Last week I moderated the Breaking Down Investments Panel Discussion and Q&A hosted by Tangerine. As the name implies, it was an opportunity for the public to come hear a panel of experts and regular people discuss investing. I was joined by the following panel members:

  • David McGann, Director of Tangerine Investments
  • Jessica Moorhouse, Millennial Money Expert at JessicaMoorhouse.com
  • Casie Stewart, award-winning content creator at CasieStewart.com
  • Matt Basile, Chef and Creator of Fidel Gastro’s and Lisa Marie

It was a simple chat where we talked about a variety of topics including when we started to invest, how our priorities have changed over the years, new investing strategies and much more.

During the event, I didn’t have a chance to answer all the questions due to time constraints, so I’ll share my thoughts below. If you missed the event, don’t worry! It’s being hosted on Tangerine’s Facebook page so you can check it out now.

When was my first investing experience?

I started with a basic savings account when I was around 8, but as soon as I got my first real job, I started to invest in mutual funds through the bank. It was a small amount at the start, just $25 a month.

Do I need a lot of money to invest?

Not at all! It doesn’t matter if you have $25 or $2,500, there are plenty of options that you can start investing in right away. The earlier you start, the better off you’ll be since you can take advantage of compounding returns. Don’t worry about how much other people are investing, just focus on yourself.

Is investing hard?

Saving money and investing can be intimidating at the start, but it’s really just a psychological fear. When I decided to get my finances in order, I focused on increasing my knowledge of personal finance first. After reading a few books about money, I realized that investing was pretty simple.

How do I start investing?

It’s never been easier to invest. I started with mutual funds, I then used Tangerine’s index-based funds before becoming a do-it-yourself investor. These days you can even use robo-advisors which weren’t around when I started to invest. It’s a great time to be an investor.

How concerned should I be about fees?

This ended up being a major talking point during the event. Mutual funds charge you a Management Expense Ratio (MER). This is the fund’s management fee and the cost to operate it day-to-day. The average mutual fund has an MER of 2.5% whereas ETFs can be anywhere from .5% – 1%. This difference in fees can mean tens of thousands of dollars over the course of a long-term investment, so yes, fees should be a concern.

RRSP or TFSA?

There’s no easy answer here. Each one has their own tax advantages, so it really depends on your situation. If you’re currently in a lower tax bracket, and the tax deduction from contributing to an RRSP isn’t of value to you, then you might prefer putting money in a TFSA right now. However, maybe it makes sense if you plan on buying a home and want to take advantage of the Home Buyers’ Plan.

A TFSA is useful for investing since capital gains are tax free. It’s also a good spot to park your money if you know you’ll need to use it in the short term. You really need to do a little more research and consider your own situation before deciding.

Final takeaway

The panel chat was meant to open up a dialogue when it comes to investing. Everyone needs to invest at some point, but the earlier you do it, the more opportunity there is for your money to grow. Know that investing does not need to be intimidating and there have never been more choices available to the public.

Disclaimer: This post and my participation in the panel was sponsored by Tangerine, however all opinions expressed are my own.