Investing In Gold: To Buy Or Not To Buy?

Investing In Gold: To Buy Or Not To Buy?

I have always had this idea that gold was the ultimate investing option. For some reason, me and people around me have this idea that if you have money, it is wiser to not keep it as cash but convert it to gold instead.

And, at the moment, as I was looking for more money investing ways, I thought, “Gold!”

But, since I am approaching this in a serious manner and dedicating my time to finding the best investing methods, I decided not to just follow my inherited idea of how brilliant an investment this would make and actually do some research, listen to what some of the experts say, read statistics, and find actual evidence on whether or not it would be as good of an investment as I, and most people I know, think it is.

The short answer to this question is: Gold is not an investment, but yes, you should buy gold. The longer and elaborate answer would be this post.

Why Is Gold Valuable?

Gold is currently the world’s most traded precious metal and its value goes way back to ancient history where it was used for trading in the form of gold coins.

And, nowadays, it goes into many industries; the largest would be jewelry, of course, which takes up about about 50% of the gold demand. Then there’s 40% that goes into direct physical investment in gold, including gold used to create coins, medals, and gold bars. The remaining demand for gold comes from industry, for use in things such as dentistry, heat shields, and tech gadgets. 

And while gold is available in nature, it is quite difficult to extract, which is why it is considered a rare metal and a scarce asset in comparison to its demand.

Extracting gold is a very costly process, it takes many years and a lot of preparations and equipment. And because gold is usually not the only metal available in a gold mine, for example, it is mostly mixed with other metals, so unless the mining companies are certain that this mine will have enough gold supply to cover all the expenses, they wouldn’t go ahead and extract it.

Gold has other values such as the powerful nature of the metal itself that can’t be destroyed by time, water, or fire.

There is a really good article on the value of gold that lists the 5 most overlooked values, if you want to know more reasons as to why gold is such a valuable metal.

Why Should You Buy Gold?

Gold is a lot easier to liquidate than, say, a house or a piece of land. There is always a market for gold.

Something else is that gold has proven to have a strong value as an asset. For example, when the stock market fell all over the world around 2008, gold has skyrocketed in price. But while the stock market prices risen back, gold still kept its value and hasn’t fell all the way back contrary to what was predicted; it just keeps rising.

It appears that gold prices often rise in response to negative economic news or a serious drop in the stock market, unlike oil, for example. So it serves as a safe option to invest your money if you’re looking for a long-term and an almost risk-free way to save your money.

As for the case in Egypt, for instance, there was a huge rise in the price of gold around 2017 following the decision of floating the Egyptian pound as can be seen in the below graph. This has definitely created an insane profit for gold owners at that time.

And before that, between 2011 and 2013, the post-revolution time, which has seriously affected the country’s economy at the time, has also lead to a noticeable rise in gold prices.

 A graph of Gold price per gram in EGP over the years via goldprice.org
A graph showing the gold price per gram in EGP over the years (1996-2019)

Many economic websites and economists around the world have been predicting a possible fall that would take place soon in the stock market which would be similar to the one that took place in 2008; this could mean an obvious rise in commodities such as gold. Whether they are correct in their predictions or not, I think it will certainly be wise to include gold to be a part of your investment portfolio either ways.

I’m obviously no expert, so I have no idea if gold prices are going to be moving up or down from there, but I say just go ahead and buy a little bit of it every now and then, as in gradually add it to your investments. Otherwise, you may need to consult an expert who can make such judgment calls on the best timing to make a purchase based on how they see the market now and in the near future.

You can check this website for Live Gold Price everywhere in the world. At the time of writing this post, one gram of gold costs 747.46 EGP (42.49 USD).

If you want to read a more extensive study on how gold has been performing over the years and why it is a good time to start investing in it, you may need to check out this report on the relevance of gold as a strategy asset in 2019.

How Do You Invest In Gold?

First of all, I need to make one tiny clarification: Despite using the word “investment” in this post, but as far as I can see it, storing your money in a gold bar is not an investment, it is only that, “storage.”

Gold is a way to save your money. But instead of saving it in a bank account, you decide to save it in gold, in hopes that in the case of currency inflation or some global economy crisis your money will not lose its value because it is now gold which has proven over the years that it is a valuable metal and will always be in demand by both individuals and industries.

And while you can certainly benefit from a price difference between the time you buy it and the time you decide to sell it, I’d still not call it a real investment, because first of all, a huge rise in price is not guaranteed and second, normally, if it did happen, this can take a really long time for the prices to differ to the point that you would actually make a decent profit out of it.

Now that we got this out of the way, let’s move on to the how part. There are multiple ways where you can put your money in gold.

1. Jewelry

The most common method and the easiest to find is gold jewelry. They differ in the price and value depending on their weight and purity. However, these may not yield a decent profit because most of the time you will be paying for both the metal plus the work done on the jewelry. So, if you will buy jewelry as an investment option, you may want to check pieces of jewelry that don’t have much work done on them.

