We Talked to the Family Who Sold Their Belongings for Bitcoins
Photo courtesy of Didi Taihuttu
This article originally appeared on Motherboard Germany.
Didi Taihutto sold his house in the Netherlands, all his furniture, three cars, and a motorcycle. He only kept the things he truly couldn't part with: His photo albums, a few mementos, and his laptop. Together with his wife Romaine and their three children, he now lives in a tiny house on a Dutch campground not far from the German border.
The Taihuttos exchanged nearly all of their income for Bitcoins. The 39-year-old Taihutto is convinced that he'll be able to triple the family's assets through Bitcoin speculation within the next three years. But wealth isn't these two parents' only focus. Taihutto and his wife avoid, above all, things that keep them from leading their lives the way they want.
Taihutto wants to secure the livelihoods of his family as a so-called day trader—in other words, a speculator who invests in cryptocurrency with the promise of high returns within a short time. We recently spoke with him about his work and about what it means to leave everything behind as a family of five.
MOTHERBOARD: The colder season is approaching. Where are you guys right now?
Didi Taihutto: In a bungalow on a campground. It's small and also really cold. Five people crammed into 50 square meters. I'm just now realizing that's only ten per person. [Laughs]
Tons of people around the world are writing about you. How did all that come to be?
The local paper here interviewed us, and from there on out things just got crazier. Even Business Insider published an article. Since then, journalists have been calling every day.
How long does one consider making such a huge decision before taking the plunge?
Not long at all, actually. It all kind of happened to us. We had just been on a very long trip. And in July—we had just been to Bali—we said to each other: Let's change our lives! Then we went back to Holland, sold the house, and changed our lives.
Really? I was sure you would have said: We've been dreaming about this for years.
Of course we've always thought about it a little over the years. But we didn't finally make the decision until four months ago. We didn't want to continue living in fear. I think living in fear kills dreams. To really be happy, one has to first have the courage to let go of the things that keep you tied down.
Letting go of things—so you mean the house, the cars, the motorcycle…
The broken 800 Euro coffee machine. All things that demand time that's then missing in other areas. I didn't want this materialism anymore. I wanted to be closer to my family. And I don't miss anything. The same goes for my kids: When we sell their toys and they see how happy other children are as a result, well, they think that's great. Material things don't make people happy—they're just distractions.
You even sold your own company, which was actually very successful.
Our biggest passion is traveling and meeting new people. But at some point I started my own business, on my own and with a computer in my basement. I taught people how to work with computers. It was a lot of fun. And then my small business kept getting bigger. In the end I had 16 employees. Then I was only managing people. Eighty hours a week, 90 hours a week. There wasn't any time left for travel.
You have three underage daughters. Homeschooling is prohibited in the Netherlands. Doesn't that present you with huge problems if you're constantly traveling with them?
We traveled around the world with our kids for nine months, despite knowing that there would be consequences. Now we'll likely have to pay a fine.
Are you worried that the authorities might at some point take away your kids?
Yeah, that's truly a fear. That said, we invest a lot in our daughters' education. We teach them ourselves during our travels. And all three of them are doing well in school. My youngest was even the best in her class in reading and writing after we came back. Of course the government has to ensure that every child receives a good education. But the government should also be capable of being more flexible in select cases. I think the Netherlands is doing too little for the growing class of digital nomads for whom these rules is simply too strict. We love it here, but the way things are looking, we'll probably have to move abroad with our children at some point.
What was the trigger for your decision?
My father passed away in January 2016. He was 61 years old. My mother passed away when she was 48. My father was a professional soccer player, it was his passion. And because he was able to live off of it, his life was complete. In principle, I want the same for myself, but my passion is living. After all, we're all stuck in this hamster wheel, we work our entire lives and postpone the beautiful things for some later date. But for my father, there was no later date. For my mother, there was no later. The fact that my parents died so young really opened my eyes: I'm 39 years old. Who can guarantee that there'll be a later for me?
Okay, but let's say there is a later for you, aren't you afraid that you might lose everything you have through speculation?
I still have to gain experience as a day trader. But even if we lose everything, that's not really what it's about. As long as we have each other, everything will be fine. And if necessary, I'll find myself a job and start from scratch. But what if things go really well? If it makes us financially independent and makes possible the life we all dream about? Sometimes it's so wrong to take a step back. With a bit of luck, it'll bring you three steps forward.
And if you become rich, what then?
Then we'll continue to lead a simple life. I'm wondering if I should then travel around the world to help people, to change their lives through crypto. Nearly three billion people don't have direct access to a bank account. Thanks to the blockchain, everyone can be their own bank through a computer.
Why did it have to be crypto? By not invest in equities or stocks?
Banks don't do a good job. In the meantime it's gotten so bad that you barely earn anything in interest on your savings and in fact have to pay for your account. And here in Holland or in Germany, things are still going well for us. But look at Greece, Bolivia, Venezuela. All countries where money doesn't have any worth anymore. And suddenly you're only able to withdraw 25 Euros a day. Of your own money! That's madness. I think crypto is a good alternative to these institutions.
But you can hardly pay for anything with cryptocurrency. And products such as special debit cards that could change that are still in their infancy. What do you guys do when you want to go to the bakery in the morning?
We pay with cash. Until now we've been paying for most things in Euros. We rented a garage, where we keep things that we own. Every day we try to sell something from there, sometimes for Euros, sometimes for Bitcoins.
And what's your prediction? Do you think cryptocurrency will eliminate traditional money?
I don't think cash will disappear entirely. But eventually we'll reach a point where there will be as much wealth in Bitcoins as there is in traditional money. Technology continues to develop. Finally money is beginning to develop, too.