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How to start investing as a student

May 12, 2023
min read

As the saying goes, time in the market is better than timing the market. Start investing today, and you’re one step closer to achieving your financial goals.

Woman at home on computer

Investing isn’t just for financial experts or those who are getting ready to retire.

It’s also a great way for students to grow their savings - because investing when you’re young is the best time to invest.

In fact, investing is one of the most effective ways to grow your savings over time.


  • Won’t take hours of your time.
  • Doesn’t require thousands of dollars.
  • Is easier than you think.

Here’s how to get started:

How much time & money do you have to invest?

You may be asking yourself: Should I start investing now, even if I don’t have a lot of money saved up?

Investing when you’re young allows you to take full advantage of the power of compound interest. The earlier you start investing, the more money you could potentially make.

No matter how much or how little you’re starting with, you can invest it to start earning interest on your savings.

Maybe you’ve saved up $1000. Maybe it’s $500. Or maybe you have just $100 to start, but you want to make regular contributions to a savings account.

Once you’ve determined your starting funds, it’s time to figure out your time horizon. This is the amount of time you can let your investments grow before tapping into them.

  • If you’re saving up for a big trip, your time horizon might be 1-2 years.
  • If you’re saving for a home, you may not need the money for another 5 years.
  • And if you’re saving for retirement, you probably don’t need the funds for at least another 30 years.

In general, the more time you have to invest, the more aggressive your investments can be—since you have more time to navigate the ups and downs of the stock market.

Investment options for students

Once you’ve figured out how much you plan to invest and how long you’d like to invest, you can start thinking about where you want to invest that money.

What’s the best way to invest as a student? We’re covering a few of the most popular options:

High-interest savings account

With a savings account, your money is accessible whenever you need it, and it earns interest, too. It works just like a chequing account; you can use it for purchases or add more funds whenever you’d like.

There’s no minimum balance required to open a Cambrian savings account. Whether you have $20 or $200, you can start growing your savings today.


A guaranteed investment certificate is one of the safest investments you can make. As the name implies, your returns are guaranteed.

The catch? You can’t take money out of the account until your term matures, which will be between 1-5 years.

If you have trouble spending money that you’re trying to save, opening a GIC is one solution—because you can’t withdraw the funds until your term is up.

And if you’re 22 years old or younger, you only need $100 to invest in a GIC with Cambrian.

To see how much you could earn, check out the Cambrian Credit Union GIC rates today.

Mutual funds, stocks, bonds & ETFs

Finally, you can pick from four popular types of investments:

  • Stocks are when you buy shares of a company. Individual stocks are typically riskier.
  • Bonds are when you lend money to a company or government, and in return, get paid back with interest. Bonds are typically less risky.
  • Mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are portfolios made up of stocks, bonds, and other investments.

At Cambrian, we can help you get started with a Qtrade Direct Investing account (where you buy and sell different investment products yourself) or a Qtrade Guided portfolio (where you pay low fees to get a professionally designed and managed investment portfolio).

To learn more, book a meeting with a Cambrian Advisor through Credential Securities or Credential Asset Management Inc. today!

Sustainable investment options

When you invest in the market, where does your money go?

It’s a good question. You may want to ensure that your money supports companies that align with your values.

For that, you can look at responsible investing. Also known as sustainable investing, this type of investment portfolio will ensure you only invest in companies that pass the criteria of ESG factors:

  • Environmental: Limit pollutants, aim to lower greenhouse gas emissions, use renewable energy, and are transparent about the company’s carbon footprint.
  • Social: Operate with ethical practices, create an inclusive workplace, pay employees fair wages, and protect employees from workplace misconduct.
  • Governance: Are governed by a diverse Board of people, hold elections for Board members, and are transparent about their corporate practices.

Responsible investing is a way to earn money while ensuring your money makes a positive impact. It can also reduce risk—because of the way these companies are run and governed, they aren’t as likely to lose value due to reputational risks.

Common registered savings plans for students

Any income you earn from your investment accounts is fully taxable.

But if you invest money within a registered savings plan, you can defer those taxes to a later date or shelter your money from taxes altogether.

With a tax-free savings account (TFSA), you won’t have to pay any taxes on investment gains you earn. To learn more, check out our blog on the different types of registered savings plans.

Apply for Cambrian’s Learning for Life scholarship today!

Saving money is tough when you’re preparing for your first year of post-secondary education.

By applying for Cambrian’s Learning for Life scholarship, you could be awarded up to $2,500 for your first year of tuition.

We’re currently accepting applications for Learning for Life–but the deadline to apply is May 31. Apply today!


Mutual funds are offered through Credential Asset Management Inc. Online brokerage services are offered through Qtrade Direct Investing. Mutual funds and other securities are offered through Credential Securities. Qtrade Direct Investing and Credential Securities are divisions of Credential Qtrade Securities Inc. Credential Securities is a registered mark owned by Aviso Wealth Inc. Qtrade and Qtrade Direct Investing are trade names and trademarks of Aviso Wealth. Qtrade Guided Portfolios is a trade name of Credential Qtrade Securities Inc.

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*All rates and yields subject to change without notice.
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