2. Bars

The second option is to buy it in the form of gold bars; these would differ in price depending on their weight. Bars of gold are recognized as at least 99.5% pure gold. This is a better option than jewelry because that is much less work down on the gold and therefore you are only paying for the pure metal. But it can also be a little bit harder to sell them.

3. Coins

Another way to own physical gold is to buy gold coins. These can also have other mixed metals to them but they usually have the percentage of gold they contain carved on them. However, like jewelry, you may also be paying for the work done to create the coin shape.

4. ETFs

Investing in a gold exchange-traded fund is buying stock in a company that buys and sells gold. This way you are investing in gold without actually buying and owning it. This one is a good method because it saves you the burden of taking care of physical gold possession, but the downside to it is that it has fees both to put an investment and periodic management fees for your account. So you will need to make sure that you are not paying too much in fees that you are not actually making enough profit.

5. Mining stocks

This is another way to put your money in gold without actually owning any physical gold. Instead of buying gold, you buy stocks in a gold mining company. The prices of the gold mines follow the prices of the gold itself, but you also invest in the actual production of gold by a mining company. The downside to this one is that the mining business is full of risks including possible natural disasters or a mine collapsing. So this option is probably not for everyone.

What Are the Cons to Buying Gold?

Most people who are against buying gold and even those who encourage you to buy it agree that there are some disadvantages to owning it.

1. Saving expenses

If you will be opting for options like gold bars, jewelry, or coins, no one thinks it such a good idea to keep gold simply in your closet or a drawer, so you will probably either need to buy a safe or consider renting a safe in a bank which would offer more security, for example, but is something that will require monthly payments. So, in the short term, it will be adding expenses instead of giving interest.

2. No interest

Gold is considered a non-yielding asset. As mentioned earlier, buying gold is merely just saving your money. So unlike the ability to rent a house you own and making money off it, for example, you will not be getting any interests from the money you put in an asset like gold.

3. Low profits

Unless there is some global economic crisis or a huge financial turbulence like the currency inflation in Egypt that lead to huge rise in prices, gold prices are usually steady. As you can see from the earlier graph, it takes many years to start noticing a significant difference in prices. So, gold in general is not going to make you big profits as an investment.

Conclusion

From what I have read and learned so far, gold should definitely be part of your investments for its undeniable value and as a form of security and to diversify your investment portfolio, but it shouldn’t be your main and only focus, or even a big part of it. Because that is just money put on hold. It is believed that you should invest in gold with only 5%-10% of your money and put the rest of it in other types of investments.

If you don’t own gold…there is no sensible reason other than you don’t know history or you don’t know the economics of it.

Ray Dalio

Till next week, happy days!

A Useful Read

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7 Easy Ways To Save More Money

7 Easy Ways To Save Money - photo taken by rawpixels

Saving money is a crucial step if someone wants to have a shot at financial freedom, because in order to be able to invest your money, first you need to have saved some.

How I took the decision to start saving:

I actually did not care about saving money in the past, mainly because I had no reason to. I had worked a few jobs which mostly paid me well, but I had nothing to save for at the time, no real financial responsibilities and no financial goal to save for, so I did not feel the urge and I did not see the point in saving.

If I see something I like, and I have the money for it then I will buy it; otherwise, why am I even working?–That has been my mentality up until a few months ago.

Then I had a reality check. Several months ago, I became entirely dependent on myself and instead of living with my parents, I was alone for some time. I had a job that paid me well, and had a humble amount of money that was still saved because I hadn’t spent it on anything yet.

From the outside, I may not have seemed like a lavish spender but I did spend a lot of money, most of it was wasted on food, jewelry, books and skincare products (yep, those are my weaknesses!). I can hardly feel bad about books, though, because I feel that is an investment itself, but everything else, not so much.

At that time, for some reason I went through this shopping frenzy where I was making a lot of purchases online and not thinking twice about it. And I had reached to a point where I was eating out/ordering in every single day and, sometimes, multiple times a day.

And because I am not used to paying attention to my spending or caring about money, one day, I was about to make an order for a meal, and just casually checked my wallet before I ordered and I found that I only had 50 pounds left in my pocket (that’s about $3), I tried checking my bank account and that was about zeros. And this was not even the shocking part, but it was when I realized that there was still an entire week left until the salary would come in.

This was a real turning point for me because this was the first time in my life where I literally had no money, not even enough to buy myself a meal; that was a scary moment. (But hey! let’s not get too dramatic. I did have food at home, I was just too lazy to cook it.)

And, even though I did have a credit card available, so I could still have access to money until pay day, that money was not really mine.

