. Most cars nowadays anyway are built quite well with high standards of quality control, so they’re not failing like they used to. On financing, make sure you set up your own financing before you walk in. It makes life much easier, as the car dealers get money on financing as well. If the dealership can beat your credit union, more power to them. It’s powerful as all get out when you walk in with a prewritten cashier’s check at a super low interest rate and you’re ready when they start asking you how you are going to pay for the car. “Well, I am preapproved for x amount (aka the full amount of the car), but I’d like to see what specials and discounts you have.”
It’s all about how much money you can save in each one of these areas.
Granted if you’re BETA BUCKS and your time is worth more than doing a bit of research, that’s fair. Some folk just walk in and buy a car right there with a minimum of haggling. That’s how much their time is worth to them, and I know a few people who are like this. I’m merely presenting an alternate approach. To me, it was worth the time to save more than a few thousands.
On Buying a House
For many people, a house is the largest purchase that they make in their lifetime. Many of you have already bought houses, so I won’t go into this in detail, but again, from The Millionaire Next Door – “If you’re not yet wealthy, but want to be someday, never purchase a home that requires a mortgage that is more than twice your household’s annual realized income.”
I see a lot of you going “Shit” after reading that.
On a Side Hustle
I didn’t even have to write anything, u/red-sfpplus already wrote an excellent post on this topic -
Learn from his example. And then buy the man a drink.
On What to Do First
"Successful Investing takes time, discipline and patience. No matter how great the talent or effort, some things just take time: You can't produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant." - Warren Buffett
First of all, take stock of where you are. Figure out your net worth, and what you have and what you owe (and interest rates). I would say the first thing to do is to have a three to six month emergency fund. This can be done in conjunction with getting rid of high interest debt (such as credit card debt), however if and when you have an emergency, you’re going to need to tap into something.
Start your budgeting process. Know where your money is going. Fix it.
Most people don’t even have a thousand dollars in savings. Don’t be like that.
I would also note that the Personal Finance subreddit has this already diagrammed out in a flowchart in their wiki -
On Giving Back
So you give back, right. Of course you do. But what I suggest is potentially setting up a charitable fund, so that you can maximize your charitable deduction annually. You can give a larger sum one year, and then less/none the following year – and maximize your deduction the first year. Something to consider. Plus then your charitable fund is invested, will grow with the market (remember you need a plan and asset allocation here as well), and the growth can be given to the charity as well, tax free. I’d recommend Vanguard, but really there are a number of places that do this.
On Habits of Millionaires
From the book The Millionaire Next Door, here are the characteristics of millionaires:
• They live well below their means
• They allocate their time, energy, and money efficiently, in ways conducive to building wealth.
• They believe that financial independence is more important than displaying high social status
• Their parents did not provide economic outpatient care.
• Their adult children are economically self-sufficient.
• They are proficient in targeting market opportunities.
• They chose the right occupation.
On Building Wealth
You want to build wealth? Don’t have a high consumption lifestyle! Think for a moment. How much money do you think it takes to maintain an upper-middle class lifestyle vs. how much money do you think it takes to maintain a middle-class/blue collar lifestyle? Bespoke suits. Luxury cars. Bigger house. More property taxes. And so forth. Think of all the stuff you have to purchase to keep up with the Joneses. Cost of cleaning. Cost of buying furniture for that fancy house. Etc.
“But Steel, I don’t care about the Joneses.” Sure you don’t. But your wife does. Watching that HGTV, picking out the stupid pillows that breed like rabbits in your house when you’re not looking. There’s something about a house that factors into the Female Social Matrix.
Frugality is the name of the game. Frugal being “behavior characterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resources.”
Don’t be wasteful. Don’t have a lifestyle marked by lavish spending and hyper consumption. You want to build wealth? Be frugal.
Most people will not become wealthy in one generation if they are married to people who are wasteful. You can’t accumulate wealth if one of you is a hyperconsumer.
On Offence vs. Defense
So you’re not beta bucks, you’re BETA BUCKS! You make it rain! Good for you. You play great offence. But how’s your defense? How’s your wealth accumulation? Are you spending like there’s no tomorrow? If you want to win the game, you have to play great offence AND defense.
