May 1, 2018

Should I Buy Gold?



As I write this, the stock market has been reaching all time highs, partly due to Trump’s promises to lower taxes, increase our defense spending, bring jobs back to America, and spend massive amounts of money by making infrastructural improvements that will put many Americans back to work. With our current national debt above $17 trillion dollars, he promises to pay for it because our Gross Domestic Production will increase from 2% to 3% or more, which he says “will make it a whole new ballgame.”


More and more companies are using this political and economic uncertainty to market gold aggressively, urging us to “buy gold” because of coming inflation or to avoid a coming economic and geo-political crisis. They say it is not a matter of “if” but “when.”


However, just because people make big claims about the market, and about gold, that doesn’t mean their perspective is the only one, or that it’s accurate. As Proverbs 18:17 says, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” In fact, there are predictions of gold going down right alongside predictions of gold going up.


So, is there a place for owning gold? If so, what is the best way to own it, and how much should you own?


I believe gold should be part of everyone’s portfolio, as part of an asset allocation plan. Let me explain why and how to take this step.


Why to buy gold

On the positive side, gold can protect part of your nest egg from inflation or geo-political risks. Those risks seem to be rising as our national debt goes up and political and economic uncertainties abound. Gold increased about 8% in 2016.


On the negative side, the dollar is one of the most stable currencies in the world, and gold doesn’t perform as well in a strong dollar environment. And gold tends to go down when interest rates rise, which is expected to happen soon.


Whether or not the political, geo-political risks, and coming inflation will offset the strong dollar and rising interest rates remains to be seen. No matter what happens, though, I believe that everybody should have 5%-15% of their investments in gold as a simple matter of diversification. By dividing your assets into different investments which are negatively correlated (move in different directions), you will experience less volatility (more peace and stability) in your portfolio. As Ecclesiastes 11:2 says, “Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.”


How to buy gold

There are lots of ways to buy gold, some better than others. Here are a few tips to make wise decisions about buying gold:


The best way to own gold as an investment is to purchase the ETF (Exchange Traded Fund) with the symbol GLD. It’s a fund that most closely emulates the price of gold and is the least expensive way to own gold. You don’t have to store it, you can easily buy and sell it, and you can quickly exchange it for dollars. The primary risk in owning gold this way is if terrorists attack our stock market exchanges, which could prevent you from selling your gold for a period of time (and would make tip #2 below particularly valuable). Of course, other stocks wouldn’t be able to be sold either, so your gold ETF would probably be higher whenever you could sell it.


If you’re buying actual gold coins, you should buy at least some gold coins that are less than an ounce in size in case of crisis. Gold coins would give you something to use in place of money if there are massive power-outages that make cash from ATMs and banks unavailable. To buy gold (or silver), go to and buy at least some of the Swiss Franc, which is about a fifth of an ounce. You can buy one-ounce coins too, but they would be very difficult to barter with because they are worth so much. Smaller sizes have a little higher mark-up but are easier to use in crisis.


Avoid scams, such as the investment scheme going around now called Karatbars, which sells overpriced gold. Here are some ways to avoid scams:

  1. Compare the price they’re offering to the actual value of gold by checking the continuously updated prices on the CNBC ticker.

  2. Avoid people who sell gold but won’t buy it. These are not dealers – they are “sellers” just looking to turn a profit. A real dealer won’t contact you to sell coins. You have to contact them.

