A Beginner’s Guide to Investing for Canadians

Part of Investing For Canadians For Dummies Cheat Sheet

No one is born a knowledgeable, savvy investor. Here are some basic guidelines to keep in mind as you start to learn more about investing and begin to make your money work for you:

  • Saving is a prerequisite to investing. Unless you have wealthy, benevolent relatives, living within your means and saving money are prerequisites to investing and building wealth.
  • Know the three best wealth-building investments. People of all economic means make their money grow in ownership assets — stocks, real estate, and small business — where you share in the success and profitability of the asset.
  • Be realistic about expected returns. Over the long term, 9 to 10 percent per year is about right for ownership investments (such as stocks and real estate). If you run a small business, you can earn higher returns and even become a multimillionaire, but years of hard work and insight are required.
  • Diversify. Diversification is a powerful investment concept that helps you to reduce the risk of holding more aggressive investments. Diversifying simply means that you should hold a variety of investments that don’t move in tandem in different market environments. For example, if you invest in stocks, invest worldwide, not just in the Canadian market. You can further diversify by investing in real estate.
  • Look at the big picture first. Understand your overall financial situation and how wise investments fit within it. Before you invest, examine your debt obligations, tax situation, ability to fund retirement accounts, and insurance coverage.
  • Hire advisors carefully. Before you hire investing help, first educate yourself so you can better evaluate the competence of those you may hire. Beware of conflicts of interest when you consider advisors to hire.
  • You are what you read and listen to. Don’t pollute your mind with bad investing strategies and philosophies. The quality of what you read and listen to is far more important than the quantity. Find out how to evaluate the quality of what you read and hear.
  • Keep things in perspective. Your personal life and health are the highest-return, lowest-risk investments. They’re far more important than the size of your financial portfolio.