Here’s some questions for you:
• Do you operate on an annual budget?
• Do you know how much you spend each year for food, clothing, and shelter?
• Do you have a clearly defined set of daily, weekly, monthly, annual, and lifetime goals?
• Do you spend a lot of time planning your financial future?
To build wealth, minimize your realized (taxable) income, and maximize your unrealized income (wealth/capital appreciation without a cash flow).
How do you become financially independent? You have to plan, and you have to sacrifice. You sacrifice today for financial independence tomorrow.
On Your Wife & Buy-In
As part of your plan and budgeting, once you have it all set, get buy-in from your wife. But do this not like you are seeking approval from mommy (aka you validation whore you), but matter of factly here is the plan, we are budgeting x amount for these areas. Here is our plan. Set out a vision.
On Financial Vision
Read it and weep -
“One rarely talked-about element of Married Game is a subtle thing known as Vision. Most husbands don’t appreciate what a strong DHV possessing Vision is, and they proceed unaware of the power it can add to their relationship. Most husbands do this because they don’t understand Vision, what it is and how it is manifested, much less the subtle but important role it holds. Let me explain: once upon a time I was working for a personnel agency, and one of my jobs was coaching our people on interviewing techniques. I learned a lot about the process as a result, from both the interviewer and the interviewee side. When it came to my clients who wanted high-quality employees with good technical skills – real talent – I learned the sorts of things that such high-demand technical people wanted in a company. Money, of course, and security and benefits. But beyond that gifted employees want to work for a company with a history, a good culture, and (most importantly) a Vision.
What is Vision? In this context Vision is a manifested idea of the future. Everyone wants to work for a company that’s changing the world and is doing so in a positive, pro-active way. No one wants to work for the company that’s floundering, desperate just to meet its next quarter’s goals. Vision is a generally-stated plan-of-action toward a distant but achievable goal, presented in an enticing enough manner to inspire. It’s short on details and long on generalizations. It’s reflective of inner beliefs, values, and judgments, an indication of character, foresight, and initiative. It should be bold, meaningful, and challenging.”
Now, this quote above is excellent. You need a vision for your life, but you also need a vision for your finances. What would your financial vision be? What does it look like to you? Create it, and then be ready to share that with your family.
On Love of Money
Remember folks, money itself is not the root of all evil. It’s the LOVE of money that causes the problem. When you are so driven to be a better beta bucks to get that coin, and start neglecting yourself, your relationships, etc… you’ve got problems. Money is just a tool in the toolbox. Use it, don’t let it use you. Don’t become a slave to money. Your life doesn’t consist of how many toys you have. And you can’t take it with you when you go.
On Insurance, or Lack Thereof
Would it surprise you to know that most people are underinsured? Make sure that you have enough of the key five types of insurance: health, car, homeowners/renters, life, and disability. Preparing yourself for these situations can save you a lot of pain in the future. Also, make sure you get enough umbrella insurance. Typically they say have enough umbrella insurance to cover your net worth, but I recommend getting a bit more.
A quick note, practically, do not get whole life insurance. Get term insurance, and invest the difference in cost between whole life and term. You’ll be much better off. And yes, this is for 99.9% of situations. The remaining .1% of situations are when someone is really wealthy and there are estate and tax considerations. Aka for most of us, don’t worry about it.
And take care of your health, so you don’t get fat when you are older and have related medical problems. Put. The. Fork. Down.
On Assets and Liabilities, Rich Dad Poor Dad Edition
A number of you have read Rich Dad Poor Dad, and there’s controversy in it. I disagree with a number of items in there, but there is an interesting point in there about how he views assets and liabilities:
“You must know the difference between an asset and a liability, and buy assets. If you want to be rich, this is all you need to know. It is Rule No. 1. It is the only rule. This may sound absurdly simple, but most people have no idea how profound this rule is. Most people struggle financially because they do not know the difference between an asset and a liability.”
