You're interested in buying gold. How could you not be? Every other day or so it notches a new record. So what do you do, especially with all the choices out there?

No problem. Here's a simple two-step guide to make sure you don't mess up or spend forever trying not to mess up.

1. Figure out why you've got the itch. It's easy because there are only three possibilities. See which one describes you.

  • You're pretty sure humanity is about to devolve into millions of hunter-gather tribes surviving without iPhones, vaccines or the beneficent ministrations of our federal minders. You relate to movies like The Road, Twelve Monkeys, and The Book of Eli. You have a subscription to Guns & Ammo.
  • You see the dollar tanking, wonder if we're already in another recession -- or worse -- and worry that we're all just going to have to take it in the neck financially while central banks clean their balance sheets and sovereign debt worries on both sides of the Atlantic get resolved. You relate to movies like Grapes of Wrath and Angela's Ashes. You don't have a subscription to Guns & Ammo.
  • You're thinking it's time to tweak your asset allocation, partly because you realize that financial advisers' scorn of gold and gold-related assets is just a way of driving retail business their way. You relate to movies like Wall Street, Boiler Room, and Trading Places. Actually what you really relate to is CNBC's Squawk Box and Tom Kean on Bloomberg TV. You've never heard of Guns & Ammo.

2. Congratulations. You're half way done. Now that you've figured out which one of the above best describes you, just follow the corresponding advice below.

  • People in the first group should buy small gold and silver coins. Forget one-ounce coins. Hunter-gathers don't like to make change, especially when it's for a coin that's worth north of $2,000. Buy coins that are 1/10 or 1/20 of an ounce. Buy lots of them. Try Monex, Blanchard or Goldline. You can do all this over the Internet (at least until the Web collapses). Once you get the coins store them yourself. That's it; you're done. Bring on the apocalypse.
  • People in this second group should buy gold certificates from Australia's Perth Mint, which you'll be pleased to learn has a higher credit rating than the U.S. You can hang on to them as investments, sell them for cash or have them turned into bullion. No matter what happens, you're prepared. That's it; you're done. Enjoy feeling as smart as you really are.
  • People in the third group should buy enough shares of either SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) or iShares Gold Trust (IAU) so they comprise five to 10 percent of their portfolio. GLD and IAU are gold exchange-traded funds backed by physical gold. Their value rises with the price of gold and even though they are publicly traded they aren't as prone to drop in those nasty downdrafts that are giving many of us the heeby jeebies. Use a discount broker, like Vanguard or Fidelity or Charles Schwab. That's it; you're done. Prepare to sleep well.

So there you go. By the way, ignore people who say this is all much too simple. Of course it's simple ... as if you need to be a Ph.D., C.F.A. or a C.F.P. to invest in gold. Please.

Just go for it. Have yourself a real carpe diem moment. And enjoy the ride.