With hopes of being a homeowner by the time he turned 30, Steve Jensen decided to invest $25,000 in the crypto market in the summer of 2020. It was half of his savings, but since he couldn’t afford a 10% down payment on a home in Westchester, he hoped his gamble on the blockchain would expedite the process after seeing friends cash in crypto to buy real estate.
“I knew it was a risk, but I saw so many people making money fast off crypto and thought it would be a good idea to invest,” Jensen, now 30, told The Post.
Jensen, who lives in Washington Heights and works in digital advertising, allocated $15,000 of his initial investment to the cryptocurrency Cardano when the coin price was nearing $2. He watched its value rise: “It went to $3 and I almost doubled [my investment]. Then the value stayed at $2 for a few months. I held it, thinking it would just keep going up.”
Turns out, he was wrong. Average young investors like Jensen went all in on crypto in the hopes of quickly making bank, cashing out and buying a home, car or business — or even retire. It all came crashing down in this month’s crypto-market bloodbath — losing nearly $2 trillion in value — with some investors losing everything.
As of press time, a Cardano share was going for 55 cents, making Jensen’s investment worth about $3,000. And he’s saddled with debt because he borrowed $5,000 against his credit card to invest in more Cardano before the market crashed. Now, a return on his investments seems like a lifetime away.
Jensen was left having to explain the market loss to his longtime partner, as well as park his plan of buying a car this summer.
“I didn’t sleep for a couple of days,” Jensen said of watching the price plummet on Cardano and Ethereum this month. “I’d wake up with insane anxiety,” he added, noting that he felt “depressed” by the dismal downward turn of both currencies.
“And inflation is making cars and homes even more expensive and even harder to get,” said Jensen, who has lost a total of $15,000.
“Not only do I not have profits from Cardano, but I also have more credit card debt,” he said, adding that he’ll have to put his home buying on pause until he can pay off his debt.
Still, Jensen does see one silver lining: “You’d be at my funeral if I invested in Luna,” he said, referring the cryptocurrency that lost more than 99% of its value.
Some investors were left devastated by the Luna collapse. “My friend and ex-colleague … tried to commit suicide this morning,” one Reddit user posted earlier this month. “He basically moved all of his savings to crypto in 2021 and LUNA was a massive player in his portfolio.”
Another despondent Reddit user said he retired at 20, having made $4.6 million trading off an initial $15,000 investment — only to dump “all but $10K” back into the crypto exchange.
“$4,600,000 into $500 in the matter of weeks,” the former millionaire wrote. “I’m not sure if or how i’ll recover. I lost everything.”
Chris Panteli, 35, planned on using his crypto earnings to help pivot to remote-only work. After getting diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 33, “I knew I would need a less physically demanding job for the years ahead,” the UK resident told The Post.
He had planned to sell his family-owned fish-and-chips business and use crypto earnings to stay afloat as he got his personal-finance tracker, LifeUpswing.com, off the ground.
“The income is less stable than my previous work, and while still very good, I am also spending a lot to grow it,” said Panteli, who is still looking for a buyer for his brick-and-mortar shop.
But with the crash, he ended up down more than $6,000 on his investments in Strong, Bitcoin and Ethereum — a significant amount of his savings.
“I kept thinking, ‘This has to stop bleeding at some point, right?’” Panteli said, noting that his crypto investments now equal only $2,000.
Others are luckier. Rachel Siegel, 29, a former substitute teacher who became a crypto millionaire, started investing in 2017 with just $25 a week. The crypto influencer from the Lower East Side, who says her investments have resulted in profits in the low seven figures (she declined to give an exact amount), didn’t get crushed in the crypto crash, but she did lose out on Luna.
“I had $3,000 turn to less than a penny,” Siegel told The Post. “I know people who had millions of dollars turn into $2,000. It was devastating.”
And Siegel, who’s primarily in Bitcoin and Ethereum, conceded: “From the top of the market I have lost a lot of money.”
She stressed the importance of diversifying one’s portfolio, a lesson she says she’ll keep preaching to her nearly 200,000 social-media followers.
“I’m intelligent enough in my investments to know not to have too much of my money in one place,” she said.
Jensen, meanwhile, hopes to ride out the downturn.
“I’m trying to have more of a long-term vision than a shorter one,” he said. “If I cash out now and tomorrow the price skyrockets, that’s just even worse than watching the price go down in the first place.”