He has a simple, non-accounting definition - “An asset is something that puts money in my pocket. A liability is something that takes money out of my pocket.”
Buy assets. I like it. What is out there that you can buy that puts money in your pocket. Stocks. Bonds. Mutual Funds. Real Estate that produces Income. There are a ton of items.
You should also think about getting rid of your liabilities… the giant boat, the private jet, the cluster B horrible sex-depriving wife (you know who you are)… you get the idea.
On Disaster Recovery and Information Security
What were to happen if you were to croak, or your only laptop with all your financial data was stolen or destroyed in a fire along with all your financial papers (see, you should have gotten that fireproof safe)? Would you have a plan on what to do? Would your spouse? Your kids? I would suggest making a backup of your finances, statements, tax returns, and other important papers, and put that on an encrypted USB key with a password that you and your wife knows, and then storing that someplace secure. Note that you can do fancy stuff like cloud storage, and so forth – but you need to have a plan for the worst case scenario.
Additionally, make sure that you use two-factor authentication when you log into your banking accounts (if they have it), as well as don’t repeat your passwords for your financial accounts.
I would even suggest having a separate secured email for your banking accounts, and another one for your personal accounts that get those damn spam emails all the time.
Don’t be stupid with your financial accounts. Using the same password is stupid. Yeah, I’m talking to you.
On Practical Advice
Do get rid of high interest credit cards. If you’ve got a balance on your 29.99% APR credit card and are paying that interest every month, it’s in your best interest to eliminate that debt as soon as possible. You’re not going to get a 29.99% return in a month in the stock market (unless you take on excessive risk for that return, obviously). Try to transfer that balance to a promo 0% interest credit card, and work that down.
Don’t borrow from your 401k. You’re cutting out your future returns. Don’t make that 401k loan your emergency fund, but rather have a separate emergency fund.
Do use credit cards over debit cards, for a whole host of reasons (theft being the primary reason).
Do pay yourself first. Take out at least 10% of your paycheck before it hits your checking account, and start saving.
Don’t pay monthly or annual fees on checking accounts or savings accounts. You shouldn’t be paying a bank to store your money. They should be paying you for that privilege.
Do get solid credit cards that give outstanding rewards. Do your research. Get at least 2% cash back if you can. Shoot for 5% or more. For example, Discover allows you to get 5% cash back in certain categories, and then you can redeem $20 for a $25 gift card to a number of different vendors. Looks like you just got a 6.25% return.
There are plenty of other examples. Do you spend a boatload at Amazon? Get your 5% return. As an example – I get a 5% return on gas using a certain credit card. It’s unlimited throughout the year, and is redeemed as a statement credit, so I don’t have to worry about redemption. I have a certain Amex that I redeem at 4.6% points per dollar spent, plus a 2% general cash back card (some places don’t accept Amex). I could go even crazier, like getting the 3% on restaurants, or churning cards (and there are a lot of sites out there on how to churn successfully), but at some point, it’s not worth it.
Do realize that credit cards make it easy to buy things that you don’t need. Recognize that part of yourself that wants to overspend. Ask yourself, do you need whatever it is you are buying. Would it hurt more if you paid in cash rather than credit. Buying with credit encourages you to buy more than you can afford.
Do shop around for loans/services. I asked my bank what the best car loan they could give me – they said 2.99%. I asked my credit union, and they got me 1.49%. That’s a big difference in interest over the course of a loan. Generally due to how credit unions are structured (and their presence – mostly online), they will have better deals on certain loans than banks, depending on the product.
Don’t delay saving for retirement. Generally, you’ll want to be saving 15% or more of your income for retirement early on. If you don’t save early, the harder it will be.
Do try to simplify your finances. It makes it much more complicated if you chase after the best savings rate for your online bank, and then have many accounts all over the place. The 20 dollars that you get in interest is not worth the complexity and time (aka your most valuable resource) it takes to manage all that stuff.
Don’t use your HELOC unless you have to. I have a large HELOC, but I don’t use it. But who knows when I need access to a large sum of money. And don’t use it in lieu of your emergency fund. You need both.
