Jeff Clark, Senior Precious Metals Analyst, GoldSilver
There are lots of reasons to buy silver — it’s a real asset, the coins are beautiful, it will likely outperform gold and it’s more affordable. But that affordability comes with a catch: how to store silver in a way that’s secure but practical.
Storing silver can be a lot different than storing gold at home. Once you start to accumulate a stash, you’ll quickly realize that silver requires a lot more storage space than gold. It’s relatively easy to hide some gold coins in a sock drawer or cookie jar — though we don’t necessarily recommend such an obvious hiding space. But those same places are impractical for the same dollar amount of silver.
So how do we store our silver bullion both efficiently and safely? And should it be stored at home anyway? This video and the article below both provide solutions for those investors that are stacking silver. Here are just a few of the things we look at:
Everyone should keep some silver (and gold) in a place that is easily and immediately accessible. One advantage bullion offers is its high liquidity in a period of crisis—no worries about bank closures, lack of access to funds, or internet problems.
So, if you have some bullion close by, you have the ability to fight through a crisis. On the other hand, if your silver is two days away or time-consuming to get to, its use as an emergency asset has diminished.
Everyone should keep some silver (and gold) in a place that is easily and immediately accessible. One advantage bullion offers is its high liquidity in a period of crisis — no worries about bank closures, lack of access to funds or internet problems. So, if you have some bullion close by, you have the ability to fight through a crisis. On the other hand, if your silver is two days away or is time-consuming to get to, its use as an emergency asset has diminished, and its intrinsic value has, too.
As Mike Maloney pointed out in his book, Guide to Investing in Gold and Silver, “I believe everyone should have gold and silver in his or her own private possession, where you can lay your hands on it, because they are one of the few financial assets that can be completely private and not part of the financial system.”
Note that this doesn’t necessarily mean you should keep it inside your house. It means you want some of it readily accessible in an emergency, whether that emergency is a personal one or on a national scale. If you do decide to store some silver at home, there are some important things to think about first. Considering the most important factors before you begin will help you keep your bullion secure.
In a dollar-for-dollar comparison, you can generally expect to get roughly 50-70 times more ounces of silver than gold for the same amount. On top of that, silver is a lot less dense than gold. In fact, pure silver is 84 percent larger in volume than pure gold. Add those two facts together and it means that silver takes up as much as 128 times more space than gold for the same dollar value!
Here are a couple practical examples of the difference: A 1-ounce American Gold Eagle coin is about the same size as a U.S. 50-cent piece and can fit in your pants pocket along with your other change, keys and cell phone. But a 1-ounce American Silver Eagle coin is significantly larger. And to get the same value, your pants pocket would have to hold up to 70 of them, which would weigh almost five pounds.
The same is true with larger amounts. You can hold $50,000 worth of gold in one hand — but it would take 10 large shoe boxes to hold the same dollar amount of silver. The difference in weight is also significant: at current prices, $50,000 worth of gold weighs about 2.6 pounds, but the same value of silver would weigh almost 200 pounds!
In other words, whether you’re dealing with coins or bars, you’ll need a lot more space to store silver bullion. It’s also more difficult, expensive, and cumbersome to transport.
The most popular form of silver is the 1-ounce American Silver Eagle coins we mentioned earlier. And the most popular order size is what’s called a monster box — a case of 500 1-ounce coins, separated into 25 tubes of 20 coins each. A monster box measures 15” x 8.5” x 4.5”. Here’s how big that is when compared to the average human:
A monster box of Canadian Silver Maple Leaf coins varies slightly. Instead of 25 tubes of 20 coins, it contains 20 tubes of 25 coins, and measures 10” x 8” x 5”.
If you’re stacking bars, the most popular size is the 100-ounce silver bar. The dimensions are roughly the same for most bars — a bar from the Royal Canadian Mint measures 7.2” x 3.2” x 0.8”. It’s roughly the size of three or four large Hershey bars stacked on top of each other.
Simply put, how much silver bullion are you comfortable keeping in your home?
Your two biggest risks are theft and natural disaster. Here’s a checklist of questions to ask yourself about storing bullion at home and assess those risks:
Also keep in mind that insuring your home-stored bullion is costly, and most home insurance plans may not cover the full value if silver rises a lot in price. Further, it breaks the golden rule of telling too many people what you have—insurance agents, office staff, corporate offices, appraisers and their staff—and don’t forget that they might tell someone! Insuring your home-stored bullion is a personal decision, but we prefer the privacy.
Indoor storage is practical for small quantities. You can probably think of dozens of places in your home where no one would think to look.
The trick is to hide your bullion in such a way that it isn’t too complicated for you or your heirs to find, but is very hard for a thief to find.
Once you’ve decided to store silver at home, the biggest question is where to put it. Here are a few tips on hiding locations (please note that some of these come from customer input and are not necessarily what we would recommend):
A safe is certainly much better than behind some books, but keep in mind that no safe is 100 percent secure. A safe buys you time — nothing more. If you use a key safe, hide the key separately from the safe. If you use a combination lock, don’t assume you’re immune from a robbery — a friend of my father’s once told him the story of robbers pointing a gun to his wife’s head while they asked him for the combination to his safe.
Another consideration is the weight of the safe. One that weighs 100 pounds or less could be stolen by a single burglar with some basic tools like a dolly or straps. A 300-400 pound safe removes the risk of theft by a single person. Heavier than 500 pounds and you’re immune from most home burglaries unless there’s a group of them with a heavy-duty vehicle and equipment. Don’t forget that the contents of the safe increase the weight, especially if you’ve got silver in it. Of course, the heavier the safe the more likely you’ll need it delivered and installed, which then tips your hand to the installation company that you’ve likely got a lot of valuables in the house. The best safe for silver is typically one that is heavy enough to deter common burglars, but light enough that you and your confidant can install it on your own.
There are a few other things to consider when using a safe or otherwise storing large amounts of silver:
The advantages to using a safe deposit box at your local bank are that they’re easy, simple and relatively inexpensive. But consider the drawbacks:
Remember, one reason we own physical bullion is to protect against the banking system. If you go this route, be aware of the risks and only place a small portion of your metal there.
Once your stash starts to grow, I recommend you consider professional storage. Your risk grows as you accumulate more metal. You don’t want to be wiped out if something happened to your stash at home.
The keys to professional storage are that your metals:
I’m proud to say that GoldSilver’s program meets all these criteria and more. These are the same vaulting services Mike and I use. They are highly liquid, 100 percent insured and can be done online instantaneously. It’s your most secure option once you have a reasonable amount of bullion stored at or near home.
The message here is that no storage location is 100 percent secure (though professional storage is 100% insured). Therefore, the best solution for storing silver is to diversify your locations. The more you accumulate, the more you should utilize several methods for storing silver.
Don’t put yourself in a position where you’re left silver-less if something happens to your stash. Silver bullion is a tangible asset that serves as inexpensive insurance against all types of crisis. We’re convinced you’re making a wise decision by owning it. But review your storage methods to determine the best ways to hold on to your silver.