At the ripe old age of 20 I started investing. At first, it was kinda scary, but I’m glad I took the small steps I did in in order to gain comfort with investing. Six years later I can say that starting to invest when I was in my early twenties was the best thing I could have ever done. Setting up my nest egg, albeit small at first has allowed me to grow my wealth and reap the rewards of a bolstering portfolio.

You need to start investing, right now! If you’re confused about where to start, remember that you aren’t alone. Acknowledgement is the first step!

Put some cash aside! 

Most investments have a minimum amount you need to purchase before you can open an account of buy in. Many financial institutions (like banks) have very low minimums, while online brokerage accounts such as Questrade have a minimum of $1000. I started by saving $25 a month in my RRSP and when I hit $500 I decided to purchase my first mutual find with RBC. The same went for stocks, I saved $100 a month until I hit $1000 and then bought my first three stocks. Nowadays looking at ETFs for first time investors would be a great way to diversify your portfolio.

Open an account

Today there are 101 options for new investors, which is a blessing and a curse. If you’ve never invested before it’s probably a good idea to open a tax advantaged account like a TFSA or RRSP. These accounts allow you to hold everything under the sun in terms of investments. Many people assume that if you put money into a TFSA or RRSP it is invested, but that isn’t the case! Likely, it’s just sitting in cash so you need to make an active choice to purchase an investment. I think for many young investors Mutual Funds, Index Funds, or ETF’s are a great first step into the investing world. They give you instant diversification, as you buy a portion of many shares, and they allow you to implement dollar-cost-averaging.

Dollar-cost-averaging is buying a set dollar value of a share each month so that you average out your cost over the long run and aren’t buying when the market is too high. This allows you to not lose out of the highs and lows of the market and will save you in the long run. Remember, you can’t time the market!

If you aren’t sure where you can invest your money there are a few options that new investors should consider:

  1. Account with your financial institution
  2. Roboadvisers if you don’t want to do-it-yourself*
  3. Discount Brokerage account that will keep your fees low!**

Sign up for a Wealth Simple account and get your first $5,000 managed for free!

** Sign up with Questrade using the QPass 536224002378023 and unlock up to $250! 

Diversify

Once you have bought into one investment you should start looking into your second investment. You can continue to look at different types of funds or stocks in different industries. Holding many different types of investments will weather your risk in your investment portfolio. Ensure that you aren’t just investing in one country either. We have a bias to put more money into the country we live in, but to have a well balanced portfolio you should be investing based on worldwide GDP!

Always do your research! 

Always, always, always do your research. If you are wanting to invest in the stock market, make a mock portfolio on Morning Star (or any other site that allows you to make them). Look critically at what the analysts are saying; I promise, they tend to know what they are talking about, heed their warnings. Read the financial statements. There is a lot of pertinent information in them, while it can seem boring sometimes you will uncover major red flags.

Start Right Now, and Contribute Often

Investing and the stock market can be a scary thing for some people, it is portrayed as this big scary thing that can lose value over night. I promise you though if you understand what you are doing it isn’t that scary! Once you have picked a few stocks you are comfortable with and have done your research on them there is no harm in investing in good, stable companies. If you’re looking for passive income this can sometimes be a better option than funds. The bottom line is that it’s all about managing your risk. Only invest in what you are comfortable with.

Make investing a priority. Each month ensure you allocate a specific amount to investments. Over the years I’ve been able to increase the amount I sock away into the market, and while my contributions have ebbed and flowed based on what point I was at in my life I have always continued to contribute. building the habit is so important! Make investing part of your budget.

Don’t Play an Emotional Game 

Day trading is a good way to lose a lot of money fast. The stock market fluctuations are anything but predictable, and betting on a hot stock is as close as you will get to gambling. Buy stocks and funds that you plan on holding for a long period of time. Capitalize on dividends that stable companies pay and bank on strong companies that will increase their value year after year and give you a solid return.

I started investing in mutual funds when I was 20, and I’m grateful that while I didn’t know what I was doing 100% of the time it got me in the habit of growing my wealth. I look back now with a net worth of over six figures and I feel confident that starting to invest was the right decision. So start with a small contribution, open an account, do your research, and build your wealth!