Do some research into budgeting tools. There’s a lot of people on these threads that recommend YNAB. I personally haven’t used it, so I can’t recommend it one way or the other. I’m old school (and cheap thrifty – why would you pay for something if you can do it yourself). But definitely check those tools out – Mint, Personal Capital, YNAB, budgeting tools through your bank, etc. Also, if your credit card does an annual summary (like Amex does), make sure you look at it to get an idea on where you’re spending – it’s very helpful.
On Tips for Saving Money
There are a ton of ways you can save money. Go ahead and google “how can I save 1000”. Wait, I did that for you -
Take some time, call up your cell phone providecable provider and see what specials they have. There's a ton of things you can do to save money quickly.
On Too Much Money
Say you’re an ostrich farmer, and are flush with cash. You’re asking yourself, ok, so I’ve maxed out my 401k, I’ve maxed out my Traditional IRA and then backdoored it into a Roth IRA for tax diversification plus the benefits of a Roth. I’m contributing to a 529 plan for the kids. I looked into mega backdooring my Roth but darn it my employer doesn’t let me do that. I’m doing all of the tax advantaged things I can. I still have this extra 300k sitting around – what do I do with it?!? First world problems, amIrite. Again, this comes back to your plan. What’s the short term plan with this money. What’s the long term plan. What’s your risk tolerance. What assets can you invest in that fit in with your plan. You still have to manage your budget, even if you are a 1 percenter.
On the Best Investment and Most Important Resource
I’m a firm believer that the best investment is investing in yourself (and your family and kids), and your most important resource is not money, but time. Learn a skill. Go get a degree. Give your kids a head start. Help your wife accomplish a goal. Do what you can to save time. Money of course helps, but you know what happens when you teach a man to fish.
On Happiness
Is money linked to happiness? Yes, but only to a point - and
Honestly, at some point, money just becomes a scoreboard. Money will give you security. It will remove a stressor in your life. It will remove fighting and stress in your relationship (about money, fool). It will allow you to do many things. But eventually, money won’t give you happiness. You have to figure that one out yourself. And of course there’s the joke about “Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you a yacht big enough to pull up right alongside it.” – David Lee Roth.
On Money and Attraction
Money by itself will not make your wife’s panties wet. Keep that in mind. Having and getting money is basic adulting. Same with saving and managing it. You want to get her wet? Get in shape. Lift. Does money boost your status? Sure. Is status one of those areas that has some effect on where you are in the sexual marketplace? Sure. Pure physical attraction? No. Do you really think that making MORE money is going to have your wife give you more sex? Of course not -
Get in shape. Be hawt. And fix your damn teeth so you can smile like you are a somebody.
On a Brief Story
So I was talking to a friend of mine, and I asked him how he and his wife set up the finances. He told me about this system, where his paycheck goes into his checking, his wife’s paycheck goes into his wife’s checking, and they have a joint savings account. Then he went into a convoluted description on how each of them pays certain bills, and how what he’s paying is not fair since he’s paying the mortgage AND property tax AND daycare, etc etc. I thought to myself, man, what a convoluted way to deal with stuff. They would then have multiple financial meetings, and discussion on who pays what, and all this extra stuff. It was just a lack of overall ownership going on.
Just take care of the finances. Figure out a system that works for you. I’m not going to tell you which system is the best, because it’s all dependent on your unique circumstances (example: heavy spender SAHM vs saver career girl, you’ll need to put some deep restrictions on the heavy spender). But own it.
On Who Owns the Finances
You own the finances. Period. End stop. From the prior post on finances, it’s so important that I’m putting it here again:
“At the core: Who do you want in charge of your financial future?
The person interested in maintaining status quo and safety at all costs with your happiness and satisfaction a secondary or minor consideration? Or you?
If you've learned anything here it's that you need to be a captain. Putting your wife in the family alpha role breeds contempt and most of the problems that brought your here. Besides control of sex, family MONEY decision veto power is the key indicator of who is wearing the pants.”
submitted by SteelSharpensSteel to marriedredpill [link] [comments]

I passed on 12/13 on my first attempt!!! Here's a not so typical success post...

