The transfer of wealth in difficult times is a subject that should be on all preppers’ radar. Preppers love precious metals, and for good reason, but there is a risk it can be seized or stolen. This is why you should consider a crypto brain wallet!
I’m a fan of cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin and Ether in particular. Without getting too far into the weeds of blockchain technology, Bitcoin acts as a decentralized store of wealth that many believe could replace gold (Robert Kiyosaki likes Bitcoin too.) Ethereum, by contrast, acts as a decentralized application where “smart contracts” can be built. Ethereum, some claim, will become the world’s computer. Ether is the “currency” of Ethereum.
Want to learn more about cryptocurrencies? Take an online class at Cryptoversity.
The decentralized nature of these “currencies” is what adds protection to them. They get recorded on a “public ledger” that is verified by various computers that can be anywhere around the world. While it’s a “public” ledger, there are also layers of anonymity as the “identity” is merely a string of characters that becomes associated with a digital wallet. Given this, should preppers like bitcoin as much as gold? What’s more, cryptocurrencies are even EMP proof.
However, there’s one further benefit of cryptocurrencies that a lot of people don’t know about. You can quite literally carry millions of dollars on your person at all times without a single other person on the planet ever knowing. That’s purchasing power. That’s security.
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How a Crypto Brain Wallet Works
The short answer: You memorize your wallet seed phrase.
Anytime you buy cryptocurrencies on an exchange, Coinbase as an example, you get a wallet address, that string of random characters I mentioned. For people (like preppers) who want maximum protection for their cryptocurrencies, a hard wallet is often seen as the best means. They buy their cryptocurrency of choice on an exchange and then move it to their hard wallet. Then you have more control over your money.
In order to protect access to your hard wallet, you are given a seed phrase. A seed phrase is a list of random words (out of a word bank of 2048 words) assigned – in a specific order – to your wallet. You need this list to access your wallet. So it’s not enough for a thief to figure out what the twelve words are that you use. They have to figure out the proper order that they go in as well. The odds of a thief figuring out your seed phrase are 2 to the 132nd power (source). Highly unlikely!
Provided you can memorize the twelve-word sequence applied to your cryptocurrency, you can take them with you anywhere. You can lose your phone, have your encrypted hard drive stolen from you, whatever – and it never really matters.
Why? Because you have the seed phrase memorized. All you have to do is gain access to another electronic device that will let you make blockchain transactions, download a wallet, input your seed phrase, and you’re in business once more.
But Why a Brain Wallet?
People that don’t understand cryptocurrencies might dismiss this their value, but cryptocurrencies, and the blockchain technology that they run on, are equivalent to the early days of the internet. Different coins have different purposes, but for Bitcoin, it’s becoming seen as a means to store digital wealth – and it’s making a lot of people very, very rich.
The benefit of a crypto brain wallet is that you can travel anywhere without any money on you and still retain your wealth on the blockchain. This is a gigantic advantage for people that might find themselves as unexpected refugees, people that have to cross hostile borders, or even people like digital nomads who don’t own any tangible assets and don’t want to risk their bank accounts being compromised.
Let’s say you live in an area where your only real hope of freedom – of living – is to get out. Perhaps you’re in England, perhaps it’s somewhere else where government persecution has become the norm. You feel that your best option is to get the heck out, but you know there’s a very high likelihood of border agents intercepting you, robbing you, and maybe only then sending you on your way.
In such a situation, Bitcoin can be incredibly useful. This idea is akin Jews hiding gold jewelry from Nazis, only better because there is no risk of it being stolen or lost (well, it can be lost – more on that in a minute). Instead of having to carry wads of cash, coats full of gold, or some other heavy form of currency, you can leave with your entire wealth intact, all stored safely within your crypto brain wallet. No extra weight or space to worry about, no worries of theft, none of it – you can safely escape to where you need to be and start life anew with your life savings still intact.
This idea, of hiding money in your head, is a modern, digital version of hiding gold, guns, and preps in your house – only the “house” is in your head. You can travel anywhere and appear poor. It dovetails perfectly with the gray man concept, something all preppers should adhere to.
How to Set Up a Crypto Brain Wallet
There are 4 easy steps to building a brain wallet.
Step 1: Buy Cryptocurrencies
If you don’t do this, then nothing else applies! I like Coinbase for that, but there are other exchanges. You have to have money stored in crypto in order for this method to work. Warning: It’s a very volatile market, so know that going in! Bitcoin is likely the only one you want as wealth storage, however.
Step 2: Write Your Seed Phrase Down – and Memorize It!
