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How to start investing for Beginners in Canada (2023 Best Tips)

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If you’ve found your way here, it’s likely because you’re interested in embarking on a financial journey, specifically with a focus on investing for beginners in Canada. Well, you’ve come to the right place! We aim to break down the complexities of investing and present them in a digestible, easy-to-understand format.

Contrary to popular belief, starting an investment portfolio does not require mountains of cash. Investing with little money is possible and is a practical approach for many beginners. With the increasing availability of financial technology, everyone can jumpstart their investment journey regardless of income or wealth.

Entering the world of the stock market might seem intimidating. It’s a bustling marketplace where company shares are bought, sold, and traded. But don’t worry; we’re here to guide you through this. Understanding the stock market’s inner workings can be crucial to achieving financial growth and stability.

A cornerstone concept for all beginner investors is diversity. It’s not about putting all your eggs in one basket. Instead, it’s about spreading your investments across different types of assets, industries, and regions. This way, the risk is mitigated, and the potential return increases.

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Dispelling the Myths Around Investing

The idea that only rich people can enter the investment vehicle needs to be corrected. In fact, anyone can start investing, no matter how much money they have. Today, there are many ways to invest, even if you have a limited amount of money. This includes students with small allowances or someone who is just starting to save money. It’s important to know that investing is not just for the rich but for everyone who wants to grow their money.

Some people think that investing is very complicated. Yes, investing has some big words and ideas, but the basic idea is quite simple. It’s all about making smart choices to increase your money over time. With lots of learning resources like online classes, podcasts, and books available today, anyone can learn about investing. So, don’t be scared of investing. Even small steps can help you reach your investing goals.

Now, let’s look at what investing is.

Investing is like putting your money to work. It’s about giving your money to a business or buying something with the hope that your money will grow. This could mean buying things like stocks, bonds, or property that can make more money over time.

Understanding how much risk you can handle is an important part of investing. This is called ‘risk tolerance.’ If you can handle more risk, you might buy stocks, which can greatly change in value. If you want less risk, buy bonds or fixed deposits that give you steady money over time. You usually buy and sell these things on a ‘trading platform.’ This online tool helps you handle your investments and make decisions to reach your money goals.

A big part of investing involves a ‘stock exchange.’ This is a place where people buy and sell pieces of companies, called shares. When you buy shares, you become a part-owner of a company. The idea is to sell these shares later at a higher price to make a profit. So, investing is a smart way to grow your money and reach your goals by thinking about risk and using things like trading platforms and stock exchanges.

Basics of Investing in Canada

Investing for beginners in Canada

The ABCs of Investing

Investing can sometimes feel like learning a new language. Many new words include stocks, bonds, portfolios, and dividends. But don’t worry; these are just names for different parts of investing.

Think of stocks like pieces of a company that you can own. When you own a stock, you own a small part of that company. On the other hand, bonds are like loans you give to a company or government. In return, they promise to pay you back with interest. A portfolio is just a collection of your different investments, like stocks and bonds. And dividends? They are a part of the company’s profits that it shares with you because you own its stock. Understanding these terms is like learning the ABCs of investing. It’s your first step to becoming smart with your money.

Your Friend, the Stock Market

The stock market might initially seem scary, but it’s not. It’s like a big online shop where people buy and sell ‘securities’ or financial products. Most of the time, these securities are shares or pieces of companies.

So how does this online shop work? Let’s say you buy shares of a company. That means you own a little piece of that company. If the company does well, the price of your shares goes up. And if you sell your shares at that higher price, you make a profit. On the other hand, if the company doesn’t do well, the price of your shares could go down.

The stock market is a place where smart buying and selling can help you make money. Just like in any shop, the aim is to buy at a low price and sell at a high price. So, don’t be afraid of the stock market. It can be your friend if you learn how it works and make smart decisions.

Start Small, Dream Big: Invest with Little Money

Think of investing like a long race. You start with just one small step. Even if you only have a little money to invest, that’s okay. It can grow into a big amount when you keep adding a little bit of money over time. It’s like planting and watching a small seed grow into a big tree. The key is to keep investing regularly, no matter how small the amount. Over time, this can make you a lot of money.

