Richard has kindly invited me to guest post. Here is a quick introduction. I'm not a hard core survivalist mostly because I still work in DC. That limits my options for preparations, but I live about as far out as I can and have slowly been building my stash for several years. I have about a year's worth of food for my family but need more storage space. I have some options for expanding but right now I am switching to non-food and non-bulky preparations. My most recent purchase was a bit of Gold. Perhaps you already know all about it but here is what I learned in the past week (I'm sure many of you can tell me where I went wrong):
You will get more gold for your dollar with bullion coins than with numesmatic coins (coins valuable for their appearance or rarity). The US mint makes eagles in silver and gold (other precious metals too). The one ounce gold eagles are 22 karat but weigh more than an ounce such that they contain exactly one ounce of gold. In gold, they also make buffalos that are 24 karat. Thus, a gold eagle and a gold buffalo contain the same amount of gold. Both are available in ounce, half ounce, and one tenth ounce versions but the one ounce are much easier to find than the smaller sizes.
Other common options include the Canadian maple (24 karat), Krugerrand (22 karat), Australian kangaroo, and the Austrian philaharmonic. In any case, you get the same amount of gold with either 22 or 24 karat since the 22 karat coins are slightly larger.
The US mint sells proofs directly to the public at a substantial markup over the spot price and has terrible availability. They sell their bullion coins to dealers who inturn sell them to the public. It is all about finding a dealer who will sell at the least markup (over the spot price of gold: http://www.kitco.com/charts/livegold.html ) and also avoid as much shipping and sales tax as possible. In Virginia, there are two good options: driving to Maryland or buying from an out of state online dealer.
The reason not to buy in Virginia is that you would have pay sales tax. Maryland has a sales tax exemption for bullion purchases over $1000. Gaithersburg Coin Exchane (http://www.gaithersburgcoin.com/) seems to have the best prices but runs out of Gold eagles frequently. There are many online places to buy gold but for small quantities, good selection, and good prices it is hard to beat http://www.gainesvillecoins.com/ . Their price today is $945 plus shiping for a one ounce gold eagle based on a spot price of $886 which is a little more than Gaithersburg Coin Exchange at $930 but doesn't require driving in DC traffic.
The reason I'm buying gold is to diversify and hedge against inflation. The Fed seems to be expanding the money supply at historic rates. Inflation is not a problem yet but probably will be soon unless Bernake is much more competent than he sounds recently. Next, I'm looking for an AR.