Silver is a wonderful instrument for investing and collecting, and it has the added advantage of being available in small amounts that you can store in your home. Buying silver is easy, but for those new to the trade, it is also easy to head in the wrong direction. Start buying silver by paying attention to a few hints.
Mix Up Silver Types
Walk into any reputable silver store and you should see a variety of silver available; dimes and quarters in U.S. currency from the early 1960s and before, bullion coins like silver eagles and maple leaves, and even silver jewelry if the coin store doubles as a pawn shop. Take advantage of this mix. Get dimes and quarters for sure, and if you have the cash, get a few bullion coins as well. You may even want to have a few silver chains stored in your jewelry box just in case silver coins ever face what gold coins did back in the days of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Forget the Bars
Like gold, silver is also available in small bars. These look nice and shiny and can make you feel kind of rich when you hold them. But, they also require authentication before you sell them, and if you are in a rush to get cash and don't have that authentication, that renders your attempt to store silver for fast cash as moot.
Be Wary of Collector/Commemorative Sets
These sets are the ones that give you a little plaque with a few coins minted specifically to honor an event or person, like the founding of a country, a scientific achievement, and so on. They're really nice to look at and a lot of fun to have for people who are fans of the event that's the subject of the set. However, as investments go, these don't really have much value above melt value except in rare cases—and you can spend a lifetime chasing after (and paying way too much for) those rare cases. It's fine to have these sets if you like them, but don't count on them to increase in value any more than that silver 1961 quarter you have in your filing cabinet.
Look for coin shops and pawn shops that offer a variety of silver. A good mix will grow in value and let you have some cash when you need it in a pinch. While silver shouldn't be your only investment, it is definitely one to include in your strategy.