Bitcoin for Beginners

Words like “Bitcoin” and “blockchain” are repeated daily in several stories in both the daily financial and internet news, not to mention in several social media discussions by news and business personalities. For the average consumer, the terms can be easily conflated or confused, especially as most mentions in the media are about the current value trends of Bitcoin or a few informational tidbits about blockchain itself. In order to understand the media attention of Bitcoin, it first must be understood what it is exactly.


Bitcoin is what is referred to as a decentralized cryptocurrency. What that means is that Bitcoin is a digital form of currency whose value is not backed by gold, silver, or any government tender, but is extremely secure due to the underlying technology that keeps records of trade. This technology is known as blockchain technology. The popularity of Bitcoin and other decentralized cryptocurrencies is due to the underlying blockchain, which keeps a sort of digital ledger that is itself decentralized across a wide network of systems.


Another factor in the popularity of Bitcoin is due to speculation and investment in the cryptocurrency by many investors, both large and small. The central idea is that Bitcoin will be used more regularly over time, becoming more valuable over time. This certainly follows recent history, as the first increase in value in 2010 raised the price of one Bitcoin to eight cents. In today’s market, one Bitcoin is worth over $60,000.


As popular and lucrative as Bitcoin has proven to be so far in the market, the cryptocurrency market itself is extremely volatile. All cryptocurrency, including Bitcoin, is valued by speculation, as opposed to actual investment. It is not uncommon for one cryptocurrency to lose a significant portion of its value in a matter of days, or for one cryptocurrency to balloon in value in the market over the same amount of time.


The primary way to invest in Bitcoin (or any cryptocurrency, for that matter) is to have a “wallet,” or an online reservoir for your purchased Bitcoin. A number of brokers and trading sites offer this service to consumers, such as CoinBase, Robinhood, and eToro.      

This post was originally published on Etienne Kiss-Borlase’s Finance Blog. For more info about Etienne, please visit his homepage.

Bitcoin for Beginners

Creating Your Own NFT

Non-fungible tokens or NFTs are unique tokens that grant ownership rights over digital art, JPEGs, or videos. NFTs are minted on blockchains, which means they are recorded on the same digital ledger as the namesake currency but are separate from the fungible tokens that many investors are familiar with, like Ethereum. With news outlets running stories of newly made NFT millionaires, many artists are probably wondering how NFTs are made?


To start with, a creator needs to choose a platform to host their art. Rarible, OpenSea, and Super Farm are some of the most popular NFT sites. After choosing a platform, creators have to settle up a hosting charge to have work minted on the blockchain. For instance, OpenSea charges around $100 in Ethereum to host NFTs on the blockchain. These fees are paid in the native crypto you will later receive for the art. To settle up with the selected platform, users must link a crypto wallet to their accounts and transfer the selected currency.


Coinbase’s wallet is popular, especially since the exchange went public. Other choices include MetaMask, Fortmatic, and Bitski. It is essential to remember certain exchanges like Robinhood hold coins for users, meaning crypto purchases on these sites can’t be spent to create or purchase NFTs.


Once settled up with the platform, users can freely publish their work. However, first, they must decide whether to upload the series as a “bundle” or as individual pieces. Individual art allows buyers to bid on the work and hopefully initiate a bidding war, whereas “bundles” are set at a fixed price. Another consideration NFT creators should consider is that some platforms charge for each upload, while others charge a one-time fee.


Once a creator has decided how to sell their work, it’s as easy as click and drag to publish a piece. Users can set a price or open up to bids with a minimum purchase price. All prices are set to the native blockchain the NFT was minted on. If an NFT were created on OpenSea’s Ethereum Platform, all bids would be in Ethereum. Once an NFT is purchased, the artist will receive an alert. Once the buyer’s transactions settle, the user can transfer their new crypto to the appropriate wallet and exchange it for their native fiat currency.

This post was originally published on Etienne Kiss-Borlase’s Finance Blog. For more info about Etienne, please visit his homepage.