So, that was when I realized I needed to change my spending habits and look at money differently (also, when I realized I needed to start cooking!). But even though I started paying attention to how I spend money, still I wasn’t saving much. So I had to figure a better way to save more.

Save money and money will save you

1. Set a Budget

This is probably a technique that is as old as money itself, but still I only started doing that like 2 months ago. Setting a budget is not easy if you don’t know how much money you actually spend every month and what exactly you spend it on.

So, in order to set the right budget for myself, I had to monitor my spendings, document how much I spent and what I spent it on. I did that for 2-3 months just to make sure that whatever amount I set will be an accurate one, so I would not have to go over it at any point.

2. Set a Saving Goal

As I mentioned earlier, the reason I never cared to save money was because I had no reason to save. So, I had to create a reason that would motivate me and push me into saving and keep up with my goal.

Since I started this experiment, as I like to call it, of achieving financial freedom, I set a yearly saving goal for myself.

For now, my saving goal is to save enough money by the end of this year so I can buy an additional fund in the home construction company I discussed in the passive income: real estate investing post. And to be able to achieve that amount by the end of the year, I broke it down to a monthly saving goal.

It is also better if you have those monthly and yearly goals set in writing and have it somewhere where you can always see it, so it doesn’t slip away from your mind.

3. Think Before You Buy

Now do I really need to buy that one-of-a-kind veggie slicer? Or this never-before-never-again pair of trousers?

I used to buy a lot of things and end up not ever using them. Until this moment, there are pieces of clothing which I bought a couple years back that still have the purchase ticket on.

Things can look tempting at first glance and if you don’t stop yourself for a moment and actually think whether or not you need this, and whether or not you will actually use it, you will end up spending so much money on absolute nonsense (like this one time, several months ago, when I paid $200 on a teeth whitening device that is still in its delivery package wrap till this day).

Now, before I buy anything, I give myself enough time to think it over, again and again, before I decide. Also, if I’m doing an online purchase, I usually wait a day or two and see if I still want it as bad, because sometimes when I wait, I’d no longer be interested in buying it.

You will be surprised how much money you will save by doing just that.

If you buy things you do not need, soon you will have to sell things you need.

Warren Buffett

4. Use the Internet

Consider the internet your new, trusted best friend who you need to consult before you do anything.

There is an unimaginable number of things you can learn to do on the internet. So, before you decide to spend your money on something, make sure you can’t find a cheaper way to do it or a DIY replacement for it. (I save about 300-400 pounds per hairdresser visit just by learning how to cut and dye my own hair.)

You can also use the internet to find out about deals and discounts. It is actually interesting how much money you can save by just doing a little bit of research before going shopping for anything.

Real-life example: I was looking to buy a pair of shoes recently, and I found the ones I wanted for about 1,099 pounds in one of the go-to stores that I already know; however, with just a little bit of research, I found the exact same pair for 595 pounds and they even had a free-delivery offer for the month. So, not only have I saved on the shoes itself, but I also had it delivered to my doorstep for FREE. All it took was just some digging online.

One other thing I can totally thank the internet for is that it basically feeds me. As you probably already noticed, I’m a quite lazy person, so cooking was never really my thing. However, thanks to YouTube videos and some cooking websites, I can find a lot of easy and quick (and delicious) recipes to cook at home and from ingredients I already have. Apart from the fact that it is way more healthy, it is a major money saver!

5. Open a Savings Account

Remember that saving goal I mentioned earlier? Well, you’re going to need a place to save that money. One of the options is to open a new savings account that is separate from any account you’re already using.

Beside your saving goal, use this account to save any money left from your current month’s budget. And don’t worry if it’s only just a few pounds. If you have an extra 50 pounds left from your budget every month, that is 600 pounds by the end of the year; not a huge amount, yes, but that’s 600 pounds more in your account for basically doing nothing.

For me, I use an account which I did not get an ATM card for, just to make it harder for myself to withdraw any money from it.

6. Ditch Your Credit Card

The problem with credit cards is that they trick you into thinking you have money, when you really don’t.

Spending money you don’t have is the number one enemy to saving in my opinion. You are, voluntarily, throwing yourself as a victim to debt. If you can’t afford something to pay it off your budget, then you can’t afford it.

The only reason I ever use my credit card is to set a credit score. So, I make small transactions which I already have the money for it cash. But instead of paying it cash, I use the credit card then I pay off that card loan. I never pay an amount with my credit card that I don’t already have its equivalent in cash.

This way, I set a good credit score for myself while staying away from ever being in debt.

7. Eat Your Breakfast

You’ve probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day for several reasons, but one thing I noticed when I was working a 9-hour day job was that on the days I did not have breakfast at home, I would spend a lot more money at work.

I would buy something to eat when it’s early during my shift and because it usually wasn’t a proper meal or even healthy, I would feel the need to have more snacks throughout the day. And I tend to buy a bigger meal for lunch than what I would normally eat which would be a more expensive meal (and more kilograms on the scale).

