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Buy silver, no genius required

Owning silver has had its ups and its downs.

As long as you are not forced to sell at the bottom, you can be ready for the joy and excitement of owning the metal at market tops.

This bit of simple wisdom is not as simple as it might seem.

I learned it the hard way.

Back in the 1970s while I was in college, the allure of the futures market grabbed me.

Imagine buying 5,000 ounces of silver on margin. A one cent gain in the price of the metal would translate to $50 in profit.

Why waste time with taking delivery of physical coins, paying the premium and trying to figure out where to safely store them?

Futures are so much easier.

I persuaded my father to open an account on my advice.

On the very first trade, the price went up. I used the profit to buy two more contracts.

This is a trading no-no called a reverse pyramid, but I was new and did it anyway.

Soon the profit was up to $5,000 – in just days.

Well, then the market turned in minutes. It was brutal. I managed to sell the three contracts get out with $2,000 of the profit.

Long story short, I lost that on other trades and another $1,000 to boot.

Jubilee Jim Fisk I wasn't.

That stung. But it made the lesson clear. Markets fluctuate. If you can't ride it out, you have no business being in it.

Taking delivery fills the bill. Put the coins you buy in a safe place and don't look at the minute-by-minute swings.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."