The month of May marks the 7th anniversary of the first Bitcoin transaction, an exchange of 10,000 Bitcoins for 2 Papa Johns pizzas. Reaction to the trade at the time was mixed. There were many people who thought it was neat that someone finally bartered the digital currency for an actual item. Many people also thought the pizza seller got ripped off. While 10,000 Bitcoins was theoretically worth $41 at the time, there was almost no way to spend them outside of hooking up with a fellow enthusiast on an online forum. In 2010 the world’s entire mined Bitcoin inventory was worth about $1 million. Headlines say that if you had bought $100 of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin in 2010, it would be worth over $70 million today. We see similar headlines for stocks like Amazon or Apple. If only I had invested in that online bookstore! If only I had invested in that struggling computer company! Then I remember that I could have just as easily invested in a different niche online store like Pets.com which was the poster child of the tech bust. Or I could have invested in a computer company that seemed unstoppable like Gateway or Dell.
Playing the What-if game can be fun (what if you had bought $60,000 of Tesla stock instead of the vehicle?) as long as it doesn’t take over your actual portfolio. It’s difficult to keep your financial goals in perspective in the face of single-asset news stories. It helps to be able to track your entire portfolio in one place next to an appropriate benchmark.