I Have an IRA. How Can I Invest in Gold and Silver?

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(September 2012)

It is quite easy! Yes, I am talking about actual physical gold and silver, not “paper” gold, or certificates, or paper promises.

Question: Why gold and silver in an IRA?
Answer: The simplest explanation is that gold and silver will protect your purchasing power. There are many other reasons including safety in the event of another economic melt-down such as what happened in 2008.

Question: Why not buy ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds) that invest in gold and silver, such as GLD, SLV, PSLV, and PHYS?
Answer: You certainly can. They are more convenient to buy and sell, and the annual fees are less. But, if you are looking for maximum safety, purchase metals in your IRA and have them stored in a secure, insured, private vault.

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Question: Why can’t I store them in my personal safe deposit box instead of a private vault?
Answer: Per the IRS code, you can’t take delivery until you pay taxes. Don’t fight the IRS.

Question: How do I open an account?
Answer: Find a self-directed IRA custodian who will allow precious metals in your account, complete the paperwork, send it and the initial fee to the IRA custodian, and they will open the account.

Question: How do I find a self-directed IRA custodian?
Answer: Go to your favorite metals dealer – there are many – and look at their recommendations. My preference is Apmex.com but there are many fine choices for metals dealers, and they can recommend IRA custodians. Apmex currently suggests seven IRA custodians on their website.

Question: Once I get the account, how do I fund the account?
Answer: You can fund it with a non-taxable (partial or total) roll-over from an existing IRA, 401k, or 403(b) account, or by contributions under the current IRA rules.

Question: Then what?
Answer: The IRA is open, the money arrives from the rollover or contributions, and the IRA custodian asks you what you want to purchase with the funds and what dealer (such as Apmex) you wish to use. You tell the dealer what combination of silver and gold coins and bars (there are a few restrictions regarding what coins and bars are acceptable in IRAs) that you wish to purchase.

Question: Then what?
Answer: The metals are purchased and shipped to a bonded, insured, private storage facility in Delaware (or wherever) and stored. They are not in a bank. The IRA custodian sends periodic statements showing transactions and estimated fair market value of your gold and silver holdings.

Question: What does this cost?
Answer: It depends on the custodian, the size of your IRA, and the storage facility. Assume $200 – $400 per year as an estimate.

Question: Why so much?
Answer: Fees, IRS regulations, accounting, profit, and expenses. Gold and silver have increased 15% to 20% per year for the past decade. How has your money market account performed in that time? How have your brokerage accounts and mutual funds performed in that time? Did you feel safe or vulnerable during the crash of 2008? Would you feel safer if your IRA funds were not held in the banking or financial system? After considering these questions, the fees may seem quite reasonable. If not, then stay with what has been working for you.


An IRA that invests in physical gold and silver is NOT for everyone, but it may be appropriate for a portion of your retirement funds. It will probably be safer in the event of another financial meltdown, but it will be more expensive than a traditional IRA, and it is less convenient and flexible. Choose what works for you.

GE Christenson
aka Deviant Investor

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13 thoughts on “I Have an IRA. How Can I Invest in Gold and Silver?

  1. My spouse and I absolutely love your blog and find most of your post’s to
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  2. Many financial experts and investors are making the push to invest in gold.
    The right part would be to consider an individual retirement
    account which is self directed, giving you complete power
    over it. The custodian is in charge of buying the gold to be invested,
    to be kept in a vault.

  3. Pingback: buy gold coins

  4. I have physical silver ira in depository. I receive calls from several silver investment services saying they can convert all or any part to cash fund and at any time back to physical silver, always remaining in the same ira account, with the objective of increasing the account value. Can this be done under ira guidelines? Please reply.

    • Please excuse my less than precise answer:

      1) I am not a certified financial analyst, so I can only offer comments, not advice.
      2) I am not up on the latest IRA laws, all the tiny details, the special cases, and loopholes.
      3) So be advised and careful. That all said:
      4) My first thought is that this sounds like attempts to “churn” the account – maximize transaction costs and commissions from sales. Be careful.
      5) Part of the reason to invest in silver and gold in IRA accounts is to minimize trading, since so few people do it well. Be careful that you don’t trade yourself into large commissions, confusion, and a smaller account value.
      6) If trading is important, physical silver in an IRA is not a good vehicle, in my opinion. Physical silver in an IRA account is for long term value, insurance against continued dollar devaluation, and “sleep well” investments.
      7) Now is the time to buy more, not sell. Silver is heavily over-sold and ready to rally. I would not even think about selling now.
      8) re IRA rules: It is my understanding that you can buy and sell within the IRA without incurring any tax liability. That means, as I understand it, you must buy and sell through your IRA custodian, leaving the cash/silver/stock/whatever in the account and doing nothing more than transferring from one asset to another – i.e. from cash to silver and back to cash. Be careful.

      So, with many caveats, I think the answer to your question is “I think so, but be careful.”

      For more important stuff: Congratulations on taking the plunge – you put your paper dollars into real money – silver – in your IRA and made an excellent choice. I fully expect to see silver much higher in 2013. I have good analysis and reason (not everyone agrees) to believe that $50 – $60 silver is likely. So, congratulations on mustering the courage to do what few people have done – physical silver in your IRA.

      GE Christenson
      aka Deviant Investor

    • I think you are correct regarding gold and silver. Anyone can purchase them to protect their assets and their purchasing power. Both gold and silver will be more expensive in one year, in three years, and in five years.

      GE Christenson
      aka Deviant Investor

  5. Wow!

    I’ve been thinking about and planning a move to gold/silver IRA investments for a while, and this is the time of the year to get it going.

    You hit on all the questions I have right now and have convinced me that I can do it without hurting myself. (I have often found ways to hurt myself in financial investments1)

    I think this was a very informative and timely post!

  6. This article was very helpful. Since I am not old enough to withdraw my IRA without a penalty, I transferred a portion of my traditional IRA to a gold and silver IRA account.

    I am happy with my decision. Thanks Deviant Investor!

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