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I'm a 22 year old Canadian living in Canada. I am about to finish school, paid off my student loan, and I have a good paying job, apart from rent and food (no car or house), I don't have much need for money. However, I still want to be smart with the money in my chequing account.

Let's say I have 30,000 CAD in my chequings account.

I have a background in Mathematics (and Computer Science) not a lot in finance, I was thinking about starting an investment, so that I will be set for rainy days and retirement. (har har)

I was looking at gold, and was wondering if that will be something to look into investing. But then again, gold is only as stable as one desires for the value of it.

I was thinking maybe get my toes wet by starting with mutual funds then eventually move onto something more wild?

Thoughts? Suggestions?

How much risk? I don't want to be too risky from the start, I want to start with something stable, but more yielding than the 1.25 "high" interest savings account. Eventually as I get a good grasp on investment I may try the stock market.

Is this a one-time investment, or will you be adding to your position over time? I will be putting in any amount that is left over after food and rent.

How liquid do you need this investment to be? I wouldn't mind having access to the cash when needed, but I can always set away some emergency fund in a high interest savings account. Chances are I may purchase a house after 5-10 years.

How long do you plan on investing the money for? For as long as I can take care of myself, so say 40 years.

Thanks

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    this isn't really a good question for the site, as it is many questions all rolled up into one and asking for opinions on several things as well. Suggest you read through past start-investing questions and then ask more specific things. – sdg Oct 20 '12 at 12:56
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I got started by reading the following two books:

You could probably get by with just the first of those two. I haven't been a big fan of the "for dummies" series in the past, but I found both of these were quite good, particularly for people who have little understanding of investing.

I also rather like the site, Canadian Couch Potato. That has a wealth of information on passive investing using mutual funds and ETFs. It's a good next step after reading one or the other of the books above.

In your specific case, you are investing for the fairly short term and your tolerance for risk seems to be quite low. Gold is a high-risk investment, and in my opinion is ill-suited to your investment goals. I'd say you are looking at a money market account (very low risk, low return) such as e.g. the TD Canadian Money Market fund (TDB164). You may also want to take a look at e.g. the TD Canadian Bond Index (TDB909) which is only slightly higher risk.

However, for someone just starting out and without a whack of knowledge, I rather like pointing people at the ING Direct Streetwise Funds. They offer three options, balancing risk vs reward. You can fill in their online fund selector and it'll point you in the right direction. You can pay less by buying individual stock and bond funds through your bank (following e.g. one of the Canadian Couch Potato's model portfolios), but ING Direct makes things nice and simple, and is a good option for people who don't care to spend a lot of time on this.

Note that I am not a financial adviser, and I have only a limited understanding of your needs. You may want to consult one, though you'll want to be careful when doing so to avoid just talking to a salesperson. Also, note that I am biased toward passive index investing. Other people may recommend that you invest in gold or real estate or specific stocks. I think that's a bad idea and believe I have the science to back this up, but I may be wrong.

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I'll break this out by steps:

1) Educate yourself. Great start going on stack exchange and @ChrisInEdmonton pointed you to some great sources-- I would also recommend reading Mr. Money Mustache and JL Collins stock series. In addition to explaining what you should do with your money these resources also teach you how to think about money (like how not to panic when your investment takes a dip). Anyone can tell you where to invest your money, but if you don't have the fundamental understanding of why it's the best investment you are at a risk of being taken advantage of, or making poor investment choices.

2) Do it yourself. ING, Betterment, Wealth simple, financial advisers, etc... are all services that allow you to lay back and not think about where your money is going. Some of them are good, some are not so good. No one is going to care about your money as much as you do. If you value the time you spent earning that money make sure you know where it's going and why. People often get overwhelmed by all of the options, and end up deferring to experts because they feel like they can't possibly understand this stuff. You absolutely can understand finance. It is not that hard. People in the financial industry frequently make it seem more complicated to justify their services. See step 1.

3) Assuming you followed step 1 and step 2 you'll realize that the best thing to invest in is a total stock market index fund with the lowest management expense ratio you can find. I like Vanguard, some people like iShares. These investments earn about 10% on average and the only way for them to permanently decrease in value is if the entire stock market permanently collapses-- in which case any kind of investment other than canned goods and gasoline is probably a bad choice. You essentially end up owning a tiny piece of every company in the US (or world depending on whether you want to buy VTI or VT) which is kind of nice to think about.

4) I'd park about 70% of your 30K in index funds, and save yourself a 6 month "emergency fund". That emergency fund can be placed in a money market fund (essentially a super charged savings account that will earn you 1-2% per year).

protected by Chris W. Rea Sep 21 at 2:40

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