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WATCH RELATED VIDEO: The EASY Way I Buy Crypto with Credit or Debit Card in the U.S.

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Young people are turning to cryptocurrency like bitcoin and ethereum because they can be an opportunity to make more cash quickly. They're also learning about stocks on social media.

How are young people navigating these new investment choices? What should they keep in mind and steer clear of? Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.

Hey there, I'm Claire Thornton, and this is 5 Things. It's Sunday, September 26th. These Sunday episodes are special. We're bringing you more from in-depth stories you may have already heard. Gen Zers and Millennials have endured two once-in-a-lifetime recessions during their prime-earning years or at the start of their careers.

That's been really tough financially, especially for people of color, women, LGBTQ people and other populations that disproportionately face wealth gaps and financial insecurity. Young people are turning to cryptocurrencies and other less traditional investments because they can be an opportunity to make more cash quickly. They're also just a much newer phenomena and some people think that means cryptos are better for them, but the risks can be enormous.

TikTok, Instagram, Reddit and other social platforms are where a majority of Gen Zers seek financial advice. Jessica, your team just finished up an amazing six-week series looking at young investors. Let's dive in. Let's begin with Hector Martinez in San Francisco. He was featured in one of your stories. Let's start there. What did Hector tell you about how the recession affected his family financially?

That recession obviously is something that has left a lot of scars financially and emotionally for so many millions of Americans. And in the midst of what had happened in the pandemic and the recession last year, even though we're in the midst of a recovery now, people obviously are still picking up the pieces from what happened over a decade ago, and especially for younger Americans like Hector who is in his late 20s. Those are during his prime-earning years, and he's not alone with that.

So at USA Today, for the money team, we were examining the aspirations and anxieties of young Americans in particular, as some of them, say, either turn to social media for investment advice despite potential schemes, but then also when a lot of these younger investors are looking at some of these FOMO, fear of missing out, corners of the market, if we're looking at cryptocurrencies or SPACs, NFTs, the mean stocks, like the GameStop-.

And it's been such a big thing, especially after we saw the market crash last spring and then such a quick rebound into towards the late end of last summer. That was the shortest bear market on record and the quickest recession we've ever had, but still even that in the midst of the pandemic, obviously a lot of people probably don't feel that way.

A lot of people feel like, oh no, they missed out on this rebound. So I worked on this particular story with Charisse Jones, who's our Economic Opportunity Reporter at USA Today, and when she spoke with Hector, he really talked about how he learned about cryptocurrencies. So Hector Martinez is the son of immigrants from El Salvador and because his parents were immigrants, he quickly saw the appeal when it came to, say, cryptocurrencies because his family was part of a marginalized community and he felt like in that particular instance they could finally build wealth outside of institutions that often he felt excluded or exploited them.

And there's other people from other groups that we had spoken with for this story as well, whether that were black Americans or people that were part of the LGBTQ community.

They all agreed in a large part that a large number of institutions, they just didn't feel welcomed by those kind of traditional corners of the market. And when it came to cryptocurrencies, they felt like it created more fairness for them, and that's how he started getting invested into it.

He said, when he was talking to Charisse Jones about it, that he had invested at least half of his portfolio in Bitcoin, as well as other digital currencies. Right now he's living in San Francisco, but he still has those sobering memories of how hard the financial economic downturn really affected his family when it came to loss of wages, especially loss of jobs when it came to what was happening during that, and all of that Just part of that family experience and trying to come back from that and how hard that was, and especially when that was stemmed from an economic crisis when it came to financial systems and the government deciding to support these large institutions, he felt that they were supporting them and not as much as the everyday person in his opinion.

He was arguing that and how he felt like the system wasn't exactly created for him. So fast forwarding to what had happened now, when you're looking at the pandemic and then you're seeing what's happened with cryptocurrencies, obviously some of these coins, say, like Bitcoin has been around for over a decade, still hard for it to become as mainstream as far as using it in everyday life and going into, say, a grocery store and things like that and using it.

But he felt like, and a lot of other Americans from marginalized communities felt like, it just provided a more accessible financial system for them.

Yeah, because it's new. It's not something that has those historic systemic problems baked in maybe as much as the stock market. So you really get at some big underlying issues in this young investor series, we're talking about student debt, two once-in-a-lifetime "recessions" and the wage gap.

These things mean the cards are stacked against people of color, younger Americans, women. And you wrote about how social discrimination means that LGBTQ people faced more financial insecurity. What did your sources tell you about how these underlying factors influence their investment decisions?

When I was speaking to financial professionals and a lot of different professors across the country that have studied these sorts of trends, they really were talking a lot about how marginalized communities tend to worry that they'll lose money because they've experienced particular biases and unfair treatment.

But for groups that have experienced discrimination, currencies that are freely exchanged and not backed by a single government appear to them to seem like they're more equitable when we're talking about cryptocurrencies. And because there are price swings when we're looking at cryptos, they're based on supply and demand, they can be extremely new volatile, which puts the value of them at constant risk.

But some investors from marginalized communities still see them as a chance to finally get in on the financial boom at the front end that they felt like they've missed out on a lot. So it really shows how when even say, thinking back at financial red lining throughout history and how that hurt particular communities of color as far as trying to own homes-.

