5 ways to make your money count
No matter how much money you've got to work with or how risky you want to be, the rules are the same. As soon as possible, put 10% into RRSPs. If you're not doing it, you should, but if you've already checked that box, here are five other ways you can make your money work harder.

1. Try your hand at the stock market

You may have slipped into the stock market through your company’s RRSP program, but investing can be so much more rewarding than automatic withdrawals and yearly statements. Whether you’re ready to switch to the driver’s seat or just new to the world of investments, there’s never been a better time to get started. The rise of financial technology (FinTech for short) is democratizing access to historically complicated financial services, so now you can set up and manage an investment portfolio of your own, no matter how much (or how little) you have to get started.

With a host of simple online platforms to choose from, you can set up an investment account right from your couch. Wealthsimple is a homegrown favourite that will do most of the legwork for you: evaluating your goals, financial health and risk tolerance, and then suggesting the right investment approach. No matter if you’re an expert or a novice, you can take as much control as you like, while the platform handles all the logistics: trading, cash, movements, and statements. As an added benefit, Wealthsimple is the only investment manager in Canada with a paperless onboarding experience. Check out their step-by-step guide for how to invest $10,000.

2. Jump in the Tank

Even if you’re not a fan of Shark Tank, it’s impossible to ignore the way our economy is shifting in favour of startups and side hustles. With this wave of new businesses comes a corresponding need for capital to front them, and founders are increasingly looking outside traditional venture capital companies to a wider and more accessible group of ‘angel investors.’ Angel investing isn’t for the faint of heart; almost 9 out of 10 new businesses will fail, and depending on the business and industry, it could take anywhere from 2 to 15 years to see a potential exit or return on your investment. But if you’ve got a knack for spotting a diamond in the rough and have the financial flexibility to take a risk, it can be an exciting and rewarding way to invest with purpose and passion.

The threshold for angel investing is generally around $5,000, but a more common average range sits between $50 to $150,000. The general principle is to not invest more than five or ten percent of your overall wealth.

Angel investing requires more due diligence than many other investment models. To mitigate risk, many angel investors work together, pooling resources and capital to evaluate opportunities, make smarter investments, and alleviate some of the associated legwork.

3. Put it in an education fund

If you’ve got children or little ones you love, Registered Education Savings Plans are a smart way to grow your savings in service of alleviating some financial pressure down the line. RESPs are tax-deferred accounts to save for a child’s post-secondary education. Contributions are enhanced by a government grant so with cumulative earnings, the sooner you start saving, the better.

The other nice thing about RESPs is that once they’re set up, anyone can contribute, making it a great option for birthdays, milestones, or alternative gifts from extended family and friends.

4. Spend it

Sometimes, the best place to invest your hard-earned money is you. If you’ve covered your bases with an emergency fund, reliable RRSP contributions, and reasonable discretionary savings, it might be time to think about how your money can provide more than just peace of mind.

Whether it’s investing in personal growth (starting a hobby, buying a house, checking off a bucket list adventure), or your professional future (starting a business, taking a course, learning a language), there are certain times when spending your money is worth more than saving it. Spending on yourself can feel selfish, but if you’re investing in your own happiness or future success, consider it money well spent.

5. Give more of it away

As we get older and our income gradually stables out, old habits die hard. It can be tough to ever truly feel like we have enough, but research by social psychologist Liz Dunn shows that people who spent money on others are actually happier than those who spend money on themselves - across all income levels. There are proven links between helping others and the reduction of stress, increased happiness, and even a higher life expectancy. Giving money to a cause you care about will make it more likely that you’ll appreciate your own good fortune, and help you to enjoy it properly.

Amanda Ashford is a Brand & Communications consultant building brands with purpose and using business as a force for good. As a global traveller, Amanda is constantly inspired by the sounds, scenes and stories found around the world, and our shared passion for purpose that connects us all.

Amanda Ashford is a paid spokesperson of Sonnet Insurance.
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