Creating Your Own NFT

Investment Banking For Beginners

What is investment banking? When you’re an investor, you’ll go to and rely on others to mitigate your payout with businesses looking for extra capital and vice versa. Investment banks are financial service companies that handle transactions on behalf of individuals, businesses, or governments; they are the middle man that makes sure the investment process runs smoothly. No matter what transitions you make in life, it’s ideal to approach financial advisors for said transitions—investment bankers do just this. 

The Sides

Though it seems simple, there’s more to investment banking than meets the eye. There are two sides of investment banking to be aware of: the buy side and the sell side. Neither side of investment banking can exist without the other. If there’s no one to buy from you, you won’t be able to sell anything; if there’s no one to sell anything, then there won’t be anything you can buy. 

  • Sell Side: In investment banking, the sell side deals with trading securities (tradable financial assets like debt and equity). Securities can be traded for cash or other securities, depending on the investor’s wants and needs.
  • Buy Side: Meanwhile, the buy side of investment banking provides informed financial advice to entities like private equity funds, mutual funds, and life insurance companies.

The Structure

Investment banks are generally split into three sections: the front office, middle office, and back office. Each section has its own daily activities that it’s responsible for to make sure the investment bank runs smoothly. The front office, for example, is the revenue generator of the company. Employees working in the front office are responsible for giving advice on mergers and acquisitions, sales, research, and so on. They are the customer-facing aspect of investment banks.

Meanwhile, the middle office is responsible for risk management and information technology, while the back office handles human resources, office management, and customer service.

The Services

Investment banks offer many services to customers, though they are often confused with regular banks’ investment banking divisions. The key difference is the services provided by investment banks; they usually have much more on their plates than investment bank divisions at a normal bank. Some of these services include:

Arranging Finance

Investment banks give businesses and governments guidance and advice when they need more capital for a big project. Bankers will plan out the finances for these projects, figure out when to issue corporate bonds, price them to demand, and sell them. Investment bankers can also help businesses figure out the starting price for initial public offerings (IPOs). 


Investment bankers also help people through a process called underwriting—financial risks for a fee. Banks will buy stocks and bonds for different businesses they work for, then sell those stocks and bonds to other investors on the market. They’re compensated for this work by marking up the price of the stock they bought, letting them make a profit on the stock or bond rather than break even.

The Industry

The investment banking industry is split into three different tiers: bulge bracket, middle market, and boutique market. The bulge bracket is what makes up the world’s largest investment banks, all of which serve large corporations, institutions, and governments as their clients. The middle market is similar to the bulge bracket, the only difference being the type of client they work for—the middle market serves smaller companies. Both of these tiers provide advice and financial services to their clients, do research, and help invent new financial products.

The boutique market, meanwhile, offers different services than the bulge bracket and middle market. This tier of bank specializes in one aspect of investment banking—a service or an industry, for example—and offers that specific aspect to businesses that need it. 

The Skills

As with every industry, people who get involved in the investment banking industry need to have certain skills to be successful. A few important skills to learn for both present and future investment bankers include:

  • Financial modeling: Creating a representation of the client’s financial situation. 
  • Business valuation: The process of estimating a company’s value.
  • Sales and business development: Knowing how to generate revenue for a company and create long-term value for the company. 
  • Relationship management: Being able to build and maintain solid relationships with investors. 
  • Negotiation: Speaking on behalf of clients to get the best possible deal for all parties.


Investment banking is a wide and varied industry with many responsibilities. Having the basic knowledge of how this industry works will help you if you plan to work in this industry and assist you in your future as an investor.

This post was originally published on Etienne Kiss-Borlase’s Finance Blog. For more info about Etienne, please visit his homepage.

Investment Banking For Beginners

5 Stocks to Consider for Early 2021

January 2021 will be known as a historical month for the stock market when retail investors were able to make stocks like AMC and GameStop fly. However, new and veteran investors should be thinking more about some of the more long-term stocks they could pick up. Consider purchasing some of these stocks in early 2021.


Disney had a bit of a rough year in 2020 due to the closure of its theme parks and not being able to screen movies like Black Widow in movie theaters. However, 2021 is expected to bring a lot of upside to Disney due to vaccination efforts opening up more public activities. Disney + is also expected to grow the company through the release of new content like its line of Marvel TV shows.