I finally got up the nerve to take the exam. I studied off and on for too long. I studied the first time for about 6 months about 2 years ago then chickened out to take the exam and never registered for a test day. I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend you register for a test date. It changes the way you think about studying.
Life happens, I have a couple kids and a wife and in the middle of my second go at studying we bought a house so that delayed me even more, or so that's the excuse I gave myself. Everyone around me kept saying stop being a baby and just schedule an exam date. I fear failure so I kept psyching myself out. So I scheduled my exam date, literally 2 days after the price went up $100 so that was a bummer. My original test date was December 27th which means it would be with the new CAT format which scared me even more. I have been studying for the current linear exam and all of the practice tests I took were based on the current linear exam. Not sure if that will matter, but I liked the idea of having the option to flag stuff and review the test after you finish. So I paid 50 bucks and rescheduled the exam for today 12/13 so I could at least give the current format a shot and if I failed then I would take the new one. I paid for insurance as I called it through They have a 100% pass guarantee so I figured why not get a free retake and a refund if I suck at the first test. Skillset's questions are kinda weird sometimes because they are community written. I suggest getting to 100% ready and then go pro 2 weeks before you take you exam. You have to be pro status and 100% ready status in order to ensure your retest voucher and refund for the pro status. It's a nice just in case type thing or at least a little piece of mind knowing you wont have to drop another 700 bucks on this bad boy.
Enough with the life story and on to my method. I self studied and didn't go through any sort of any boot camp. The boot camps are ridiculously priced and I couldn't justify spending $3,500+ for a weeks worth of information shoved down my throat. It would have been like trying to drink water from a fire hydrant.
I am terrible at taking tests and have A.D.D so focusing is a real bummer when you have to answer 250 questions in one sitting. I didn't take any adderall because it makes my mouth dry and I didn't want to get up for water every 5 minutes during the exam.
Dang it... Side tracked.
Now for what I used for studying materials.
The "(ISC)2 Official Study Guide Seventh Edition" - That book is about as dry as my mouth after taking adderall. Insane amount of information but a solid reference dictionary. I read it cover to cover 1 time because focusing on the super detailed overly explained stuff was brutal. It's a great book to go to when you need to really dial in on a topic you don't quit grasp at least 75%. I rate this book a 7/10
I used the "Eric Conrad 11th hour" book like everyone else. The one I purchased was the 10 domain version because the current version wasn't available at the time of purchase. I read this cover to cover 1 time and then for the 2 days before my exam I read the chapters I wasn't super sharp on. I rate this book 10/10 due to the simple read and how condensed the information was. He just gives you the nitty gritty details and the fly by info you need to touch up on.
I used the Kelly Handerhan videos on She is super awesome at giving you a solid amount of information on each domain and really digs in on the areas that may be testable. She doesn't go all Shon Harris on you with too much info. Don't get me wrong the Shon Harris MP3's were solid as well, but I found myself losing focus when I listened to her. The Kelly Handerhan videos were great and the MP3 version of the videos were awesome. Only complaint about the Kelly Handerhan videos is that it doesn't auto play to the next video so you cant just let them play through. The MP3's bummed me out a bit because there is a dude after each track of each domain that says stuff. It gets redundant if you listen for an hour long drive to and from work. But I shouldn't even complain a little bit because they are free and awesome. I rate them 10/10 due the simple meat and potatoes information. Good stuff.
I used the Official practice test book only to get the access to the test engine. To me the questions in this specific test engine were worded the closest to the actual exam. The actual exam asks more specific details in the questions but the wording and style of the questions in the test engine are the closest. The answers in the test engine are closest to the wording of the actual exam. I know some folks say they are nothing like the exam so your results may vary. I took every questions in that book at least 2 times. Then took a break from that test engine because I started to memorize the answers. I then switched over to the Transcender test engine (more on that in a minute) to get a different flavor of questions. I rate the official (ISC)2 test book a solid 8/10 only because some of the answer options are too easy to tell what the answer is. But it gets your brain use to the wording on the actual test.