And some people that, because of building wealth and money being transferred down from generations to other families, a lot of marginalized communities don't have those opportunities to have that. There is no wealth there to transfer down to. That's, again, why a lot of people in these different communities have felt that some of these other areas might be more beneficial to them. But on the flip side of it, they do come with a lot of risk when you're thinking about these speculative investments.

It doesn't mean that it's bad to invest in some of these things, but a lot of young investors who are doing this for the first time, there's a checklist, if you will, you almost need to as far as what you should do with your personal finances before you try to get in on something like that. And especially when it comes to something so volatile. Just anecdotally, I had been speaking to some Americans, especially after the GameStop frenzy short squeeze earlier this year that rejuvenated a lot of interest into retail trading among young investors And some people were foregoing taking part in their company-sponsored k plans because they thought that they could make more money trading stocks on different brokerage apps, which unfortunately, a lot of them were throwing away free money that their employers were offering them.

She was a teacher and she decided not to do it because she wanted to instead trade stocks on Robinhood because she was watching different videos on YouTube and some other platforms where different influencers were talking about it. But that's another thing we can get into later about some of the risks there that come with social media and watching out for that type of information and trying to get advice from licensed professionals.

But again, there's a lot of things coming out, people. Especially in the pandemic as people are stuck at home, maybe you've been fortunate enough you haven't lost your job but you have extra income and now you're trying to figure out, "Okay, I'm taking part of this retirement plan.

How do I open up a brokerage account? But then you have other people who feel like they've been decimated in the pandemic. They lost their job, they lost income and they feel, again, that pressure to catch up, like you were referring to, especially younger investors who are facing the second recession in their early prime years and now they're trying to figure out if Especially if they're still straddled with certain types of debt, whether it's student debt, credit card debt, maybe also still trying to either get a mortgage if they've been lucky enough to do that or trying to pay that off.

There's a lot of things that they're dealing with. I mean, there are, to be sure, a lot of opportunities that come with the technology that is in place now where a lot of older generations didn't have that ability to be able to trade stocks so freely and a lot of these brokerage apps that do exist, so there are those opportunities that are there. But at the same time when I've talked to financial professionals, they'll also point out even though a lot of prior generations have also gone through their recessions and ups and downs, these were two very difficult recessions for these particular generations to have to go through so much earlier on.

So let's get into crypto. Personally, I don't even have a super clear understanding of what cryptocurrencies are. I know that there's online mining involved. Where can one even buy and trade cryptocurrencies?

How does buying crypto work for these people? It's a great question and it does seem very complex, especially when this is something that's constantly trending on social media and so many people want to get involved in this. But cryptocurrencies are created and traded over a decentralized computer network and obviously have a popular appeal to younger investors. A lot of them can even go on to Robinhood-.

But it is challenging, say, if you're younger than Typically, you're not able to trade cryptos just yet so anecdotally, in some stories that we did cover, there were some Gen Zs who hadn't graduated from high school yet that were trying to trade cryptos but they ended up having their parents opening some accounts for them to try to help them trade those.

So that was interesting. But they were very eager to try to start doing that once they did turn But it's much more accessible now to try to trade those. But also when you think of some of these coins like Bitcoin, at one instance earlier in the spring, it had hit a record over 64,, but you don't necessarily have to buy that.

You can buy a fraction of a coin so it's not like as if you'd have to pay that much money to do it. But there's different ways you can get involved and by fractions of these coins. There's also so many different ones. Bitcoin is the world's most popular coin, it's been around the longest and it's sort of thought of as more of a store value, similar to how people sometimes view gold as a safe haven during times of uncertainty.

But then you also have other coins like Ethereum, which is the second largest coin market cap behind Bitcoin, but it's a little bit different with the technology that's used behind it and the blockchain technology. And some other areas like NFTs also use some parts of that.

But then a big thing was the Dogecoin earlier this year. That was actually created as a joke back in about and it did see some strong gains in certain boom and bust cycles. We did see it take off a lot earlier in the spring as well. But again, when I've talked to professionals, they really still see that as a joke and aren't taking it seriously. Even the most successful investors in the world don't always get it right. So when I think people, especially young investors, see their buddies making thousands of dollars in a day they obviously want to jump in on that bandwagon and do it.

But a lot of people unfortunately got burned trying to do that, whether that was with the meme stocks or the cryptos this year or the NFTs, and then unfortunately lost a lot of money. So you do have to be careful and really think of these things more in a longer term, especially cryptocurrencies. Fund Strat is a research advisor that a lot of financial institutions follow, and one of their managing partners that runs it, Thomas Lee, he was one of the few people that called the market bottom last year.



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As bitcoin continues to lose value , cryptocurrency investors, speculators and enthusiasts are now confronting another hurdle -- the official beginning of a potentially nightmarish tax season. The IRS will ask everyone filing a return this year about their cryptocurrency activity, and plenty of people have questions about the tax implications of buying, selling and trading. The IRS treats virtual currencies, like bitcoin and ether -- and even NFTs -- differently from some other assets and investments, and there are specific rules you'll need to follow if you sold or traded those assets last year. Cryptocurrency is treated as property for tax purposes," says Shaun Hunley, a tax consultant at Thomson Reuters.


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Young people are turning to cryptocurrency like bitcoin and ethereum because they can be an opportunity to make more cash quickly. They're also learning about stocks on social media. How are young people navigating these new investment choices? What should they keep in mind and steer clear of? Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.

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