Micro-Investing in Canada: Small Steps Towards Big Gains

In Canada, there are special platforms that help you start investing with just a little bit of money. These are called ‘micro-investing’ platforms. They work by taking the little bit of money left over from your daily spending, like the change from buying a coffee and investing it for you. This way, you get into the habit of investing without feeling like you’re losing a lot of money.

Diversity, Your Best Ally in Investing

When you invest, it’s good to have ‘diversity.’ This means putting your money in different types of investments. Think of it like not putting all your eggs in one basket. Spreading your money around can protect you from losing too much if one investment could do better. At the same time, it gives you more chances to make money from different places.

Spreading Your Bets: How to Diversify Your Portfolio

There are many ways to spread your investments around. You can put your money in different types of things like stocks, bonds, or property. This is called ‘diversifying’ your portfolio. Another way is to invest in different parts of the world. This way, if one market is not doing well, you can still profit from another. The goal is to build a mix of investments that can do well in different situations.

Investment strategies for beginners in Canada

1. Identify Your Financial Goals

Before starting any investment, defining your financial goals is crucial. These could range from purchasing a house, saving for your child’s education, or building a nest egg for your retirement. Each goal will have different timelines and monetary requirements, influencing your investment decisions. 

For example, if you’re saving for a house you plan to buy in the next five years, your investment strategy might differ from someone saving for retirement in 30 years.

2. Set a Budget

After identifying your financial goals, it’s time to figure out how much money you can invest without compromising your current living expenses and emergency funds. An emergency fund should cover 3-6 months of living expenses as a safety net for unforeseen circumstances. Once you’ve ensured these financial safety measures, the remaining income can be allocated for investments.

3. Understand Your Risk Tolerance

Every investment comes with its own level of risk. Your risk tolerance means how much financial risk you’re comfortable with. If the idea of losing money makes you extremely anxious, lean towards low-risk investments such as government bonds or certificates of deposit. However, if you are comfortable taking on higher risk for potentially higher returns, equities (stocks) may be a better fit.

4. Learn About Different Investment Options

The investment world offers numerous avenues, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, real estate, commodities, etc. It would be best if you spent some time understanding the fundamentals of each of these asset classes, their potential returns, and the associated risks. This knowledge will allow you to create a diversified portfolio that aligns with your goals and risk tolerance.

5. Active Investing vs. Passive Investing

When it comes to investing, two primary strategies are often considered: active investing and passive investing. Both strategies have unique advantages and potential drawbacks, and the choice between them often depends on an individual’s financial goals, risk tolerance, and investment knowledge.

5a. Active Investing: A Hands-On Approach

Active investing involves a more hands-on approach where the investor or their financial manager frequently buys and sells stocks, bonds, or other assets intending to outperform the market. This strategy requires a deep market understanding and continuous investment performance monitoring. It can potentially lead to higher returns, but it also comes with higher risk and often higher fees due to frequent trading.

5b. Passive Investing: Letting the Market Do the Work

On the other hand, passive investing is a strategy where the investor buys and holds a diversified mix of assets for a long period. The goal is to match its performance rather than beat the market. This is often achieved by investing in index funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that track a specific market index. Passive investing is generally less risky and involves lower fees than active investing, but it may also result in lower potential returns.

6. Choose an Investment Account

Depending on the country you live in, different types of investment accounts will be available. A Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA), Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), or a non-registered account are popular options for Canadians. Each of these has unique tax advantages or implications, and your choice should align with your investment goals and tax planning strategies.

7. Pick a broker or Advisor

This decision hinges on whether you want to be a DIY investor or prefer professional guidance. An online brokerage is economical if you’re comfortable researching and picking investments. On the other hand, if you’re uncomfortable making these decisions or don’t have the time, you might opt for a robo-advisor or a human Financial Advisor. The choice largely depends on your confidence, knowledge, time commitment, and budget.

7a. Financial Advisor: Let humans be your Advisor

A financial advisor is a seasoned professional who aids clients in managing their financial affairs with the primary objective of meeting specific financial goals. They evaluate a client’s overall financial health, risk appetite, and financial objectives and then develop a tailored strategic plan.