I used the Transcender test engine for a bit and found these questions confusing too. My least favorite part of the test engine was the colors... Good god the colors hurt my eyes and were distracting. Would be nice is they chilled out on the ferocity of the blue and green and just went with a nice grey tone. I found these questions too wordy sometimes and some were confusing. As far as the layout of the test engine it is very similar to the actual exam layout so that was cool. I used that test engine to get in the habit of reading the answers first and breaking the answers down into what I thought were the 2 best answers before reading the actual question. That method is quite interesting and takes a bit of getting used to, but it was pretty helpful to see what the two closest related answers could be. The actual exam tries to play some tricks on you by having two answers that could be absolutely correct, but then there is one word in there that makes one answer more correct than the other. Makes you go a bit cross-eyed. I rate Transcender a 7/10 because the colors and words. Overall questions made you actually really think about the information and whether or not you knew the information.
I used a few iPhone apps just to study while spending some alone time on the throne. You know that rare personal quiet time you get when you have a wife and kids.
I perused through the sunflower pdf... Cool information for a quick glance at terms. 9/10 because it's a good reference and it's free and people spent their time on it and gave it away.
The thing that absolutely helped me the most was the "Simple CISSP" audio book on audible by Phil Martin. This guy really did keep it simple at broke down the terms just enough to not make them too vague. The breakdowns were perfect. The audio book is him reading his own book titled "Simple CISSP". It's 18 hours long I think. I listened to it once at normal speed and then re-listened to it a couple more times at 1.25 speed and then 1.5 speed just so I can hear the trigger words and breakdowns and the insane amount of acronym's that the CISSP has. The acronym's in the CISSP is bananas (que the Gwen Stefani song, sorry it happens every time I spell bananas) that was probably the most intimidating part of studying for it. Phil Martin talks a bit slow which is great on the first listen through, but speeding it up was pretty awesome. I listened on the way to work, when i worked around the house, on my way home from work and listened to it while I fell asleep at night. Talk about some crazy dreams about acronyms and CISSP adventures. I rate this audio book 1000/10 seriously I can't say enough about it. I really think it's what helped kick me over the fence with confidence. If you sign up for a trial on audible you get the audio book for free, but its worth every penny it's sold for.
Now on to the actual exam. Sorry for the really long post, but I'm still processing and brain dumping information to free up some space in my brain. My exam was quite interesting. Unfortunately I only got about 4.5 hrs of sleep the night before my exam due to the time I get off of work and the stuff that I have to do when i get home. I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY suggest against 4.5 hrs of sleep before a gnarly exam like the CISSP. Really slows you down. When i sat down at my testing desk I read the NDA, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't forget to click the yes I agree button within 5 minutes or you auto fail and don't get a refund or re-test date. You essentially just burned $700 in 5 minutes. I've read some horror stories from folks that did their brain dump during the NDA time period and didn't agree in time thus causing them to burn said $700. Your timer doesn't start until you click next to get to the 1st question so that is a perfect time to create your brain dump sheet. I spent a solid 15 minutes recreating the brain dump sheet I practiced making during my test prep time. I literally got 2 questions that allowed me the ability to reference said beautiful brain dump sheet. Sadly the first 50 questions seriously took me over 2 hrs to process in my brain. WAY WAY WAY too long to finish only 50 questions. My brain was still trying to process why I was awake and sitting in front of 250 questions next to someone who typed like they were angry at their keyboard or life in general (remember the testing center has other people taking different exams). When i was taking practice tests I was averaging 2.5 hrs finishing 250 questions so I knew it was time to take a break. I raised my hand like I was back in the first grade all over again asking the teacher if I could go potty. I then got palm scanned out to drink my 5 hour energy drink, eat my protein bar and wash it down with some delicious over priced Dasani bottled water and then take my potty break.