Traditional cafes have had a tough time in the past year due to many people working from home. Starbucks has been able to beat this trend though through its focus on delivery and drive-thrus. The company is expected to focus its stores more on these forms of distribution while expanding the company’s outreach further into large countries like China. By looking at their numbers, it’s expected that they won’t slow down anytime soon.


The focus on CPU manufacturing has led AMD to become one of the most booming companies in the tech industry for the past couple of years. AMD was able to continue its surge in 2020 due to the release of the Xbox Series X and PS5 which both use chips for their CPU and graphics units. The computer industry also got a boost from AMD with the release of multiple AMD Ryzen chips which are known for now matching and beating similarly priced chips from Intel in gaming. It’s expected that AMD will grow in 2021 due to constantly having to keep up with the demand for gaming consoles along with spectacular growth in the computer industry.


E-commerce had one of its best years in 2020 due to people having to stay at home and quarantine rather than shopping in person. Shipping companies like UPS were able to take advantage of this by shipping for many of these businesses, creating more business than ever before. It’s expected that UPS could even raise the stock price in 2021 higher due to the company potentially having a key part in the vaccine distribution process.

Bank of America

It was expected for many banks to end up in financial trouble and potentially shutting their doors down when the COVID-19 pandemic started. However, it seems like banks such as Bank of America were able to avoid a crisis like 2008. The reason for this is that the Financial Reserve has been able to ensure that the market has been strongly supported to ensure that a pandemic couldn’t crash it along with trading not being as dangerous as it was just over a decade ago. For these reasons, Bank of America and other financial stocks can be great to invest in.

This post was originally published on Etienne Kiss-Borlase’s Finance Blog. For more info about Etienne, please visit his homepage.

5 Stocks to Consider for Early 2021

Be Wary of Free Financial Advice

Some of the biggest changes to the financial world in recent years have been the result of disruptions that make services free. One of the best examples of this is Robinhood. With a no-commission model for stock trades, Robinhood has made it more affordable than ever before to get started trading stocks.

But in many contexts, free and finance simply don’t go together. One area where this is true is the world of financial advice. Typically, experts who have lots of experience in an industry seek to make money by consulting. That means they charge an hourly fee for the advice they provide.

Often, free financial advice from professionals has hidden costs. For example, the experts providing it might earn commissions. They may be inclined to promote products with the best commissions, rather than the ones that best fit a customer’s needs.

Another source of free advice can be media figures in segments on news networks. Sometimes they offer good information. But they, too, may be pressured to act in outrageous ways that attract ratings. What’s more, they don’t know all the details of your exact financial situation.

One final source of free information is family and friends. Usually, they are not financial professionals. They may have used strategies in the past that are no longer the best fit for the present. Because of changes to the tax code and other laws, their information might be badly out of date. It can be very risky to take advice from older relatives who made their biggest financial moves a generation ago.

Paying for financial advice may seem counterintuitive when so much is being offered for no money. But high quality advice matters much more than quantity when it comes to money. Paying an advisor is prudent in the long run. It can save people from costly short-term mistakes and lead to greater profitability in the long run.

In choosing a financial professional to plan with, make sure to look for a fiduciary. Anyone designated as a fiduciary is required to put their clients’ needs before their own. That means they’re obliged to provide the right advice for the people they work with, not just details of products that offer big commissions.

This post was originally published on Etienne Kiss-Borlase’s Finance Blog. For more info about Etienne, please visit his homepage.

Be Wary of Free Financial Advice

How to Transition from Two Incomes to One

Many families enjoy the security of a two-income household. Many working parents admit that they would rather spend more time at home raising their kids. In the current economy, it is easy to see why. Having at least one parent at home is preferable in certain situations, although they will be losing one income. Transitioning from two incomes back to one is a big change but can be accomplished if you have a plan.


Transitioning from two incomes down to one can seem a little overwhelming, but if you follow these tips for living on one income, you’ll make the transition smooth and easy.


Have a Plan


Having a plan ahead of time relieves stress and worry about what will happen when the change occurs. If you have a budget based on a single income, it will be easier to see how the money will be spent and help you worry less.