  3. Look for dealers who don’t make a commission.


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  • Greetings to all Alive and Well friends and volunteers! You are probably familiar with our Alive and Well tagline, which is Connecting, Equipping, Giving. Up until now, you have primarily known A&W for the Immanuel Prayer process of connecting with God in a deeper relationship thru the teaching of Jessica Handy and my wife, Margaret. As I settle into my retirement from 45 years in the financial planning industry, I am free to enjoy living on our Ozark Mountain property, being physically active every day, and learning to relax. But that doesn’t mean I want to put on the shelf all I have learned in my career that could be helpful to others. My firm didn’t sell financial products, just advice on a fee basis. We were not connected to a brokerage firm. This structure is different from over 95% of professionals giving financial advice. I think that is what attracted so many people to our firm … they liked that we were able to be objective in the advice we gave them. I can’t recall ever talking to a prospective client where we didn’t give them some helpful input in their decision making process related to their financial planning and investment life. Proverbs 18:17 says, “The first to present their case seems right, until another steps forward to question them.” I want to be available through Alive and Well to offer a second opinion on financial decisions with which you may be struggling. When I retired, I gave up my professional licenses: Certified Financial Planner, Registered Investment Advisor, and securities licenses, so I can no longer charge for my advice, and I do not accept clients. However, in this past year I have been able to discuss financial decisions with some friends of Alive and Well, and help them think through their various options and recommendations. The feedback I’ve received has been very positive and reinforces my desire to offer a financial perspective that is grounded in Biblical principles and my career experience. There will be many needs that I can no longer address in detail, in which case I can make referrals to qualified Certified Financial Planning (CFP) firms that operate on a fee basis, do not sell product, and have a Biblical foundation. I welcome you to contact me with your questions and concerns about financial matters. It would be best to put it in an email at and we can arrange a telephone call, if necessary. In the email, give me the “big picture” of your financial questions so I can gather information, links, or facts that I think might help you. May God continue to bless you abundantly with all He has entrusted to you! - Jerry Webb
  • When I was running my financial advisory firm we always gave a Christmas gift to our clients. In 2002 I gave them Kingdom Assignment , a book written by pastor Denny Bellesi and his wife Leesa to motivate their church members to experience the joy of giving. The following Christmas I decided to try my own version of their exciting strategy. At first it seemed like an expensive decision for our firm, but we went ahead and sent every client a $100 check. Along with the check were instructions to give the money to someone in need, and then to send a letter telling us the story. The money could not be given to a relative or an organization but to individuals they had never given to before. We had clients in over 40 states about half of whom were believers. Most were from typical upper middle class families. That decision started them – and us – on an incredible journey of joyful giving, and resulted in a notebook of their stories that we put in our waiting room to inspire others. Here are a few of those stories, with names and details modified to protect their privacy. “I don’t know any poor people.” Bob was a wealthy single man who lived alone and didn’t have any church affiliation. When I saw that he hadn’t cashed his check after 10 days, I called him. He said he was really busy and “didn’t know any poor people.” I suggested that he cash the check, go into the city and give out $5 or $10 to the homeless. At least it would be something. After our conversation, he decided to go to a small neighborhood grocery store in southwest Chicago. He got a cart and acted like he was shopping, but he stayed close to the checkout counter. He noticed that several women checking out had to take things out of their cart because they didn’t have enough money. When there was a lull at the register, he handed the checkout lady $100 in small bills and instructed her to use some of the funds for those people who couldn’t afford everything in their cart. She agreed to tell the customers it wasn’t from the store, but from a person who wanted to give them a Christmas gift. And she knew most of the local shoppers, so she knew who really needed the money. Going back to his cart, Bob stayed close enough to observe what happened. He was so moved by the responses from shoppers that he got another $200 and watched for a couple more hours. He later told me he realized how little joy he would have received from spending that money himself, compared to the joy it brought to the recipients and to him as he watched. On a Mission From God Cindy, one of our long-term clients, was in a Monday night Bible study. One December evening as the group shared prayer requests, Heather, a single mom, started expressing how badly she felt because she couldn’t afford Christmas gifts for her children. Cindy knew this was her moment: “Excuse me, but I am on an assignment from God!” As Cindy explained her assignment and handed Heather the money, Heather began to cry. The entire group was moved by the gift. The evening seemed to have a very special meaning for all of them. Cindy said