My initial plan was to take 50 questions at a time and at least stand up and stretch and give my eyes a break. That went right out the window after I realized how slow my brain was thinking. Like I said before I didn't take my adderral so that wake up and alert and focused stuff wasn't happening in my brain so that was a bummer. I'm sure I annoyed the folks sitting next to me because of my tapping and moving and stretching and standing up and yawning, but hey they should have put the headphones on or the earplugs in like I did to tune out all of the ambient noises. I can't stress enough how key the earplugs were, seriously a life saver after hearing the keyboard monster next to me. Seriously sounded like she was going to smash the keys through the desk.
Dang it side tracked again.... Last time I promise. The first 50 questions had me like whoa, is this really happening, I actual know the answers (I thought) or am I playing some hopeful trickery on myself. The questions were on what I focused on the most. But then came the next 75 questions and then my brain was like what the heck are you doing here this test is above your brain computing powers just raise your hand and go to the bathroom and leave like a ninja and never return to this beast of an exam. Then I tricked myself into treating it like a practice test to help reduce the stress, because at that moment I thought I was practicing for my retake of the test to then only stress myself out again because I then remembered the retake would be the new CAT exam format. I wanted to punch myself in the face a few times. But I pushed on and plugged through the next 125 questions. Some of the questions I got were not in any of the books or note-cards or anything I read or remember reading so that bummed me out because it made me think I didn't prepare in depth. The questions on my particular exam were random. I would suggest focusing A LOT of time on the SDLC, BCP/DRP, the ISO stuff, and CC stuff. I had a few OSI model questions a few crypto questions (speaking of crypto, how about that Bitcoin thing). I probably had more SDLC questions than anything. Remember you will most likely see 2 answers that would fit the question perfectly, but there will be a random word or 2 that make one answer better than the other. But in general just make sure you have a solid foundation of all of the domains, you may get a test that hammers hard on OSI or Cryptography or other stuffs.
You know how some of the posts you've read say that some of the successful folks only got a couple drag and drop questions, well I'm not one of those lucky folks. I no joke got 15 drag and drop questions and felt like the unluckiest dude at that very moment. I think my least favorite part of the exam is that stupid count down clock on the top right corner of the test screen. In my head it made a tick-tock sound like an old analog clock. It made me do math for how many questions I had left VS how much time I had left. I couldn't do any of the math I studied for, no ARO or SLE or EF just plain ol' math. I had to convert the minutes into hours and then I thought wait why do that. I looked at how many questions I had left and saw that I was gong to run out of time before I answered all of my questions (yes I know that is a bit sad given you have 6 hours to take the test). So I had to change my method to catch up to the clock. I had to refocus and spend less than a minute to answer each question to at least finish all of the questions and then starting answering them in less than 45 seconds to try to give myself a 20 minute buffer to go through my flagged stuff. I was able to achieve my 20 minute buffer until I hit the last 10 questions and then my buffer disappeared and panic again set in. I finished my 250th question with 5 minutes left to check out my flagged questions. I flagged about 15 questions and was only able to look at 5 of them. I changed 2 answers and had to hit submit. After you click the button saying you are done reviewing your questions you have to answer the are you positive you want to leave this screen at least 2 more times before you get to the submit button. I ended up finishing the test with a whopping 5 whole seconds left on the clock. I highly advise against baby sitting the clock, but at least keep an eye on your pace of answering questions.
Before I hit the submit button the exam proctor was standing behind me because I had take then entire 6 hours to finish the test. He then stated that I was the only person left from the group of folks that scheduled 8 am exam times. I was like thanks big guy. He was a super nice guy, ex marine who runs a dog rescue for pit bulls. He loves his pit bulls. After getting palm scanned out for the second to last time, the nice pit bull loving marine escorted me down what felt like a mile long and inch wide hallway to the front lobby and check out desk where I would receive my results. As I walked down the hallway I saw that there was only 1 sheet of paper and then proceeded to pre-celebrate in my head but then blurted out a Woo-Hoo. The proctor asked me why I was excited, so I explained to him if you get one sheet of paper after this test that means you passed and if you get two sheets of paper, then that means you failed and one paper will tell you that you didn't do awesome and the other sheet will let you know what you didn't do awesome at. He said I guess that's a good way of explaining it. I grabbed my sheet that said "Congratulation's you provisionally passed the CISSP exam and we will inform you in 2-5 business days after a possible further psychometric and forensic evaluation". I have no idea what that means, but I received one sheet of paper that said Congratulations on it so that's a solid feeling.