Put Money in a Savings Account


Announcing your departure and heading off without any savings in the bank is a recipe for disaster. Financial experts recommend having at least 6 – 12 months of income put aside in savings to live on in the event of an emergency.


Pay Off as Many Bills as You Can


It will be easier to make the transition to one income by not having car payments and credit card bills looming overhead. It is a good idea to pay down the largest bills first, and then the smaller ones.


Eliminate Unnecessary Expenses


Living on one income means cutting back on expenses to stay within the budget. There are free sources of entertainment that can be utilized while cutting out cable and trips to the movies.


Find Alternative Health Care Coverage


Leaving a job means losing the health benefits from that position. Research insurance companies and find one with low-cost premiums that cover the whole family.


Practice Living on One Income Before You Decide


If the thought of losing half your income is worrisome, practice it for a month before making the transition. You can use one income to pay the household bills and buy groceries and save the second income in the bank.


Making the switch to a single income can be made easier by planning and covering the most important things.

This post was originally published on Etienne Kiss-Borlase’s Finance Blog. For more info about Etienne, please visit his homepage.

How to Transition from Two Incomes to One

How to Budget as a Couple

Finances can cause stress for any family, and it’s hard to sit down with your significant other to draft a budget. The process of combining both your incomes and your needs can take some adjustment. If you don’t talk about your financial situation, though, you’ll be more likely to experience stress about financial responsibility.


To create a life together and have a successful relationship, you’ll need to commit to budgeting together.


Budgeting might seem overwhelming, but you can start with the basics. Before even bringing numbers into the situation, talk to your partner about what each of you wants, buys, and aims to achieve. It’s important to understand the relationship that each of you has with money.


This part of the process isn’t about arguing or proving who’s “right.” It’s just about understanding the other person and respecting what they need.


After you’re comfortable with each other’s basic financial thoughts, the first part of budgeting is setting down the needs of the household. This covers month-to-month bills like rent and utilities, transportation costs like gas and car maintenance, food, and required debt payments.


You must cover all of these costs before you can begin spending money on extraneous items. However, you can reduce the costs by purchasing less expensive groceries, getting a used car, or moving to a smaller space. Needs must be given higher priority than desires.


Long-term goals are the next thing to set down. As a couple, you should have a long-term financial plan. This plan may help you determine when to meet milestones like having a baby or buying a house. Specific monthly goals make it easier to save. If you aren’t saving for anything specific, you’ll be more likely to spend the money instead.


Now you can talk about the desires and needs you each have outside of the home essentials. These might involve clothing costs, hairdresser appointments, gym memberships, and online subscriptions.


You will likely have different needs and priorities than your partner. You might also not understand all of your partner’s priorities. But budgeting is about finding compromises that allow both of you to have the things you want to live your ideal lifestyle.

Some couples use an allowance to use on their personal desires without needing to okay it with their partner.

This post was originally published on Etienne Kiss-Borlase’s Finance Blog. For more info about Etienne, please visit his homepage.

How to Budget as a Couple

How to Create a Backup Plan For Your Personal Finances

If COVID-19 has taught us one thing, it’s that an earth-shattering event like a pandemic can happen at any time, and it could even cause you to lose your main income. Even if not, it could affect your financial future, such as setting back your retirement plans or hurting your investments in other ways. The good news is you can always create a backup plan if future disasters or common life events disrupt your original goal.


Build A Sizable Reserve Fund


You should use a savings account or a short-term CD account to save up money for a worst-case scenario like a job loss. You’ll want to make sure it can cover your rent or mortgage payment over the course of six months to a year. It takes some discipline and focus to set aside funds in savings, but even a little bit set aside here and there can add up to a lot of savings.


Choose The Right Life Insurance Policy


Life insurance is also something you should have as a protective measure against the unforeseen. Not only is it used for covering the needs of beneficiaries if the policyholder passes away, but it can also be used to cover other financial setbacks. With a cash-value life insurance policy, you can take cash distributions depending on how much you’ve paid into it so far. But you will deplete your death benefit amount if you aren’t careful about how much you cash out.


