The smallest amount of money you can invest in Canada without having to pay a fee for the privilege—usually $25 per quarter—or commissions on transactions—$5-$10 a pop—is a grand at a brokerage house called Questrade. A brokerage house simply provides a platform where investment buyers and sellers can make their orders.
The problem here is that, if your investments fall below $1000 in any given quarter, Questrade will charge you the fee unless you make one trade in any amount. To avoid all this time wasted monitoring your balance, what you really need is to start investing with an amount that could fluctuate in value, due to the ups and downs of the stock market, without much of a risk that you’ll fall below the threshold. Seeing as 50% drops occur about once every decade or more, this post should be called How to Save $2000, stock market history considered.
If you have cable, you’ve probably seen Questrade’s commercials where young 20- or 30-somethings sass some sense into older, crustier financial advisors for their high fees. As the broker with the lowest minimum in the land, this is entirely by design. Compared to the big banks, where $5000, $10000, and $15000 minimums are prohibitively in place, youngins have nowhere else to turn. To be fair, you could invest in a TFSA at CIBC with no fee and a $500 minimum, but you’d still have to pay $7 per transaction. Question is, how do you get that two grand in your hand in the first place? Ponder my suggestions below.
- If you receive a regular paycheck, shift 5%-10% of it into a savings account each time. The amount should be small enough that you won’t feel like it’s missing.
- Think about the money you spend on personal entertainment like books, music, games, and eating out, and make small cuts such that you end up with a reasonable bit of cash, say $100, by the end of three months. Obviously up the amount if you are able.
- If you eat out as a matter of course, learn to cook. Seriously, be willing to mess up, experiment until you find your comfort zone, and it will pay off. When you cook from home, you don’t charge yourself extra to pay for rent and staff salaries. That means your fried chicken dinner will cost you $5 instead of $15.
- Remove brand influences from your life by shopping for generic brands and netting yourself the savings, which can be 25% or more.
- Consider subjecting yourself to ads and using the free version of Spotify for a good long stretch. You could also cancel your Netflix or Crave subscription and opt for your local library’s free streaming service. You’ll probably only get to stream a limited number of recordings per month, so complementing your viewing with creative YouTubing would become a must.
- Adopt a big-picture perspective and identify things you spend money on but don’t use and/or need. Beyond mere entertainment, this could include balance protection insurance on your bank account, a gym membership, or extra cellphone plan features bloating your monthly bill.
- Give yourself time to accomplish this goal, even if it’s a year or more. Your means are what they are and improving them requires you to simply begin.
While this list is by no means exhaustive, it should add up to meaningful savings over a reasonably short timeframe if you put it into practice as a whole.
If you’re curious about investing and have been searching for a short, no-nonsense guide to help you get started, have a look at my new e-book, Nine Steps to Successful Investing: A Guide for Young Canadians.
Feel free to drop any questions 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.