Write your seed phrase down. For ultimate security, ensure that your webcam is covered just for good measure (this cheap product is great for that). Don’t repeat the words out loud. Don’t mouth the words. Don’t take a screenshot. I recommend pen and paper, not any type of word processing software. You also need to be 100% sure that nobody else will find where you have these seed words written down.
You need to ensure that you cement these seed words to memory. There are tricks to memorizing your seed phrase. Considering they are random words that make no sense strung together, you can turn them into a poem that you commit to memory. You can make up a story or song that uses each one in order. You can use some mnemonic tricks to help you remember. Here are some additional ideas:
You can also have a trusted relative memorize them.
Once you have committed the words to memory you have two choices:
- burn your the paper that you wrote them on, or
- hide the copy of your seed phrase somewhere safe.
The Danger of Destroying Your Seed Phrase
It can be exceptionally dangerous to destroy the copy of your seed phrase. If you forget it – you’re screwed! The money is gone – forever.
In fact, someone has claimed to have forgotten a seed phrase and lost access to 1,800 Bitcoin! How well do you trust your memory!? What happens if you die unexpectedly? Would you want the money to go to family?
What to Do with Your Backup Copy
Personally, I don’t trust my own memory, not enough to risk my money on it. I forget stuff all the time. I’m sure if I was tasked with memorizing words in order to access my funds I’d find a way to remember, but… no thanks. For me, there’s a greater risk of forgetting my seed phrase than having someone find it. For me, a better solution is hiding my seed phrase.
I could put a copy in a safe deposit box at the bank, but if the point of using a brain wallet is to be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice – with my wealth – I don’t want to have to go to a bank. After all, part of the security of keeping your wealth on the blockchain is to be done with banks!
I could stash it in a fire-proof box and then hide the box. I could also bury it in a cache (read The Prepper’s Guide to Caches). To add another layer of security, you can break the list into two parts, hiding one half in one location and the other half somewhere else. These are options, none of them perfect, but all of them – for me – better than relying on my brain.
If you opt for a hidden cache, there are various products you can use to bury valuables. Consider these:
- MTM SAC Survivor Ammo Can – This is a cheap option. It’s only 10.25 x 10.25 x 11.5″ in size, but plenty big enough for a seed phrase.
- Stainless Steel Waterproof Storage Container – The listed lifetime of this unit is 200 years, plenty long enough to store whatever you hope to retrieve in your – or your kid’s – lifetime. Made of SUS 304 stainless steel, it measures in at 13.5 x 6.4 x 5.9″.
- “Large” Stainless Steel Waterproof Storage Container – This unit is same as the above, only a bit bigger and nearly twice the cost.
Isn’t the point of a brain wallet to rid yourself of a copy of your seed phrase? You could argue that, but I see the value in a brain wallet as back to my back up. If my paper copy (some people actually stamp their seed phrase in steel to protect it from destruction) can’t be accessed, gets destroyed, or if I need to bug out at a moment’s notice, I have my wallet in my head.
Step 3: Bug Out with Your Money on Your Mind
With my mind on my money
And my money on my mind
– Snoop Dogg, Gin and Juice
(was he thinking crypto brain wallet?)
So you’re in the process of escaping, and you’ve got your crypto brain wallet secured in your head. At no time whatsoever should you reveal to anybody else along the journey that you own Bitcoin or any other form of cryptocurrency. Should you be stopped, you need to seem as unassuming as possible. You are poor. You have nothing You are the gray man. Perhaps, as a diversion, you travel with a small amount of cash hidden in a money belt. That’ll fool ’em!
Don’t forget to erase any wallets from your phone or computer! If you’re caught with a phone with the Coinbase app on it, you’re screwed. Game over. You won’t be going anywhere until you give them access.
As Edward Snowden pointed out in his autobiography Permanent Record, deleting something typically just means it’s out of sight, not gone. When you’re deleting the app off your phone it’s out of sight, but with a crypto brain wallet, it’s not gone!
Step 4: When Safe – Load a New Wallet
Once you safety, your bug out location, cross a border, whatever, you can download a new cryptocurrency wallet app. This is where your crypto brain wallet comes to the rescue! Find the “recover wallet” section of whatever app you’re using, insert your seed words, and then you’ll magically have access to all of your cryptocurrency again!
There are a number of advantages to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and for those who believe that the time may come in the very near future where they’ll have to protect their lives and their wealth by evacuation, cryptocurrencies may help secure your financial wealth.
Disclaimer: The author owns some Ethereum as of this writing. Nothing in this article should be construed as financial advice. Cryptocurrencies are a volatile market with extreme swings in value. A crypto brain wallet can be a dangerous means of storing your money. Plan accordingly.