later that if it had been her own money, it would have been awkward for both of them. But the assignment made it easier for her to give and for Heather to receive. Three Generations Luis was a successful small business owner who routinely gave a small gift to each employee at Christmas. This year there was one employee who really needed money, but Luis could not think how to treat him differently than the others. When he received my check with instructions to give it away, it solved his problem. The interaction between Luis and the recipient was very meaningful. Even more meaningful to Luis, however, was duplicating the assignment with his large family, who always gathered at his home for Christmas. This year, when they drew names for the family gift exchange, Luis told them to give their recipient a $50 cash gift with the same instructions: give it away and then write down the experience. At the Christmas gathering, family members read their experiences to each other. It was a very special gathering for the whole family. Even the young grandchildren, who still received their Christmas gifts, were impacted by the excitement of their parents and the stories of giving. Luis said his family was considering making this experience a Christmas tradition. A Christmas Turkey Loretta was a widow who had a big heart but lived on a tight budget. She knew exactly what she was going to do with her $100. With two of her grandchildren, she fixed a big Christmas meal, turkey and all, using her favorite recipes. Then the three of them delivered the still-hot, home-cooked meal to a single mom and her kids. Loretta’s heart warmed to watch her grandchildren excitedly carry the food into the kitchen. The family who received the meal was touched, but Loretta believes the impact on her own family was equally powerful, and she knows they will never forget that experience. Pastor Gives it Away Sonia was the first woman pastor her church had ever had. She was just beginning her pastorate and decided to invite a different family over for Sunday brunch each week. When she received her $100, she gave her gift anonymously to a family she knew was in need. She wanted to find out how the money had impacted them, but she couldn’t ask directly. So she invited them over for Sunday brunch. During the meal Sonia was thrilled to hear them tell the story of how God had met their need, and they never discovered she had been the means God used to do it. Cleaning House Julia had gotten involved in a children’s ministry in Africa. She had been trying to get her 75-year-old friend and neighbor, Ann, to go with her to Africa. Sally wanted Ann to experience first hand what a few thousand dollars could do for the children. The week before their trip, Ann was stressed out by all she had to do to prepare, including housecleaning. She never even considered the idea of hiring a cleaning lady. It was out of the question to pay someone else for a job she was fully capable of doing herself. Julia told Ann she had a deadline to give away the $100 before the trip and practically begged her to take it to get her house cleaned. It was the only way Ann would have accepted the money. The gift helped Ann prepare more peacefully for the trip and inspired her to make a sizable donation to the ministry in Africa. Betty, The Walmart Greeter Tom and his wife Marianne retired to a town in the south as Tom’s health began to fail. Every Saturday morning, Marianne would take Tom with her to Walmart, pushing his wheelchair through the aisles as she shopped. And every Saturday, Walmart employee Betty would greet Tom and Marianne at the entrance to the store. She was always pleasant, and her welcoming smile lifted Tom’s spirits. After many visits, Tom realized it would be easier for Marianne to do her shopping without pushing him around the store. So rather than staying at home, he suggested that she leave him by the front door to visit with Betty. Over time, Tom found out about a hardship Betty was going through, and when his $100 came in the mail, he knew exactly what to do with it. Tom and Marianne both felt their excitement build as they looked forward to Saturday and the surprise for Betty. When they told Betty that they had to give $100 away and presented the cash to her, she could hardly believe it. Her tears of gratitude became their own best Christmas gift. They certainly never expected to have such a meaningful relationship with their Walmart greeter! Homeless One December my wife and I decided to give friends a date night and take their two oldest children on a giving adventure into Chicago. After some fun at Navy Pier, we began walking down Michigan Avenue. As we walked, we saw homeless people huddled in doorways and alleys, trying to keep warm. We gave each of the kids ten $5 gift cards to McDonald’s. Then with our encouragement they would approach a homeless person, give them a card, and tell them God loved them. There were many wonderful experiences that night: people’s warm smiles of surprise and gratitude, the kids eagerly searching for the next person, the exciting stories they shared with their parents and friends. We encouraged them to carry more cards around and keep looking for people right in the suburbs who needed a gift and God’s love. Summary Over the years Margaret and I have truly experienced that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” God has blessed all of us in various ways, and we all have something to give. Whether it is money, a kind word of encouragement, or expressing appreciation to a friend, our heavenly Father gives back to us more than we could ever give to others! Shalom, Jerry Webb
  • In this video, Jerry shares about his own experience with fee-only financial planning.
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