This plan may include suggesting appropriate investment strategies, providing retirement planning advice, and advising on tax-related matters. They leverage various investment vehicles like stocks, bonds, ETFs, or mutual funds to diversify the client’s portfolio and manage risk, aiming to maximize potential returns.

The ideal client for a financial advisor varies and could be anyone from a young professional making their first steps in investing, families planning for future educational expenses or retirement, to retirees seeking to manage their nest egg.

7b. Robo-advisor: Let the machine be your Advisor 

A robo-advisor is an automated platform that provides financial advice and investment management online with minimal human intervention. It uses algorithms based on modern portfolio theory to offer clients tailored investment strategies based on their financial situation, goals, and risk tolerance. Upon gathering this information through an online questionnaire, the robo-advisor generates a portfolio of diversified investments, typically low-cost ETFs, aiming to optimize returns based on the client’s profile.

The ideal user of a robo-advisor is typically someone who prefers a hands-off approach to investing. This can range from a novice investor who is just starting and prefers the simplicity of automated management to a busy professional who may need more time to constantly monitor and adjust their portfolio.

Robo-advisors offer a convenient, cost-effective solution for individuals looking to grow their wealth over time without needing to manage their investments or possess extensive financial knowledge actively. The platform’s automated nature can also add a level of emotional detachment, which can be beneficial in preventing rash investment decisions based on market volatility.

Here’s a guide to get you started with robo-advisor

  1. Research Different Robo-Advisors: Not all robo-advisors are the same. Some may offer more options in terms of account types, others may focus on particular investment strategies, and their fee structures can also vary. Look for reviews and comparisons online to help you decide which fits your needs best.
  2. Sign Up for an Account: Once you’ve chosen a robo-advisor, go to their website or app and create an account. This usually involves providing some basic personal and contact information.
  3. Complete the Risk Assessment Questionnaire: The robo-advisor will need to understand your financial goals, timeline, and risk tolerance to recommend a suitable portfolio. This is usually accomplished through a questionnaire that you’ll need to fill out during the account setup process.
  4. Review the Recommended Portfolio: Based on your answers to the questionnaire, the robo-advisor will recommend a diversified portfolio of investments. Take the time to review this to ensure you’re comfortable with where your money will be invested.
  5. Set Up Funding: If you’re happy with the recommended portfolio, the next step is to fund your account. You can typically do this through a bank transfer. Some robo-advisors also allow you to set up regular transfers, which automates the process of investing.
  6. Monitor Your Investments: Once your account is funded and your investments are made, you’ll want to check in on your account periodically. While robo-advisors manage your portfolio automatically, reviewing your account regularly is important to ensure it aligns with your financial goals.
  7. Adjust as Necessary: Your financial goals or circumstances may change over time. If this happens, update your profile on the robo-advisor platform. The robo-advisor will then adjust your portfolio as needed.

Remember, while robo-advisors can simplify the investment process, they only partially remove the need to understand your investments and monitor your portfolio. Always ensure you are comfortable with your investment strategy and the risks involved.

7c. DIY investing

Do-It-Yourself (DIY) investing is an investment approach that gives individuals full control over their financial decisions. Unlike using a robo-advisor or a financial advisor, DIY investors are responsible for their own research, decision-making, and portfolio management.

They are tasked with understanding financial markets, investment products, and strategies and applying this knowledge to manage their investments effectively. The process includes identifying personal financial goals, whether that’s retirement, a home purchase, or education funding, which then guide the construction of their investment strategy.

8. Start Investing

After all the preparation, it’s finally time to start investing. It’s important to remember that investing is a marathon, not a sprint. The objective is to steadily grow your wealth over a long period instead of seeking get-rich-quick schemes, sticking to your investment plan, and avoiding impulsive decisions based on market fluctuations.

9. Monitor Your Investments

It’s important to regularly review your investments to ensure they are on track to achieve your financial goals. Keep in mind that it’s completely normal for the value of investments to fluctuate over time. If your investments are not performing as expected over a long period or your financial goals have changed, it might be time to adjust your investment strategy. A regular review—at least once or twice a year—will also help you rebalance your portfolio, if necessary, to maintain your desired risk and potential return level.

