In today's economy, there are few sure investments. Real estate values that were once a safe haven are now falling along with much of the stock market. The one bright spot in the financial world is gold. Even when the economy is great, gold bars are a stable, liquid investment. These qualities are more valuable during a rough economic climate. You can purchase your own gold bars through a dealer; however, it's prudent to do your homework before shelling out the cash.
Find an legitimate gold dealer. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) in your state is a great place to start. Just look under the "Gold, Silver and Platinum Dealers" category. Here, look for the ones that are well established, not a fly-by-night operation. Look for dealers who can answer your questions about the gold bars, and the current prices on precious metals. He should have recommendations for storage--other than his own facilities. You may also look for a dealer affiliated with an appraiser certified by the American Society of Appraisers. Otherwise, use your best judgment. There is no real way to license or accredit gold dealers, so treat this like any other cash transaction.
Know what you want before contacting the dealer. With gold dealers, you never go into the transaction without a plan for your purchase, just as you wouldn't go a car dealership clueless about the type of car you want. Each time you run the risk of leaving with a purchase you will regret. Just do a little basic research. For example, know the differences between ingot and minted bars, as well as the way that bars are weighted and priced. Knowing what you are buying will also prevent you from succumbing to a scam.
Buy large gold bar (by weight) if you can. The dealer charges a premium that actually reduces with the size of the individual bar. Therefore several small bars will end up costing you more than a larger bar purchase. So, buy as large a bar as you can afford.
Prepare a secure place for your gold. You can't just make it a paper weight or coffee table knick-knack. A safe or safety deposit box in a bank are both great options. You can also ask your gold dealer about independent depositories that charge a percentage of your deposit's value as a storage fee. The place you choose should protect the gold bars from fire and burglars.