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4 ways to invest in gold

You have a few options here: You can either buy physical gold like bars or gold coins, invest in gold mining company stocks or a gold exchange-traded fund, or ETF, or buy into gold futures.

1. Purchase physical gold

  • Bars
  • Coins
  • Jewelry

The most straightforward way to put your money in gold is to buy physical gold like bars, coins or jewelry.

To actually make a profit off the precious metal, you need to have a reasonable expectation that your gold can be sold for more than you paid for it. Unfortunately, gold prices are notoriously difficult to predict.

In the 1990s, gold barely hit $300 on a good day. Then, as financial and political crises loomed in the mid-2000s, people did what they always do and started buying up gold, which drove up gold prices. Its value more than doubled from $800 an ounce in 2009 to $1,900 in 2011. But by 2013, the bubble had burst and gold was down to $1,300.

Then in the summer of 2020, during the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic, gold surged to an all-time high of $2,000, before dipping back down. As of January, 2024, gold has surged once again and is currently sitting at above $2000.

If you want gold to be a foundation of your retirement plan, you can actually buy it through a gold individual retirement account, or IRA. You’ll need to set it up with a special custodian or broker, such as Rosland Capital, a trusted precious metals company with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Diversify your portfolio with precious metals from Rosland Capital

2. Invest in gold stocks

You can invest in gold without ever touching a flake of it by purchasing shares of gold mining companies on the stock market.

The advantage is that if the price of gold suddenly plummets, you may not lose your shirt because the mining company could decide to focus on another metal.

The disadvantage of owning mining stocks is that they can decline with the rest of the market, even when the value of gold is steady. In fact, business factors can always come into play — factors like the company’s financials, the quality of its management team and long-term production prospects.

You can easily invest in commodity stocks through any number of investing apps — although a few will give you a free stock just for signing up.

3. Invest in gold ETFs

Investors might buy into gold exchange-traded funds to avoid the uncertainty that comes with investing in a particular company.

Put simply, these funds are pools of money from investors that are poured into a variety of gold and mining companies. ETFs are traded like stocks; some of the most popular gold ETFs are GLD, GDX and GDXJ.

You will have to be prepared to lose a certain percentage of your investment’s value every year to the fund’s expense ratio. For example, with the largest gold ETF, SPDR Gold Shares, you’ll be charged 0.40% of your investment’s value each year.

Still, ETFs as a whole have very low management fees, and you save even more by buying them through an investment app.

It’s also important to note that there's still a measure of uncertainty when investing in ETFs. Although these funds are heavily diversified to reduce risk, they are subject to the fluctuations of the stock market.

If the market crashes, the value of your investment could drop even if the value of gold doesn’t change.

4. Buy gold futures

Gold futures are very complicated. They're contracts in which you agree to buy a set amount of gold at a specific price some time in the future.

Traders can strategically buy and sell futures contracts to profit from the changing price of gold.

Buyers of futures contracts profit when commodity prices rise. Sellers of futures contracts profit when commodity prices fall.

The contracts typically require a minimum purchase of 100 ounces of gold. Novice investors should exercise extreme caution with futures contracts due to the high degree of borrowing typically involved.

More: Bitcoin vs. gold: Which is the better investment?

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Is gold a good investment?

That depends on who you ask. Some argue commodities like gold and silver are too risky and don't offer enough utility as investments, while others argue they can help round out a diversified long-term portfolio.

Many people rush to gold in tough times. Gold has remained valuable since the start of recorded history and it tends to hold up well during stock market crashes and periods of high inflation.

Famed investor Warren Buffett has been somewhat ambivalent about gold over the years.

“I have no views as to where (gold) will be (in the next five years), but the one thing I can tell you is it won’t do anything between now and then except look at you,” he told CNBC in 2009.

“Whereas, you know, Coca-Cola will be making money... It’s a lot better to have a goose that keeps laying eggs than a goose that just sits there and eats insurance and storage."

Buffett shocked his many followers in 2020 when his company Berkshire Hathaway actually picked up shares of gold mining company Barrick Gold — but he sold them all the following year.

Many investors see gold as a safe way to diversify their portfolios. A tangible asset with a history of stability and resistance to market downturns, gold tends to keep or even grow its value when other assets take a hit.

You can take advantage of this historically strong asset class with American Hartford Gold, a leading precious metals company and three-time winner of the Inc. 5000 Best Gold Company award.

All you need to do is provide a few details and you’ll receive their free investors kit that contains details on how you can earn up to $10,000 in free silver.

Get your free investors kit

Tips on investing in gold

Before you go King Midas and turn your entire portfolio to gold, take the following precautionary steps:

  • Decide your risk tolerance: Investing in gold futures can be risky, while ETFs can help spread out your risk.
  • Do your research: If you decide to invest in a specific gold mining company, look into its performance over the last few years and whether it mines for other metals or resources.
  • Start slow: Most people who invest in gold make it a small part of a diversified portfolio. Consider a wide range of investments.
  • Ask for help: Don’t be shy to ask your financial advisor for input on whether gold would be a good addition to your portfolio.

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About the Author

Sigrid Forberg

Sigrid Forberg

Associate Editor

Sigrid’s is Moneywise.com's associate editor, and she has also worked as a reporter and staff writer on the Moneywise team.

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The content provided on Moneywise is information to help users become financially literate. It is neither tax nor legal advice, is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. Tax, investment and all other decisions should be made, as appropriate, only with guidance from a qualified professional. We make no representation or warranty of any kind, either express or implied, with respect to the data provided, the timeliness thereof, the results to be obtained by the use thereof or any other matter.