Types of Investments in Canada


Stock trading

Stocks, also known as shares or equities, represent a fraction of ownership in a corporation. When you invest in stocks in Canada, you buy a part of the company’s assets and potential future earnings. These investments, which can span diverse sectors, are typically traded on Canadian stock exchanges like the Toronto Stock Exchange. While investing in stocks can offer significant returns, it also carries risks, as stock prices can fluctuate based on the company’s performance, economic conditions, and overall market sentiment.


Bonds, often viewed as a more conservative investment, can be ideal for those new to investing. When you purchase a bond, you’re lending money to an entity like a government or corporation. This loan, or bond, is for a period during which the issuer pays you regular interest, providing a steady income stream. 

At the end of this term, the issuer will repay the original amount, known as the bond’s maturity. For instance, if you lend money to a government by buying its bonds, you’ll receive this steady interest, and at maturity, you’ll get your original investment back. Despite their generally lower risk compared to stocks, bonds aren’t risk-free – there’s a chance the issuer might default, failing to make interest payments or repay the principal.

Mutual Funds

Mutual funds are a prevalent type of investment in Canada, designed to pool money from multiple investors to create a diversified portfolio of assets like stocks and bonds. As an investor, when you put your money in a mutual fund, you’re buying units or shares of the fund. The price of these units correlates to the value of the fund’s total assets. Mutual funds offer individual investors access to a broad variety of investments, an opportunity that may not be individually affordable or manageable.

These funds are supervised by a professional fund manager whose primary goal is to make investment decisions that will increase the value of the fund’s units over time. This process is aimed at helping your money grow. However, mutual funds can vary significantly based on their investment strategies, assets, and risk levels. Some focus on generating income, others aim for long-term investment growth, and some strike a balance between the two.

Mutual funds and ETFs (Exchange-Traded Funds) share similarities as both pool funds to invest in a diversified asset portfolio. However, they differ in their management and trading methods. ETFs are traded on an exchange, and their prices fluctuate throughout the day, while mutual funds are bought and sold at their net asset value at the end of each trading day.

Exchange-Traded Funds (ETF)

Exchange-Traded Funds, or ETFs, are an investment option that allows you to invest in a diversified portfolio. They operate similarly to mutual funds, pooling money from numerous investors to purchase a variety of assets like stocks or bonds. However, unlike mutual funds, ETFs are traded on a stock exchange like individual company stocks. This means you can buy and sell ETFs throughout the day, allowing you to choose when to trade based on current prices.

One key advantage of ETFs is their typically lower fees than mutual funds. This is because most ETFs aim to replicate the performance of a particular market index or sector rather than employing a fund manager to select investments actively. Thus, ETFs can be a cost-effective way to diversify your investment portfolio. However, as with any investment, it’s crucial to understand the risks involved in ETFs before you embark on your investing journey.

Real Estate Investment

REITs, or real estate investment trusts, are businesses that own or finance income-generating properties in a variety of market segments. Similar to mutual funds, real estate investment trusts (REITs) allow ordinary people to own shares in huge portfolios of income-generating properties such as office towers, shopping centres, residential complexes, warehouses, hospitals, and hotels. By purchasing shares in a real estate investment trust (REIT), investors can gain exposure to the real estate market without taking on the burden of property ownership or management.

Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs)

Guaranteed Investment Certificates, often called GICs, are a type of investment that’s popular and widely used in Canada. They are considered safe and low-risk, making them a good choice for people who are just starting to invest in Canada. Here’s how they work in simple terms:

When you buy a GIC, you’re lending your money to a bank. You decide how much money you want to invest – this is your initial investment. You also decide how long you want to lend this money to the bank, which is known as the term. The term could be a few months or several years, depending on what you choose.

In return for lending your money, the bank promises to pay you interest. This is the bank’s way of saying ‘thank you’ for letting them use your money. The interest rate is guaranteed, which means it won’t change for the entire term of the GIC. So, you know exactly how much money you will have at the end of the term.

Options and Futures (derivatives)

Options and futures are types of investments that fall under the category of derivatives. In the world of investing, a derivative is a financial contract that gets its value not from the derivative itself but from something else, known as an underlying asset. This underlying asset could be a stock, a bond, a commodity like gold or oil, or even an interest rate.

