Young Canadian Investor #3 – A Step-by-Step Checklist
You’ve probably heard plenty about investing your money, perhaps through coworkers, your parents, or by mistakenly flipping the channel to CNBC. The question about how to actually accomplish this, though, doesn’t yield a readily-available answer. Well, here’s your answer.
I won’t go on at length about each numeral, because you can already find that information in my intro to investing. This is more about offering you an eagle’s eye view of that intro so you can take in how the investing process works. Here we go:
- Choose financial goals. Could be retirement, a car, an education, whatever you like.
- Choose investments that will allow you to meet those financial goals. If it’s short-term, a high-interest savings account that pays you around 2% per year will do. If it’s medium-term, say 3-5 years, an aggregate bond fund, which pays out a long-term average of 2-4% per year, will serve you well. If your goal is 5 years away or more, investing in a global portfolio of stock funds is your best bet because you can expect a long-term average return of 7% per year.
- Determine your risk tolerance. If you are risk-averse, you should have more bonds and cash than stocks in your portfolio. If you have the stomach to see your investments fluctuate in value, sometimes by half or more, with the probability of a higher return, you should own more stocks.
- Construct your portfolio. Whether that’s 20% bonds and 80% stocks, the inverse, or some other mix, depends on your risk tolerance and the return you need to meet your financial goals. That said, unless you’re a stock-picking genius, you should always diversify, which means owning stocks and bonds from all over the world in many different industries. ETFs are the cheapest and most efficient way for young folks just starting out like you and me to put such a portfolio together. Here’s an example for you. Focus on the lowest 12-month drawdown to get a sense of how much stocks can drop from year to year.
- Open a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) or a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) to hold your investments in. The former allows you to defer taxes by minimizing your taxable income by the amount of your contribution, which only makes sense if you’re making a good salary, while the latter can only be funded with after-tax dollars. Both allow investments to grow tax-free.
- Buy shares in your chosen investments to match the percentages in your portfolio. See the “Build an ETF Portfolio” video series for instructions from Justin Bender of Canadian Portfolio Manager.
- Contribute to your investments on a regular schedule that works for you.
- Rebalance once per year. This means selling some of your investments that have done well over the year and buying more of those that have done poorly to get you back to the percentages you chose in step 4.
- Repeat steps 7 and 8 until you meet your financial goals.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments!
Disclaimer: This article is meant for general education purposes only. It does not constitute financial advice as I am unaware of your personal situation. Consult with a professional who abides by a fiduciary standard before making any investment decisions.