Know When To Change Your Investment Portfolio Strategy


Sometimes you need to change the kind of investment funds you have in your portfolio when markets go through major changes. It may be better to invest in bonds over stocks if the stock market is struggling, or if bonds are more stable and offer more consistent returns. There are even other assets you can invest in for retirement, including real estate and precious metals. It’s good to have a knowledgeable advisor working with you letting you know when you should buy or sell your assets to match the market conditions.


The bottom line is financial setbacks are always a possibility because of circumstances you can’t control. However, you can always be ready to reallocate your savings, investments, and insurance policies into new savings opportunities when your original ones don’t work anymore. 

This post was originally published on Etienne Kiss-Borlase’s Finance Blog. For more info about Etienne, please visit his homepage.

How to Create a Backup Plan For Your Personal Finances

Personal Finance Tips to Better Your Retirement

Planning for your retirement is something you should begin to think about whether you just started a job or you’re just about done. The truth is that it’s never too early, or too late to start saving and investing. For those who didn’t start early, know that other people are on the same boat as you. No matter where you stand in life right now, you are capable of boosting your retirement savings. Here are some tips that can help you grow and better your retirement plan. 


Start Today

 If you haven’t already, start saving and investing today! Compound interest allows you to generate earnings off your assets. By investing a smaller amount of money over a longer period, you can make a greater impact than investing a larger amount of money in a shorter amount of time. With that being said, start saving for your retirement as young as you can. Putting a little something aside every month can make a huge difference.


Work on your 401(k)

Many places offer eligible employees a 401(k) plan where they can add pre-tax money to their retirement account. Let’s you’re in the 14% tax bracket and want to put $200 into your 401(k) every pay period. The money will come out of your paycheck before federal taxes are taken away, meaning instead of taking home $172 in your paycheck, the full amount will be put into your savings plan. This helps individuals invest more of their income without it feeling like they’re cutting into their monthly budget. If you happen to leave your employer before retirement, here are a few choices on what to do with your 401(k) account.


Open an IRA

Consider building more retirement savings aside from your employer with an individual retirement account. There are two different types of IRAs that you can choose from. There’s the traditional one that gives your earning the chance to grow tax-free until you begin to make withdrawals during your retirement. The Roth IRA includes after-tax contributions which means that once you retire your earning are federal-tax-free if they were in the required holding period. Many factors play a role in choosing an IRA, so do some research before picking which is best for you. 

This post was originally published on Etienne Kiss-Borlase’s Finance Blog. For more info about Etienne, please visit his homepage.

Personal Finance Tips to Better Your Retirement

The Basics of Crypto-finance

f you’ve ever heard of Bitcoin or Blockchain, you have some of the basics of crypto-finance. If those words don’t mean anything to you, you must learn about them quickly, and they will lead you on the way to understanding and engaging in the unique world of crypto finance.  


Bitcoin is where it all started and is the basis for the field. Putting it simply, bitcoin is a digital virtual currency. You can purchase bitcoin like it’s foreign money and spend it on shops online. You can also use bitcoin as an investment option. Although that is a risky choice considering the worth of bitcoin often fluctuates enough to make investment a high-risk decision. The most significant difference between bitcoin and the physical currency is that bitcoin is not linked to any particular country or province; it’s universal. So as you engage in crypto finance, remember that bitcoin is the universal currency that solely exists virtually. 


Bitcoin is based on the platform blockchain. Blockchain is considered a distributor ledger. The distributed part of that term means that it does not exist on one single computer but instead is distributed upon all computers. The ledger part of that term refers to a means of recording and tracking bitcoin. Who is spending what, where the money is being transferred to, who has how much, and much more. Consider it a large book that is growing all of the time. Just like the pages of the book are all bound together for a greater story, the blocks of blockchain are interlinked. Imagine the effect of the usage and spending of bitcoin like dominoes falling, and each domino is tracked and recorded.

Cryptofinance is a unique form of spending, that is here to stay. As we evolve and change as a world, and technology becomes an inescapable part of that, we need to learn the ropes, even as they are changing. 

This post was originally published on Etienne Kiss-Borlase’s Finance Blog. For more info about Etienne, please visit his homepage.

The Basics of Crypto-finance