When we talk about options, we’re talking about financial contracts that give you the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell the underlying asset (like a stock) at a specific price before a certain date. Options can be used to speculate on the direction of prices or to hedge against potential price changes.

Futures, on the other hand, are contracts that obligate you to buy or sell the underlying asset at a predetermined price at a specific time in the future. Futures are commonly used to hedge against price or exchange rate movements. They are usually settled in cash rather than physical delivery of the asset.

Both options and futures can be traded online, much like stocks, on derivatives exchanges. However, they are generally more complex and carry higher risks than traditional investment instruments like stocks or bonds. They are usually used by more experienced investors who understand the risks and potential rewards. So, if you’re considering online investing in options or futures, it’s important to make sure you fully understand how they work.

Invest in cryptocurrencies

Investing in cryptocurrencies refers to the act of buying digital or virtual currencies that utilize cryptography for security. Cryptocurrencies operate on a technology called blockchain, a decentralized technology spread across many computers that manage and record transactions. 

Some of the most widely recognized cryptocurrencies include Bitcoin, the first and largest cryptocurrency in terms of market capitalization, and Ethereum, known for its smart contract functionality. While they offer the potential for substantial returns due to their volatility, cryptocurrencies also carry significant risks and should be approached with caution, especially for someone who is just learning how to invest. 

The cryptocurrency market’s anonymity and lack of regulatory oversight add to its inherent risks. As such, potential investors should thoroughly research and consider their risk tolerance before diving into cryptocurrency investments.

Savings Accounts and Term Deposits

While not typically categorized as investments, they are a way to earn a return on your money with shallow risk.

Note: Each type of investment carries its own level of risk and potential returns, so it’s essential to understand these factors and choose investments that align with your financial goals and risk tolerance.

Best trading platforms in Canada

Investing for beginners in Canada: Trading platform

1. Questrade: Top-Rated Stock Trading App in Canada

Questrade is a popular choice among Canadian traders and for good reason. This platform offers many investment options, including stocks, bonds, ETFs, and mutual funds. It’s known for its low fees, which can help you maximize your returns. Questrade also offers a user-friendly interface, making it easy for beginners to navigate. Additionally, it provides excellent customer service and educational resources to help you make informed trading decisions.

2. Wealthsimple Trade: Best No-Cost Stock Trading App

Wealthsimple Trade is a mobile trading platform that’s perfect for beginners. It offers a simple, intuitive interface that makes trading easy, even for those who are new to the world of investing. One of its most significant advantages is its commission-free trading, which can save you significant money. Wealthsimple Trade also offers a variety of investment options, including stocks and ETFs.

Interactive Brokers: For more experienced traders, Interactive Brokers is a great choice. This platform offers advanced trading features, including a comprehensive suite of research tools and access to international markets. It also provides a wide range of investment options, from stocks and bonds to futures and options. While Interactive Brokers does have higher fees than some other platforms, its advanced features make it worth the cost for many traders.

3. TD Direct Investing

TD Direct Investing is a part of TD Bank, one of Canada’s largest and most trusted financial institutions. This platform offers various investment options, including stocks, bonds, ETFs, and mutual funds. It also provides excellent customer service and a wealth of educational resources, making it a great choice for both beginners and experienced traders.

4. CIBC Investor’s Edge

CIBC Investor’s Edge is another bank-owned trading platform that offers competitive pricing and excellent research tools. It provides a wide range of investment options, including stocks, bonds, ETFs, and mutual funds. Its user-friendly interface and educational resources make it an excellent choice for both beginners and experienced traders.

5. RBC Direct Investing

RBC Direct Investing, owned by Royal Bank of Canada, offers a comprehensive range of investment options, including stocks, bonds, ETFs, and mutual funds. It also provides excellent research tools and customer service, making it a reliable choice for Canadian traders.

6. Scotia iTRADE

Scotia iTRADE, owned by Scotiabank, offers a variety of trading features and educational resources. It provides a wide range of investment options, including stocks, bonds, ETFs, and mutual funds. It’s user-friendly interface and comprehensive research tools make it an excellent platform for beginners and experienced traders.

