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Students, here’s the #1 investing tip you need to know

We share our biggest piece of investing advice plus three investing habits that can play a significant role in your investing strategy.

By ATB Financial 10 September 2023 4 min read

So you want to invest—there are so many ways to get started: GICs, RRSPs, RRIFs, TFSAs. But our biggest piece of investment advice works for whatever kind of investing you go for and is actually pretty simple:

Start early.

Pretty basic, right? But it’s the simple things that are usually the hardest to apply. That’s why we’re here to guide you through it.


Why does starting early make such a big difference?

Good habits go a long way. By investing now—when you might not be making as much as you will down the road—you’re creating patterns for your older (and higher-paid) self to continue.

It means that your money has more time to grow, which means more for your future self if invested properly.


Top 3 investing habits when starting early


  1. Automate your savings

    When you set an amount to go towards your investments every paycheque, you don’t even have to think about it. How much easier is that then trying to remember to make a deposit every few weeks? Plus, going out with your friends sounds way more fun than saving money you won’t touch for years.
  2. Start with whatever you can afford

    The biggest advantage you have when you start early is time. Letting savings compound for long uninterrupted periods is your secret sauce to a larger retirement fund.

    As you get older and your income increases, you can slowly start to increase the monthly amount you save.

  3. Be curious

    It’s empowering to understand investing for yourself. Take initiative to learn about personal finance, investing basics and behaviour finance. This can have a huge payoff since you’ll not only learn about how it all works, but how our emotions around money can often be our biggest barrier to success. Investing is a long-haul over many ups and downs in the market, and the goal is to remain invested for the long term. 

    Wanting to kickstart your investing? Look for programs that make investing uncomplicated, like ATB Prosper. Once you take the first step to identify your savings goals, having a tool to help you create a plan to get there makes the process simple.

I’m in my 20s and I don’t feel like I can invest. What would you tell me?

Many younger people don’t feel like they have enough money to invest. We get it, investing sounds like you should be dumping hundreds or thousands into a portfolio—but it doesn’t have to be. You can get creative to save. When it comes to having enough money for a Friday night or world travels, you’ve probably been able to make that work. You can do the same with investing, even if it doesn’t sound quite as exciting. Trust us, it’s worth it.

The good news is saving even $25 a month is a huge win. It’s a small step that leads to long term results and the creation of a savings habit. It’s easy to overlook the benefits of starting small since it doesn't create overnight wealth. But the results are powerful—take a look:

If you saved $100 a month starting at age 20, assuming an annual return of 5%, your portfolio would grow to $144,960 at the age of 60. That’s pretty incredible for only $100/month!

In contrast, if you started saving $100/month at 40 years old with an annual return of 5%, your portfolio would only grow to $39,679. That’s the benefit of starting early.

I’m a mature student and I didn’t start investing early. What would you tell me?

There’s good news for you: it’s never too late to start.

Everyone has different levels of investment education, and that’s totally fine—we each had different priorities and influences growing up. The main thing is to start now.

The older you are, the less time your money has to grow—you’ll have to put in more money to combat that. But there are perks to starting later. You’ve had some time to work before going to school, so there’s a good chance that you’ve made more than you did in your 20s and might have some financial cushion to draw from.

Set aside a little each month, cut back on other expenses that you’re able to live without, and set up an automatic deposit into investment savings. As you face the tough decisions about what you want to have now versus the life you want when you retire, we’re here to give you the guidance you need to feel confident about your finances now and in the years to come.


Our hope is for you to face investment without fear, and maybe even have a little fun along the way! If you’d like to talk to someone about investing—book an appointment with one of our experts. We’re here for you.

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