Now if you read this far, I'm sorry if you feel like I wasted your time. I am trying to brain dump my day. And I might have dumped all over the fantastic sub-reddit so I am sorry for that. This sub-reddit was extremely helpful and encouraging reading all of the success stories and tips and excitement of passing this exam. Only we can understand what this is like and what it takes to study for and sit through the test.
My final thoughts and tips would be: First and foremost get an amazing nights sleep the night before On your test date eat a great breakfast or solid lunch or you will start to get hangry at the test. I didn't have time to eat breakfast because of traffic. Now speaking of traffic, if you know there is a possibility for traffic on the way to your testing center leave earlier than you planned on leaving. I made it to the testing center 5 minutes before 8am. Took me an hour to go 20 miles (thank you lovely San Diego traffic) Take as many practice questions as possible and figure out your flow and just get use to answering 250 questions in one sitting Grab some snacks to eat when you take a break. I brought a 5 hour energy drink, tigers milk protein chocolate goodness thing and some delightful Dasani water. Schedule your exam date as soon as possible to give you a solid fire under your butt focus mantality PLEASE REMEMBER CLICK THE STINKING ACCEPT BUTTON ON THE NDA WITHIN 5 MINUTES Brain dump onto the dry erase thingy they give you. It will help free up some much needed and required thinking space Figure out a pace that helps you feel confident you will finish in time. I have yet to read anyone not finish the test, but have read people consuming the entire 6 hours like I did. I thought for sure I would finish with enough time left to go back home to take a little snoozer before having to go to work at 3pm. I was actually 30 minutes late to work because I took so long.
What to expect at the Pearson Vue Test Centers: Bring 2 forms of ID, if you're using a credit card or ATM card for the second form of ID make sure you sign the back or they will tell you its not a valid form of ID until you sign it. Be prepared to palm scan each palm twice so be sure you have clean hands or that sucks for the person that scans in after you. You will also have to take a picture, so if you're having a bad hair day or that freshly rolled out of bed look or that random embarrassing gnarly zit on your face that will be in the picture. If you don't care what you look like in the picture then you do you. I didn't care. I threw up the DMV picture smile and then sat down and waited my turn to sit in that special chair before you have to prove you're not a cheater. After you get out of that special chair you will have to empty your pockets, pat your shirt and body from neck to waste (don't lift up your shift, it makes the proctors uncomfortable). Then they make you pat your legs from waste to foot. My proctor dude made me lift my pant leg up so he could see if I was stashing any stuff in the top of my socks. If you wear glasses they make you take them off and set them on a sheet of paper that says "Place your glasses here" so they can inspect them. I think they are checking to see if you have that failed google glasses project stuffed in your glasses. If you look up after you sit down at your exam station you will notice a PTZ camera above you watching your every move.
All joking aside I do appreciate the thoroughness that Pearson Vue takes in ensuring that the security profession is protected by not allowing cheating.
If you've read this far, I apologize again for the lengthy story. Today was an adderall free day so A.D.D is on point.
My work experience is a NOC Engineer for the past 7 years. Focusing on being a data custodian, Access control stuff, Data Center baby sitter (or physical access control stuffs thrown in there). I do a lot of powershell scripting and python. Honestly if I can pass this exam then any one can pass this exam. If you read all the way to the bottom of this post you can for sure pass this exam.
I hope you enjoyed my lengthy story and the advice or study material info thrown in there. Hopefully this lengthy story was slightly entertaining and a nice metal break from studying or at the very least give your more confidence because someone like me passed this exam. This subreddit is a great place for tips and encouragement from reading the success stories of the folks who pass this exam. This exam is an accomplishment for sure Remember think like a manager and not a fix everything person.
Good luck to all you fine folks out there....
-Nick- Almost CISSP
submitted by thewarners737 to cissp [link] [comments]

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