Jeff Clark, Senior Precious Metals Analyst, GoldSilver.com - Read by Mike Maloney
There are lots of reasons to buy silver—it’s a real asset, the coins are beautiful, it will likely outperform gold (and probably by a long shot), and it’s more affordable. But that affordability comes with a catch.
Once you start to accumulate, you 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, but those hiding 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 article has some potential solutions for those investors that are stacking silver…
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.
As I pointed out in my 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.”
This doesn’t mean you should keep it inside your house. It means you want some of it readily accessible in an emergency, whether that emergency be a personal one or on a national scale. Here are the three factors to consider when storing silver at home:
At today’s prices, dollar for dollar, you get roughly 70 times more ounces of silver than gold. On top of that, most silver is a lot less dense than gold. In fact, pure silver is 84% 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’s a couple practical examples of the difference: A one-ounce American Gold Eagle coin is about the same size as a U.S. $0.50 piece, and can fit in your pants pocket along with your other change, keys, and cell phone. But, a one-ounce American Silver Eagle coin is significantly larger—your pants pocket would have to hold 70 of them and they’d weigh almost 5 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: $50,000 worth of gold weighs about 2.6 pounds—but the same value of silver would weigh about 189 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 one-ounce American Eagle coin. 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:
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—here’s what one measures from the Royal Canadian Mint: 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.
How much bullion are you and your confidant 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…
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 hard enough for a thief to find. Here’s a few tips on hiding locations (note that some of these come from customer input and are not necessarily what we would recommend)…
Nothing Obvious: No fake cookie jars, rocks, or carved out books. They’re too common. If you’ve seen your hiding spot in a movie, find another one.
Three Layers Deep: A good rule of thumb is to store your silver three layers deep, since most burglars look for things they can grab and go. For example, a floor safe, covered by floor boards, with carpet and a china cabinet over it.
Safes: A safe is certainly much better than behind some books, but keep in mind that no safe is 100% 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 robbery—a friend of my father’s had a gun pointed 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, say, 100 pounds, could be moved (i.e., stolen) by one or two burglars with some basic tools like a dolly or straps. A 300-400 pound safe removes theft risk from a single person. Heavier than 500 pounds and you’re immune from most home burglaries, unless there’s a group of them and they have a heavy duty vehicle. Of course, the heavier the safe the more likely you’ll need it delivered and installed, which then tips your hand that you’ve likely got a lot of valuables in the house.
Midnight Gardening: A couple pointers if you bury your silver (the term “midnight gardening” comes from people who bury their gold at night so the digging won’t be noticed)…
A related option might be to build a safe in the floor of a storage shed. The advantage here is that you can access your bullion without being seen, day or night.
Home Security Systems: The more metal you have at home, the more you need to consider a security system that comes with both cameras and monitoring. Or consider a nanny cam; they're not expensive.
Firearms: If you store metals at home and have a safe, and IF you feel comfortable having a gun in the house, a firearm might be a way to defend yourself in the event of a break-in while you're home. We don’t necessarily recommend purchasing a firearm, however, as there a number of considerations to keeping a weapon in the house.
Decoys: Consider keeping two safes, one of which is cheap with a few items in it so the thief thinks he got your stash, and then the real one well hidden in a different part of the house with your silver and other valuables.
Diversify: Use more than one hiding spot. But don’t use so many that you forget where they all are!
You can get more ideas here.
The great thing about gold is that in its pure form it does not rust or tarnish. It doesn’t react with oxygen very easily—that’s why gold from 2,000 years ago still looks like gold. This includes gold jewelry—if you see a piece of jewelry that has tarnish on it, that portion is not gold, those are other metals. (You can get some great gold jewelry tips here.) Still, it’s best to store gold in a cool dry place, and as a “soft” metal needs to be handled with care (no playing Frisbee with your coins!).
Silver, on the other hand, does tarnish over time, and also scratches easily. So some care is needed. The good news is, that care is relatively easy and inexpensive…
Easy, simple, and relatively inexpensive—those are the advantages to using a safe deposit box at your local bank. 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 private storage. Not only do you run out of space at home but your risk grows as you accumulate more and 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 metal be held: 1. Outside the banking system. 2. Fully segregated or allocated in your name, and fully insured. 3. Easy online access.
I’m proud to say that GoldSilver’s program meets all these criteria and more. These are the same vaults Mike and I use. Highly liquid, 100% insured, and can be done online instantaneously. Again, use this option once you have a reasonable amount of bullion stored at or near home, but have reached a point where it would be wise to divvy it up.
The message here is that no storage location is 100% secure (though professional storage is 100% insured). Therefore, the best way 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.