Not your seed, not your coins. Not your node, not your rules. Don't trust, verify!
To become truly financially sovereign, I need to make sure that everyone is playing according to the rules. For this, the Bitcoin Full Node is needed.
Running your own node also enhances privacy and allows you to run the Lightning Network node.
When Bitcoin wallet connects to the network it usually won't download the whole blockchain and thus won't verify all the transactions. It will use some third party server to do this job. This poses both privacy and security concerns. A trusted third party sees the addresses that you are checking for balance and in theory, can even give you false data.
The solution is to run your own Bitcoin Full Node and setup the wallet to use this node instead.
There are many different solutions for running a node. In this article, I recommend using Raspiblitz because:
Raspiblitz runs on Raspberry Pi and I recommend this minimal setup:
Raspiblitz can be assembled with a nice display, but it is not needed in my opinion.
Raspiblitz has amazing documentation directly on Github. It is a step-by-step guide with screenshots.
Make sure you setup your node to run behind Tor. It is just about selecting the right option in the Raspiblitz setup. You don't want to anyone know you have a full node at home.
After installation and Bitcoin blockchain sync (it will take days) you have Bitcoin Full Node and Lightning Node ready.
You have the seed for the LN wallet written down. This is the backup for on-chain funds. However, once you open some channels, funds will be locked in those channels. In case the SSD fails, you need the latest backup of those channels.
However, using the whole channel's state (the file called
channel.db) is tricky. You may
accidentally broadcast the old state and get punished for it.
Broadcasting old channel state (old backup) is seen by Lightning Network as a fraud attempt. It will most likely result in a Penalty Transaction that will sweep funds from your side of a channel. For more info see this article .
To go around this problem, the Static Channel Backup was introduced.
It comes with a tradeoff: you recover your funds, but your channels will be closed. It can be costly because opening and especially force-closing channels may cost some significant on-chain fees. But in the contrast of loosing all your off-chain funds, it is a great deal.
Raspiblitz offers some options on how to do Static Channel Backup:
channel.backupboth on the SD card and on the main SSD by default.
It is crucial to have backups. But if you haven't tested your backup you don't know if you really have it.
To test the seed:
The only suitable way how to check that
channel.backup is ok is to check
that the file changes (on USB or in Dropbox) after the channel state has changed.
Truly testing it by doing the backup process is not possible because it would force-close all your channels in the process.
Raspiblitz comes with Ride the Lightning app (RTL) that allows managing the node via the browser. It will be accessible via IP on your local network or via onion address over Tor allowing you to manage your node remotely.
The next step is to fund the wallet with some non-trivial amount of Bitcoin and start opening channels. Make sure they are big enough (I would recommend a minimum of 1M sats).
Preferring those "big" channels is good:
By opening a channel we have all sats on your side and it means we can send, but we cannot receive.
The easiest way how to get some inbound is to open a big channel and spend some funds on goods and services. This will move some sats on the other side of a channel allowing you to receive payments.
Here is a list of options on how to get inbound liquidity.
Electrum server is a service that allows the wallet to access the Bitcoin blockchain.
This is the part, where you became truly sovereign. By configuring your wallet to communicate with your own Bitcoin Full Node hidden behind Tor, over the Tor, you became your own bank. There is no trusted third party between you and the Bitcoin network. You just became the very part of the Bitcoin network. 
Wallets supporting it:
Run Electrum Wallet by using a command like
./electrum-4.0.9-x86_64.AppImage --oneserver --server xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.onion:50002:s --proxy socks5:127.0.0.1:9150
You can get the exact command for your node from the Raspiblitz menu:
The Tor browser needs to be running to serve as a Tor proxy.
If you have
and use them as a proxy, use port
9050 instead of
Check Electrum documentation
for more info about connecting Electrum Wallet to a Tor node.
In Phoenix Wallet go to settings and navigate
[Set server] button, and paste the onion address provided by Raspiblitz.
The port must be changed to
50001 (for more info see phoenix/issues/44).
In Wasabi Wallet you just need to
set the onion address.
of your Bitcoin Full node. It is different from the Electrum server
and can be found in the menu section
Wasabi then uses your full node to download the block instead of
using a random one.
Wallets NOT supporting it 🔔 but hopefully soon will:
Pasting your transaction IDs into random blockchain explorer is possibly quite dangerous. You have to trust the third party that:
Running the full node and using it to accessing the Bitcoin network allows you to became sovereign by cutting off third parties. You can connect your wallets directly to your node and browse transactions in the Blockchain Explorer that is solely under your control.
Having the Lightning Network node allows you to connect to the network without relying on third parties (and their big nodes) like ACINQ (authors of the otherwise great Phoenix wallet). You can control fees and open channels to "create paths" for your future transactions.