7. BMO InvestorLine

BMO InvestorLine is a self-directed investment platform from the Bank of Montreal. It offers various investment options, including stocks, bonds, ETFs, and mutual funds. The platform provides comprehensive research tools and educational resources, making it a good choice for both beginners and experienced traders. However, BMO InvestorLine charges a flat fee per trade, which might be higher than other platforms.

8. National Bank Direct Brokerage

The National Bank of Canada provides this versatile trading platform. It offers a wide array of investment options, including stocks, bonds, ETFs, and mutual funds, catering to various investment strategies. The platform is also equipped with comprehensive research tools, providing valuable insights into market trends and asset performance, which are crucial for making informed investment decisions.

National Bank Direct Brokerage is known for its competitive pricing, making it an attractive option for both new and experienced investors. Additionally, it prides itself on excellent customer service, always ready to assist with any queries or issues. This commitment to customer satisfaction makes it a reliable choice for stock trading in Canada.

9. HSBC InvestDirect

HSBC InvestDirect, a platform offered by HSBC Bank, provides a wide range of investment options, including international trading in 30 domestic and foreign markets. It also offers multilingual customer service. However, HSBC InvestDirect charges a quarterly account maintenance fee for accounts with a balance below a certain threshold.

Summary: Investing for beginners in Canada

Investing can be an effective way to grow your wealth over time, and with the variety of investment platforms available in Canada, getting started has never been easier. Whether you choose active investing, where you’re frequently buying and selling assets, or passive investing, where you aim to match the market’s performance, the key is to choose a strategy that aligns with your financial goals and risk tolerance.

Starting with a clear understanding of different investment options and strategies is important for beginners. Opening a brokerage account is straightforward, but choosing the right platform requires careful consideration of factors like fees, customer service, and the range of investment options available.

Investing involves risk, and doing your own research or consulting a financial advisor before making investment decisions is crucial. With patience, diligence, and a well-thought-out strategy, you can navigate the world of investing and work towards achieving your financial goals.

  • What should a beginner invest in Canada?

    As a beginner, you may want to consider the following investment options in Canada:

    High-Interest Savings Accounts: This is a good starting point for beginners who are not ready to take on significant risks. Your money grows over time based on the interest rate of the account.

    Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs): These are a type of Canadian investment that offers a guaranteed rate of return over a fixed period of time, usually between a few months and several years. They’re low-risk but offer low returns.

    Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs): An RRSP is a type of account you can use to save for retirement. The money you put in an RRSP grows tax-free, but you’ll have to pay tax when you withdraw it.

    Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA): A TFSA is another type of account where your investments can grow tax-free. Unlike an RRSP, you don’t have to pay tax when you withdraw money from a TFSA.

    Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs): ETFs are a type of investment fund and exchange-traded product, i.e., they are traded on stock exchanges. ETFs are an excellent way for beginners to get into the stock market because they offer diversification. Diversification reduces risk by investing in a wide range of assets.

    Mutual Funds: Mutual funds are investment vehicles that pool together money from many investors and use that money to buy a diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds, or other assets. They’re managed by professional fund managers.

  • How to invest $100 dollars in Canada?

    With $100, you can start learning about investing in Canada through a high-interest savings account for small returns, a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) that locks your investment for a guaranteed return, or micro-investing apps like Moka, which rounds up your purchases and invest the spare change. Always remember, these methods offer an excellent way to start, but returns may not be substantial at first.

  • What should I invest $5,000 dollars in Canada?

    In Canada, with $5,000, you could consider investing in high-interest savings accounts for minimal risk, though with low returns.

    Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs) offer a fixed return over a specific period. Mutual Funds, Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs), or Robo-Advisors provide diversification and potentially higher returns but come with higher risk.

    Another option is contributing to a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) or a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), offering tax advantages. Be sure to choose an investment that aligns with your risk tolerance and financial goals.

  • How old do you have to be to invest in stocks?

    The minimum age to invest in stocks independently varies by country. You must be at least 18 years old to open a brokerage account and buy stocks independently in Canada, the United States, and many other countries. However, minors can often own stocks under custodial or guardian supervision.

    There are specific accounts designed for this purpose, such as a custodial account, where the custodian (usually a parent or guardian) manages the assets on behalf of the minor. Please check with local and national laws to confirm the legal age for your specific region.

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