However, when I have a proper breakfast at home, I’m never tempted to buy any snacks or junk food during the day. And I’m full till it’s time for lunch.

And since I already started to cook at home, as mentioned in tip #4, I would have a home-made meal to eat for lunch which I prepared the day before. This way I wouldn’t need to spend that extra money on food at work.

Those were the main 7 tips I know that has helped me save more and, hopefully, will help you too!

Till next week, happy days!

I Quit My Day Job, Now What?

As I approached the last few days of October, which were the last days left for my 30-day notice, I was thinking of what I will do next. To be honest, I was getting a little bit nervous about the idea of not having a salary by the end of the next month. And although I only pay for my own expenses and no one is depending on me financially, I still felt like this was a somewhat risky step, but as is the case with taking risks, you measure the possible losses and the possible gains, and, in this situation, the possible gains to me weighed a lot more.

Now I clearly knew what I did not want to do. But what is it that I do want to do? If there were no obstacles and no conditions and I could wake up tomorrow and do anything I want, what would that be?

Well, I wanted to write and design and read books and be free of the day-job monster! (Did you hear that? that’s the sound of freedom!)

And, beside that, I also want to find a way to use my brain. Yes, that may sound weird, but it was something I realized during my existential crisis discussed here, that nothing I do ever requires me to use my brain. The type of jobs I have been doing since I graduated college were all routine jobs, ones you can do on autopilot. And I had this feeling that this brain that studied physics (which I hated every step of the way), complex mathematical equations, and electronics and coding, deserves a little better treatment; it at least deserves a try.

So what I wished for was to not have to go to work to have an income, to feel some sort of financial security. I wanted to do work that I love and enjoy doing, which may not necessarily pay me well at first, instead of doing work just because it pays me well.

And simultaneously while considering those things, I was spending my free time making designs for my Redbubble store (more on that later) and I noticed that I was actually making some sales. That brought the question to my attention: Can anyone actually live off that kind of business? 

And after some online research, I can say the answer to that question is, yes. Some people do make enough sales every month that can become an actual source of income, but I also found that this is not the case for most other people. And for someone to reach that level of sales, a lot of other factors contribute to it. (There will be more on that topic in a later post).

Now I sort of had an idea that there are ways to make money online because I worked on Appen and Lionbridge for a while in the past and so I knew that this was possible, but what I didn’t know, or more like never thought of, was the fact that you can make money from money. Or that you can make money while you are not necessarily working. The concept that you should make your money work for you and not the other way around.

I never thought about investing my money, for example. I thought this was something for those business people with suits and ties and lots of money inherited from their rich families or whatever. When I first read about that, I thought, I’m a middle-class citizen from a middle-class family who studied engineering and works in customer service, what do I know about finance or business management or even money? Absolutely nothing! At least, until then.

What I’ve learned as I started to read more on the topic is that you do not need to have a degree in finance or have a business background to know how to manage and make money. Everyone can and should learn how to manage their finances to not only make ends meet, but to be able to go beyond that, to be able to have savings, to be able to have financial security in their life, especially if they have other family members depending on them.

I spent days and nights, searching and researching, reading articles, buying books, watching videos because I wanted to know if this is something that is actually achievable, that there are others who managed to do what is to me just some wishful thinking. 

And after some time I decided I will go for it. I believe it is not impossible and it is not wishful thinking anymore. I can see now that it can be done. Will I be able to do it? Well, this will be my little big experiment. It will take a lot of time and energy not just to work but to learn, but that’s what it takes, otherwise I would be wasting another year of my life and some humble amount of savings on something that I’m not even 100% aware of. 

There are bazillion articles and videos online telling you about another kabillion methods of how to make money. But the question here is not how to make money, it is how to make money in a way that brings more money, how to be smart about it. And if you don’t have enough knowledge and information, you will not be able to do that.

Another thing is how to do that without turning into a money-making machine, because that is definitely not why I started. So, how to actually enjoy the process?

Without passion, you don’t have energy.

Without energy, you have nothing.

Warren Buffett

In my opinion, one can do so by implementing all the skills they have (for me that would probably be, research, handling customers and… English? pretty unimpressive set of skills, but we’ll see how far that gets me.) along with all the activities you love and enjoy (for me that’s writing, reading, and design) and then find a way to use those things to make money.

The money you make from those little skills you enjoy and love is so much different from the typical salary you get at the end of the month doing some mundane job. I know how that feels because the few dollars I got from my design sales were the most precious money I have ever received. I am the happiest person on earth when someone buys something with my design on it. That kind of money just feels amazing. (Or maybe those are just my creative cells overreacting a bit.)

In the next blog post, I will discuss what I started with in terms of online and offline business and how I chose the kinds of business to start with and why I chose them.

Till then, happy days!