Is gold a good investment? We answer a listener question about the shiny metal. We will discuss:
- Where gold really shines
- Some potential costs
- And things to consider when deciding if it is right for you.
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Today, Jerry asks this question, “With all of the wild moves in the stock market, a political mess, and these low-interest rates, should I be using gold?”
All that glitters is gold, or is it? As an asset class, the shiny metal tends to get a lot of attention. In most cases, it rises to popularity when the doom and gloom sets in. And when pessimism is high, it’s not uncommon to see and hear a lot of advertisements for it.
But is gold a good investment? It’s beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Where Gold Really Shines
At times gold, does well when stocks don’t. For example, during the dot com bust in 2000-2002, gold generated a total return of a little over 20%. US stocks declined more than 37% over that same three-year time frame.
In 2008, the US stock market was down 37%. Gold increased by 5%.
So it can be a good investment for diversification.
Where Gold Loses its Luster
But there are a few drawbacks. Many people we talk to believe gold offers a level of safety. The data paints a different picture. Like stocks, gold has some extreme declines. The most recent one happened between 2013 and 2015. During those three years, gold dropped more than 37%. It isn’t as safe as people want to believe.
Be Aware of the Costs
The other issue with gold stems from how you buy and sell it. If you wish to buy coins or bullion, transaction costs can eat into your returns. Those fees and commissions have decreased through the years, but they are still a factor.
One way to reduce those costs is to use an exchange traded fund designed to track the price of gold. Some funds own the metal. And we know of one fund who will actually deliver the metal to you when you redeem your shares.
The internal costs of these funds are small. In addition, the major discount brokers now offer zero commission trades for ETF’s. That also can keep your costs lower.
Buying gold in an individual retirement account can also be a hassle or result in extra fees. Not every custodian will hold the physical metal. And those who do will charge fees for storage and other services. Again this is where using ETF’s can make things much simpler and cost-effective.
Is Gold a Good Investment for You?
Gold can be a good part of your nest egg, as long as you understand the whole picture. It can be a buffer against stock market volatility. But don’t expect it to be completely safe either.
And you have to decide how you want to invest. Buying the actual metal adds costs and complexities to your situation.
After you’ve done your research and understand the ins and outs, you can make the choice.
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About the Author
Neal Watson is a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional and a Financial Advisor with Fleming Watson Financial Advisors He typically works with people who are planning for retirement. Fleming Watson is a Registered Investment Advisory firm located in Marietta Ohio. Our firm primarily serves Marietta, Parkersburg, Williamstown, St. Marys, Belpre, Vienna and the surrounding communities in Washington and Noble Counties in Ohio and Wood and Pleasants county in West Virginia.