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Getting started as an investor: What you need to know

Investing is a crucial step in growing your savings and securing your financial future. But if you’re nervous about taking the plunge, you’ll appreciate these tips to help get you on your way.

couple investing

Your comfort level is important

Many people shy away from investing out of concern they’ll make a risky choice and lose money. But there are many types of investments, from no risk to high risk. And you don’t have to stray out of your comfort zone until you’re ready. Of course, the greater the risk, the greater the potential for growth, but you don’t have to do anything that will cause you to lose sleep.

Speak with an investment advisor

The first time you sit down with an investment advisor, they’ll ask you questions to better understand what your financial goals are and how you can best achieve them. Many banks will ask you to complete a questionnaire to assess what kind of growth you expect and how you feel about risk. If you’re willing to accept a lower rate of return in exchange for the peace of mind of knowing your money is growing risk-free, they’ll likely steer you toward options such as GICs or term deposits. If, on the other hand, you’re willing to accept certain risks in exchange for great rates of return, stocks or equities are probably what you’re most suited for. And if you’re somewhere in the middle, mutual funds might be the answer.

Understand your options

Investing is a very personal experience, and how you want to do it is completely up to you. These are just some of the investment possibilities to consider:


Guaranteed investment certificates (GICs) come in many forms. At banks such as TD Canada Trust, the term of the investment can be as short as 30 days or as long as five years. The benefit of GICs is that no risk is involved. Your investment will be returned to you along with the interest accrued once the term is up. With some plans you can even collect the interest along the way. Just keep in mind that GICs cannot be cashed prior to maturity, so if you sign for a three-year plan, that money is locked in for the full three years.

Mutual funds

TD Mutual Funds explains that a mutual fund pools money from many individuals to invest it in a way a single person could not do alone. Professional money managers make investment decisions according to stated objectives on behalf of the fund investors. These managers buy and sell investments such as stocks, bonds and money market investments. When you buy into a mutual fund, you become a part owner of these collective investments. This type of investment allows you to achieve a level of diversification and expert attention you’d be hard pressed to achieve on your own.


If you’re willing to accept a higher level of risk in exchange for the possibility of greater growth, buying and selling equities (stocks) might be the right approach for you. Picking where and how to invest are big decisions, however, so contact an investment organization such as TD Waterhouse to lay out a plan that will work for you.

Other possibilities

Numerous other possibilities are worth considering, such as term deposits, fixed income investments, RSPs and options. So take your time figuring out which path is right for you.

Never stop learning

The best way to get started in the world of investing is to stop by your bank and sit down with an investment advisor to figure out what course of action will work best for you. You are your own best advocate when it comes to saving for your future, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn all there is to know before settling on investment choices you can feel good about.

More on saving

Personal finance tips from Gail Vaz-Oxlade
Banking 101: Long-term investments
Saving for an emergency fund

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