Where do the various investment products you mention rank in terms of risk?
In terms of conventional wisdom, this is how the following products rank in Risk.
Conservative: Conservative investors are uneasy about the stock market and look to avoid it. They are bias towards capital preservation and ultra low risk investments.
GIC's, Government Bonds and Cash fall under this cateogory.
Semi- Conservative: Semi- Conservative investors tolerate very little risk (1-5% drop) but don't like the market.
Bonds, Low risk mutual funds and ETF's such as index funds fall in this cateogory.
Moderately Aggressive: These investors like the market and can tolerate some moderate drops. These investors choose balanced mutual funds and ETF's and blue chip companies with some value plays like growth stocks.
Aggressive: These investors seek high capital returns and can tolerate medium sized drops in their portfolio. They seek long term- high value growth stocks and growth mutual funds and ETF's.
Very Agressive: Very Agressive investors are involved in very risky investments. Investments like penny stocks, high growth plays and options come to mind.
Why is it important to invest from a young age?
Compound Interest is the 8th wonder of the world. --Albert Einstein--
The philosophy is simple, the longer period of time your money is invested the greater compound returns you will have. If I invest 100$ today at 1% at Y1, I have 101$ -- In Y2 I am now earning 1% on 101$ so at the end of Y2 I have 102.10 as opposed to 102$. Carry this out for 20+ years and thousands of dollars.
Is it neccessary that I pick stocks to succeed financially?
The short answer is No. Picking individual stocks is just one of the many options. If you are unsure, they are many options that are disposable to you - figure out the one thats works best. They are index funds that track the market, funds that follow specific industries, gic's that track certain companies and much more
How much money do I need to start investing?
A lot of people are convinced that people need thousands to to make a difference. The reality is that many institutions will offer minimal investments for 1$. Tangerine offers GIC's for 1$. TD for example gives initial mutual fundds purchases of 100$. You can easily begin a stock portfolio with 250-500$. And make automated contributions thereafter.
What kind of products do you personally use in your portfolio?
Diversity is key! For example, for my rainy day fund I chose low risk funds or GIC's to protect my principal. However for my other investments it mostly comprises of mutual funds and stocks. In my TFSA I chose income investments and growth plays as gains in this account result in no taxes.
I'm scared of losing money in the market. Is there ways that I can still get exposure while limiting my risk?
Yes! The market is not the only way to go in terms of creating long term capital appreciation. You can still make a strong portfolio with GIC's, Bonds, Corporate Debentures and cash holdings. This will help limit your market risk.